PhD in Economics

The PhD program in Economics is offered by the Research School of Economics (RSE), and caters to candidates of the highest academic ambition. RSE offers a diverse and stimulating intellectual environment, attracting candidates as well as faculty from all over the world. The School values open academic discourse, encourages collaboration, and is continuously searching for ideas that push and shift the research frontier. Our world-class faculty teach, supervise and support candidates on their journeys to become thought leaders in academia, government, national and international research institutions, think tanks, and business.

CRICOS #: 048345A

Duration: 2 to 4 years full time (4 to 8 years part time)

Before applying

Before you submit an application for entry to the program, you should:

  • ensure you meet the admission requirements outlined below.
  • identify potential supervisors – that is, one or two academic economists at ANU who conduct research in your area of interest.

You can find information on researchers and their research areas in the ANU researchers database and RSE staff directory.

While other ANU schools may recommend contacting potential supervisors before submitting an application, this is not required for entry into RSE’s PhD program. Instead, you only need to list the name(s) of potential supervisors in your online application form.

Potential supervisors cannot guarantee entry into the PhD program. Admission will depend on the strength of your application relative to others in the pool.

After you’ve completed the steps above, you can proceed with an online application.

Application deadlines

The first semester of the ANU academic year starts in February, and the second semester starts in July. In general, successful applicants will start their PhD program with RSE in Semester 1 of the following year. While all applications for first semester entry must be submitted before 31 October, international applicants wishing to be considered for an ANU scholarship should submit their applications before 31 August.

To be considered for a scholarship, your application must be accompanied by all the supporting documents listed below, including the referee reports. Request for referee reports are triggered and sent to your nominated referees at the time of submission of program application. It is thus important that you submit your application in advance (2-3 weeks) to allow time for your referees to provide their reports prior to the scholarship deadline.

If you’re currently completing an academic degree and haven’t yet received your final results and transcript, you should still submit all available documents before the deadline, and forward remaining results once you receive them. We won’t make a final decision on your application until we’ve received all the required documents.

If you’re admitted to the program, you’ll be expected to attend the pre-PhD summer course, Mathematical Techniques for Advanced Economic Analysis, which is offered during January and February, before the start of the semester.

Due to the sequencing of the coursework required for our PhD program, we’ll only consider applications for entry in the second semester (starting in July) if you have completed the ANU Master of Economics, or if you have a strong background in mathematical and statistical techniques.

ANU Master of Economics students interested in applying for entry into our PhD program should discuss their applications with the RSE Masters convenor after completing the first year of the Master coursework). All applications for entry in Semester 2 must be submitted before 31 March.

Admission requirements

The admission requirements for the PhD program in Economics reflect the advanced knowledge in economics that candidates will need to undertake the coursework component of the degree, and the research experience and skills needed to successfully undertake and complete the research thesis.

The minimum qualification requirement for admission to the PhD program in Economics is:

  • a Bachelor degree with First Class Honours or Second Class Honours Division A in economics from an approved university, or
  • a Bachelor degree with First Class Honours or Second Class Honours Division A in mathematics and/or statistics from an approved university, which includes a major or equivalent in economics, and a final grade at least of distinction in a third-year economics course, or
  • an ANU Master of Economics, or an equivalent postgraduate qualification in economics from an approved university, with results that the convenor deems to be at least equivalent to Second Class Honours Division A at ANU.

Additionally, you will have to show evidence of your:

  • advanced knowledge of microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory and econometrics
  • adequate background in mathematical methods and mathematical economics (at a minimum, at the level of the book Mathematics for Economists by Simon and Blume)
  • research experience, e.g. in the form of an honours or Master thesis or research project, at a standard equivalent to a Second Class Honours Division A degree.

Admission to the PhD program in Economics is competitive and we can only admit a limited number of applicants each year. Meeting the minimum entry requirements does not guarantee you a place in the program.

If you don’t satisfy the eligibility criteria, or if you have the required qualifications but would prefer to have a refresher before applying to enter the PhD program, you can choose to first complete the Master of Economics.

English language requirements

All applicants must satisfy the University’s English language admission requirements. An international applicant who is not a native English speaker may satisfy these requirements by submitting evidence of an IELTS overall score of at least 6.5, and with no component less than 6.0, or a paper-based TOEFL score of at least 570, with at least 4.5 in the essay component.

Application and supporting documentation

You must submit your application online via the ANU Application Manager.

In addition to the standard information required in the online application, you must submit the following supporting documents as part of your application:

  • transcripts from previous study
  • a brief research proposal that outlines your proposed area of research and the questions that you plan to address as part of your PhD thesis – see guidelines on how to prepare a persuasive research proposal
  • a copy of your honours or Master thesis
  • details about your previous study in economics (e.g. course outlines of advanced economic theory and econometrics courses taken, including details of textbooks used)
  • official TOEFL or IELTS results (where applicable) to demonstrate that you satisfy the University’s English language requirements
  • nomination of three referees. A referee report form will automatically be sent to the referees you list in your online application. Your application will be complete and ready for assessment once we receive all documents, including referee reports.

GRE requirement

As part of your application, you must also submit your GRE General Test results. The GRE designated institution code for the ANU College of Business and Economics is 7833. You should use this code to submit your official GRE results.

You’re exempt from the GRE requirement if you’ve already completed some of the coursework required for the PhD as part of an ANU Master of Economics or ANU Honours in Economics degree. Similarly, you’re exempt if you’ve completed an Honours in Economics degree from an Australian or New Zealand university, but we encourage you to provide GRE results to improve your chances of admission and scholarship support.

Offers of admission

The HDR (higher degree by research) convenor will review all complete applications submitted by the relevant deadline.

If your application is short-listed, you may be required to attend an interview (face to face or online).

We may send you an offer of admission if you satisfy the eligibility criteria and your area of interest matches those of RSE academics with supervisory capacity. However, since admission is competitive and supervisory capacity is limited, we won’t send any offers of admission until after the relevant application deadline, irrespective of the date when you submit your application.

Program structures

The PhD program in Economics consists of two components – coursework and research.

Candidates undertake the research component after successfully completing the required coursework.

PhD coursework component

Pre-PhD course

All admitted candidates are expected to arrive in Canberra four to six weeks before the beginning of the semester and attend the pre-PhD course in Mathematical Techniques for Advanced Economic Analysis.


Candidates undertaking a PhD are normally required to successfully complete eight semester-length courses (including five compulsory courses) over two consecutive semesters of full-time study. Candidates holding the ANU Master of Economics degree may be exempt from part of the coursework requirement, at the discretion of the HDR convenor.

The coursework for the PhD in Economics consists of:

  • Three compulsory courses:
  • At least two of:
  • Three electives chosen from the list below in accordance with a candidate’s research interests and on the advice of their supervisor(s) (note: not all courses are offered every year):
    • Microeconomics:
    • Macroeconomics:
    • Quantitative tools:
      • ECON8014 Computational Methods in Economics
      • EMET8001 Applied Micro-Econometrics
      • EMET8010 Applied Macro and Financial Econometrics
      • EMET8012 Business and Economic Forecasting
      • MATH6110 Analysis 1: Metric Spaces and Applications
      • MATH6212 Analysis 2: Lebesgue Integration and Hilbert Spaces
      • MATH6214 Advanced Functional Analysis, Spectral Theory and Applications
    • Other specialisations:

PhD research component

Upon successful completion of the compulsory courses and electives, PhD candidates proceed to the research component of their program. PhD candidates with two or more fails in their coursework cannot proceed to the research component.

The research component normally takes 36 months of full-time research. During this time, candidates write their thesis.

In each of the three years of research (when studying full-time), each candidate is expected to present their research at one of the seminars run by RSE.

Research supervisory panel

When a PhD candidate is admitted to the program, a provisional supervisor – usually the HDR convenor – oversees the candidate’s progress until a primary supervisor is appointed. The Director of the School and the HDR convenor determine the primary supervisor and supervisory panel in consultation with the candidates.

Sometimes candidates change their topic, and this could necessitate changes in the supervisory panel. These changes are coordinated by the primary supervisor or the HDR convenor. All supervisory changes have to be approved by the convenor of the program and the Delegated Authority in accordance with ANU HDR policies and procedures.

RSE research seminar program

The RSE research seminar series consists of weekly seminars presented by national and international researchers. PhD candidates are expected to attend and participate regularly in the seminars throughout their candidature. Beginning with their thesis proposal review, candidates are also expected to present in the seminar series at least once every year.

Research integrity training

Within three to six months of enrolment, all PhD candidates must complete the Research Integrity Training and pass the exam. Completion of this course and exam is a compulsory milestone for all PhD candidates.

Thesis proposal review

In their second year of study, PhD candidates must submit a thesis proposal for review by their supervisory panel. The purpose of the review is to assess the originality, significance, adequacy and achievability of the candidate’s thesis plan.

The candidate generally submits their thesis proposal in conjunction with their first seminar presentation. The proposal includes a description of the research to be undertaken in the thesis, and a summary of the thesis structure and time plan. Successful completion of the thesis proposal review is required to continue in the program.

Annual progress review

It is University policy that each candidate’s progress be reviewed periodically. In each year of their program, PhD candidates are required to submit an annual plan and report as a basis for periodic progress review. This document provides details on work completed by the candidate since the previous review, current progress, and any problems that may impact their research. It also outlines the coursework and research the candidate intends to undertake in the following 12 months.

Oral Presentation

In their final year, candidates are required to give a final oral presentation on their research, usually three months before submitting their thesis.

Read more about research candidate milestones.

Thesis submission and examination

The culmination of the PhD in Economics is a written thesis which, upon completion, is submitted for examination. The thesis is examined by two or three experts in the relevant field.

The PhD degree is awarded on the basis of the examination of the thesis. The examiners would be aware that the candidate has completed coursework requirements, but the level of performance in coursework is not taken into account in examining the candidate’s thesis for the award of the degree.

For more information on the process, visit our page on submitting a thesis.


For information about scholarships available to HDR candidates, visit our page on scholarships and fees.

Job placement

Read details of some of our alumni’s recent job placements.

Current PhD candidates

A list of current PhD candidates in Economics is available on the RSE website.