Graduate Mentorship Program

Applying to an economics Ph.D. program is a difficult and complicated task. It is much easier to navigate if you have family, friends or mentors who are academics or graduate students who have been through the same process.

Absent these personal connections, it can be hard to know, for example, where to apply, how to choose your letter writers and how to write your personal statement. Unfortunately, groups that are under-represented in economics are much less likely to have access to these networks of expertise, perpetuating lack of diversity and lack of equal opportunity in the profession.

The aim of the Duke Economics Graduate Mentorship Program (GMP) is to help applicants from under-represented backgrounds in the field prepare their applications to Economics Ph.D. programs by matching them to mentors in the Duke Econ Ph.D. program.

Applications open for 2023–2024

The 2023–2024 application cycle has started! For priority access, please fill out the application no later than August 25, 2023.

Anybody who is considering a Ph.D. in economics or an economics-adjacent field (such as finance or public policy) and self-identifies as coming from an under-represented background, which may be defined according to race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, income, first-generation college student, or any other dimension of individual identity. You should be currently pursuing or have already completed undergraduate studies before applying.

Priority may be given to students who are applying in the nearest application cycle. However, if you are interested in applying to a Ph.D. in economics sometime in the next few years, you are also encouraged to apply. Mentors can also provide valuable information regarding long-run preparation for a Ph.D. application. In the application, you will indicate when you are planning to apply.

Mentors are current Ph.D. students in the Duke Economics department, ranging from years 2 to 6 in the program and various subfields. They have all been through the application process, and can answer questions regarding, for example, how to write a strong statement of purpose, how to choose letter writers, how to approach professors with reference letter requests, what courses to take and what schools to apply to. Finally, they can share their experience as a Ph.D. student, to give applicants a more accurate picture of the Ph.D. process. All mentors will go through a brief training with the faculty admissions committee for preparation on how to best advise applicants.

Once accepted into the program, you will be matched to mentors and can begin 1-on-1 meetings over Zoom (or possibly in-person if you are located near Durham, NC). They may also review any application materials you would like them to look over. Follow-up meetings can occur as needed.

This is an entirely student-run program, and your participation is strictly confidential. Your identity and anything you share with your mentor will only be known to the mentor and a few student program coordinators.

No information, including your identity, will at any point be shared with any admissions committee members, faculty members, other students, or anyone else outside the mentorship program.

We may contact you after the program for feedback on your experience, and aggregated and non-identifiable information may be used for program evaluation purposes.

No. No information, including individual names, will be shared with the admissions committee or with any faculty members at any point.

All Ph.D. students have somewhat recently been through the application process and are therefore uniquely positioned to provide application assistance. At the same time, they are completely disconnected from the faculty-run admissions process, making it safer and easier for mentors and mentees to speak freely, openly and comfortably about the application process.

Please fill out this application. Please submit your application by August 25, 2023. We look forward to receiving your application!

It is ideal if Duke is one of the Ph.D. programs that you plan on applying to, but this is not a strict requirement.

We will aim to get back to students with an acceptance decision by the end of August.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact the program coordinators, Hema Shah ( and Shaheryar (, via email.