MA Curriculum Details

Find more details on specific courses and plans of study as well as requirements for the MA program and certificate options.


Thesis and Independent Study

The MA in Applied Economics program does not require a thesis. Students may take an independent study course or enroll in an optional research course if they wish to demonstrate their ability to apply economic theory to solving a real-world problem.


Sample Plans of Study

Full-Time Students

Full-time students generally complete the program in three semesters plus one summer. All students must complete the program within four years.

  • ECON 6300: Mathematical Methods for Economics
  • ECON 6374: Probability and Statistics for Economics
  • ECON 6305: Applied Macroeconomic Theory
  • ECON 6301: Applied Microeconomic Theory
  • ECON 6375: Applied Econometrics
  • Elective 1
  • ECON 6376: Time-Series Analysis
  • Elective 2
  • Elective 3

Elective 4

(can also be completed during the next academic year)

Part-Time Students

The department suggests a specific order of courses based on whether the student plans to take one or two classes per semester. All part-time students should meet with their advisor early in the semester to plan a full program.

Two Courses Per Semester: ECON 6300 and ECON 6374 during the first semester, and ECON 6301 and ECON 6375 during the second semester. 

One Course Per Semester: Take ECON 6300 in the first semester. 


Course Descriptions

Students must consult with the program director on their electives of choice. See full list of current Economics Department courses in the GW Bulletin.

Core Courses

This course gives students the mathematical background required to appreciate and understand the use of mathematics in economic analysis. Multivariable calculus, integral calculus, and linear algebra with an emphasis on techniques for solving systems of equations, unconstrained and constrained optimization, comparative statics, difference equations, and analysis of dynamic models. Prerequisite: one semester of college-level calculus.

This course covers the principal areas of microeconomic theory: consumer demand, decision-making under uncertainty, production and costs, game theory, product markets, factor markets, and market failures. The course emphasizes the application of theory to microeconomic issues of interest to the private and public sectors, including product pricing, market entry and deterrence, tax policy, and environmental regulation.  Prerequisites: Mathematical Methods for Economics (ECON 6300) or permission of the instructor

The course will develop an integrated framework for analyzing the determination of macroeconomic variables, such as total production, unemployment, interest rates, and inflation. A key objective is to provide a link between economic theory and economic policy so that data interpretation and policy decisions are based on solid theory.  Prerequisites: Mathematical Methods for Economics (ECON 6300) or concurrent registration.

Specific probability and statistical inference skills required for applied economic problems. Topics include laws of probability, limit laws, random events, independence and dependence, expectations, Bayes theory, etc. Data manipulation and analysis using SAS and Stata software. Prerequisite: Mathematical Methods for Economics (ECON 6300) or concurrent registration.

This course will introduce students to the skills needed to evaluate and conduct econometric analysis with a primary focus on multiple regression analysis. The course will emphasize using econometric methods to estimate and test economic models and to address causal questions using observational data. Students will use statistical software, such as Stata, and will become proficient in using this software to perform basic econometric techniques.  Prerequisites: Mathematical Methods for Economics (ECON 6300) and Probability and Statistics for Economics (ECON 6374) or permission of the instructor.

This course gives students the tools required to understand, implement, and interpret common models used in time series econometrics with an emphasis on intuition and application. Topics cover include time series properties of data, difference equations, stationary models, models with trends, multi-equation models, forecasting models, etc. Prerequisites: Mathematical Methods for Economics (ECON 6300), Probability and Statistics for Economics (ECON 6374) and Applied Macroeconomic Theory (ECON 6305) or permission of the instructor.


This course focuses on the application of economic theory and methodology to support business strategy decisions that promote competitiveness in an environment of changing domestic and international market conditions, government regulations, and resource availability. Its main objective is to develop students’ capacity to analyze the economic environments in which business entities operate and make strategic decisions on price, marketing, output, investment, and resource allocations.

This course will first discuss/review the fundamentals of microeconomic and macroeconomic theory at an intermediate level and then critique where theories have failed to accurately explain or predict real-world behavior, motivating the more recent interdisciplinary "behavioral economics" approach. Can economists stray from the "one size fits all" approach and yet still have enough of a theoretical foundation to be able to predict economic outcomes?  Students will compare and contrast traditional vs. behavioral economics research applied to a variety of public policy issues. 

Game Theory is a fundamental tool used to analyze situations in which multiple agents interact strategically. This course focus on several equilibrium concepts, each of which is based on the Nash Equilibrium, named after John Nash, who won the Nobel Prize in 1994. We apply these concepts to many applications including oligopolistic markets, long-term relationships in repeated games, auctions, reputation formation, and others. Students will develop a thorough understanding of the foundation of game theoretic models and their applications across a variety of social sciences.

This course in macroeconomics and monetary economics provides the applied economics student an opportunity to think about the evolving role of the central bank in supporting stable growth and the macroprudential evolution of a financial system.  Emphasis will be on facilitation over the short- and medium-term. Conditional on the use of these tools, consideration will be given to modern tools for long term dynamic stability and associated positive and negative implications for capital and growth impacts.  Exercises are designed to develop critical thinking skills, policy proposals and the student’s evaluation faculties working alone, and in collaborative teams.

This course is designed to provide students with a thorough introduction to the theoretical and practical aspects of financial and derivative markets.  Students will apply quantitative and statistical approaches to a variety of problems throughout this course.  A practical approach is adopted through the use of case studies and real life examples.  Students will learn about important interest rate markets, how asset prices are determined, securities markets and the critical role that central banks play in financial markets.  Students will also learn how to price, value and use derivatives from a practical perspective.

Applied Labor Economics and Public Policy will provide the student an understanding of both the theory and practical applications of labor economics.  The focus of the course is on finding and applying data to analyze labor market conditions and policy issues.  Topics will include sources and uses of labor market data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other agencies, the efficiency of competitive labor markets and ways in which actual labor markets may deviate from the ideal including the effects of discrimination, asymmetric information, and barriers to market entry.  Among the policy topics address will be gender and racial disparities and discrimination, investment and returns to education, immigration, wage and hours regulations, licensure regulations, earnings distribution issues, unions, labor mobility, compensation systems, job search and employee search processes and unemployment.  The course emphasizes using and applying data from the Current Population Survey, the American Community Survey and other sources.   

 This course will analyze the behavior of firms and consider the implications of market structure and resource allocation. We will focus on several key factors including the number of market participants, the role of transaction costs, product differentiation, imperfect knowledge, and market contestability. We will give special attention to public policy issues of monopoly regulation and antitrust law in the United States. We will explore these issues using standard microeconomic empirical and theoretical tools with a special emphasis on game theory. 

This course is an introduction to the field of Development Economics.  We will provide a broad survey of various areas of research and activity in the field of development, to help ground students in an understanding of the complex causes of underdevelopment and modern views about how best to make development succeed.  We will focus on both the theory underlying development economics, as well as the analytical tools used in development research, in order to empower students to be participants in this rapidly evolving field.

Special Topics In Economics

This course is an introduction to economic cost/benefit analysis with a focus on applications to regulatory decision making.  Executive Order 12866, the Regulatory Flexibility Act, the Paperwork Reduction Act, the Unfunded Mandates Act, and the Congressional Review Act, require Federal regulatory agencies to assess the costs and benefits of contemplated regulatory decisions, to ensure that regulatory mandates yield benefits in excess of the attendant economic cost, and that regulatory mandates achieve intended benefits at least cost.  This course will focus on the analytical requirements for meeting these goals.  The course will cover both the theoretical concepts of social welfare economics underlying cost/benefit analysis and the practical application of these concepts to practical regulatory policy decisions.  The course will use real examples of regulatory proposals to frame the discussion of application of economic theory to practical policy analysis. The course will also examine the role of ex post regulatory program evaluation to inform future policy decisions.  In addition to covering textbook material regarding the concepts and techniques of cost-benefit analysis, the course will draw heavily on real world applications of cost benefit analysis in Federal rule making decisions.

This course examines market failure and applies microeconomic principles to markets for environmental resources. We also examine methods of measuring the damages that result from polluting activities, and the benefits of improving environmental quality. We will explore the proper role of government in the regulation of the environment and managing the natural resources.

This course will analyze the economics of cities and urban areas and consider the implications of the location of economic actors. This course will also thoroughly discuss the considerable externalities of cities, both positive and negative, as well as public policy issues to alleviate or encourage the effects of those externalities.

Risk management is an area where economists, aspiring and experienced alike, were in high demand since the great recession of 2007. The course teaches application of quantitative techniques commonly used in modern enterprise risk management (ERM) practice. Although the emphasis is on applications, the course covers the principles underpinning modern risk management in sufficient detail. Quantitative techniques include measurement of risk, volatility modeling, Monte-Carlo simulations, copulas, principal component analysis (PCA), correlated random number generation, extreme value theory (EVT), value-at-risk (VaR) and compound distributions. General ERM topics covered include the financial institutions and their regulation, financial instruments and markets, market risk, interest rate risk, credit risk, operational risk, liquidity risk, model risk and the selected cases in risk management. Students will have an option to complete the assignments either in Excel or Python using the code examples presented in the class.

This course covers issues in applied international economics’.  It is founded on international economics theories, but focuses on empirical issues and practical applications of international economics relevant for future practitioners in this field. The course emphasizes applying theory to the analysis of critical international trade and capital flows issues as well as current developments in the international trade and financial environment. The course reflects the diversity of the global economy by covering emerging markets and developing countries.

This course covers empirical techniques commonly used in applied microeconomic research and analysis. With an emphasis on causal inference and application, this course will broaden students’ research design skills with new/extended coverage of econometric methods like regression discontinuity design, instrumental variables, panel methods, duration models, selection models, and error clustering techniques, among other topics. Students will build proficiency in statistical software and empirical microeconomic research design.