Duke Economics does not pre-screen potential applicants. We are unable to evaluate a student's "chances" for admission to our program simply from looking at their self-reported scores and academic history. We judge each applicant's potential against the strength of the entire applicant pool, which varies from year to year. We do not measure students against a set of minimum criteria in order to decide upon admission, but instead gauge them against the overall caliber of all applicants. Students who are viewed as the most competitive for the Ph.D. program will typically demonstrate a solid academic or professional history with mathematics, including multi-variable calculus, linear algebra and real analysis, as they are the cornerstones of the program, which is quite math intensive. While prior experience in the field of economics is preferred, many successful applicants to the Ph.D. program have come from a variety of backgrounds, including public policy, political science, math, computer science, business, accounting, and engineering.
The usual profile of a matriculant who receives financial aid from Duke for study in the first year would be: (1) an undergraduate record strong in economics, mathematics, or physical science; (2) a perfect or near-perfect score on the quantitative section of the GRE; (3) mathematical skills, including multi-variable calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, real analysis, and introductory statistics and probability; (4) a GPA of 3.5 or better; (5) letters from individuals which confirm the intellectual strength of the candidate. Prospective students not presenting qualifying credentials are discouraged from applying for the Ph.D. program. For more information please refer to the Graduate School's Degree Programs page.
Admissions Statistics & Demographics
Each year more than 700 people apply to the Ph.D. program in economics. Of those applicants, fewer than 10 percent are offered admission. We do not discriminate against any applicant based on country of origin or previous educational experience in deciding which students receive financial aid. Of the students offered admission to the Ph.D. program, about 23 percent decide to come to Duke, and we matriculate an average of 14 students each year. Approximately 75 percent of the students in our program are from outside of the United States. We pride ourselves on our broad spectrum of academic talent from all over the world.
The Graduate School also provides a statistical summary our graduate programs' past admissions and enrollment. For information on offers of admission and matriculation according to demographics, go to Admissions and Enrollment Statistics.