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PhD Program in Economics

Full-time study for the PhD in Economics at the ANU Research School of Economics normally takes four years, and consists of two parts – a coursework component (Part A) and a research component (Part B). In the coursework component, students learn the foundations of economic theory and econometrics, and have the opportunity to specialise in fields of interest. In the research component, students contribute to their field of specialisation by writing a thesis under the guidance of a panel of supervisors.

CRICOS #: 048345A

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

Before you apply

  • Refer to the admission requirements and determine if your qualifications are sufficient for direct entry into the Program. If you do not satisfy the eligibility criteria, or if you do have the required qualifications but it has been a while since you last studied and you prefer to have a refresher before starting your PhD, you can choose to first complete the Master of Economics offered by the Research School of Economics (RSE), before applying for admission to the PhD program.
  • Identify one or two academic economists at ANU whose research interests are close to yours as potential supervisors (useful links: economists at the RSE, researchers at ANU). Note that even though other ANU websites may recommend that you contact potential supervisors before submitting your application, contacting the researchers directly is not required or encouraged for the Economics PhD – you just need to list the names of potential supervisors on your application form.

Once you have identified one or more researchers you may like to work with, determined that you meet the basic admission requirements, and developed a brief research proposal, please proceed with an online application

Application deadlines

The first semester of the ANU academic year starts in February, and in general, admissions will only be processed for entry in semester one of the following year. Applicants should also note that all admitted students are 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 that is required for the PhD, admission with entry in the second semester (starting in July) will only be granted if a successful applicant has already completed most of the PhD coursework as part of the ANU Master of Economics. All other applicants should apply for admission in semester one. (ANU Master of Economics students interested in applying for the PhD should in the first instance discuss their application with the RSE Masters convenor after completing the first year of the Masters coursework.)

In general, all applications for entry in semester one of the following year must be submitted before 31 October. In addition, international applicants whishing to be considered for an ANU scholarship should submit their application before 31 August. In order for an application to be considered, all supporting documents, including academic transcripts, reference letters, GRE test results and IELTS or TOEFL scores, if applicable, must be received by the ANU before the respective application deadlines.

If an applicant is currently completing an honours or masters degree, and final transcripts and results are not available before the application submission deadline, he/she should submit all available documents prior to the deadline, and will be required to submit the remaining results before a final decision on admission is made.

Note also that all scholarship applications are processed for entry in semester one. For further information regarding scholarships, see the Scholarships tab above.

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Academic requirements

The admission requirements for the Economics PhD program reflect the advanced knowledge in economics that students will require in order to undertake the coursework component of the degree, as well as evidence of sufficient research experience and skills to indicate that students can successfully complete the research component of the degree. To be admitted into the PhD Program in Economics, candidates must have one of the following:

  1. A degree of bachelor with first or upper second class honours in economics from an approved university;
  2. A degree of bachelor with first or upper second class honours in mathematics and/or statistics from an approved university which includes a major (or equivalent) in economics, and have obtained a pass at least at the level of distinction in a third-year economics course;
  3. The ANU Master of Economics, or an equivalent postgraduate qualification in economics from an approved university, with results that are deemed by the convener to be at least equivalent to upper second class honours at ANU.

Furthermore, an applicant will have to show evidence of the following:

  • advanced knowledge of microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory and econometrics;
  • an adequate background in mathematical methods and mathematical economics (at a minimum, at the level of the book Mathematics for Economists by Simon and Blume);
  • evidence of research experience, e.g., in the form of an honours or masters thesis or research project, at a standard equivalent to an upper second class honours degree.

If you satisfy the eligibility criteria and have identified a potential supervisor, then apply online.

Additional material to upload with your application should include:

  • transcripts from previous study,
  • a brief research proposal that outlines your proposed area of research and the questions that you are planning to address as part of your PhD thesis,
  • a copy of your honours or masters thesis, and,
  • as much detail as possible about your previous study in economics (e.g., course outlines of advanced economic theory and econometrics courses taken, including details of textbooks used).

The online application also requires three referee reports to be submitted directly by your referees, using a web-based system provided as part of the application process.

GRE requirement

Applicants must also submit their GRE General Test results as part of their application. The GRE Designated Institution Code for the ANU College of Business and Economics is 7833. Applicants should use this code to submit their official GRE results.

Applicants who have already completed part of the coursework required for the PhD as part of an ANU Master of Economics or ANU Honours in Economics degree, are exempted from the GRE requirement. Furthermore, applicants who have completed an Honours in Economics degree from an Australian or New Zealand University are also exempted, but are encouraged to provide GRE results to improve their chances of admission and scholarship support.

English language requirements

All students must satisfy the University’s English Language Admission Requirements. In particular, an international student who is not a native English speaker may satisfy these requirements by submitting evidence of an IELTS with an overall score of at least 6.5 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.

Offers of admission

After your application and all its supporting documents (including referee reports) are received by the Admissions Office, your file will be forwarded to the PhD convenor. If you are assessed to have satisfied the eligibility criteria, and your area of interest matches the interests of an ANU economist with available supervisory capacity, then you may be issued an offer of admission. Note, however, that since admission is competitive and supervisory capacity is limited, offers of admission will not be issued until after the relevant application deadlines, irrespective of the date when you submit your application.

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To apply for an ANU scholarship, you only need to tick the relevant box or boxes on your application for admission, and indicate the scholarships you are applying for on your application form. If you do so, note the scholarship deadlines, and submit your application in time for it to be assessed in conjunction with the relevant scholarship rounds, i.e., before 31 August for international applicants, and before 31 October for domestic applicants (Australian and New Zealand citizens, Australian permanent residents, and holders of an Australian permanent humanitarian visa).

Note also that certain scholarships aimed at international students and offered by the Australian government, such as Endeavour Scholarships or Australia Awards, have external application procedures, and are subject to additional deadlines. Students who are applying for any such external scholarships should consider the associated deadlines and requirements, and note their intention to apply for these scholarships in their application.

Please see the ANU Scholarships page for information on scholarships administered by the University. Applicants who are unsuccessful in securing a University scholarship may also be offered other types of funding support by the Research School of Economics, such as tuition waivers for international students, partial stipends, or through employment as tutors (i.e., teaching assistants) or as research assistants.

Domestic applicants

All domestic students enrolled in a postgraduate research program, such as a PhD, are awarded an Australian Government Research Training Program (AGRTP) Fee Offset Scholarship, and are therefore not required to pay tuition fees. Past domestic scholarship recipients have usually been awarded one of the following scholarships:

International applicants

International PhD students are required to pay tuition fees. However, international applicants with a very strong academic record that is assessed by the admissions committee as being equivalent to an ANU first class honours degree in economics, if admitted to the Program, will generally qualify for a tuition waiver in the form of an HDR Fee Remission Merit Scholarship.

The most common types of University scholarships that international Economics PhD students have received in past years are the following:

In addition, some past and current students have also been awarded the following country-specific scholarships (students considering to apply for these scholarships should note the specific application instructions available through the links below):

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Coursework component (Part A)

Pre-PhD Course

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

The coursework for the PhD in Economics consists of the following:

  • ECON8011 Microeconomic Theory
  • ECON8022 Macroeconomic Theory
  • EMET8014 Fundamentals of Econometric Methods
  • At least one of:
  • Four electives chosen from the list below.

Elective Courses are chosen in accordance with the candidate's research interests and on the advice of the candidate's supervisor from the list below. All courses listed are at the graduate (8000) level. Note that not all courses are offered in all years. Check for availability.

Courses offered by the Research School of Economics

ECON8001 Topics in Macroeconomics
ECON8002 Applied Welfare Economics
ECON8003 Economic Policy Issues
ECON8006 International Trade Theory
ECON8009 International Monetary Economics
ECON8010 The Economics of Taxation and Redistribution
ECON8015 International Economics
ECON8021 Topics in Microeconomic Theory
ECON8034 Public Sector Economics
ECON8037 Financial Economics
ECON8038 Industrial Organisation
ECON8039 Health Economics
ECON8040 Resource and Environmental Economics
ECON8041 Labour Economics & Industrial Relations
ECON8047 Law and Economics
ECON8050 Economic Growth
ECON8053 Game Theory
ECON8057 Industrial Organisation
ECON8070 Political Economy of Macroeconomic Policy
ECON8071 Modelling the Open Economy
ECON8013 Mathematical Techniques in Economics I
ECON8014 Mathematical Techniques in Economics II
ECON8076 Topics in Game Theory
ECON8080 Advanced Behavioral Economics
EMET8001 Applied Micro-Econometrics
EMET8010 Applied Macro & Financial Econometrics
EMET8012 Business & Economic Forecasting
EMET8008 Econometric Theory

In addition, specialist graduate courses taught in other schools or departments at the ANU – e.g., Mathematics, Finance and Applied Statistics, or at the Crawford School of Public Policy – can also be approved by the PhD convenor in exceptional circumstances.

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Research component (Part B)

Upon completing successfully the compulsory courses and electives in Part A, and with the approval of the Research and HDR committee, students proceed to the research component (Part B) of their program. Any student with two or more fails cannot to proceed to Part B.

Part B normally takes 36 months of full-time research. During this time, each candidate writes a thesis which, upon completion, is submitted for examination. The thesis is examined by two to three examiners who are experts in the relevant field. The PhD degree is awarded solely 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 for the award of the degree.

During Part B, each candidate is expected to present their research at one of the seminars run by the Research School of Economics, in each of the three years of research (when studying on a full-time basis). In their final year candidates are also required to give a final presentation (Oral Presentation) that is usually held three months before thesis submission.

The thesis topic and the supervisory panel

When a PhD student is admitted to candidature, a provisional supervisor, usually the PhD convenor, has the responsibility of overseeing the student's candidature until a principal supervisor is appointed. The Director of the School and PhD convenor determine the principal supervisor and supervisory panel in consultation with the student. Sometimes students change their topic, and this could necessitate changes in the supervisory panel. These are coordinated by the principal supervisor or the PhD convenor. All supervisory changes have to be approved by the convenor of the Program.

Progress milestones

It is University policy that each candidate's progress be reviewed periodically. Each year, PhD candidates are required to submit a Progress Report/Annual Plan, which summarises progress and identifies any difficulties or changes to the previous research plan and outlines the intended research to be undertaken over the next twelve months. The Progress Report and the Annual Plan form the basis for the Annual Review.

In addition to these, in the second year, candidates must submit a Thesis Proposal for review by the supervisory panel. The Thesis Proposal is generally submitted in conjunction with the candidate's first seminar presentation, and includes a description of the research to be undertaken in the thesis, and a summary of the structure of the thesis and its time plan. The purpose of the Review is to assess the originality, significance, adequacy and achievability of the candidate's thesis plan.

Please refer to research student milestones for further details. 

Thesis Submission and Examination

Please refer to the ANU thesis submission guidelines.

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Updated:   30 March 2017 / Responsible Officer:  Dean, Business & Economics / Page Contact:  College Web Team