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
Program Coordinator:
Stephanie Bergwall
(301) 405-3557
CPmasters@econ.umd.edu

Washington, DC location
1400 16th Street, NW
Suite 140
Washington, DC 20036
Program Coordinator:
Eileen Kramer
(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 Maryland?
      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 theory.

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 version.
     Classes in both locations meet in the evening.
     Our 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 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 $3,150 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 $4,000 per course.  Over the 10-course degree, that is a difference of $8,500.
     
Students in our Washington, DC program also pay an off-site student services fee of $92 per quarter. The on-site student services fee for full-time students in the College Park program is $760 per semester.
      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 expires. 
      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 available?
     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 Unsubsidized Direct Loans and Federal Grad 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 Financial Aid
     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: http://www.financialaid.umd.edu/osfa/for_international.php.

Are international students able to work while pursuing the degree?
    
International students on F-1 student visas are generally not permitted to work for pay in the US while pursuing their degree.  They are, however, allowed to work at unpaid internships during their second year in our program.  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 the 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 internships.    

What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and are international students in your program eligible for CPT internships?
     Some academic programs offer CPT internships as an integral part of their curriculum to international students on F-1 visas.  CPT internships are not part of the curriculum in our program.

How long does it take to earn the degree?
      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 quarter. 
     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.  International students are able to work at internships during their 4th semester and through the summer after they graduate. 
     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?
    
No.  The 12-week courses in the Washington, DC version of our program have an online component to them (weekly online discussions).  But all of our courses in Washington, DC and College Park are traditional face-to-face courses with weekly meetings.  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 regular 3-credit courses, like those 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 Sciences degree?
      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 2015 and 2016 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 Extended Studies?
     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 became the director of the department's professional master's degree program in May of 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, billing and payment.

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 economics?
      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 admission? 
      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 requirements?
      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 the University 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 program?
     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):
Microeconomic Analysis (ECON 641)
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 683)

What 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):
Microeconomic Analysis (ECON 641)
Topics in Applied Macroeconomics (ECON 642)
Empirical Analysis I (ECON 643)

2nd semester (spring):
Empirical Analysis II (ECON 644)
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 683) and
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 program? 
     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 final term. 

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 Economic Analysis.

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 fall and every spring while they are pursuing their degree.  Students are free to take time off during the winter and summer terms if they like.  Students who need to miss a fall or a spring term must file a petition for waiver of the university’s continuous registration policy.  This can be done twice during the course of a student’s pursuit of the degree.

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 be met.

IBT TOFEL Requirements for Full Admission
   Total: 100   
   Speaking: 22   
   Listening: 24   
   Reading: 26   
   Writing: 24   

IELTS Requirements for Full Admission
   Total: 7.0   
   Speaking: 6.5   
   Listening: 7.0   
   Reading: 7.0   
   Writing: 7.0   

      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:

     TOEFL: 90-100
     IELTS: Total of 7.0 but not all the sectional requirement met
     PTE: 61-68

     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 requirement.
     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?
     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?
     The program's director works with
the University of Maryland's Career Center to organize 2 career placement events each year.  We maintain relationships with many area employers who hire our 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 2015 and 2016 graduates is between 90 and 100%, with most students being hired well before they graduate. 
     The list of employers for our 2015 graduates includes:

Abt Associates, Bozman Group, Deloitte Consulting, Fannie Mae, Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), Inter-American Development Bank, Institutional Shareholder Services, Inc., JD Powers and Associates, KPMG Consulting, Navigant Consulting, NDP Analytics, Optimal Solutions Group, Social Security Advisory Board, US African Development Foundation, US Bureau of Economic Analysis, US Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Census Bureau, US Department of Health and Human Services, US Federal Trade Commission, US National Institutes of Health, US Office of Management and Budget, and the US Treasury.

     The list of employers for our 2016 graduates includes:

CoStar, Fannie Mae, Grant Thornton, International Monetary Fund, MCM Capital Partners, Members First Credit Union, Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), SBA Group, Social & Scientific Systems, Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), US African Development Foundation, US Air Force, US Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Bureau of the Census, US Coast Guard, US Department of Agriculture, US Department of Defense, US Department of the Treasury, Wells Fargo, World Bank.

     Many US federal government agencies are required by law to hire only US citizens, and most of the international students in our College Park program have visas that do not permit paid employment in the US.  But we work with all the same area employers to help our international students find unpaid internships if they are interested in that. 


How do I apply?
      Our application can be completed online.  Please see the application information posted on our website: http://masters.econ.umd.edu/application_information.html.

Where can I get additional information?
You can visit our website: masters.econ.umd.edu
You can also contact us via email at masters@econ.umd.edu.
And you can call the program’s director, Dr. John Straub, at (301) 405-3531.