Master of Science in Applied Economics

Program Overview

Our STEM-designated Master of Science in Applied Economics provides working professionals with rigorous training in quantitative economics and applied econometrics. The 10-course, 30-credit program emphasizes empirical skills, with an emphasis on application to real-world policy-relevant examples. The program prepares students to work as analysts in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

Our MS in Applied Economics program offers evening classes in two different physical locations:

  • Downtown Washington, D.C. near Dupont Circle
  • University of Maryland main campus in College Park, Maryland (also within the D.C. metro area, less than 10 miles from the White House)

Upon completion of the program, students will:

  • Understand how to collect, evaluate, interpret, and analyze economic data.
  • Understand and interpret statistical results and apply empirical evidence to economic arguments.
  • Articulate and apply standard macroeconomic theories and models to policy discussion.
  • Articulate and apply standard microeconomic theories and models to policy discussion.
  • Interpret and communicate economic models to a wider audience.
  • Measure and evaluate the effectiveness of policy programs using sound econometric techniques.

The same curriculum is offered in both locations, but applicants must choose one location or the other. The College Park campus is “inside the Beltway” – within the Washington, D.C. metro area, less than 10 miles from the White House and the US Capitol.

If you are an international student who needs an F-1 Visa, you can only apply for fall enrollment in our College Park location. We do not sponsor F-1 visas for students in our D.C. location, and we do not offer spring term enrollment in our College Park location.  

Applicants who are already in the US on a visa that permits study (G4 or H4 Visas, for example) are welcome to apply to either location.

Domestic students are welcome to enroll in either location, though most domestic students prefer the Washington, D.C. location. Most of our domestic students work during the day and our Dupont Circle location is usually more conveniently located relative to their jobs. The quarter-based academic calendar in our D.C. location is also more flexible, and more conducive to part-time study while working during the day.  

We do not sponsor F-1 visas in our Washington, DC location.  Students on an F-1 (or J-1) visa are only eligible to apply for fall enrollment on our main campus in College Park (also within the DC metro area, less than 10 miles from the White House).  About half the students in our College Park location are international students.  About half are domestic.  In the College Park location, our program operates on the traditional semester-based academic calendar, with long breaks in the summer and winter (though our College Park students can take summer courses in DC if they wish).

Most of the students in our Washington, D.C. location are domestic students, although some international students also enroll there if they are on non-UMD sponsored visas that permit study in the US (G-4 and H-4 visas, for example). The Washington, D.C. version of the program operates on a quarter-based academic calendar, rather than the traditional semester-based academic calendar. The quarter-based calendar in Washington, D.C. tends to be more flexible and more conducive to pursuing the degree while working full-time during the day, and taking one or two courses at a time in the evenings. Students who take 2 courses per quarter in our Washington, D.C. location can complete the entire 10-course degree in 5 quarters – just 15 months.

Students can begin the Washington, D.C. version of the program in the fall (late August/early September) or spring (late February/early March).

Students can only begin the College Park version of the program in the fall.

We cap class sizes at 30 students per section. In the calendar year 2023, the average enrollment in our core courses was 20.4 students. The average enrollment in the elective field courses was 12.5 students. We encourage applicants to compare this with class size information from other programs they consider, as our students indicate that the smaller class sizes have been ideal for learning.

The traditional semester-based academic calendar in College Park (UMD main campus location), with long breaks in the winter and summer, is better suited for full-time students.

 Some domestic students begin as full-time students in our College Park location, with 3 courses in each of the first 2 semesters. Many of them transition to part-time students after their first year, working during the day, and taking just 2 courses per semester in their 2nd year. 

International students on F-1 visas are required to maintain a full-time load (3 courses per semester) unless they are in their final semester with fewer than 3 courses remaining to complete the program.    

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 programs after completing our master’s degree or our graduate certificate. Brian Bonis is one example. You can read about Brian’s experience on the  Alumni Profiles page.

Professional development of applied economists was the primary consideration when our program’s curriculum was designed. Our program is more focused on preparing people to be analysts rather than academic researchers or teachers.

Our program devotes significant resources to the administrative and academic support for our applicants and students.

Dedicated program coordinators in College Park and Washington, DC provide personal support from admissions through enrollment and graduation. They help our students navigate the university bureaucracy, and take advantage of the university’s wider student-services infrastructure, including International Student and Scholar Services, and the UMD Career Center, among others.  

Program Director John Straub and Associate Program Director Amanda Kerr serve as academic advisers and more general contacts about any aspect of the program.

The PhD course instructors on our program’s faculty are available in weekly office hours via Zoom, and by appointment. Each course is also supported by a teaching assistant. The TAs are PhD students from our department. They help our course instructors with grading and are also available to help students during weekly office hours – in addition to the instructor’s office hours.

As with many aspects of our program, we encourage applicants to compare the administrative and academic support offered by our program with the support offered by other programs they are considering.