How to apply for a PhD programme in Economics

New students normally start their course at the end of August, so you should aim to complete your application by the end of June to allow the School time to make a careful decision. If you will need a visa, early application is recommended.

If you are interested in PhD study at the School of Economics and Finance, you should do the following:

  1. Check your eligibility for PhD studies at the University of St Andrews (to make sure that your application is not rejected on formal grounds). Successful applicants for the PhD will normally already have, or are currently completing, a good MSc degree equivalent to the School’s programmes in Economics or Finance and Economics.

  2. Check that your proposed topic falls within the areas of expertise covered in the School. Staff research expertise can be found in the potential supervisors section. Find a member of staff whose interests broadly cover the topic that you are interested in studying by reading carefully about their research. If you cannot identify a supervisor, please email the School's postgraduate research office ( for advice.

  3. Once you have identified a supervisor, please do the following two things at the same time:

    • Email the appropriate staff member; be ready to present an informal description of the project and provide further information if asked.

    • Email the School's postgraduate research office ( to register your interest and find out specific information on funding opportunities.

  4. Following email exchanges with your potential supervisor and the School's postgraduate research office (, submit a formal application online.

    See more information about the formal application procedure.

    As part of your application, you will need to submit:

    • a single detailed research proposal of between 2000 and 3000 words;
    • an up-to-date Curriculum Vitae;
    • a scholarly writing sample (generally an essay from previous coursework on a relevant topic);
    • evidence of qualifications (final undergraduate and postgraduate transcripts);
    • two letters of reference from academic referees, at least one of which should describe and give detailed information on your research performance and capability at Masters level;
    • evidence of English proficiency where required.

The research proposal should give a detailed description of your planned research project, touching on the following points:

  • your research questions and their relation to previous work on the topic or field. Please tell us what new contributions your work will bring to your topic;
  • the theoretical framework;
  • your planned methodology;
  • a rough outline of your research that will lead to a dissertation;
  • references to the relevant literature and materials to be used.

Fees and funding

See the research tuition fees page for information on fees for the upcoming academic year.

The School has limited funding available for select applications. The School will only consider applications for funding from students who have completed their online applications (including references) and been made a formal offer by the University. Please note on your formal University application that you are seeking "School funding".

You should also explore other funding options. These schemes will each have their own deadlines.

Location of studies

PhD students are expected to live within commuting distance of the University for the entirety of their degree. See more details about the location of studies requirements, including information about how to ask to be based elsewhere temporarily.

Part-time studies

Part-time study is not usually suitable for the School's PhD students, but you are welcome to ask the School about your particular circumstances. Part-time study is not possible for students on a student visa, and you should also check that any funding that you have is applicable to part-time study. See procedures for changing from full-time to part-time study.