MS Curriculum Details

The MS in Applied Economics requires 30 credits to complete, including 18 credits from six core courses and 12 elective credits. The core courses are ECON 6300: Mathematical Methods for Economics, ECON 6301: Applied Microeconomic Theory, ECON 6305: Applied Macroeconomic Theory, ECON 6374: Probability and Statistics for Economics, ECON 6375: Applied Econometrics and ECON 6376: Time Series Analysis.

MS in Applied Economics students take 12 elective credits, six of which must be in approved 6000-level Economics courses. Students may take up to six credits in non-economics courses, including from the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy, the Milken School of Public Health, the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Graduate School of Business. Electives from other programs may meet the requirement subject to approval by the program director.

Please note that some 6000-level economics courses do not count as electives. Among them are: ECON 6280, ECON 6217, and ECON 6218. Further, students cannot take both ECON 6237 and ECON 6337 because of substantial overlap in content.

Students should consult the program director if there are any doubts about course choice for electives.

Course Descriptions

See full list of current Economics Department courses in the GW Bulletin — scroll down to view courses at the 6300 level.

Core Courses

ECON 6300: Mathematical Methods for Economics

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. 

ECON 6301: Applied Microeconomic Theory

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. 

ECON 6305: Applied Macroeconomic Theory

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. 

ECON 6374: Probability and Statistics for Economics

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. 

ECON 6375: Applied Econometrics

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. 

ECON 6376: Time Series Analysis

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. 


ECON 6321: Applied Managerial Economics

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.

ECON 6323: Applied Behavioral Economics

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.

ECON 6325: Applied Game Theory

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.

ECON 6330: Modern Macro Money

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.

ECON 6335: Financial and Derivative Markets

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.

ECON 6337: Applied Environmental Economics

Examine market failure and apply microeconomic principles to evaluate and measure the damages caused by polluting activities, the benefits of improving environmental quality, and the role of government in regulating the environment.

ECON 6340: Applied Labor Economics and Public Policy

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.

ECON 6344: Applied Industrial Organization

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.

ECON 6350: Applied Development Economics

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.

ECON 6378: Machine Learning with Python for Economics

Foundational machine learning techniques, including regression, classification, support vector machines, dimensionality reduction, clustering, random forest and boosting. Implement Python and survey artificial neural networks and deep learning.

ECON 6379: Causal Inference and Research Design

Empirical techniques in applied economic research, focusing on causal inference methods such as regression discontinuity, difference-in-differences, instrumental variables, panel methods, sample selection/matching issues, and clustering techniques.

Special Topics In Economics

ECON 6295: Applied Cost Benefit Analysis

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.

ECON 6295: Applied Urban Economics

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.

ECON 6295: Quantitative Risk Management

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.

ECON 6295: Applied International Economics

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.

ECON 6997: Independent Research

Some economics students choose to complete an independent study if they wish to demonstrate their ability to apply economic theory to solving a real-world problem. To complete an independent study, students enroll in ECON 6997: Independent Research or ECON 6998: Thesis Research


Plan of Study

All students, whether full-time or part-time, must complete the program within four years.

Full-Time Students

Students who study full time will usually follow this plan of study:

  • Semester 1: ECON 6300: Mathematical Methods for Economics, ECON 6305: Applied Macroeconomics and ECON 6374: Probability and Statistics for Economics
  • Semester 2: ECON 6301: Applied Microeconomics, ECON 6375: Applied Econometrics and one elective
  • Semester 3: ECON 6376: Time Series Analysis and two electives
  • Semester 4 (or summer): One elective

Students who wish to pursue an alternative plan of study should meet with the director to ensure that the plan of study conforms with program requirements.

Full-time students take three courses a semester and generally complete the program by taking three courses in each of three semesters plus one course during the summer session or they complete the program in three semesters by taking three courses in each of two semesters and four courses in one of the three semesters. 

Students who are admitted for the fall semester may choose to enroll in ECON 6300 in the summer prior to starting in the fall semester. 

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.