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JHU AAP Masters Applied Economics (Cash-Cow?)

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Hello all,

This is my first semester in Johns Hopkins's AAP Applied Economics program. I already obtain a BA in Economics and an MPA from a state university. I decided to enroll into this  program to further my economic quantitative skills and statistical programming skills. As a precaution to prepare myself for the "rigorous" math, I'm only enrolled in the Math Method for Economists course this semester. This course is a complete joke. It's just a brief refresher of Calculus I and Linear Algebra. Does anyone know information about this Masters program? The program itself is separate from the Economics Department located on the Baltimore campus, which seems odd. Is this program a cash-cow for the University to make money off of its students? Are there any benefits in enrolling into this program? Am I paying $40k+ to network with my fellow classmates and instructors?

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My understanding is that almost all American econ masters programs will be similar--they're less for preparing you to do economic research than preparing you for policy/consulting jobs. You probably won't encounter anything beyond calc and linear algebra.

My advice is that the program will be what you make of it. If your classes are basic, take them as an opportunity to study the subjects in more depth depth outside of class. Talk to your professors. Do independent studies if you can. Try to get research experience working for a professor. The program will be what you make of it.

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Technically all master's are cash cows by definition, but that doesn't mean the degree can't have value for you.

The AAP are explicitly designed for "working professionals", i.e. they are very applied and not rigorous in the academic sense. You also don't need all that rigor to be a competent mid-level analyst in industry or government, which is one reason that you're not going much above high school math (another is that most people in these programs wouldn't be able to hack it). The applied economics course isn't meant to be preparation for a PhD, and last I looked, they explicitly say so on their webpage. No, it's not part of the JHU economics department, it's not taught by faculty from that department, and again, all this is explicit on their website.

I guess my question would be why you need this degree when you already have an econ BA and MPA. Unless your MPA was very non-quantitative, I'm not sure that you will learn much that is new. 

So, clarify your goals, do your research, and you'll figure your dilemma out in no time.

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Master's degrees are all tuition-funded.  PhD programs, which are oriented toward training future professors, generally cover tuition and provide a stipend.  The technical level of Master's program will vary quite a bit.  If you think you might be interested in doing a PhD later, you should choose a Master's program that is located in the university's primary Economics Department and taught by full time department faculty so that you can become familiar with leading-edge research techniques.

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Full disclosure--I just set up an Applied Economics program like this at University of San Francisco.  Our primary goal is to train students in the skills needed to work effectively in the tech sector, where a growing number of economists are finding jobs.  These skills include math and computer science as well as the relevant parts of microeconomic theory.  The program is run by the regular economics faculty on the main university campus.  Feel free to post any questions for me here or look me up online and email me directly.

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I considered applying to this program, as part of building up my background for an econ phd (a path I later decided not to take), and reached out to a professor. He responded that I would likely be better off enrolling in just the specific courses I thought would best help to have under my belt when applying, rather than enrolling in a degree program. 

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