PhD in Economics: A Complete Guide

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PhD in Economics

Martin Luther, a noted German professor of Theology, nailed 95 theses on a church door in Wittenberg contesting against the practices of the Roman Catholics in 1517. In the early 16th century, a thesis was a critical medium for putting one’s arguments forward. But today, it has become an essential element of academic research dissertations. A PhD is considered one of the most significant and toughest degrees in the world and a valuable asset for an academician. It helps in the publication of papers, grants awarding and other kinds of recognition in your desired field. Pursuing a PhD in Economics, you are provided with an enhanced opportunity to delve deeper into the realm of Economics and explore the diverse fields of research and academic opportunities through this degree. You can also discover work opportunities in policy-making and social impact.

In this blog, we will take you through the key features of a PhD in Economics, the top colleges offering this degree along with the eligibility details.

Is a PhD in Economics after MBA a Good Option?

The thrill of conducting further independent scholarly research and gaining in-depth knowledge of a specialised area is one of the major reasons why PhD in Economics is a good option after an MBA. This knowledge is usually provided superficially during MBA while a PhD offers the opportunity to gain further expertise. That’s why a PhD is best for those who want to go further into research as compared to pursuing a professional degree like an MBA.

Is a PhD in Economics Worth It?

A PhD in Economics comprises courses in Econometrics and Economic Theory which is beneficial for those striving for prospects in the social and academic sectors. This degree will equip me with extensive knowledge of several economic theories and tools that are necessary for assisting governments, individuals and corporations in handling their financial data and making smart decisions based on this data. You will also develop a deeper understanding of the different economic systems utilised around the world. A PhD Economics constitutes of subjects such as: 

  • Economic Theory 
  • Applied Microeconomics 
  • Game Theory 
  • Applied Microeconomics 
  • Energy Economics 
  • Theoretical Economics 
  • Labour Economics

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The duration of a PhD may vary from university to university around the globe and also depends on the level of your entry in the chosen institute. However, commonly a PhD in Economics takes around 4 to 5 years for full-time students depending on their point of entry into the institute. However, this will depend on the choice of subjects and the student’s performance as well. 

Top Colleges Offering PhD in Economics

While there are numerous colleges around the world that offer a PhD in Economics, we have listed the major universities that have been ranked at the top in the QS World University Rankings for Economics. These universities provide an excellent course structure for Economic Studies along with proficient research opportunities.  

  • Stanford University, USA 
  • University of Oxford, USA
  • Yale University, USA 
  • University of Cambridge, USA  
  • Princeton University, USA 
  • Harvard University, USA  
  • London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
  • University of Chicago, USA
  • University of California, Berkeley (UCB), USA 

Eligibility Requirements for PhD in Economics

To pursue a PhD in Economics, you are required to fulfil certain eligibility criteria for admissions. While these requirements vary from university to university, here are the common eligibility criteria for this course:

  •  A master’s degree or the international equivalent degree is always considered one of the major requirements for admission to PhD Programs. However, in some rare cases, students can move to a PhD degree right after their bachelor’s degree.  
  • In some universities, prior work experience, projects, theses and dissertations might be considered as well. 
  • Your academic performance in school and college will also be taken into account.

Application Process

Because Europe is such a large continent, the procedure for applying to universities may differ from one country to the next. Here is a list of some important documents you will need on hand when applying to study in Europe:

  • Keep your academic transcripts on hand as proof that you graduated from high school.
  • As an international student, you will require a valid, non-expired passport.
  • Admission essays, letters of recommendation, and statements of purpose
  • English proficiency tests such as IELTS, TOEFL, and C1 Advanced are required.

How to Get a Student Visa in Europe

You would be unable to enter any European country without a letter of acceptance. So you must first complete the application process and obtain a letter of acceptance from a university. The following is a brief description of the procedure for obtaining a student visa to study in Europe, which can be completed online or offline depending on the country:

Step 1: Gather all of the essential paperwork for a visa, which includes

  • Photos in passport size
  • Form of application
  • A photo ID or proof of identification
  • A high school transcript or other proof of your educational qualifications
  • A police certificate demonstrating that you have not been involved in any criminal behaviour in the recent past.
  • Evidence of sound financial ability
  • Medical certificate stating that you are medically fit (required in some countries)
  • Receipt of your payment for admission to your preferred university
  • Acceptance letter

Step 2: Make contact with the consulate or embassy of the European country where you will be staying.

Step 3: On the day of the interview, they will ask for the documents you gathered earlier, so be ready. The date of the interview will be provided by the consulate or embassy.

Step 4: A study visa in Europe is usually approved between 2 to 5 weeks.

Scholarships to Study in Europe

Though Erasmus Mundus scholarships provide numerous financial aid programmes for individuals wishing to study in Europe, there are numerous country-specific scholarships available. These can range from scholarships granted by a country’s institution or the national government to eager students all over the world. Take a look at the table below, which highlights some of the most well-known scholarships granted by European countries.

CountryScholarships to Study in Europe
GermanyThe Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Scholarship
DAAD Scholarships
Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Scholarships
SwitzerlandSwiss Government Excellence Scholarships
for Foreign Scholars and Artists (Postgraduate programmes)

ETH Zurich Excellence Masters Scholarship Program
UNU Fellowship in International Organizations
MBA Merit Scholarships (to study at the University of Geneva)
NetherlandsAmsterdam Merit Scholarships for Excellent International Students
(to study at the University of Amsterdam for master’s degree students)
Orange Tulip Scholarship Programme
Radboud Scholarship Programme
(master’s programs at Radboud University)
World Citizen Talent Scholarship for International Students
(master’s programs at the Hague University of Applied Sciences)
Anne van den Ban Scholarships for Developing Countries
at Wageningen University
IrelandGovernment of Ireland International Education Scholarships
(1-year programmes)
Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) ‌Centenary Scholarship
Programme (master’s programmes at DIT)
NUI Galway International Student Scholarships (all study levels)
ItalyUniversity of Bologna Study Grants for International Students
(bachelor’s and master’s level programs)
Bocconi Scholarships in Italy for International Students
(MSc programs at Bocconi University)
Italian Government Scholarships for Foreign Students
(all degree programmes)
University of Bologna Study Grants for International Students
(bachelor’s and master’s courses)
HungaryStipendium Hungaricum (bachelor’s & master’s level)
Hungarian Government Scholarships for Foreign Students
(master’s programs in horticulture, rural development and
agribusiness and agricultural water management)
FranceEmile Boutmy Scholarships in France for International Students
(bachelor’s and master’s programs at Sciences Po)
Eiffel Scholarships in France for International Students
(master’s and PhD programs)
Foundation Rainbow Bridge MBA Scholarships for
African and Asian Women (MBA scholarships for female students
to study at HEC Paris)
AustriaKünstlerhaus Büchsenhausen Five-Month
Fellowship for International Students in Austria
(5-month fellowships for curators, theorists,
art critics, visual and media artists)
Austrian Government Scholarships (all study levels)
OFID funding for International Students in Austria
DenmarkEducation Future International Scholarship 2020
(Bachelor’s and Master’s)
Endeavour Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship
(Doctorate programmes)
Skype’s Foreign Studies’ Master’s Scholarship
ACI Foundation Richard D. Stehly Memorial Scholarships, 2020
(Bachelor’s programs)
FinlandFinland Government Scholarships (Bachelor’s and master’s)
Hanken’s Scholarship Scheme in Finland (master’s programs)
Finland Seinajoki University of Applied Sciences Scholarships
(bachelor’s programs)


How long does it take to get a PhD in economics?

The “normal” length of a PhD programme in economics is 5 years. Some students complete their dissertations in less time, while others take more.

Is a PhD in Economics beneficial?

A PhD in Economics indicates that you have finished the greatest level of schooling in the discipline, which opens up practically limitless prospects for any profession in a related field.

Who is qualified for a PhD in economics?

The Department of Economic Sciences hosts a programme at the start of each academic year. To sit for the admission exam, you must have at least 55% (or a CPI of 5.5 on a 10-point scale) in your Master’s degree in Economics or a related discipline (e.g., Mathematics, Statistics).

We hope that through this blog you have gained a better clarity about PhD in Economics. If you are unsure about the right university to pursue this degree from, Leverage Edu‘s AI tool can assist you in browsing through different universities across the globe and shortlisting an ideal university that fits your preferences and interests in the field of Economics.

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