PhD in Economics


Director: Ció Patxot

Duration: 3 years full-time / 5 years part-time

Fee level: One year €540,92

Applications for the 2024-2025 academic year will open from January 13, to April 30, 2024.

The University of Barcelona (UB) offers you the opportunity to undertake research in a wide range of fields of economics taking part of an international PhD programme in the vibrant city of Barcelona.


The PhD in Economics has been accredited with Excellence after an exhaustive and rigorous external evaluation by the Catalan University Quality Assurance Agency (AQU), which acknowledges the quality and impact of the research carried out within the PhD framework.


We offer an active and stimulating environment organizing weekly research seminars, PhD students’ seminars, workshops, conferences, courses and research activities in which students are invited to participate.


The programme prepares PhD students for the academic Job Market. Former PhD students have been placed in academic research institutions in the US and Europe: Bruegel (Belgium), Eurac Research (Italy), PUC-Rio (Brasil), London School of Economics (UK), Korea University (South Korea), Universidad Carlos III (Spain), Institue of Economics – Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Hungary), Booking (Netherlands), Yale University (US), University of Sussex (UK)… As well as international organizations and governmental institutions.

Who should apply?


  • A programme that recevied the Quality Award for Research Excellence, which acknowledges the quality and impact of the research carried out within the PhD framework.   
  • A wide range of qualified supervisors specialised in a variety of fields of economics.
  • A programme specifically intended for students seeking to embark on an international academic career.
  • Close research supervision and frequent interactions with faculty and international visitors.
  • Weekly research seminars, work-in-progress presentations and other research activities.


  • Master’s degree in Economics with a satisfactory average grade, a solid foundation in economics and analytical skills (advanced Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Econometrics and Mathematics), field courses and a research Master Thesis.

(!) To enter a PhD programme at the University of Barcelona, it is necessary to have completed 300 ECTS credits, and 60 of those have to correspond to an official graduate, research oriented master’s programme.


  • Proof of proficiency in English. Unless you are a native English speaker or have undertaken a university study programme in English, you need to provide evidence of your English proficiency. Preferred certificates are the Cambridge, TOEFL (Code C085 for all UB School of Economics programmes) or IELTS. Please upload a copy of it in the application form. Additionally, you can also report the score to us directly via your test center.
  • References. Once your application is reviewed by the admissions team, you will receive an email to provide the name and contact email of two scholars that support your application. They will receive an automated email with general questions about your profile. Only references received before the 7th day after the corresponding period application deadline will be considered.


  • If the master contents is equivalent to that of the master’s degree in Economics at the UB: Admission without master courses.
  • If the master contents is not equivalent to that of the master’s degree in Economics at the UB and the Admissions Committee considers that the candidate has deficiencies in her academic background: Admission with master courses (up to 18 ECTS).
  • If the master contents is not equivalent to that of the master’s degree in Economics at the UB and the Admissions Committee considers that the candidate has strong deficiencies in her academic background, a fast-track option can be offered (master advanced courses – up to 60 ECTS-). After completing these courses with a satisfactory average grade, the candidate will be admitted to the PhD programme.
Programme overview

The main objective of the programme is to write a PhD thesis, which consists of an original piece of research in one of these fields of research under the supervision of one or two faculty members. PhD students can enrol with a full-time or part-time status. In both cases it must be authorized by the Academic Committee and the PhD thesis advisor/s.


Full-time students are expected to:


1. Work full-time on your PhD thesis.
2. Defend your PhD thesis during the third academic year (you may request an exceptional extension of one or two years to the Academic Committee).
3. Attend complementary activities during the academic year.


Part-time students are expected to:


1. Work part-time on your PhD thesis. You must spend at least 3 months per year at the UB.
2. Defend your PhD thesis during the fifth academic year (you may request an exceptional extension of one, two or three years to the Academic Committee).
3. Attend complementary activities during the academic year.


Monitoring and evaluation of PhD students is overseen by the Academic Committee that will evaluate their research plan, progress reports, complementary activities and PhD thesis.

During the first academic year students work closely with their advisor/s to write a detailed research plan, which must be defended in front of the Academic Committee.


Writing the research plan should help students structure and plan their work and the thesis itself. It will also help them gain valuable experience of writing research proposals.


The Research Plan must include: basic information, motivation, objectives, methodology, work plan, thesis structure, schedule and references.

PhD students who have successfully presented the research plan must write a short report on their progress each year.The report summarizes the thesis content and the research progress made during the year. It may also indicate changes to the original research plan.


The Progress Report must include: basic information, progress to date, contributions, external evaluations and timing.

During the research period of the PhD in Economics, students write a thesis: an original piece of research assessed by an examination panel composed of PhD researchers.


Structure: Three-paper thesis (potentially publishable contributions).


Preface: Acknowledgements

Contents, list of tables, list of figures

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapters 2-4: Each chapter is a self-contained paper

Chapter 5: Conclusions


Throughout the programme, PhD students are required to participate in a number of activities and are also encouraged to publish their findings as their research progresses. All activities must be logged in an official record of activities.


Compulsory research seminars. The Faculty of Economics and Business, jointly with UB School of Economics, offers an active and stimulating environment, organising weekly research seminars. Attendance requirement:

  • Full-time students: 20 seminars/academic year
  • Part-time student: 12 seminars/academic year


Compulsory PhD workshop. The Academic Committee organizes a PhD workshop at which students are invited to present a paper from their Thesis. The workshop takes place in December and is open to all PhD in Economics students from the third year onwards.

  • Full-time students: 3rd academic year
  • Part-time students: 4th academic year (if you are interested in presenting your paper in the 3rd academic year you should contact the programme director)


Other activities. The Academic Committee also recognise other activities carried out by PhD students, such as presenting papers or attending seminars, conferences or workshops, attending specialised courses, publishing working papers or visiting other universities or research institutions.

UB School of Economics is committed to improve the Job Market experience of our candidates and promote them:


  • Profiles at the UB School of Economics and Faculty webpages.
  • Training activities: advice meeting and interview training.
  • Travel grants for Job Market meetings.


The Placement Director and Assistant assist candidates all the way through the process from applications to final interviews.

International Experience



The PhD in Economics Academic Committee actively supports PhD in Economics candidates who wish to conduct research as a visiting PhD student at another university or research centre outside Spain.


Research periods of more than three months may entitle the student to the international doctorate certification, which is added to the doctoral degree qualification following successful presentation and defence of the thesis.


Recent host institutions: University of Illinois (US), Trinity College Dublin (Ireland), UC San Diego (US), University of Warwick (UK), University of Southern California (US), University of Copenhagen (Denmark), Northwestern University (US), University of Michigan (US), University of Melbourne (Australia), Paris School of Economics (France)…




Students enrolled in a PhD programme can join us as a visiting research student, which is complementary to the PhD Research Project at your home university.


If you wish to come as a visiting research student you should first check among the UB School of Economics Faculty that we have academic staff in the research field who can supervise the research. If so, you should contact them to know if they are willing to supervise your research during your stay.


Official letters of invitation and further details are provided by the host Department or the academic staff who will supervise you.


Information about the research fields and Faculty can be found at the following link:

Student Guidance

The PhD in Economics is a doctoral programme in which students and teaching staff work together in an atmosphere of mutual respect and adherence to high standards of personal conduct. Both the teaching staff and the administrative staff at the UB School of Economics want every student to succeed; we work to help students improve their skills and prepare them to meet their academic and professional goals.


Monitoring and evaluation of PhD students is overseen by the Academic Committee, on the basis of reports submitted by the different evaluators. Positive evaluation is a prerequisite for renewing enrolment each year and for authorization to proceed to the thesis defence.




Fees and funding


Student’s fees for university doctoral degrees are decreed on an annual basis by the Catalan government and the University of Barcelona. The tuition fees for the academic year 2023-2024 are €540,92. Additionally, there is a fee for the thesis defence (€156.87) and a fee for the diploma certificate (€218.15). Based on this year’s fees, the total amount that students should pay during their doctoral studies is:

  • Full-time PhD (3 years): €1,997.78
  • Part-time PhD (5 years): €3,079.62

More information (in Catalan and Spanish):


Information on funding and grants is available at the following link to the webpage of the University of Barcelona. In addition, the University of Barcelona provides students with information on new opportunities as and when calls are announced.



Full scholarships are awarded competitively and require the submission of a separate application. They are offered by public or private institutions and have different starting dates and deadlines. Scholarships characteristics may vary in terms of duration (three or four years), total amount of the grant, extra funding for mobility stays and training activities, and specific requirements (i.e. graduation dates). In most cases, tuition fees are covered.
Your chances of being awarded one of the scholarships depend greatly on your track record, thus having high grades in your bachelor’s and master’s degrees is crucial. You are also encouraged to apply for external support for which you may be eligible.
Our admissions team works closely with all admitted students who need financial assistance, supporting them to evaluate their options and eligibility, and helping them with the scholarship applications.


Mobility grants

How to apply?


Important note: Due to unforeseen university calendar adjustments, the application period for the PhD in Economics programme, initially set to open on November 15, 2023, will now commence on January 13, 2024. However, the resolution dates remain unchanged. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by this schedule change. Rest assured, this adjustment does not affect the resolution dates and will not impact candidates.

Applications for the 2024-2025 academic year have two periods:

First period: From November 15, 2023, January 13 to March 15, 2024. Resolutions on April 24, 2024.

Second period: From March 15 to April 30, 2024. Resolutions on May 31, 2024.


Step 1: Check that you meet the entry requirements (Who should apply?).

Step 2: Fill in the online application form and upload supporting documents:

1. ID/Passport
2. CV
3. Bachelor’s degree transcript of grades and diploma certificate*
4. Master’s degree transcript of grades (provisional or final version) and diploma certificate (if you have it)*
5. Research statement: should include your motivation for pursuing the PhD in Economics at the University of Barcelona and a description of your research interests and goals (at most 1,500 words). Please note that you should not contact potential advisor/s. You could instead check their profiles published on our website and indicate the name of a potential advisor/s at the UB that fit with your research interests.
6. Master thesis (if you are currently working on your Master thesis, please send an extended abstract in English — typically around 1,500 words)
7. Proof of English level (not compulsory if you are a native speaker or you hold a university degree taught in English)
8. GRE test result (not compulsory)

*Applicants who have fully or partially completed the studies outside of the Spanish university system must submit their grade equivalency declarations issued by the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training. Online platform | Instructions in English

Step 3: In order to provide us with your references, you must fill in this form, where you will be required to state the name and contact email of two scholars who support your application. They will receive an automated email with general questions about your profile. Only references received before the 7th day after the corresponding period application deadline will be considered.

Step 4: Once you complete steps 1 to 3, your application will be reviewed by the admissions team and you will receive an email to let you know if everything is in order or if any additional documents or information are required. Please, take into account that only complete applications will be assessed by the Academic Committee.

The PhD in Economics programme typically receives over 200 applications and admits between 12 and 15 students each year. Consequently we encourage candidates to apply as early as possible.


Academic resolutions will be notified by email. If you are admitted, you will be required to find a potential advisor/s and provide us with the required documents in order to get the final approval and formalize the enrolment. Students in possession of academic documents issued outside Spain will be required to pay a fee of €218.15 for the administrative review.  More information will be provided to admitted students.


Students admitted to the programme that are unable to attend may request a deferment of the admission to the following academic year (only once).

Requests must be send by email to before October 31st. Each request is reviewed by the Admissions Committee. Please note that deferments are not guaranteed.