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How Do I Get a PhD in Development Economics?

By D. Nelson
Updated May 17, 2024
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People who study development economics are interested in the economic development of countries with low incomes. The objectives of many development economists is to improve the economies and infrastructures of these nations so that they can participate in international trade and so that the populations of these countries might prosper. Aside from being interested in direct economic concerns, people who study development economics also are interested in issues such as healthcare, education, and work conditions.

To get a doctor of philosophy (PhD) in development economics, it is essential first to take courses in economics, sociology, and in advanced mathematics, such as calculus and linear algebra. It's also critical to earn satisfactory scores on proficiency exams. A person who wants to earn a PhD in development economics also should have at least three references from instructors or professional colleagues or supervisors, as well as a personal essay or statement of purpose that describes why he or she might benefit from earning this kind of degree and how he or she might contribute to the field.

To get a PhD in development economics, it is important to become familiar with the requirements of different programs. A good first step might be to research programs that offer concentrations in which you are interested and to learn their requirements, such as minimum grade point averages, credits, and test scores. If you have an undergraduate degree in economics and your grades and test scores are relatively high, you might already qualify to apply to one of these programs. Individuals who majored in other subjects or who are worried that their grades in relevant classes are not high enough can enroll in classes in local colleges or universities to satisfy requirements.

The admissions essay is very important for a person who wants to get a PhD in development economics. This document is where you describe your goals and talk about why work you might do is important. Remember that it is common for PhD in development economics programs to fund students for at least part of their study and also to offer teaching opportunities, so it should be your goal to sell yourself based on your experience, interests, strengths, and ambitions. It is a good idea to research a specific developing country or region prior to applying to programs.

In most cases, admissions boards expect a person who wants a PhD in development economics to have some idea about what he or she would like to study and problems that he or she would like to address. If you are interested in development economics in West Africa, for example, it might even be helpful to travel to this region to learn a little bit more about the cultures and languages there. The more dedicated you are to specific issues, the more likely it is you might get accepted to the PhD in development economics program of your choice.

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