Preparing for Graduate School in Economics
Graduate study in economics generally consists of the following components: (i) intense training in macroeconomics, microeconomics and econometrics, (ii) qualifying written and/or oral examinations, (iii) series of courses in the student’s chosen areas of specialty, (iv) research seminars, during which students write and present research papers, (v) teaching and/or research assistant duties, and (vi) a dissertation. The dissertation process is overseen by a committee of three or more professors chosen by the student. These advisors guide the student and ultimately decide if the dissertation is sufficient at a final oral defense.
An undergraduate economics major supplemented with additional math courses is good preparation for graduate school. Graduate programs in economics are mathematically rigorous, so students considering graduate school need at minimum multivariate calculus (Math 181), linear algebra (Math 222), and a course in econometrics (Econ 316) or mathematical statistics (Math 225, 265). Many students will have additional preparation. Other valuable math courses include real analysis (Math 263), dynamic programming and algorithms (Math 231), linear programming and optimization (Math 249), topology, nonlinear optimization, mathematical modeling and game theory. The Bowdoin faculty can assist you in choosing undergraduate courses and identify graduate-level textbooks for your perusal. Most graduate programs require GRE scores for admission, with emphasis on the math and analytic portions; some programs also require scores from the GRE economics subject exam. Other important considerations for admission include letters of recommendation, undergraduate coursework, essays and GPA.