My name is Omar Avendano and I graduated in the spring of 2007 from HSU with a degree in Economics. In the fall of 2006 I applied to graduate programs in Economics and these are some tips and impressions I have about the application process after going through it. If you don't care for my advice, then here is the advice Stanford University, Georgetown University and Davidson College give their students.
Start as soon as possible
Applying to graduate school is like having a part-time job. Before you apply you will need to research programs as well as professors to find a match. Once you start the actual application you will have to write a statement of purpose( links below provide examples of statements), ask for letters of recommendations (do this with enough time for the professor to write the letter and for you to mail it out), send transcripts of school work, find either external funding or funding within the institution, and some schools might require more.
Mathematics is an essential part of graduate courses in Economics. Harvard Economist Greg Mankiw said this of mathematics and economics "You cannot get this solid foundation (of economic theory and econometrics) without understanding the language of mathematics that these fields use." Because Mathematics is important to Economics most Masters Program will require one semester of calculus and statistics while Doctoral programs usually recommend Single & Multivariable Calculus, Vector Calculus, Linear Algebra and some proof based courses like Real Analysis in addition to Statistics.
Professors are a very important link to graduate school. Since they have already gone through the process, they possess a wealth of information regarding the topic. They can help guide you and provide information as you navigate through the graduate school journey.
Try to get research experience
Research is important because graduate school is a training ground for researchers and graduate programs would like to see students with some prior experience. The department is a good source for information regarding research opportunities. In addition to the Economics department, there are research centers on campus like the California Center for Rural Policy and The Office for Economic & Community Development as well as non-profit group in the area that could also help with an internship opportunity. Below are links for undergraduate research opportunities as well as links for undergraduate economic journals.
Examples of Various Statements of Purpose
Other Important Sites:
Forums/Blogs (get connected to other people looking to go to grad school)