FAQs on the Master's Degrees

  MS in Economics

M.A in Applied

Economics

Program Requirements    
    Courses and Credits 30 Credits, 10 Courses 30 credits, 10 Courses
    Time to Completion 3 semesters + Summer 3 semesters + Summer
Full time or Part Time
 Attendance
Both Both
Program Prerequisites    
   GRE Yes No
   English Language TOEFL, Columbian College Requirements TOEFL, Columbian College Requirements
   Mathematics

Calculus through multivariable calculus and linear algebra

 

1 semester of calculus
   Economics                           Intermediate micro-and macroeconomics               Introductory micro-and macroecomomics
Program Emphasis

Courses in doctoral level economic theory and methods

Develop ability to undertake research in economics and policy

Applied courses in graduate level economic theory and methods

Focus on undertaking and presenting quantitative analysis of economic data to general as well as professional audiences

Elective Courses Ph.D economics courses M.A. economics courses + master's level courses in business, finance, public policy, and other approved departments
Preparation for Further Doctoral Study

 

 
   Economics Yes No
   Applied economics Yes Yes
   Business/Finance Yes Yes
   Public Policy Yes Yes
STEM Designation Yes Yes

 

 

FAQs on the MS in Economics and the MA in Applied Economics (August 6, 2015)

I would like to obtain a PhD in Economics. Which program should I enter?

You should enter the MS Economics program if you wish to continue to study for a PhD in Economics after completing the MS degree.  Students in the MS Economics program take core courses in the PhD program with students who have already entered the PhD program and, thus, are prepared to continue on to the PhD.

The Applied Economics program is not designed for students who wish to study for a PhD in Economics.  It does prepare them for a PhD in public policy, business, and many other fiel

What are the main differences between the MS in Economics and the MA in Applied Economics?

The main differences center on the roles of mathematical analysis, theory and applications in the two programs.  While both MS and MA degrees require students to have strong quantitative skills, students in the MS Economics program will focus on learning theories and proofs that help extend the body of economic theory.  With some topics -- uncertainty, game theory -- there will be a discussion of applications. With others -- general equilibrium analysis -- the treatment is purely theoretical (existence, uniqueness, stability, etc.). The MS Economics program focuses on developing mathematical and statistical tools useful for fundamental research and in-depth study of economic issues.

Students in the MA Applied Economics program will also develop the mathematical skills that all students with a graduate degree in economics are assumed to possess, but they will focus on applying those tools to existing economic understanding in an empirical, or applied setting. The program’s focus is on applying mathematical and statistical tools to study economic problems facing businesses, international institutions, think tanks and government policy makers.

Which program should I take if I’m mainly interested in applying theory to current economic problems?

The MA in Applied Economics program is designed for students who wish to take a practical approach to economic analysis.

Students in the MA Applied Economics program focus on understanding and applying existing knowledge to solve current economic problems. The program focuses specifically on understanding how theory is applied in practice.

Do both programs require econometrics?

Yes, both programs require econometrics.  Reflecting the different approaches of the two programs, however, means that the MS Economics program will focus on the theoretical underpinnings of econometric methods and will require an extensive use of matrix algebra.  The MA Applied Economics program will focus on using cutting edge econometric tools for empirical testing and data analysis.

What level of mathematics is required for each program?

The MS in Economics requires students to have completed calculus through multivariable calculus as a prerequisite.  In addition, all MS Economics students complete a “Math Camp” prior to beginning the formal program.

The MA in Applied Economics requires students to have completed one semester of college-level calculus as a prerequisite.  All MA Applied Economics students enroll in the “Mathematical Methods for Economics” course as one of the required core courses.  Students in other programs may enroll in the course as an elective.

What are the differences in the Macroeconomics courses between the two programs?

The main difference is that the macroeconomics course in the MS Economics program constructs models using dynamic programming, sometimes with uncertainty, and then constructs an equilibrium and analyzes the implications.  Students will discuss assumptions and what happens when they change. Students will also analyze determinants of economic growth, optimal government policy, the impact of distortionary taxes, and so on.

The MA Applied Economics macroeconomics course focuses on developing an integrated framework for analyzing the determination of macroeconomic variables, such as total production, unemployment, interest rates and inflation.  A key objective of the course is to create a link between economic theory and economic policy so that data interpretation and policy decisions are based on solid theory.  Students will focus on using the tools of economic analysis to solve current policy issues facing the government, the private sector, and international organizations.

What types of research do the programs stress?

The MS Economics program prepares students to undertake scholarly research in economics, whereas the MA Applied Economics program prepares students to undertake applied studies using economic theory and methods.

Do the programs require writing a thesis?

No. Neither the MS in Economics nor the MA in Applied Economics requires writing a thesis.

The MA in Applied Economics does require students to prepare a research project that will demonstrate their ability to apply economic theory to solving a real-world problem. 

What types of presentation skills do students develop?

Students in the MS Economics program develop the ability to make presentations for a professional, scholarly audience.  Students in the MA Applied Economics program develop the ability to present economic analyses for general as well as professional audiences.

Students in the Applied Economics program will present their analysis and findings from their research project to their fellow students and instructors. This project will serve as the “job market” paper for graduates.

Is the MA in Applied Economics an alternative to an MBA?

The MA in Applied Economics can be seen as an alternative to an MBA for students who wish to focus more on economic analysis than on business administration. Students in the Applied Economics program are allowed to take up to two electives outside of the economics department as part of their 10 course requirement. Certain courses in the Business School qualify for those electives.

How long do the programs take to complete?

Both programs require students to complete 10 courses for 30 credits. Students who study full-time should be able to complete the degree in 3 semesters plus one summer.

Is it possible to transfer between the two master’s programs?

Students should evaluate carefully the master’s program that they wish to pursue and apply to that program. Some students, however, may start one program and wish to transfer to the other program. Students are encouraged to meet with their advisor to discuss the steps involved in transferring from one program to the other.

May I study part time?

Students in both the MS Economics and in the MA Applied Economics program may study part time.

What do students do after earning their Master’s degree?

Graduates from both programs are prepared to start careers as economists in the government, think tanks, and the private sector.

Students in the MS Economics program are also prepared to pursue a PhD in Economics. Students in the MA Applied Economics program are prepared to pursue doctoral studies in applied economics, public policy, and business, among others, but not for a PhD in economics.

Who should I contact to find out more about the graduate programs in economics?

Dr. Pamela Labadie is the Director of the MS program in Economics. You can reach her at labadie@gwu.edu

Dr. Joann Weiner is the Director of the MA program in Applied Economics. You can reach her at AppliedEcon@gwu.edu and at jmweiner@gwu.edu

For questions about the PhD program, contact Dr. Joseph Pelzman at jpelz@gwu.edu

For general questions about the Economics Department, contact Dr. Sumit Joshi at sumjos@gwu.edu