Top 10 Global Universities for Economics

Top 10 Global Universities for Economics

Economics is neither a science nor is it an art. It is a combination of both. It combines politics, psychology, sociology, history and mathematics. Economics helps you understand the world better and improves your ability to make choices under different circumstances. It is especially helpful in careers that involve analytical and problem-solving skills. There are two very important aspects when it comes to securing a high paying, challenging and rewarding job. The course that you select, and the college that allows you to foster your growth. Economics is a good major. But with a top college, it’s even better. To help you find the right schools and make the most prospective decision, we have shortlisted the top 10 global universities for economics around the world and what they require for admissions. 

#1: Harvard University

The Economics Department at Harvard is regarded as one of the best in the world. A student can study nearly any topic of economics because of the vast number of instructors and their different interests. That’s why it comes first on the list of top global universities for economics. The exceptional quality of Harvard undergraduates stimulates both the teacher and the students in the classroom.


  • IB Score: a minimum of 42
  • Letters of Recommendation: Three letters of recommendation (at least one from an academic source). Recommendation letters must be submitted online through the online application system. 
  • Harvard will allow students to apply for admission without requiring SAT or ACT (standardised test) scores for the upcoming Harvard College Classes of ‘27, ‘28, ‘29, and ’30. 
Test Minimum Score Recommended Score
TOEFL 26 104
IELTS 7.5 7.5
SAT 1580
ACT 35

#2: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Undergraduate students can take advantage of numerous opportunities to hone their research skills. One such opportunity is MIT’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), which fosters close ties between undergraduates and faculty members. Students in the UROP program work closely with faculty members and graduate students to bring the technical skills of modern economics to bear on questions of economic importance. They perform tasks such as gathering and analyzing economic data, writing computer programs, checking mathematical calculations and gathering research materials. 

  • IB Score: a minimum of 40
  • Letters of Recommendation: MIT requires letters of recommendation from two teachers. They recommend one evaluation from a math/science teacher, and one from a humanity, social science, or language teacher. They also require materials from your school counselor (typically including your transcript, a school profile, and a letter of recommendation).
  • MIT has also updated their requirements for the admission cycles – they require the SAT or the ACT for both prospective first-year and transfer students. However, they do not require the ACT writing section or the SAT optional essay. 
Test Minimum Score Recommended Score
TOEFL 90 104
IELTS 7 7.5
SAT 1500 1580
ACT 34 36

#3: University of California– Berkeley

 The Department of Economics at UC Berkeley is well known for the excellence of its teaching and advising, with a strong reputation for producing outstanding graduates as well as rigorous and innovative economic research. UC Berkeley is one of the top public universities for economics degrees in the world.

  • IB Score: a minimum of 37
  • Letters of Recommendation: UC Berkeley requires three letters of recommendation.
  • UC Berkeley remains to keep the ACT and SAT tests optional due to the ongoing challenges created by the Covid 19 pandemic for the 2022-2023 admissions cycle. 
Test Minimum Score Recommended Score
TOEFL 80 100
IELTS 6.5 7
SAT 1415 1530
ACT 29 34

#4: Stanford University

Stanford is another highly ranked university and comes among the top universities for economics degrees. The Stanford Economics Department has two central missions:  to train students at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the methods and ideas of modern economics, and to conduct both basic and applied research in economics that pushes forward the frontier of knowledge in the field.

  • IB Score: a minimum of 40
  • Letters of Recommendation: Stanford requires 2 letters of recommendations from 2 teachers and an additional letter from the college counselor. They also expect a personal statement or multiple essays or both.
  • Stanford remains to keep the ACT and SAT test-optional due to the ongoing challenges created by the Covid 19 pandemic for the 2022-2023 admissions cycle. 
Test Minimum Score Recommended Score
TOEFL 100 100+
IELTS 7 7+
SAT 1520 1550
ACT 31 35

#5: University of Chicago

Chicago aims to convey the ideas and methods of academic economics. In addition to the standard economics major, the undergraduate program offers two new tracks: the specialization in Business Economics and the specialization in Data Science. 

  • IB Score: a minimum of 36
  • Letters of Recommendation: They require two letters of recommendation from two teachers of any academic subjects. If someone who is not a teacher can provide a different perspective on your work or personality, they are welcome to send in a supplemental recommendation in addition to your two teacher recommendations.
  • UChicago is test-optional, which means that they do not require students to share results of the SAT or ACT if you have been unable to test or prefer not to share your scores.
Test Minimum Score Recommended Score
TOEFL 100 104
IELTS 7 7+
SAT 1525 1525+
ACT 34 34+

#6: University of Pennsylvania

The Economics Department, located in the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Arts and Sciences, is ranked among the top ten in the U.S. Its faculty, productive and research-oriented, is committed to the advancement of economic science.

  • IB Score: a minimum of 38
  • Letters of Recommendation: Penn requires three letters of recommendation to allow the Admissions Committee to understand your presence, your interests, and your impact in the classroom and the community.
  • Penn Admissions will not require ACT or SAT test results for the upcoming application cycle, and students who are unable or choose not to submit test scores will not be at a disadvantage in the admissions process. 
Test Minimum Score Recommended Score
TOEFL 100 104
IELTS 7 7+
SAT 1560 1525+
ACT 35 35

#7: London School of Economics and Political Science

Another best college for economics in the world is the London School of Economics and Political Science. It has remained on the list of top ten colleges & universities for economics in the world for many years. LSE offers a unique opportunity to study the social sciences in a university institution with a worldwide academic reputation while enjoying the cultural, social, and recreational facilities of one of the world’s greatest capital cities.

  • IB Score: 37 points overall (with three Higher level subjects at grades 6 6 6) to 38 points overall (with three Higher level subjects at grades 7 6 6).
  • A personal statement is required.
  • Minimum scores required are: IELTS – overall score of 7.0 (6.0 in speaking and writing and 6.5 in listening and reading), or TOEFL – overall score of 107 (23 in reading and listening, 22 in writing and 20 in speaking.

#8: Columbia University

The Department of Economics at Columbia University is ranked among the top institutions for research in economics in the world, and as an undergraduate student you will have the opportunity to engage with faculty and explore research across a range of policy areas encompassing fiscal, economic and financial policies.

  • IB Score: a minimum of 40
  • Letters of Recommendation: Columbia requires three recommendation letters: one from your high school college counselor, and two from teachers.
  • In response to continued disruptions to standardized testing availability due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Columbia is extending the test-optional policy for one year, effective for transfer and first-year applicants to Columbia College or Columbia Engineering for the fall of 2022.
Test Minimum Score Recommended Score
TOEFL 105 105+
IELTS 7.5 7.5+
SAT 1560 1560+
ACT 35 35+

#9: New York University

Studying economics at New York University is especially rewarding because of its urban environment. Students often find career opportunities on Wall Street, at the United Nations, or in various corporate, financial, governmental, agency, and nonprofit institutional settings.

  • IB Score: a minimum of 37
  • Letters of Recommendation: NYU requires first-year applicants to submit two letters of recommendation. One must be from a school counselor. The second must be from a teacher who has taught you.
  • NYU Will Be Test Optional for the 2021-2022 Application Cycle. In recognition of continued challenges applicants have with standardized testing during COVID-19, NYU is extending its test-optional policy to students applying for first-year or transfer admission during the 2021-2022 admissions cycle.
Test Minimum Score Recommended Score
TOEFL 100+
SAT 1370 1540
ACT 31 34

#10: Erasmus University Rotterdam

  • IB Score
  • English A HL (4), English A SL (5), English B HL (5).
  • Mathematics: Analysis & Approaches HL minimum grade 4, Analysis & Approaches SL minimum grade 5, or Applications & Interpretation HL minimum grade 5. Students who study Applications & Interpretation SL are not considered to have sufficient preliminary education in mathematics and are therefore not admissible to the IBEB programme.
  • Minimum requirement of 30 points (TOK, EE and CAS excluded).
  • IELTS with a minimum score of 7.0 overall. All sub scores should at least be 6.5.
  • TOEFL with a minimum score of 100. All sub scores should at least be 23.

Also Read10 Best Universities in Europe to Study with There Requirements

How can you stand out as an applicant?

To be a part of that small percentage of students that get selected into one of the top universities for Economics, the bare minimum won’t do. You will certainly need to go above and beyond to impress the admissions officer and be that 1%. Here’s how you can do that:

1. Extracurriculars. Remember, it is always quantity over quality. Ensure that you show consistency no matter what extracurricular you take up. Whether it be playing the piano or starting your own business. 

  • Service: Colleges will always appreciate social work. You can volunteer to teach basic Economics at an orphanage, help clean the streets, raise funds for a good cause, etc.
  • Passion: Do what makes you feel good. It may be painting, music or coding. Ensure that you show improvement over time. 
  • Career/academic: The final type revolves around building your knowledge and career. This could take the form of a Finance or Policy making internship as it provides you with the experience of working at a firm and helps develop skills that are crucial in the real world.

2. Personal essays. Make them real. Don’t try to be what you think the college wants you to be. Authenticity is valued more than anything. Be genuine when it comes to your essays and communicate YOUR story. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.

3. Letters of recommendation. One of the most difficult questions in the world could possibly be ‘how would you describe yourself?’. So have someone else do it for you instead. Sometimes an external point of view can be very beneficial in your application process. 

Now that you have the one and only guide you will ever need to apply to universities for Economics, it seems like a good time to get started on your application and knock off their hats. Good luck!

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