Admissions Criteria

Factors Considered by AFRE’s Graduate Admission Committee

  • Record of previous academic training and performance (course program, grades, length of time to degree, and date of degree).
  • Required minimum training in economics, mathematics, and statistics.  An explanation stating how your comparable or equivalent completed courses fulfill our minimum requirements (especially for International applicants) is very helpful to the Graduate Admission Committee when they are reviewing applications.
    • M.S. applicants: introductory economics, intermediate microeconomics, introductory statistics, and integral calculus.
    • Ph.D. applicants: masters-level courses in mathematics for economists, and microeconomics, and econometrics.  If you are applying directly from an undergraduate study, applicants should have a degree in economics with multivariate calculus, linear algebra, and real analysis.
  • Successful M.S. applicants will generally have at least a 3.0-grade point average (on a 4.0 = best scale) in their undergraduate program.  Successful Ph.D. applicants will generally have at least a 3.5 GPA in their M.S. program. Strong grades are expected in economics, math, and statistics.
  • Personal statement outlining your life journey and any obstacles you overcame.
  • Academic statement describing the areas of study that most interest you and what you plan to do in your career.
  • Letters of recommendation.
  • TOEFL and GRE scores.
    • The Michigan State University Graduate School requires the TOEFL exam for students matriculating from other countries where English is not the most common native language.  Minimum TOEFL score for regular admission is 80 with no sub-score below 19 (22 for the writing section). See the Graduate School web page for more information.
    • We require the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).  GRE scores for admitted applicants vary considerably, depending on English language skills and time of preparation.   Ph.D. students should have a GRE-Q above the 70th percentile.  We do not accept GMAT.
    • Five-Year ranges of mean GRE scores of admitted AFRE students by component (2011-15)
      • Verbal - 72-28 percentile  - 156-158 raw score
      • Quantitative - 70-82 percentile  - 155-160 raw score
      • Analytical  - 52-55 percentile  -   4.0 raw score
  • Admission to our graduate programs is competitive.  Below are some indications of criteria we use in assessing prospective students.
    1. Ability to complete the degree requirements successfully and within a reasonable time period.  This is evaluated based on the entire application.
    2. Previous research or work experience that is relevant to your proposed area of interest.
    3. A match between the applicant’s background and interests, and the department’s research, teaching, and outreach programs.
    4. The applicant’s contribution to the diversity and balance of our overall graduate student group. 
  • Financial aid is highly competitive.  Applicants who meet the minimum criteria above are therefore evaluated in terms of their academic promise and the fit of their skills and educational objectives with available fellowships and job openings for research and teaching assistants.