Graduate study in the GW Department of Economics prepares scholars to be expert analysts, researchers, executives, policy makers and much more. Between the MS in Applied Economics and the PhD in Economics options, the department’s STEM-designated graduate program enrolls more than 100 students from around the world each year. About three-quarters of our graduate students are in the PhD program, and the typical class is fairly gender balanced, with about 40 percent women.

Graduate students in economics master foundational concepts and delve into subject areas like urban and regional economics, international trade and development. Many go on to careers in government, international agencies or consulting firms located in the Washington, D.C., region. The Economics Department assists in these career aspirations with an active placement service and a full range of academic and advising resources.



Combined MS/Graduate Certificate Options

“The Applied Economics Program offered an environment ripe for examining a range of issues and topics through an applied lens. The program created a space for my voice and ideas to be heard, and equipped me with the technical knowledge foundations and applied experience to continue at the doctoral level.”

Chinemelu Okafor
MA ‘18, Applied Economics


Chinemelu Okafor


Choosing Between the MS and the PhD 

MS in Applied Economics

  • Prerequisite: One semester of college-level calculus
  • Students develop advanced mathematical skills and learn how to apply those skills to economics in an empirical, or applied, setting.
  • Students examine economic problems facing individuals, businesses, international institutions, think tanks and government policy makers.
  • Coursework takes a practical approach, focusing on the use of microeconomic theory to solve real-world problems. Students develop empirical models to test how well the given theory applies in practice.
  • Required reading includes Intermediate Microeconomics and its Application by Walter Nicholson and Christopher Snyder, which details applications of microeconomic theory.

PhD in Economics

  • Prerequisites: Multivariate calculus, linear algebra and probability theory.
  • Content focuses on rigorous economic theory and advanced econometric methods useful for fundamental research and in-depth study of economic issues.
  • Students produce research that is publishable in respected peer-reviewed academic journals.
  • Coursework takes a highly theoretical approach to the fundamental microeconomics concepts of consumer and producer theory, general equilibrium and welfare economics and game theory.
  • Required reading relies on theoretical, mathematics-based texts, such as Microeconomic Analysis by Hal Varian and Advanced Microeconomic Theory by Geoffrey Jehle and Philip Reny.

Note: The Economics Department does not offer a master’s degree in pure economics. There is, however, an option for students enrolled in the PhD in Economics program to earn a Master of Philosophy along the way. Students who wish to study for a PhD in Economics should not view the MS in Applied Economics as a way of completing the coursework along the way to a PhD. 

Open House Information Session Recording

Female student seated in class with a laptop listening

In case you weren't able to attend one of our recent virtual Open House events, view the recording online.

Past Info Session Recording