UC Santa Barbara General CatalogUniversity of California, Santa Barbara


Division of Social Sciences
North Hall 2127
Telephone: (805) 893-7309

Undergraduate Office: (805) 893-2981
Graduate Office: (805) 893-2205
Undergraduate e-mail: ugrad@econ.ucsb.edu
Graduate e-mail:  grad@econ.ucsb.edu
Website: www.econ.ucsb.edu
Department Chair: Peter Rupert

Graduate Program

Applicants must fulfill University requirements for admission to graduate status described in the section “Graduate Education at UCSB” in addition to the departmental requirements for admission detailed below.

Master of Arts—Economics, Plan A (Requirements - PDF)
Master of Arts—Economics, Plan B (Requirements - PDF)


Admissions decisions are made by the faculty of the Economics Department. Admission to the program is based on intellectual potential, academic achievement, programmatic fit, and available space. A bachelor's degree in economics is not required for admission to the Masters program, but the department does require that specific courses, particularly introductory economic theory (Microeconomics and Macroeconomics) have been passed with distinction (grade of B+ or better). Strong mathematical aptitude is needed. At least two courses/classes of calculus and one basic statistics course are required. Coursework in introductory linear algebra is also required. The linear algebra requirement can be met either by a separate course in the subject or as part of a calculus or other mathematics course. In the latter case, please include a brief note to this effect in your personal achievements essay unless the relevant course title makes clear that linear algebra was covered. Preparation beyond the minimum in mathematics and economics is highly recommended. Most competitive candidates have more mathematics than calculus and introduction to linear algebra. 

To be considered for admission, applicants must have received a bachelor's degree or its equivalent from an accredited university prior to the quarter for which the applicant seeks admission, and have at least a B average (3.0 on a 4.0 scale) undergraduate GPA. Meeting the minimum requirement does not guarantee admission; the actual standard for admission is set by the current pool of applicants, and is generally much higher. For the last three years, the average undergraduate GPA for admitted applicants was 3.57 (on a 4.0 scale).

All applicants are required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test.  We do not accept GMAT scores instead of GRE scores. Average GRE scores for students admitted to the MA program for the past three years were: GRE Verbal: 155 (65%), GRE Quantitative: 163 (88%), and GRE Analytical Writing: 4.0 (49%).

Students who think they ultimately might want to complete a Ph.D. are strongly advised to apply for admission to the Ph.D. program rather than the M.A. program. Ph.D. students are awarded an M.A. degree upon successful completion of specific courses and examinations, but course requirements for the M.A. portion of the Ph.D. program are considerably different from those required for the terminal M.A. degree described in this brochure.

Doctor of Philosophy—Economics (Requirements - PDF)


Admissions decisions are made by the departmental Graduate Admissions Committee, which is chaired by the Director of Graduate Studies. Admission to the program is based on intellectual potential and scholarly promise, academic achievement, and programmatic fit. A bachelor's degree is required, though not necessarily with a major in economics. The department does require that specific courses, particularly economic theory (Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and Econometrics), be passed with distinction.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required of all applicants to the graduate program. Applicants, whose native language is not English, are required to take either the Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam. The minimum TOEFL score for consideration is 600 when taking the paper-based test (PBT) or 100 when taking the internet-based test (IBT). Successful applicants typically score above 260 on the paper-based test or 105 when taking the internet-based test. The minimum IELTS score for consideration is an Overall Band Score of 7 or higher. TOEFL or IELTS scores can be no more than two years old at the time of application to UCSB.

Optional Interdisciplinary Emphasis

Students pursuing a doctoral degree in Economics may petition to add the following Optional Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Emphasis: Economics and Environmental Science (EES).

Requirement sheets for each emphasis may be found on this page.