How to apply for a PhD Programme in Economics?

Our new students normally start their courses at the end of August, so we suggest completing your application by the end of June in order to allow us 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 we suggest you do the following:

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

  2. Verify that your proposed topic falls within the areas of expertise covered in our department. 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 contact the Postgraduate Research Office for advice.

  3. If you have identified a supervisor, please do two things simultaneously:

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

    • Contact our Postgraduate Research Office to register your interest and find out specific information on funding opportunities.

  4. Following email exchanges with your potential supervisor(s) and also our Postgraduate Research Office, submit a formal application on the University’s online Postgraduate Research Application page.

    More information about the formal application procedure can be found here.

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

    • A single detailed research proposal of up to 2000 words
    • An up-to-date Curriculum Vitae
    • A scholarly writing sample (generally an essay from previous coursework on a relevant topic)
    • Evidence of qualifications (transcripts)
    • Two letters of reference
    • 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

Further information about current fees for research postgraduates, are also available on the University's webpage for research tuition fees.

Applications may be submitted at any point during the year. Most PhD students begin their programmes in late August, so we  recommend that you begin the process as early as possible in the academic year.

The School has limited funding available for select applications. N.B. we 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".

We strongly encourage you to explore other funding options in addition, these schemes will each have their own deadlines.


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

Part-time study is not usually suitable for our PhD students, but you are welcome to ask us about your particular circumstances. Part-time study is not possible for Tier 4 visa students, and you should also check that any funding that you have is applicable to part-time study. This page details procedures for changing from full-time to part-time study.