Economics PhD Statement of Purpose Tips

Philippe Barr, PhD
10 min readMay 18, 2023

Are in learning how to write an outstanding economics PhD statement of purpose? Then you’ve come to the right place! Writing a compelling statement of purpose can be difficult, especially for students applying to competitive schools.

Your statement of purpose must stand out from the competition so it comes as no surprise that many applicants seek guidance when crafting their essays. In this blog post, we will discuss key elements of an effective economics PhD statement of purpose and provide helpful tips on everything from outlining to polishing your essay before submitting it. With this advice, you can take control of the PhD in economics application process with confidence and demonstrate why you are an ideal candidate for admission into the program.

Research the Program

This is perhaps the most important tip for all economics PhD statement of purpose writers out there: research the program you’re applying to! What specific research areas do they specialize in? Who are their faculty members and what are their research interests? What opportunities does the program offer that align with your goals? And, most importantly, how well will you fit in this environment? By delving deep into the program’s website and faculty profiles, you can tailor your statement of purpose to highlight your alignment with the program’s values and goals.

(Would you like to know what PhD admissions committees are looking for? Watch this quick video to find out key elements to highlight in an application)

Avoid templates at all costs

We strongly recommend that you do not use templates of previous economics PhD statements of purpose that can be found on the internet. Take our word for it, admissions committees can smell a template from a mile away!

This is because such templates are either generic in nature or unlikely to reflect your unique attributes. Moreover, they may be outdated as admission requirements can change over time and thus, using a template that does not take into account up-to-date information or trends in the field could hurt your chances of getting admitted.

Furthermore, most universities require applicants to write a statement of purpose that accurately reflects their personality and aspirations; therefore, it would be difficult for you to personalize a template written by someone else.

Finally, using a template from the internet- even for inspiration- also reduces your creativity and originality, which can be important factors in the selection process. Although it’s hard, take the time to write a statement of purpose that reflects your own unique experiences and qualifications.

Don’t rush it

Writing an economics PhD statement of purpose can be as time-consuming as preparing for the GRE. It is important to allow a sufficient amount of time in its writing as this document will provide insight into your academic and personal background, relevant experiences, and your future goals. A well-written statement of purpose can make or break your chance of being accepted into a competitive program; therefore, it is essential to invest sufficient time into constructing the perfect statement that reflects who you are as a person and student. Taking this extra step to create a thoughtful and compelling statement shows how genuinely serious you are about being accepted into the program.

Stay Organized

Structure is key when it comes to the statement of purpose. Start with an attention-grabbing introduction that sets the stage for your academic journey. Move on to discussing your educational background and research experiences, followed by your long-term goals and how the Economics PhD program aligns with those aspirations. Lastly, conclude with a brief summary that ties together all of the aforementioned elements. Remember, clear and concise writing goes a long way.

Know your audience and avoid TMI

The importance of presenting a scientific tone in a statement of purpose cannot be overstated. The tone used in any statement of purpose should always reflect a level of academic professionalism — such as avoiding slang words and abbreviations — while still conveying enthusiasm for the subject matter. Keeping personal information to a minimum will demonstrate respect for the profession and also help focus attention on the most important elements presented in the statement of purpose. By being mindful when crafting your statement, you can ensure that your personal goals will be accurately represented and taken seriously.

Describe your prior research experience

If you’ve had the opportunity to engage in research before applying to the PhD program, don’t be afraid to flaunt it. Research experience can be a key factor in demonstrating your dedication to the field of economics in your application. It is important to highlight any research you have conducted, internships or summer programs that you may have participated in, and even any volunteer experience that provided an opportunity for research-related activities.

Examples of research activities could include conducting empirical studies, data analysis and modeling, or designing simulations and experiments. If available, try to provide tangible evidence of the impact of the research (such as publications, awards received, and presentations given). Additionally, make sure to explain how the knowledge gained through these experiences will help you contribute at an advanced level during your PhD program.

Highlight your research interests

Admissions committees want to know that you have a deep understanding of economics and a clear direction for your research. Spend a paragraph or two discussing the areas of economics that you find most fascinating and why. Demonstrate that you are familiar with the current literature in your field and show how your research interests fit into the broader economic landscape.

Economics is a broad field with a lot of sub-disciplines. It’s important to show that you have clear research interests and have done your homework on the program you’re applying to. Talk about specific research questions you’re interested in exploring and how they relate to the program’s strengths. Don’t just regurgitate the program’s website; show that you’re genuinely excited about the research possibilities at your fingertips.

Discuss your research goals

Admissions committees want to know that you have a clear and ambitious pathway for your future. Discuss your long-term goals and how obtaining a PhD in economics will help you achieve them. Doing so can help demonstrate your commitment to the field and show that you have thoughtfully considered your future endeavors. To discuss your long-term research goals, consider how the research you want to do aligns with the program’s focus, if there are any professors whose work aligns with yours that you would like to collaborate with, and what legacies or contributions you hope to make within the field.

Additionally, think through any challenges or problems you’d like to tackle with your research as well as how this particular program supports those ambitions. Be sure to also explain why these objectives are meaningful and important to you. Doing so can help differentiate you from other applicants and give them a better sense of what makes you unique from the rest of the pool of applicants. Be sure to focus on your individual objectives and how they will contribute to the field, rather than generic goals everyone shares. This will show that you have put time into thinking about your own personal growth within the field, and what kind of mark you hope to leave behind.

By including your long-term research goals in your economics PhD statement of purpose, you can demonstrate that you understand the importance of understanding one’s audience and how to tailor communication strategies accordingly. Doing so shows that you are not only passionate about the field but also have the competence to excel in the program. Additionally, it helps to show that you have put thought into planning and setting achievable goals for yourself. Utilize this opportunity to make an impression on the reader and create a vivid picture of your future aspirations and plans within this field.

Discuss your short-term and long-term career goals

The importance of aligning your short-term and long-term career goals with the training provided by the PhD program cannot be overstated. By clearly outlining these aspirations in your statement of purpose, you can present yourself as an ideal candidate who has taken time to consider how this particular program fits their academic and professional needs. Doing so provides admissions committees with evidence that you are well-suited for success within that field, while also demonstrating an understanding of current developments or trends in the discipline. In addition, sharing your long-term career goals gives insight into what sort of research you plan to pursue after graduation.

Show, Don’t Tell

We’ve all heard this phrase at some point in our academic careers, but what does it actually mean? Don’t just state that you’re passionate about economics and that you are great at research; instead, demonstrate your knowledge of economic terminology and methods, your research and analytical abilities, your communication skills, and your ability to think critically and write effectively.

Examples of ways to demonstrate these skills include referencing relevant economic theories or principles when discussing your past academic experiences, providing evidence of independent research you have conducted, outlining how your current studies will help you accomplish future goals related to economics, and effectively communicating ideas through clear and concise writing.

Additionally, demonstrating an understanding of the program’s requirements as well as knowledge of the faculty members’ interests can be beneficial. By showcasing your academic strengths on paper, admissions committees can gain a better understanding of your potential as an economics PhD student.

Avoid buzzwords and jargon

While it may be tempting to use buzzwords like “innovative” or “cutting-edge,” refrain from doing so. These words have become so overused and vague that they’ve lost all meaning. It is also important to avoid using jargon because it can be confusing and off-putting to readers.

Jargon is highly specific language that may only be used by experts in the field-meaning that it will not be understood by people who are unfamiliar with the topic. A statement of purpose should instead explain major concepts in plain language so that anyone reading it can understand your goals and motivations for pursuing a doctorate in economics.

By avoiding jargon, you ensure that your message comes across clearly and effectively, which can help convince readers why you are an ideal candidate for the program. Additionally, using plain language helps communicate your enthusiasm and knowledge about the subject while showing you have done your research. In this way, you can make a strong impression and stand out from other applicants.

Ask for feedback

When writing a statement of purpose, it is important to seek input from other academics. Doing so provides an opportunity to obtain valuable feedback and advice about topics such as organization, content structure, and language usage. Additionally, obtaining feedback from multiple sources helps ensure that the statement of purpose reflects the desired tone and goals. Furthermore, seeking out input can provide new perspectives on your written work which can in turn help you develop a more compelling statement of purpose.

Don’t hesitate to seek out a professional opinion as you work on your statement of purpose. It is important to reach out to individuals who are knowledgeable about academia and have credentials that support their expertise. Potential contacts may include professors, economists from think tanks or research institutes, and PhD admissions professionals. When contacting these individuals, clearly explain why you need their advice and what you hope to gain from it.

It is also important to consider other resources that can provide valuable feedback and information related to economics PhD programs. Research papers, books, websites, articles, and podcasts can be helpful tools for gaining knowledge about potential programs and understanding what successful applicants have done to gain admission. Utilizing these sources can help you refine your statement of purpose so that it accurately reflects your interests and goals within economics.

Finally, attending events hosted by universities or discussion groups organized by economists are excellent ways to learn more about the field and hear from people who have a wealth of knowledge and experience. With a combination of the right resources and academic experts, you will be well-equipped to make your statement of purpose stand out from other applicants.


In sum, writing an effective economics PhD statement of purpose requires synthesizing your research strengths and interests, as well as discussing what makes you the ideal candidate. By following the tips provided in this blog post, you can craft a powerful essay that will likely make a lasting impression on admissions committees.

Keep in mind that it is important to dedicate ample time to restructuring, drafting, and revising your essay. For further assistance in polishing your essay before submitting it or to gain additional insights into creating an effective statement of purpose, check out our statement of purpose editing services. Crafting a well-written statement of purpose that highlights how you can contribute to the program can significantly increase your chances of success! Got questions? Sign up for a consultation, or send us your draft for an estimate. It’s FREE!

With a Master’s from McGill University and a Ph.D. from New York University, Dr. Philippe Barr is the founder of The Admit Lab. As a tenure-track professor, Dr. Barr spent a decade teaching and serving on several graduate admission committees at UNC-Chapel Hill before turning to full-time consulting. With more than seven years of experience as a graduate school admissions consultant, Dr. Barr has stewarded the candidate journey across multiple master’s and Ph.D. programs and helped hundreds of students get admitted to top-tier graduate programs all over the world.

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Originally published at on May 18, 2023.



Philippe Barr, PhD

I am Philippe Barr, founder of The Admit Lab, a graduate school admissions consultancy that helps students get admitted into grad school: