Graduate Student Frequently Asked Questions

What is your decision time?
The admissions process begins after the January 15 admission deadline and extends up through the middle of April.  Initial notifications of admission and non-admission, as well as initial funding decisions, are generally sent out within the month of February. 
Does the Applied Economics Graduate Program offer all fields of economics?
No, we are smaller and more specialized than many graduate programs.  Beyond our core theory and quantitative methods courses, most graduate courses emphasize Environmental Economics, Natural Resource Economics, Development Economics, or Agricultural Economics. 
Students do have the opportunity to take graduate courses in other programs on campus, such as public policy, statistics, computer science, forestry, public health, oceanography, and engineering.  In turn, the strong training we provide in micro-economic theory and quantitative methods allows students to branch out to other fields of economics. 
However, please review the research profiles of faculty to get a sense of the research emphasized in the department.
See also the past placement page for a sampling of recent topics researched by graduate students.
What is your acceptance rate and student numbers?
In recent years we have received 80-120 applications per year (PhD and MS).  Out of these, we provide 5-year funding packages for up to 8 new PhD students per year.  
We admit approximately one-third of MS applicants but (unlike some institutions) are generally unable to provide funding for MS students.  Admitted MS students should be prepared to pay OSU graduate tuition, fees, and living expenses for 1-2 years.
Approximately three-quarters of entering PhD students have an MS degree; the remainder have a BS degree.
The graduate program in applied economics has approximately 35 graduate students.
Do individual faculty make funding decisions? Should I email individual professors to see if they will fund me?
You are welcome to send an email to individual professors, but they do not make admission or funding decisions.  All applications are simultaneously reviewed by a graduate admissions committee starting after the application deadline (January 15).  You will receive full consideration for funding if you meet the deadlines.
MS students generally need to pay OSU graduate tuition and cover their own living expenses, etc. 
Can I get funding to study in your program?
MS students generally need to pay OSU graduate tuition and cover their own living expenses, etc. 
We offer full funding packages to 5-8 new PhD students per year (domestic and international). The funding package assists with living expenses, tuition, and health insurance. All PhD applicants are automatically considered for these funding possibilities; you do not need to ask to be considered for funding. 
A funding package may be in the form of a Graduate Assistantship that counts as employment with the university and involves 12-20 hours of work per week. This may be research or teaching, both of which are excellent preparation for your future career. 
Some funded PhD students receive a Fellowship or Scholarship that has no work requirement. Some students, usually after their first year, may be funded by faculty grants to assist with research. This depends upon grant availability and is not predictable. 
In general, for PhD students, we anticipate providing funding for 5 years contingent on satisfactory academic progress and work performance.
What can PhD applicants do to improve their chances of admission with funding?
You are more likely to be successful if your interests connect to the strengths of our program, which traditionally have been the economics of the environment, resources, agriculture, and development. While most of our field courses are on these topics, there is a wide array of courses and expertise at Oregon State University for you to draw upon. You can get a sense of our strengths by reviewing faculty research areas and the topics of recent graduates on our placement page.
When we review your application, we look for training in intermediate micro-economic theory (with calculus), other economics courses (including econometrics), and basic preparation in differential calculus, integral calculus, and matrix algebra.
If you have NOT taken the above courses, you can improve your readiness for graduate school by taking these through OSU Ecampus, or at a college or university located near to you, prior to your arrival.
What are some things to know before filling out the application?
1. GRE scores are not required but may be reported. 


2. All applicants must briefly describe their preparation in calculus and linear algebra, including the most advanced math course they’ve taken, or plan to take before they arrive. 
Note that Ph.D. applicants would ideally have preparation in undergraduate courses similar to the following OSU courses before you apply:
  • MTH 251 – Differential Calculus
  • MTH 252 – Integral Calculus (has MTH 251 as prerequisite)
  • MTH 254 – Vector Calculus I (has MTH 252 as prerequisite)
  • MTH 264 – Introduction to Matrix Algebra (has MTH 252 as prerequisite)  - OR -
  • MTH 341 – Linear Algebra I (has MTH 254 as prerequisite)
For students only getting a Master’s degree, the following course may be appropriate:
  • MTH 241 – Calculus for Management and Social Science


3.  All applicants must submit a statement of academic and career objectives.  You’ll want to be as specific as possible about your proposed focus of study, allowing that circumstances may change as you learn more about a field.  You should address your motivations for graduate study and briefly explain your overall preparation to enter your chosen field.  If you can provide a sample of research that you’ve conducted, that would be beneficial.


4.  All applicants must name two or more faculty members active in the graduate program who could be potential mentors.


5.  All applicants must list the program’s fields or concentrations that are of interest to you.
Do I have to be an economics major to be a strong candidate during admissions?
Not necessarily. People with degrees in fields other than economics can do very well in our program, especially if they have experience or interests in the areas for which we have faculty expertise. We do recommend, however, that you have training in intermediate micro-economic theory (with calculus), other economics courses (including econometrics), and basic preparation in differential calculus, integral calculus, and matrix algebra.
Is Applied Economics considered a STEM program?
Yes. The Graduate Program in Applied Economics are STEM-designated degree programs. This means that the U.S. government recognizes that the program focuses on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) topics. The STEM designation has special implications for international students who are studying in the United States, as well as funding for certain research opportunities. ⁠
May I upload an unofficial version of my transcript?
Ideally you would submit official documents, but you may upload an unofficial one temporarily. If you are admitted, you must submit official documentation of all academic work attempted or completed prior to registration for courses. This includes all official transcripts/academic records, degree statements, test scores, etc. A list of required documents will be included on your formal letter of admission from the Graduate School. See the OSU Graduate School website for more information.
If I’m required to submit English-language test scores, do they have to be official?
Make every effort to provide official test scores with your application.  Otherwise a PDF copy of your scoresheet may be accepted at the time of application.  If you are admitted to the program, the OSU Graduate School will need to have official scores.  For some tests such as IELTS, these can be verified through their system.
I am an international student but have studied in the US. Do I have to submit the scores of an English language proficiency test?
An automatic waiver regarding English proficiency is granted if you completed a degree in the US. If your US-based degree is in progress, we require two full time terms with at least a 3.00 GPA in order to waive a score regarding English language proficiency. Please indicate this on your application so that a waiver can be provided. If you have older English proficiency scores (e.g., TOEFL), you might submit those (even if out of date). See the OSU Graduate School website for more information.
I am an international student, but English is my first language. Do I have to submit the scores of an English language proficiency test?
International applicants normally need to report the results of an English language proficiency exam, but if English is your native language, this should not be necessary. Please indicate this clearly when filling out the application for the OSU Graduate School. Otherwise, all applicants whose native language is not English, or did not receive a bachelor or higher degree in an English-speaking country, must meet the minimum English language proficiency requirements for admission. Contact the OSU Graduate School for more information.
If I want to get a Master’s degree, should I apply for the MS or MA degree?
We generally recommend that students seeking a Master’s degree choose our MS degree over the MA.  The major difference is that the MA has a foreign language requirement.  If you wish to signal to potential employers that you have foreign language ability, you can directly highlight your ability in your resume and cover letter; it is unlikely that employers know the difference between the MA and MS requirements of our program.
Are there any minimum criteria set for GPA (grade point average)?
You should have at least a cumulative B average (equivalent 3.00 on a U.S. 4.00 grading scale) from a recognized college or university.  The university encourages applicants with a GPA of less than this to take the GRE.
What do I have to score on the GRE exam?
You may submit a GRE score if you want, but it is not required.  You may be admitted and funded without a GRE score.  We have other ways of gathering the information that a GRE score might represent.
It could be beneficial to report a GRE score under some circumstances, such as if you are from an institution that is not well known at the international level.
What undergraduate/masters courses should I take to best prepare for the PhD program?
You should have training in intermediate micro-economic theory (with calculus), other economics courses (including econometrics), and basic preparation in differential calculus, integral calculus, and matrix algebra.  Any other kind of academic, work, or life experience related to your particular interest can be useful.
The following Oregon State University courses are representative of the prerequisites for the program’s MS-level core courses:
  • Microeconomic Theory - AEC 311 and 313 (or Econ 311 and 312)
  • Mathematics - Math 251 – 253
  • Statistics - Stat 351 and 352
Prerequisites of the PhD-level core courses are completion of the MS-level core courses (AEC 512, 513, and 525) or their equivalents. Entering PhD students should additionally have completed undergraduate courses in integral calculus and linear algebra.
Can I upload my documents after I paid for application fee?
Yes.  You can also contact the Graduate School of OSU directly for more information or clarification.
What are your admission requirements?
Applicants are admitted to the Applied Economics Graduate Program on a variety of criteria.  They include courses taken and grades received, previous majors and degrees and the universities that granted them, English skills, extra-academic experiences, and reference letters.  No minimum level is employed in any of these criteria.  Rather, all are considered together to forecast the applicant’s chances of performing well in the Program.  The exception is that, for non-U.S. students without a completed or soon-to-be-completed undergraduate or or graduate degree in the United States or Canada, minimum acceptable English-language proficiency scores pertain.  Please see the OSU Graduate School page for detailed minimum requirements.
What are the core and field courses in the graduate program?
The MS and PhD curricula are each divided between core courses – microeconomic theory and quantitative methods – and field (concentration) courses. Most core courses are taken during the student’s first year because they are pre-requisites for many field courses.
All incoming Applied Economics Graduate Program graduate students take AEC 512 and 513, MS-level microeconomic theory, together during the fall term.  This will enable PhD students, who come from a wide variety of discipline, university, and country backgrounds, to master the MS-level theoretical skills necessary for success at the PhD level.  Performance in fall-term 512/513 also may offer a signal that a student who had intended to work toward the PhD is better prepared for the MS program instead. Alternatively, students who had intended to work toward the MS might feasibly switch to the PhD program.
Should I contact individual professors ahead of time to be my advisor?
Prospective students are welcome to contact individual faculty.  However, individual faculty do not make decisions about whether to fund you or admit you.  This is done by a graduate admissions committee that reviews all applications after the application deadline.
Newly arrived students are advised by the Graduate Program Director. Within three months of an MS student’s (and nine months of a PhD student’s) arrival, the student is expected to select a permanent advisor and advisory committee. The permanent advisor chairs the student’s advisory committee.
How do I form a committee once I am in the program?
Choice of advisor and committee is made mutually by the student and faculty member. Students are encouraged to soon begin the process of advisory committee formation by talking with individual faculty members. The advisory committee is formalized at the student’s Program of Study meeting, where a contract is signed stipulating which courses the student will take to fulfill the course portion of the program.
Who are participating faculty?
Most Applied Economics graduate faculty at OSU are in the Department of Applied Economics. However there are also economists in the Economics Program of the School of Public Policy, in the College of Forestry, and in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences.
Is there any role for graduate students in program governance?
Yes. Graduate students in the department have an opportunity to engage with faculty through the Applied Economics Graduate Student Advisory Board (GSAB). GSAB serves as a platform to facilitate communication between students, faculty, and administration with a goal to impact pathways and experiences for the department's graduate students. The Board's current objectives highlight professional development; diversity and inclusion education and development; improved mental health outcomes; opportunities for social engagement; and providing feedback towards improvement of coursework and graduate classroom experience. The Board's officers consist of a chair, five elected representatives, and a Coalition of Graduate Employees liaison.
What resources are there for job placement?
As students approach the end of their programs, their advisory committee will assist with the job search process. Assistance includes advising on job market strategy as well as feedback on students' job market papers. Most faculty maintain long-term professional relationships with their students after they leave the program. Students are also invited to participate in the Job Market Preparation Group (JMPG) starting in the spring term of the year they begin their job search. The JMPG provides multiple faculty-led seminars that cover topics including: information on the job market for new economics Ph.D. holders, preparing job applications and a personal website, delivering job talks, and interviewing. As part of the JMPG, students also complete at least one mock job talk and a mock interview with faculty members. Mock job talks are included in the departmental seminar calendar and are open to the OSU community. Students on the job market are encouraged to network with Applied Economics Graduate Program alumni in sectors they are targeting for their first placement. For more information on job placements of our graduates, please see the Past Placements page.

If you have other questions that were not addressed here, please contact us.