Department of Economics
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742
Master of Professional Studies
Program in Applied Economics
Dr. John Straub, Program Director Straub@econ.umd.edu
College Park location
1102 Morrill Hall
(301) 405-3557 CPmasters@econ.umd.edu
Washington, DC location
1400 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 525-4308 DCmasters@econ.umd.edu
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the focus of the
Masters in Applied Economics program at the University of
The program is focused on the
skills that professional economists need to provide
authoritative policy analysis. We emphasize empirical
applications, with a solid foundation in fundamental economic
Is your program nationally ranked?
Our program has been ranked 3rd in
the US according to The
Financial Engineer's 2018 ranking of Top Master of Economics
Programs. The annual ranking of economics master's
degree programs is based on several factors, including
graduate salaries, the undergraduate grades of students in the
program, and graduate employment rates.
More generally, our department's
overall ranking is currently 21st in the US, according to the
News and World Report. This is higher than other
Washington, DC area economics departments, including Johns
Hopkins (23rd), Georgetown (50th), George Washington (63rd),
George Mason (78th), and American University (not ranked).
Who is the program for?
We offer evening programs at
two different locations: downtown Washington, DC and also on
the main campus of the University of Maryland in College
Park. Domestic students are welcome to attend either
version of the program. International students who need
student visas are only eligible to enroll in the College Park
Classes in both locations meet in the
The Washington, DC version of our
program is geared towards working professionals. Our
students, like our instructors, tend to come to classes
straight from their jobs at federal government agencies, NGOs,
non-profits, and private consulting firms. Our graduates
tend to work at the same kinds of places, and frequently
receive promotions and raises after earning our degree.
The parallel version of our program
on the University of Maryland's main campus in College Park is
also in the DC metro area - just 9 miles from our downtown
location. The exact same curriculum is offered in
College Park and Washington, DC. One important
difference is that the Washington, DC version of our program
cannot sponsor international student visas.
International students who will need F-1 visas need to apply
to the College Park version of our program.
Are international students eligible to attend your program?
International students can attend the
College Park version of our program. But applicants who
will require the University of Maryland to sponsor an
international student visa (typically an F-1 visa) are not
eligible to attend the Washington, DC version of our
program. Citizens of foreign countries who currently
reside in the US on visas permitting part-time study are
welcome to apply to either version of the program.
Application deadlines for both
versions of our program are provided on the Application
Information page of our website.
How much does the program cost?
Tuition is $3,250 per
course. Tuition is the same for both in-state and
out-of-state residents, and considerably lower than the
tuition charged by other professional economics master's
degree programs in the Washington, DC area. For example,
tuition in Johns Hopkins' Applied Economics master's degree
program is $4,285 per course. Over the 10-course degree,
that is a difference of more than $10,000. Tuition is
even higher in the DC area's other economics master's degree
programs at American University ($49,260), George Washington
($51,300), and Georgetown ($61,950).
Students in our
Washington, DC program also pay an off-site student services
fee of $95 per quarter. The on-site student services fee for
full-time students in the College Park program is $810 per
Students also need to buy
textbooks and computer software. We use the same
statistical software (Stata) in all of our core empirical
courses so students only need to buy it once, and do not need
to purchase a different statistical software package for each
course. Most of our students purchase a perpetual
license for "Stata IC". The license costs $198 and never
Most of our courses require
students to have a laptop computer (not a notebook or tablet!)
with at least 1 GB of RAM and at least 5 GB of free space
available on the hard drive. The cheapest laptop
computers that meet these minimum specifications can be
purchased for under $300. Of course more durable
computers with more than the bare minimum specifications will
be more expensive. It should not be difficult to find a
laptop that is more than adequate in the $500-$1,000 range.
All applicants pay a one-time
and non-refundable graduate application fee of $75.
Is there financial aid
Our department does not offer
fellowships or graduate assistantships to any of the students
in our professional master's degree program.
Domestic students in our program are
eligible for the US Department of Education's Federal Subsidized
and Unsubsidized Loans and Federal Graduate
PLUS Loans. Some of our students also have their
tuition paid, at least in part, by an employer or other 3rd
party. The University's Financial Services Center
provides Third Party Billing when
the third party requires a bill from the university.
More information about financial aid is available from the
University of Maryland's Office of Student
After submitting their completed
application, international applicants who require a student
visa will be asked to complete a "Certificate of Finances"
form. The form is designed to verify that international
applicants have the resources necessary to finance their
pursuit of our degree if they are accepted and choose to
enroll. More information about financial aid for
international students is posted here: https://financialaid.umd.edu/osfa/for_international.html.
Are international students
able to work while pursuing the degree? The terms of F-1 student
visas place restrictions on the types of employment and
internships that international students can pursue while
studying in the US. Visa compliance issues are handled
at the University of Maryland by our office of International
Student and Scholar Services (ISSS).
After completing the first year of our
program international students can be eligible for Curricular
Practical Training (CPT). International students on F-1
visas can be eligible for CPT internships when the work is
considered an integral part of their studies. CPT
authorization allows you to accept a one semester paid or
unpaid internship in your field of study. The evening
classes in our program facilitate the scheduling of
internships during the day. International students can
also travel in the United States during the summer and winter
breaks - including the summer after they graduate.
Additional details related to permissible employment for
students on F-1 visas is posted here: http://globalmaryland.umd.edu/offices/international-students-scholar-services/f-1-employment
Are international students
who graduate from your program able to stay for Optional
Practical Training (OPT) after they graduate? International students with
an F-1 visa can apply for Optional Practical Training
internships (OPT). Eligibility for OPT internships is
determined by the university's office of International
Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). We cannot
guarantee an OPT internship for every graduate, but we do have
well-established relationships with many Washington, DC area
employers, and we will help students interested in seeking
How long does it take to earn
The Washington, DC version of
our program is on a quarter-based academic calendar.
Students in the Washington, DC program can complete the
10-course degree in 15 months if they take 2 courses each
The College Park version of our
program is on a traditional semester-based academic
calendar. Full-time students in College Park complete
the 10-course program in 2 academic years by taking 3 courses
in each of the first 3 semesters, and then one final course in
the 4th semester. Many students work at jobs or
internships during the day, especially when taking just one
evening course during their final semester.
Students in both locations are also
able to pursue the degree at a slower pace if they prefer, but
international students on F-1 student visas must complete 3
courses in each of their first 3 semesters in order to
maintain their visa status.
Where and when are classes held?
In our Washington, DC location,
classes are held weeknights from 6:45-9:30 p.m. in our suite
at 1400 16th Street, NW - near DuPont Circle. In College
Park, classes are held on campus from 6:30-9:15 p.m.
(There is always a 15-minute break
during the long class meetings.)
Do you offer online courses? We are developing online
versions of our courses, but we're not yet sure when we'll
begin offering the online sections.
At this time, all of our courses are
traditional face-to-face courses with weekly meetings.
The 12-week courses in our Washington, DC location do have an
online component (weekly online discussions). The weekly
online discussions in the DC courses provide additional
interaction with our instructors since the DC courses only
meet for 12 weeks, as opposed to the courses in College Park,
which meet for 15 weeks.
How many courses are needed for the degree?
Students need to complete 10
courses to earn our Master of Professional Studies in Applied
Economics degree. The 10 courses are divided into 5 Core
Courses and 5 Field Courses. The 5 Core Courses
establish fundamental economic theory and econometric
skills. In the 5 Field Courses, students get to apply
those skills in specific contexts including environmental
policy, market design, international finance, economic
development and others. Students can also earn a
Graduate Certificate in Economic Analysis for completing just
the first 5 Core Courses.
Is your degree a Master of Arts or a Master of
Our degree is a Master of
Professional Studies. The Master of Professional Studies
title is more in keeping with our program’s objective of
training professional economists, rather than academic
researchers. Virtually all American Ph.D. programs in
economics accept students with just bachelor’s degrees, and
award M.A. or M.S. degrees to students once they have
completed two years of the program, in some cases as a
terminal degree for students leaving the Ph.D. program.
We do not see evidence that the job market places a lower
value on our MPS degree than it places on Johns Hopkins’ M.S.
degree in applied economics, for example. The employment
rate for our graduates is between 90 and 100%.
Is your program a regular
academic program administered by the University of
Maryland's Department of Economics, or is it a continuing
education program administered by the university's Office of
All academic aspects of our program
are administered by the Department of Economics at the
University of Maryland in College Park. The curriculum
was designed by the faculty in College Park and the director,
Dr. John Straub, has been a full-time lecturer in our College
Park department since 2011. Dr. Straub has been the
director of the department's master's degree program since
2014. He reports to the chair of the economics
department, Dr. Maureen Cropper, and to the department's
Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. John Shea.
Dr. Straub typically works a couple
days per week in College Park, and a couple days per week in
the master's program's Washington, DC suite. He oversees
all the program's day-to-day operations, including admissions,
implementation and development of the curriculum, and hiring
of the instructors. Some of the instructors in our
program are full-time lecturers on the College Park faculty
(like Dr. Straub) but most of our instructors are professional
PhD economists working at government agencies, NGOs and
private firms in the Washington, DC area. You can see
our instructors' affiliations and vitas on our website's Faculty
page. The working professional economists who teach in
our program know exactly what is required of analysts in the
field and have professional connections with exactly the same
agencies and firms who hire our students and graduates.
The university's Office of Extended
Studies handles certain administrative aspects of our program,
including course registration and billing.
How large are the classes?
The average class size is
16.4. The maximum number of students we allow in one of
our Washington, DC classrooms is 27. In College Park the
classes are capped at 30.
Is earning your degree useful as a stepping stone for
people who would like to eventually apply to PhD programs in
As mentioned above, virtually
all American PhD programs in economics accept students with
just a bachelor’s degree. If your undergraduate major
was economics, taking more math courses would probably be
better preparation for a PhD in economics than taking more
economics courses. Admissions committees in American PhD
programs would like to see good grades in multivariable
calculus, linear algebra, probability theory, and real
analysis. If your undergraduate major was not economics,
our first 5 Core Courses could be helpful in preparation for a
PhD program in economics or public policy.
While PhD prep was not the primary
consideration in mind when we designed our program's
curriculum, we do have alumni who have enrolled in PhD
program's after completing our master's degree or our graduate
certificate. Brian Bonis is one example. You can
read about Brian's experience on the Student and
Alumni Profiles page of our website.
Is the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) required for
No. We do not require GRE
scores for admission. We also do not require letters of
recommendation. We do ask applicants to upload a resume
and a brief personal statement.
Students who earned their previous
degrees in non-English speaking countries must also provide
documentation of English language proficiency (TOEFL or IELTS
- see below).
What are the admissions requirements?
Applicants must have earned a
bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year institution,
but the degree does not need to have been in economics.
The applicant’s cumulative undergraduate GPA should be 3.0 or
higher (on a 4.0-point scale). Applicants must have
completed introductory courses in microeconomics and
macroeconomics, earning grades of at least B in each
course. Applicants must also have completed a
one-semester course in calculus, earning at least a B-.
We can often work with applicants who do not meet all of the
standard requirements. Good grades in intermediate
economics courses can trump bad grades in introductory
courses, for example. Good grades in graduate courses
and/or relevant work experience can also be helpful.
Students with concerns about the basic admission criteria
should contact the program’s director, Dr. John Straub, at Straub@econ.umd.edu,
or at (301) 405-3531.
Please also see the admissions
information posted on our website: http://masters.econ.umd.edu/application_information.html.
Do you accept Advanced Placement exam scores
to fulfill the calculus and economics course admissions
Advanced Placement exams scores
of 4 or 5 on the Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and/or
Calculus (AB or BC) exams are sufficient to satisfy the
corresponding course admissions requirements.
Does a 3-year undergraduate degree satisfy the bachelor's
degree requirement for admission?
The University of Maryland does not
generally consider the curriculum in a 3-year undergraduate
degree to be equivalent to a US bachelor's degree. In
addition to the 3-year degree, applicants must also secure a
master's degree or a Post Graduate Diploma from an institution
recognized by the University of Maryland. There are 2
exceptions to this policy. The first exception is a
3-year bachelor's degree from a British university, which is
sufficient for admission to our graduate school. The
second exception is specific to our master's degree in applied
economics. We will also consider applicants with a
3-year bachelor's degree in economics from the University of
Delhi. Aside from these 2 specific
exceptions, 3-year undergraduate degrees do not satisfy our
graduate school's bachelor's degree requirement for admission.
Is the program math-intensive?
The courses in our program
require the basic skills of differential calculus that would
be covered in any 1st semester calculus course (college,
community college, or high school). Our courses also
build upon those fundamental calculus skills. Many of
our applicants complete the prerequisite course requirements
at a local community college or online. Online, blended,
and traditional face-to-face calculus courses are offered by
of Maryland University College.
What is the time commitment for a given course?
Classes the Washington, DC
version of our program meet once a week for 12 weeks from
6:45-9:30 p.m. (There is always a 15-minute break
somewhere between 7:45 and 8:30.) Students should expect
to spend at least twice as much time outside of class each
week, studying and working on homework. All the
Washington, DC courses also require students to participate in
online discussions outside of class.
In College Park the classes also meet
once per week - from 6:30-9:15. But the College Park
program's traditional semester-based academic calendar permits
15 meetings per term, rather than just 12. So the
College Park courses do not have weekly online discussion
requirements like the Washington, DC courses.
A given course covers exactly the
same material at exactly the same level of rigor in both
College Park and Washington, DC. Since the Washington,
DC program compresses the same amount of material into 12
weeks instead of 15 weeks, the Washington, DC courses require
more work per week than the College Park courses.
Who are the instructors in your program?
All of our instructors are PhD
economists with extensive experience in economic analysis and
teaching. Most of our instructors work full-time at
government agencies, NGOs or private consulting firms. A
few of our courses are taught by lecturers from our
department's College Park faculty. The College Park
lecturers are also PhD economists. The College Park
lecturers tend to be full-time teachers who also do some
economic consulting on the side. Most of the instructors
in our program, however, are full-time professional economists
who do some teaching on the side - in our program and in other
Washington, DC area economics programs.
The affiliation and curriculum
vitae for each of our program's instructors is listed
on the faculty page of our program's website: http://masters.econ.umd.edu/faculty.html
What is the typical
sequence of courses for students in the Washington, DC
The Washington, DC program's academic
calendar is on a quarter system. A typical sequence of
courses for a student taking 2 courses each quarter in
Washington, DC would be:
1st quarter (fall or spring):
Empirical Analysis I (ECON 643)
2nd quarter (winter or summer):
Topics in Applied
Macroeconomics (ECON 642)
Empirical Analysis II (ECON 644)
3rd quarter (fall or spring):
Empirical Analysis III
(ECON 645) and
Financial Economics (ECON 670) or Economic Analysis of
Law (ECON 674)
4th quarter (winter or summer):
Choose 2 from:
Economics of Health Care (ECON 671)
Program Analysis and Evaluation (ECON 672)
Environmental Economics (ECON 675)
Applied Time Series Analysis and Forecasting (ECON 684)
5th quarter (fall or spring):
Choose 2 from:
Game Theory and Market Design (ECON 673)
Development Economics (ECON 676)
International Macroeconomics and Finance (ECON
is the typical sequence of courses for students in the
College Park program?
The College Park program's
academic calendar is on a traditional semester-based
system. A typical sequence of courses for a
full-time student in College Park would be:
1st semester (fall):
Topics in Applied Macroeconomics (ECON 642)
Empirical Analysis I (ECON 643)
2nd semester (spring):
Empirical Analysis II
Financial Economics (ECON 670)
Economic Analysis of Law (ECON 674)
3rd semester (fall):
Empirical Analysis III
(ECON 645) and
Development (ECON 676) or International Macro (ECON
Economics of Health Care (ECON 671) or Environmental
Economics (ECON 675)
4th semester (spring):
Choose 1 from:
Program Analysis and Evaluation (ECON 672)
Applied Time Series Analysis and Forecasting (ECON 684)
Game Theory and Market
Design (ECON 673)
Why do full-time students
take only 1 course in the final semester of the College Park
To be considered a full-time student
for international student visa purposes, a student must be
enrolled in at least 3 courses in every semester, with the
exception of the final term. Since completion of our
program requires 10 courses, students can maintain full-time
status by following the 3-3-3-1 plan.
All our courses are in the evening,
which makes it easy for our students to work at internships
during the day. Taking just a single course makes it
even easier for students to work at an internship during their
Can I pursue the degree at a slower pace?
Domestic students are allowed
to take fewer courses per term than called for in the
traditional course sequences. They are also allowed to
take certain terms off if necessary. Domestic students
receiving financial aid may also be subject to minimum
enrollment requirements in order maintain financial aid
eligibility. Students should consult the program’s
director when planning their course of study.
Students with F-1 or J-1 visas must
be enrolled full-time (3 courses per semester) for each first
3 semesters. The only possible exception that might
allow an F-1 or J-1 student to remain in the United States
while not being enrolled in 9 credits per semester is being on
an approved leave of absence for a serious illness or medical
condition. Students are advised to consult with International
Student and Scholar Services for more information when
considering a leave of absence.
What if I do not complete the entire program?
Students who complete just the
first 5 courses are eligible for our Graduate Certificate in
Can I take terms off while I’m in the program?
The University of Maryland’s
Graduate School requires that students be enrolled in at least
one course every term while they are pursuing their
degree. Waivers to this policy are routinely granted as
necessary. Leaves of absence are also possible under
I am an international student. Am I required to submit
TOEFL, IELTS or PTE scores? What are the scores
required for admission?
Any student - international or
domestic - whose previous degrees are all from non-English
speaking countries must submit TOEFL, IELTS or PTE
scores. For the PTE (Pearson Test of English) a minimum
score of 68 is required for full admission. The TOEFL
and IELTS requirements for full-admission are listed
below. Please note that for the TOEFL and IELTS, the
requirement in each section as well as the overall score must
IBT TOFEL Requirements for Full Admission
IELTS Requirements for Full Admission
The TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE test
is a mandatory and non-negotiable application requirement for
students whose native language is not English. Waivers
are only permitted if the applicant has earned a degree from
an institution in an English-speaking country ( i.e. The
United Kingdom, English-speaking Africa, Canada and the
Caribbean, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand etc.), prior to
entering our program.
All applicants must comply with
this policy regardless of citizenship status, number of years
residing in the United States, and language of instruction of
his or her university.
Request an official copy of your
TOEFL scores to be sent to the University of Maryland at
College Park - institution code 5814.
We ask that applicants also upload a
PDF of their TOEFL, IELTS or PTE report with their online
application. Do not assume that your TOEFL, IELTS or PTE
scores will be reported to the University in a timely manner
simply because you have taken the test. We will not be
able to complete our review of your application without TOEFL,
IELTS, or PTE scores.
If my TOEFL, IELTS or PTE exam scores do not meet
the full admission standard, can I still be admitted?
We will consider the possibility of
admission for applicants with TOEFL, IELTS or PTE scores in
the following ranges:
IELTS: Total of 7.0 but not all the
sectional requirement met
We will consider applicants with
these scores on a case-by-case basis. Our review will
include consideration of the sectional scores.
If all sectional scores except the
writing score meet the full-admission standards, we may offer
full admission with a condition of enrollment that the student
successfully complete an English writing course at the
Maryland English Institute (MEI) during their 2nd semester of
study. Students in this situation also have the option
of re-taking the TOEFL, IELTS or PTE. If their new
scores satisfy all the full admission requirements, the
student will be exempted from the MEI English writing course
If an applicant requires more than
just the MEI English writing course, we may offer admission
into a "bridge" program rather than our regular degree
program. In this case, the applicant will receive a
non-degree student I-20 marked "Other-Bridge" and will be
enrolled in a semi-intensive English course at the Maryland
English Institute (MEI) during their first semester.
Students in this situation will take just 2 of our program's
usual courses during their first semester. They will
take ECON 641 and ECON 643, in addition to the MEI
semi-intensive English course. Students in this
situation are also able to submit new TOEFL, IELTS or PTE
scores up to 30 days prior to the start of their first
semester for reevaluation.
If I have earned a degree in an English
speaking country, I am exempted from the TOEFL/IELTS/PTE
requirement. What is the list of countries that are
considered English speaking countries for the purpose of
this exemption? Applicants with prior
degrees from the following countries are not required to
submit TOEFL/IELTS/PTE scores:
Antigua, Australia, The Bahamas,
Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Botswana, Canada (English-speaking,
i.e. not Quebec), Cayman Islands, Dominica, Gambia, Ghana,
Grand Turks and Caicos Islands, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland,
Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Montserrat, Namibia, New
Zealand, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa
(English-speaking, i.e. not Afrikaans), St. Lucia, St.
Vincent, Swaziland, Tanzania, The British Virgin Islands (St.
Kitts-Nevis, Anguilla, Trinidad and Tobago), The U.S. Virgin
Islands (St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John), Uganda, United
Kingdom, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Note: Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens but the TOEFL, IELTS or
PTE is required of applicants whose only prior degree was
earned in Puerto Rico.
Does your program offer any placement service for
students and graduates?
Our program works with the University
of Maryland's Career Center to organize 2
Career Fair/Networking Events each year. We maintain
relationships with many area employers who hire our students
and graduates, and send their employees to study with
us. We receive frequent job postings from area
employers, which we routinely share with our students and
alumni. And of course our students naturally get to
network with each other and with our instructors - most of
whom work at DC-area government agencies, NGO's and consulting
firms. Our graduates have had
great success in finding employment. The employment
rate for our graduates is between 90 and 100%, with most
students being hired well before they graduate.
The employers of recent graduates
from our program include:
Berkeley Research Group
Booz Allen Hamilton
Ernst & Young
Mathematica Policy Research
Optimal Solutions Group
Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC)
Bureau of Economic Analysis
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Department of Agriculture
Department of Defense
Department of Energy
Department of Health & Human Services
Department of Labor
Department of Transportation
Department of the Treasury
Federal Trade Commission
National Institutes of Health
Office of Management & Budget
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve
Inter-American Development Bank (IADB)
International Monetary Fund (IMF)
National Science Foundation
Resources for the Future
Results for Development
Social Security Advisory Board
US African Development Fund
government agencies are required by law to hire only US
citizens, but international organizations like the World
Bank and IMF are allowed to hire citizens of any
country. We leverage our connections to help our
international students find internships with employers in
the private sector and at international organizations.
Where can I get additional information?
You can visit our website: masters.econ.umd.edu
You can also contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And you can call the program’s director, Dr. John Straub, at