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Admissions Requirements & Process

Applicants to the Graduate Program in Economic Development (GPED) must meet the requirements for admission to the Vanderbilt University Graduate School.
The minimum requirement is a Bachelor's degree or its equivalent, with a grade average of B or equivalent. The GPED also considers applications from international students with three-year bachelor’s degrees. The program accepts students from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds. While we do not require a major in economics, applicants should have a solid math background and a basic understanding of macroeconomics and microeconomics. In addition to economics courses, the admissions committee looks for math courses such as linear algebra, calculus, and statistics to evaluate an applicant’s math background. Linear algebra is not required but encouraged. There is no fixed requirement for GRE scores; students who apply to the GPED usually score between 153 and 170 on the Quantitative section. For applicants who must fulfill the language proficiency requirement, the minimum score is 88 on the Internet-based TOEFL or 7.0 on the IELTS.

To apply to the MA program in Economic Development, please do so via the Graduate School’s online application system:

You will need the following to complete your GPED application:

  • Unofficial copy of transcripts from prior undergraduate and graduate work (official final transcripts are required only after an offer of admission is made and accepted)*
  • GRE scores.** You may self-report scores on your application; if you are admitted, official scores must be submitted before enrollment.
  • Official TOEFL or IELTS scores for international applicants** (this requirement may be waived for applicants who have earned a degree from an English-speaking institution)
  • Statement of purpose
  • Three letters of recommendation (academic references preferred)
  • Optional: résumé or CV (following these instructions:

* Official transcripts can be sent either via the postal service or via secure electronic delivery. In order to be considered official, transcripts and other documents must come directly from the institution attended. Some institutions provide secure electronic delivery of transcripts. These submissions may be made to Transcripts sent via the postal service should be addressed to Vanderbilt’s Center for Data Management.

** The Vanderbilt institutional code for TOEFL and GRE is 1871. IELTS scores should be sent to Vanderbilt through your testing center; scores should be sent electronically (refer to this information). Vanderbilt is registered to receive electronic scores, for which you can provide the postal address listed here. Please do not send your scores to the GPED. 

** For Fall 2021 admission, we will accept the GRE General Test at Home and the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition.

Students can start the GPED program in the Fall semester only. The deadline for submitting an application is February 15; all required application documents must be received by this date to be considered for admission. After an admissions committee reviews all applications, the Graduate School communicates admission decisions by the end of March (via the online application portal). Students must accept or decline admission offers by April 15.

Please note that a nonrefundable $250 matriculation deposit is required if you choose to enroll in the GPED. If you are admitted and accept the admission offer, you will have two weeks from the date of acceptance to pay the deposit, which will then be credited to your student account.

The GPED allows admitted students to defer their admission for one year to the following Fall semester. After the period of one year, applicants need to reapply.

For further details about the program, please refer to our frequently asked questions .