Exploring the Economics Program at Stanford University

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

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As one of the world’s leading universities, Stanford’s reputation for academic excellence and innovation is unparalleled. Its economics program is no exception, having a rich history and an outstanding faculty. In this article, we will take an in-depth look at what makes studying economics at Stanford such a unique and rewarding experience.

A Brief Overview of Stanford University

Stanford University was founded in 1885 by Leland Stanford and his wife Jane as a memorial to their son. It is located in the heart of Silicon Valley in California and has become synonymous with cutting-edge research and innovation.

Stanford is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the world, and its economics program is no exception. Students benefit from a strong academic curriculum, world-class faculty, and numerous research opportunities.

In addition to its strong economics program, Stanford is also known for its exceptional engineering and computer science programs. The university has produced numerous successful entrepreneurs and innovators, including the founders of Google, Yahoo, and Hewlett-Packard.

Stanford’s campus is spread over 8,180 acres and includes a mix of historic and modern buildings. The university is home to over 16,000 students, representing all 50 states and over 90 countries.

Stanford’s Economics Program: A History

The economics program at Stanford has a rich history dating back to the early 1900s. Over the years, it has produced a number of influential economists, including Kenneth Arrow, Paul Romer, and Robert Wilson.

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The program has also been at the forefront of research in various fields of economics, including game theory, experimental economics, and industrial organization. As a result of its commitment to excellence, Stanford’s economics program has consistently been ranked among the best in the world.

One of the unique features of Stanford’s economics program is its interdisciplinary approach. The program encourages collaboration with other departments, such as computer science, psychology, and political science, to explore the intersection of economics with other fields. This approach has led to groundbreaking research in areas such as behavioral economics and the economics of technology.

In addition to its academic achievements, Stanford’s economics program also has a strong record of producing successful graduates. Many alumni have gone on to become leaders in academia, government, and the private sector. Some notable examples include former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, Nobel laureate Alvin Roth, and former World Bank Chief Economist Kaushik Basu.

Stanford’s Economics Faculty: Expertise and Experience

Stanford’s economics faculty consists of experts with diverse backgrounds and research interests. Many of them have received prestigious awards and accolades, such as Nobel Prizes in Economics.

With such an accomplished faculty, students have access to a wealth of knowledge and expertise in various fields of economics. Faculty members are also approachable and willing to engage with students outside the classroom, providing valuable mentorship and guidance.

Additionally, Stanford’s economics faculty is actively involved in cutting-edge research that addresses some of the most pressing economic issues of our time. From analyzing the impact of globalization on income inequality to exploring the role of technology in shaping labor markets, faculty members are at the forefront of economic research and policy discussions. This research not only informs their teaching but also provides students with opportunities to participate in research projects and gain hands-on experience in the field.

The Curriculum: Courses Offered in the Economics Program

Stanford’s economics program offers a comprehensive curriculum, covering a broad range of topics in economics. Students start with foundational courses in micro and macroeconomics, and then move on to more specialized topics such as econometrics, labor economics, and international trade.

The program also offers a number of interdisciplinary courses, allowing students to apply their economics knowledge to other fields such as political science, sociology, and psychology. In addition, students have the opportunity to take electives in fields such as finance and entrepreneurship, providing practical skills for the business world.

One unique aspect of the economics program at Stanford is the emphasis on research. Students have the opportunity to work with faculty members on research projects, gaining valuable experience in data analysis and research methodology. This research experience can be particularly beneficial for students interested in pursuing graduate studies in economics or related fields.

Another notable feature of the program is the emphasis on real-world applications of economic theory. Many courses include case studies and simulations, allowing students to apply economic concepts to real-world problems and develop practical solutions. This focus on practical skills and real-world experience sets Stanford’s economics program apart from other programs and prepares students for success in a variety of careers.

Stanford’s Approach to Teaching Economics: Theory vs Practice

Stanford’s economics program emphasizes a balance between theory and practice. While students receive a rigorous theoretical foundation, they also have numerous opportunities to apply their knowledge through hands-on experience.

a male student smiling to the camera

One such example is the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), which conducts cutting-edge research in economics and public policy. Students have the opportunity to work with faculty members on research projects, gaining valuable experience in data analysis and policy evaluation.

Another way that Stanford’s economics program emphasizes practical application is through its internship program. Students have the opportunity to intern at a variety of organizations, including government agencies, non-profits, and private companies. These internships provide students with real-world experience and the chance to apply their theoretical knowledge to practical problems.

Additionally, Stanford’s economics program offers a number of courses that focus specifically on applied economics. These courses cover topics such as economic development, environmental economics, and health economics, and provide students with the opportunity to apply economic theory to real-world issues.

The Role of Research in Stanford’s Economics Program

Research plays a central role in Stanford’s economics program, with faculty members and students alike actively engaged in the creation and dissemination of knowledge in various fields of economics.

The program offers numerous research opportunities, including independent study courses, research assistant positions, and the opportunity to present research at academic conferences. These opportunities provide students with valuable skills and experience in the research process, and can also lead to publication in prestigious academic journals.

Furthermore, the economics program at Stanford has a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary research, encouraging collaboration with other departments such as computer science, psychology, and political science. This approach allows for a more comprehensive understanding of economic issues and the development of innovative solutions to complex problems.

Opportunities for Undergraduate Students in Stanford’s Economics Program

Stanford’s economics program offers a number of opportunities for undergraduate students to get involved in economics research and gain practical experience.

One such opportunity is the Stanford Undergraduate Economics Journal, which provides students with the chance to publish their original research in economics. Students can also participate in the Summer Research College, where they work on research projects with faculty members and graduate students.

In addition to these opportunities, Stanford’s economics program also offers a variety of internships for undergraduate students. These internships provide students with hands-on experience in the field of economics and allow them to apply the knowledge they have gained in the classroom to real-world situations. Some of the organizations that offer internships to Stanford economics students include the Federal Reserve Bank, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.

Furthermore, Stanford’s economics program hosts a number of events throughout the year, such as guest lectures and workshops, that provide students with the opportunity to learn from leading economists and engage in discussions about current economic issues. These events are open to all students, regardless of their major, and are a great way to expand one’s knowledge and network with professionals in the field.

Graduate Programs in Economics at Stanford University

Stanford offers a number of graduate programs in economics, including a PhD program and a Master’s program in economics.

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The PhD program is designed to prepare students for research and teaching careers in economics. Students receive a rigorous education in economic theory and methodology, and also have significant opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research.

The Master’s program in economics provides students with a strong theoretical foundation in economics, and also offers practical skills for careers in business, government, or non-profit organizations.

Additionally, Stanford University offers a joint degree program in economics and law, which allows students to earn both a JD and a PhD in economics. This program is designed for students who are interested in pursuing careers at the intersection of law and economics, such as in antitrust law, regulation, or public policy.

Admissions to the Economics Program at Stanford University

Admissions to the economics program at Stanford University are highly competitive, with only a small number of applicants being accepted each year.

Prospective students must have a strong academic record, with a solid background in economics and mathematics. Since research is an important part of the program, students with prior research experience or a strong interest in economics research are preferred.

In addition to academic qualifications, the admissions committee also considers extracurricular activities and leadership experience when evaluating applicants. Students who have demonstrated leadership skills through involvement in clubs, organizations, or community service projects are highly valued. The program also encourages diversity and welcomes applicants from a variety of backgrounds and experiences.

Campus Life for Students Studying Economics at Stanford University

Students studying economics at Stanford University benefit from a vibrant campus life, with numerous opportunities for social and cultural activities.

The university has over 600 student organizations, ranging from academic clubs to athletic teams, providing opportunities for students to pursue their interests and hobbies outside the classroom. The campus also hosts numerous cultural events and lectures throughout the year, exposing students to diverse perspectives and ideas.

Additionally, students studying economics at Stanford University have access to a variety of resources to support their academic and professional development. The Department of Economics offers research opportunities, internships, and career advising to help students explore their interests and prepare for their future careers.

Moreover, the campus is located in the heart of Silicon Valley, providing students with unique opportunities to connect with industry leaders and entrepreneurs. Many economics students take advantage of this proximity by participating in internships or attending networking events, gaining valuable experience and insights into the world of business and technology.

The Future of Studying Economics at Stanford University

The economics program at Stanford is constantly evolving and adapting to new developments in the field of economics.

As technology and globalization continue to transform the world economy, the program remains committed to producing graduates who are well-equipped to navigate these changes and contribute to the development of innovative solutions to economic challenges.

In addition to its commitment to staying up-to-date with the latest trends in economics, Stanford’s economics program also places a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration. Students have the opportunity to work with faculty and peers from a variety of fields, including computer science, psychology, and political science, to gain a more comprehensive understanding of economic issues and develop creative solutions to complex problems.

An Insider’s Guide to Succeeding in the Economics Program at Stanford

Success in the economics program at Stanford requires hard work, dedication, and a strong passion for economics.

UChicago students inside the campus

Students should take advantage of the numerous research and mentorship opportunities available, and actively seek out opportunities to apply their knowledge in practical situations. It is also important to collaborate with peers and faculty, building a network of support and guidance throughout the program.

Additionally, students should consider taking courses outside of the economics department to broaden their knowledge and gain a more well-rounded education. Courses in computer science, statistics, and psychology can provide valuable skills and perspectives that can be applied to economics research and analysis. It is also important to stay up-to-date with current events and trends in the field, attending conferences and reading relevant publications to stay informed and engaged.

Career Prospects for Graduates of the Economics Program at Stanford

Graduates of the economics program at Stanford are highly sought after by employers in a variety of fields, including finance, consulting, and government.

The program’s rigorous curriculum and emphasis on research and practical experience provide graduates with valuable skills in critical thinking, data analysis, and problem-solving. These skills are highly transferable, and can provide a strong foundation for success in any career path.

Additionally, graduates of the economics program at Stanford have access to a vast alumni network, which includes successful professionals in various industries. This network can provide valuable connections and opportunities for career advancement.

Student Testimonials and Success Stories from the Economics Program at Stanford

Finally, we spoke to a number of current and former economics students at Stanford to hear about their experiences and success stories in the program.

Many students spoke about the transformative impact of the program on their academic and professional lives, and about the close relationships they formed with faculty members and peers. Others shared stories of research projects that led to publication in top academic journals, or of successful careers in fields such as finance and consulting.

One student we spoke to, Sarah, shared how the economics program at Stanford helped her develop critical thinking and analytical skills that she now uses in her job as a data analyst at a tech company. She also mentioned how the program’s emphasis on real-world applications of economic theory helped her understand the practical implications of economic policies and decisions.

Another student, John, talked about how the program’s diverse range of courses allowed him to explore different areas of economics and find his passion for environmental economics. He now works as an environmental economist for a non-profit organization, where he uses his knowledge and skills to advocate for sustainable policies and practices.


Overall, studying economics at Stanford University is a rewarding and challenging experience. The program’s commitment to academic excellence, research, and practical experience provides students with valuable skills and knowledge and prepares them for successful careers in a variety of fields.

a female Stanford University student

Furthermore, the economics program at Stanford University offers a wide range of opportunities for students to engage in research and gain hands-on experience. Students can participate in research projects with faculty members, intern at top companies and organizations, and even start their own businesses through the university’s entrepreneurship programs. These experiences not only enhance students’ resumes, but also provide them with valuable insights into the real-world applications of economic theory.

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