Brandeis Ph.D. Admission
0.) Where can I find information about the Ph.D. program
and Brandeis International
1.) The Ph.D. program is an alternating year program. What
does this mean?
We accept an entering class every other year. Our next entering first year class will be
for September 2008, and after that September 2010. This allows us to offer students a
wider range of courses, and keeps the program small.
January 15, 2008 is the application deadline for the September 2008 class.
2.) The Ph.D. program is associated with the Brandeis
International Business School.
Does this make it a business Ph.D.?
No, it is actually run jointly by the Brandeis University
Economics Department and the
Brandeis International School of Business. The Ph.D. program is an Economics Ph.D.
There is a possible field specialization in International Business, but the content of the
program is closely aligned with most economics Ph.D. programs.
3.) Which standardized exams are required to apply to the
Ph.D. program? Are there
minimum scores required for any of these exams?
We require the GRE exam. The Economics subject exam is NOT
required. GRE scores
are considered as part of an applicant’s admissions package. Therefore, there are no
specific minimums for these exams.
International students whose native language is not
English should also submit scores
from the TOEFL. There is a requirement of a score of at least 600 on the paper based
TOEFL, and 250 on the computer-based exam.
4.) Do I need a master's degree to apply?
No. However, most of our students do enter with a masters
degree in economics, finance,
or another related field.
5.) Can I be a part-time student?
No. The Ph.D. program requires three years of full-time
residence. In the first year most
students will find the program very time-consuming. After this, students do occasionally
seek part-time employment in the Boston area. Finally, some students are able to
complete their dissertations (fourth year and beyond) from remote locations.
6.) What financial aid is available in the first and subsequent years?
IBS offers several forms of financial aid.
A. Teaching assistant/ Research assistant: Most students
get a teaching or research
assistant job which entails 10 hours of work per week. This pays a total of $6,000 per
B. Most students receive a partial or full waiver of tuition.
C. Some students receive full-tuition scholarships and a
cash stipend of $10,000. The
largest possible reward is therefore 14,000 + tuition.
7.) How big is the entering class, and what is the acceptance rate in the Ph.D. program?
Entering classes vary from 7 to 10 students. They are kept
small by design. This small
size has led to a very low acceptance rate. The Ph.D. program currently receives about
200 applications for these spaces.
7b.) What fraction of students pass the qualifying exams?
Because the Ph.D. is selective we anticipate that everyone
who starts is capable of
completing the program. Students are required to pass a set of rigorous qualifying and
field exams. A large fraction of students (80 to 90 percent) eventually pass the exams.
8.) Can I start in the middle of the year (January)?
No. Ph.D. classes start in late August. There is no way to start the program midyear.
9.) How long does it take to finish a Ph.D.?
A Ph.D. is not completed in a definite time frame as is
the case for a BA or MA degree.
Students should expect to take at least four years to complete the degree. In many cases
students can take longer. The median length of time from entry to award of the Ph.D. has
been about five years in our program.
10.) How much math do I need?
There is no escaping the fact that modern Ph.D.-level
economics uses mathematics in
getting its points across. Even though the Brandeis program has an applied focus, it still
requires students to have full command of all the basic skills. Here are some guidelines
for entering students:
A.) Absolutely necessary prior to enrollment (1, 2, and 3 are required courses)
1.) Calculus: multivariate calculus (derivatives,
integrals, partial derivatives, basic
differential equations ). This is usually covered in 3 semesters of college calculus.
2.) Linear algebra : matrices, determinants, eigenvalues, systems of linear equations,
linear projections .
3.) Statistics: fundamental statistics, elementary econometrics including basic linear
regression (an undergraduate course in econometrics is required).
B.) Would be useful
1.) Real analysis
2.) Differential equations
3.) Operations research : dynamic programming, linear/nonlinear optimization, shadow prices
4.) Stochastic processes: markov processes
11.) How much economics do I need?
An undergraduate major in economics is useful, but not
necessary. At a minimum we
require a course in intermediate microeconomics.
This comes from the website on requirements:
“Undergraduate studies should
include intermediate microeconomics and statistics as well as exposure to linear algebra
and differential , integral and multivariate calculus. An undergraduate major in economics
is not required. Neither is a Master's degree needed.”
12.) What types of jobs do IBS Ph.D.s go on to?
Brandeis Ph.D.s go to a variety of careers. A number have
gone to policy-making
organizations such as the IMF, foreign central banks, and finance ministries. Our students
have also gone to foreign academic institutions. Finally, some have taken jobs in the
private sector including quantitative finance related areas and economic consulting.
Recent placements include:
University of Western Ontario
National Chengchi University – Taiwan,
The American University – Cairo
The World Bank
State Street Associate
13.) I'm very interested in the program, but my timing is
off. Is there anything I can do
that would allow me to start something in another program in September 2007?
There are no very good routes to coming earlier than
September 2008 for the Ph.D.
program. However, we have several excellent masters programs which admit a class
every year. These are not very well suited to students who want to enter the Ph.D.
program, but in some rare cases they could be useful. Here are the options:
A. MA program start in 2007: In this case you would start
our MA program in
September 2007. Then apply for admission to the Ph.D. program in September 2008.
This is NOT a transfer, and our Ph.D. admissions are much more competitive than our
masters admissions, so you have the risk of not getting into the Ph.D. program. This
approach allows you to get started on the Ph.D. courses early, since you can take some
of them as part of the MA program. Also, with this approach you get used to the
environment and people in the IBS community. However, to join the Ph.D. program
you would have to leave the MA program with that degree unfinished in September
B. MSF program start in 2007: We have a one-year Master of
Science in Finance
(MSF) degree which could be completed by August of 2008. This also allows some
overlap with the Ph.D. courses. Similar cautions about Ph.D. admissions apply to this
program: acceptance to the MSF program does not guarantee acceptance to the Ph.D.
program. Also, the MSF program offers no financial aid, so this one-year would be an
Neither the MA or MSF degrees are designed to be pre -Ph.D.
programs, so they are not
optimal for the aspiring Ph.D. applicant. I usually recommend that potential students
plan on spending the year working, or if you need to be in school, attend a one year
MA program in economics which is designed to prepare you for a Ph .D. program in
C. One other possibility is to go to IBS, complete the MA
degree, then work for a year,
and apply to enter in September 2010.