Master of Science in Applied Economics


We offer the same curriculum in the Washington, D.C., College Park, and mostly online versions of our STEM-designated Master of Science program. All courses are 3-credit masters-level courses. Details of any course will vary depending on the instructor, but the fundamental content and level of rigor are the same whether taught in Washington, D.C. or College Park, and whether taught in-person or online. Course descriptions and sample syllabi can be found here.

The three versions of our program are on different academic calendars. The Washington, D.C. program and mostly online program operate on a 12-week quarter term-based academic calendar. The College Park program is on a traditional 15-week semester-based academic calendar. In the Washington, D.C. and mostly online programs, the courses are accelerated 12-week courses that require more work per week than the standard 15-week version of the same courses in College Park.

Students can complete the Washington, D.C. or mostly online version of our program in as little as 15 months by taking 2 courses per quarter. Students are also free to pursue the degree at a slower pace if they prefer. Full-time students in College Park complete the degree in 2 academic years. Students in any program can earn a Graduate Certificate of Economic Analysis by completing just the first 5 “core” courses of the program.

Mode of Instruction (In-person versus Mostly Online)

Our mostly online program can be completed by students almost entirely remotely. Proctored in-person final exams are mandatory in each of the first 4 core courses (ECON 641, 642, 643, and 644). The remaining six courses are fully online and do not have in-person components. 

Our DC and College Park based programs are fundamentally in-person programs. Enrollment permitting, we sometimes offer 2 sections of the core courses in D.C. The 1st section is taught in person. The 2nd section is mostly online. The final exams of these mostly online sections must be taken in person at our Washington, D.C. location, but all other class meetings are online. 

With only rare exceptions, all sections of all courses in the College Park version of our program are taught in person.

Standard Course Sequences

Not all master’s degree programs in applied economics are recognized by the federal government as STEM-designated programs. The STEM designation applies to programs with emphasis in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Our program’s emphasis on mathematical and statistical rigor is the basis for our STEM designation.  

One practical implication of the STEM designation is that international graduates of our program are now eligible for a 2-year extension to the standard 1-year Optional Practical Training in the US. Being eligible to stay in the US for up to 3 years after graduation makes our graduates even more attractive to potential OPT sponsors. 
“We have hired students from the University of Maryland’s Applied Economics master’s program since its inception. The STEM designation gives Optimal and other potential employers a viable opportunity to hire highly qualified international graduates with scarce  skill sets.”  – Mark Turner, CEO of Optimal Solutions Group
The program’s curriculum continues to evolve in this direction. In the fall of 2021, we began offering a new course on economic applications of R programming (ECON 687). 

Classes in our Washington, DC program are held weeknights from 6:45-9:30 p.m. in our suite at 1400 16th Street, NW – near DuPont Circle.

Classes in our College Park program are held on campus from 6:30-9:15 p.m.

There is always a 15-minute break during the long in-person class meetings.  The weekly in-person class meetings are effectively two 75-minute sessions, with a 15-minute break in-between.  

Classes in our mostly online program are weekly synchronous Zoom meetings, which occur within the same window of time (6:30-9:30 p.m. ET).  Typically the synchronous Zoom meetings are limited to two 60-minute Zooms, rather than the dual 75-minute sessions in our in-person courses.  To make up for the shorter synchronous meetings, the online courses typically also have 2 or 3 asynchronous videos per week, of 10-to-15 minutes each.  

The mostly online versions of our first 4 courses require students to take in-person proctored final exams during the last week of the 12-week term. The in-person final exam requirement in the initial 4 courses is a strict requirement.  Students who cannot come to the Washington, DC/College Park area for final exams in these 4 courses should not enroll in our mostly online program.

The final exams in these initial 4 core courses are the only in-person requirements in our mostly online program.  All other course requirements in all courses can be completed remotely.  

We recognize that requiring students to take their first four final exams in person will reduce the number of students interested in the program.  But we believe that the academic integrity of the program requires a significant portion of the grade for these foundational courses to depend on individual student performance in a time-constrained and proctored environment.  We also view this as a valuable selling point for students and graduates on the job market.  If our program’s students and graduates note in their cover letters and job interviews that the student assessments in certain key courses included proctored in-person exams, it will increase employer confidence in the quality of their degree relative to other programs that rely on fuzzier assessments of student mastery.

Our online courses are synchronous.  They are not asynchronous or self-paced.

While there will be some asynchronous content in all of our courses, students are expected to participate in the weekly synchronous class meetings and to engage with the course instructors and the other students during those meetings.  Students seeking fully asynchronous and self-paced instruction should not enroll in the program. 

Our Washington, DC and College Park programs are primarily in-person programs. However, we will sometimes offer online courses in these programs depending on instructor availability. All of our online courses offer a combination of synchronous online class meetings and asynchronous instruction like video lectures and online discussion boards. The synchronous class meetings take place in the evening (Washington, D.C. time zone). Online section sizes are limited to maintain reasonable student-teacher ratios.

Students in our Washington, DC location can take up to 4 of their 10 courses directly through the mostly online version of the program. When demand is too low to offer a given course in the in-person program, students will have the option of enrolling in an online section, for example. 

All online courses have in-person final exams.

Yes, students in the mostly online program are able to enroll in any of our Washington, DC-based in-person classes.

Over the last few years, average enrollment in the core courses has been between 20 and 30. Average enrollment in the field courses has been between 12 and 20. The maximum number of students we allow in one of our Washington, D.C. classrooms is 27. In College Park, the classes are capped at 30. We have also capped our online sections at 30 to keep the student-teacher ratios reasonable. Applicants should pay attention to class sizes when comparing alternative programs.

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 Global Campus.