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.

Electives

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.

Instructor Biographies

Joann M. Weiner earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University and her B.S. degree in Business Administration from the University of California at Berkeley.  She is the author of Company Tax Reform in the European Union. Lessons from the U.S. states and Canadian provinces on implementing formulary apportionment in the EU.  She is the founding director of the Applied Economics master’s program at the George Washington University. 

GW Website

External Website

Ronald Bird holds a Ph.D. in Economics from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  He is currently the Senior Regulatory Economist at the United States Chamber of Commerce and he was previously Chief Economist of the United States Department of Labor.  He has also served on the faculties of The University of Alabama and North Carolina State University. 

Gary Cornwall is a Research Economist at the Bureau of Economic Analysis. He holds a doctorate in Economics from the University of Cincinnati and his research interests include time series, spatial econometrics, applied Bayesian methods, and machine learning. 

External Website

Ken Danger is an Associate Deputy Director at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, where he works on matters related to derivative market manipulation. He holds a doctorate in Economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he focused on industrial organization, health economics, and finance. His outside research interests focus on financial markets, derivatives, and antitrust policy and law.

Matt Flagge is a Surveillance Analyst at the Commodity Futures and Trading Corporation.  He earned his Ph.D., MPhil, and MS. In Economics from Columbia University and his B.A. from Yale University, magna cum laude.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth  is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology at the Department of Transportation (DOT). Prior to joining DOT, she was Acting Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy at the U.S. Department of Treasury. She has been a senior fellow and director of Economics21 at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and an adjunct professor of economics at The George Washington University. She previously served as Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of Labor; Chief of Staff of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers; Deputy Executive Director of the Domestic Policy Council; and Junior Staff Economist at the Council of Economic Advisers. Ms. Furchtgott-Roth is the author of five books and was a columnist for MarketWatch.com and Tax Notes. She received her BA in economics from Swarthmore College and her M.Phil. in economics from Oxford University.

Anthony Kassekert is a Senior Statistician with the Department of Homeland Security. He earned his Ph.d. in Public Administration and Policy from Florida State University and his B.S. in Mathematical Statistics, Economics, and Political Science from Iowa State University.

Hong Kim is a Lead Economist in the Department of Labor. He is leading a group of economists to perform the Department’s regulatory impact analyses, regulatory flexibility analyses, labor market analyses, workplace safety analyses, and policy analyses. Prior to joining the Depart of Labor, he was a senior economist at the Department of Homeland Security and the Environmental Protection Agency. He holds a doctorate in Economics from the University of California, Davis. 

Argyn Kuketayev is Vice President in Market Risk department at E*TRADE Financial, a leading online brokerage. He’s a former nuclear scientist, and prior to his current role as a head quant, he held various positions at Primatics Financial, Markit Group Ltd., Fannie Mae, Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, Hughes Network Systems and Philip Morris International. He received a doctorate degree in Physics and MSc in Finance. He specializes in econometric forecasting for stress testing, deposit modeling and application of broad range of quantitative techniques to fixed income and equity options portfolio risk management. 

Alfredo M. Leone was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  He took  undergraduate studies at the University of Buenos Aires and earned his Masters and Ph.D. degrees in economics at the University of Minnesota (USA).  He worked at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from 1988 until his retirement in September 2014.  Prior to joining the Fund, he was the Director of the Center for Monetary and Banking Studies at the Central Bank of Argentina and Professor of Money, Credit, and Banking at the School of Economics at the Universtiy of Buenos Aires.  After retirement, he has been a Visiting Scholar at the IMF.  HE has authored and co-authored a number of papers on central banking, financial stability and crises, inflation targeting, and official statistics.

Diane Lim is Senior Advisor at the Penn Wharton Budget Model. She has spent her 30-plus year career in a variety of prominent roles in the federal government, nonprofit and academic sectors. She began her post-Ph.D. career as an assistant professor at Penn State University before coming to DC to work as a visiting scholar (and then principal analyst) at the Congressional Budget Office in the early 1990s, and she has worked in DC on federal- and state-level public policy issues ever since. She has served as chief economist for the House Ways and Means Committee, House Budget Committee, the Concord Coalition, and the Pew Charitable Trusts. She was a senior economist on the staff of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers during the final year of the Clinton Administration and first 100 days of the George W. Bush Administration. She has also worked for the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute. Her immediate past positions were as Principal at District Economics Group (a small economic consulting shop), and Principal Economist at The Conference Board (a non-profit business membership and research organization). She is a founding advisory board member of the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia, and a past president of the National Tax Association. Diane received her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Virginia, her master’s degree from Brown University, and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan.

Daniel Marcin earned a Ph.D. in Economics in 2014 from the University of Michigan.  His dissertation examined income tax records of high-income earners from 1923 and 1924 to estimate the effect of the marginal tax rate on taxable income.  ICPSR now hosts his data, which he claims is the largest collection of public American income tax information for the 20th century.  Daniel’s professional experience includes working as an economist at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, teaching a wide spectrum of courses at the University of Michigan, litigation support at Welch Consulting, and economic research at the University of Chicago Law School.  Daniel is a NEED delegate, working with the new organization to close the gap between what economists generally think and the economic arguments made in policy debates.  He maintains a rarely updated YouTube channel with Stata, Excel, and Python demonstrations.  On weekends, he leads hiking and biking outings with the Sierra Club.

Christine McDaniel is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. She has held several positions in the U.S. government, including Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Treasury Department and senior trade economist in the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and has worked in the economic offices of the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Trade Representative, and U.S. International Trade Commission. McDaniel spent three years in Australia as deputy chief economist in Australia’s patent office. She has published in the areas of international trade, intellectual property, and empirical trade analysis and modeling. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Colorado, and received her B.A. in Economics and Japanese Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Elena Patel is an Assistant Professor of Finance at the University of Utah, specializing in public finance and corporate tax policy. She is a former financial economist at the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Tax Analysis, and holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Michigan. Professionally, she works on issues related to corporate tax policy and supply-side health policy. Her outside research includes analyses of the behavioral incentives for firms in the hospital industry and the incentives of the business tax system in the United States.  

Jason Seligman is an economist at the Investment Company Institute. Prior to his current tenure at the ICI, he was previously at the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Economic Policy. He has published research on new monetary policies implemented since the Financial Crisis of 2007-2008, and in related macro and public finance areas.  He was on the faculty of the Ohio State University and, the University of Georgia as well as having served both at Treasury and at the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, where he handled the Council’s macro and finance portfolios.  He earned his Ph.D. in Economics (Public Finance) from the University of California at Berkeley.

Scott Wentland is a Research Economist at the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) where he specializes in applied microeconomics research, namely in the areas of housing, taxation, real estate, and urban economics. Prior to joining the BEA in 2015, he worked as a tenured Associate Professor of Economics at Longwood University, teaching a wide array of undergraduate and graduate-level courses. He received a Ph.D. in Economics from George Mason University in 2009 and has since published articles in numerous academic journals, including Land Economics, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, BioScience, Journal of Real Estate Research, Journal of Housing Economics, Journal of Housing Research, and Real Estate Economics. His research has also been covered in the popular press such as the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and Huffington Post, among other outlets.