Economics - Research

UCD School of Economics runs a thriving PhD programme that offers rigorous training and expert supervision. The programme is designed to prepare students for top-level jobs in academia, institutions and the private sector. From day one, our PhD students are part of a vibrant research community at UCD and in the Greater Dublin Area. Currently, over 50 students from 16 countries are enrolled in the programme.

Programme Structure

The programme consists of two phases: the MLitt phase (Year 1) and the PhD phase (Years 2-4).

MLitt phase (Year 1)

The MLitt phase is dedicated to coursework, which equips students to carry out independent research. Students take six core modules in microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics and sit qualifying exams in two of these subjects in June. After passing the modules with an average grade of B and passing the qualifying exams, students transfer to the PhD register.

PhD phase (Years 2-4)

During the PhD phase, students carry out independent research. Each student is assigned a supervisor based on mutual interest as well as a Research Studies Panel, consisting of two additional faculty members.

In March of year 3, students have to pass a transfer seminar in order to progress to the final stage of the PhD.

Details on the MLitt/PhD programme can be found in the programme guidelines


UCD faculty are at the forefront of research in all areas of economics and publish in leading journals. The School has particular strengths in labour economics, behavioural economics, international trade and economic history.

In the first year, each student is matched with a preliminary supervisor based on mutual research interests. The final assignment of supervisors is done at the beginning of year 2. In addition to the supervisor, every student has a Research Studies Panel of three faculty members who provide feedback to the student once per term.

Students have to present their work regularly in a weekly PhD seminar, where they receive constructive feedback from peers and faculty. UCD also encourages students to present at international conferences.

The School of Economics runs a weekly seminar series and students are encouraged to discuss their work with the seminar speakers. In addition, the Geary Institute for Public Policy and UCD Behavioural Science Centre runs regular seminar series and workshops.

Entry requirements

To be admitted to the PhD Programme in Economics, students must have completed a Masters in Economics comparable to the MSc programmes offered by our School.

Admission to the MLitt/PhD Programme will depend on the candidate's qualifications in terms of grades, English language skills and reference letters, as well as the availability of faculty to provide thesis supervision.

For details of the English language requirements of this programme, see

Application dates

Applications for the programme MLitt/PhD programme open on 1st of November 2021 and will close in August 2022.

On the UCD website, applicants need to apply for the MLitt programme.

If their application is successful, they will transfer to the PhD register after completing the course phase in year 1.

The application code is W115 (MLitt full-time) or W160 (MLitt PT).

Applicants who want to be considered for a scholarship need to apply by February 14, 2022.

Frequently Asked Questions
Q: On the application portal I cannot find a link to the PhD programme. Where is it?

A: Because all students are admitted on the MLitt first, please apply for the MLitt in Economics (W115 or W160).

Q: Do all admitted students get a scholarship?

A: No. The School of Economics offers 6-8 scholarships per year, which are awarded based on academic merit. Students who have been admitted but initially not considered for a scholarship are placed on a waiting list.

Q: Should I contact potential supervisors before applying?

A: It is not necessary to contact potential supervisors before applying. However, it is helpful to indicate in the application what broad area you are interested in, such that our admissions committee can assess whether we have one or more potential supervisors.

Q: Where can I fill in the potential supervisor when filling in the application?

You will only be allotted a supervisor when you begin the programme.

Q: I already have a masters, can I apply straight for the PhD programme?

A: No. All students are first admitted to the MLitt programme. After successfully passing their first-year courses, they automatically transfer to the PhD register.

Q: My masters was not in economics. Can I still apply for the MLitt/PhD?

A: It depends. We are looking for students with strong quantitative skills. If your masters had a strong quantitative component, we may consider your application. It is best to discuss this with the PhD Director.

Q: Can I do a standalone MLitt?

A: Yes, but the School of Economics will not provide funding for that.

Q: Do you have any advice on the research proposal (length, content, details)?

A: For the School of Economics, the research proposal serves two purposes: i) It shows that applicants have thought about a potential PhD topic and identified interesting research questions, and ii) it help us to assess whether we have potential supervisors in the proposed research area. However, once admitted, students are not bound by their proposal. Students often choose to work on different topics, but many students stay within the broad field outlined in their proposal. The proposal should be 1-2 pages long and include the following: i) a description of a broad research area and a motivation why this research area is interesting; ii) 2-3 potential research questions within this area, along with a brief description how the applicant intends to answer them; iii) references to the 2-3 most important papers in this area; iv) mention of faculty members whose research interests the proposed research overlaps with.

Q: When I filled out the online application, I did not see how many referees are required. I was wondering how many are required? How does the referee upload the recommendation letter?

Two references will be required in support of your application. Please ask your two chosen referees to each send a letter of reference to .

Q: I am not a native English speaker, and my IELTS score is about to expire, but my master's degree is taught in English. Can I be exempted from submitting IELTS scores?

If you studied for your Masters through English then you do not need any further English Language qualification


W133: PhD 3 years full-time / 6 years part-time.
W115: MLitt 2 years full-time, 4 years part-time.

Enrolment dates

Start date: To be agreed with School

Post Course Info


UCD offers active support for students entering the academic job market. In recent years, our graduates were succesful in securing academic positions at Queen's University Belfast, the LSE Grantham Institute, IZA, ILO, LISER, Aalto University, and the ESRI, among others. Several graduates obtained placements at central banks, regulators, international institutions and at consultancies.


Development Economics, Productivity, Business Environment, Ease of Doing Business, Economic Growth, Corruption

Thesis Title
Essays in Development Economics

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ),Degree - Doctoral (Level 10 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Part time,Daytime

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