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Schools for Masters in Economics


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Hi all.


I'm considering going to grad school to get a Masters in Econ. However, I was wondering if everyone here could help me figure out what schools I should consider.


So a few things:

  • I graduated from a top public school with a BA in Econ 2.5 years ago. However, the non-math-intensive route for the Econ program there really lacked any depth, so I was able to graduate without actually learning too much. I want to go to grad school to actually get a good, in-depth knowledge of Econ.
  • As mentioned, I took a non-math-intensive route for Econ. Because of that, I don't have a strong math or stat background. Beyond first-year level calc, I've taken a semester of multi-variable calculus, but I was not very confident in it. In terms of stats, I took the required intermediate stats course needed for the major and one econometrics class, but I'm really rusty.
  • I have no research background.
  • After graduating, I haven't really done anything related to Econ at all and have been at rather low-skill/low-knowledge jobs.


So what I'm looking for

  • I say masters rather than a PhD program because first, I don't want to be in a program that would take 6+ years and don't plan on pursuing academia at this point. Most top-notch schools, I've noticed, only offer a PhD in Econ or an MA in combination with another graduate program, so I'm wondering what good schools are out there that do offer a terminal masters in Econ.
  • By getting a masters, I want to gain the skills and knowledge to be a competent economist, not a businessman. I'd like to eventually work at some place like maybe the Fed or some other government agency giving insight into the economy.
  • That said, I do want to find a program that will accept me despite my minimal math and stats background. However, I also want to find a school that after accepting me will let me take additional math and stat courses to brush up my skills, even if they may be beyond what the programs specifically requires.
  • Though I know I should be ambitious and aim high, I'm not so confident as a candidate for top Econ grad programs. That said, I'd also like to look at other schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I currently reside, or California, that, though not the top of the top, still do have solid programs and have had pretty good track records for their alumni.
  • Lastly, though currently, I'm not considering a PhD at all, I'd like to go through a program that might be a good stepping stone for applying to a top-notch PhD program. I'm not necessarily considering getting a PhD at all, but I want to gain the expertise and experience that would make me just as qualified as one. Whether or not I do go for a PhD at some point, I just think having that kind of background would be useful.


What do the folks here say? Any suggestions?

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In what specific capacity do you see yourself working? You mentioned "giving insight into the economy" at the Fed. Do you mean conducting research? Because if you want to work as a research economist for the Fed then you almost certainly need a PhD, and preferably from a well-ranked school. If that is the route, I would say you should take some math courses now and then just get your PhD. It will ultimately save you time and a lot of a money, and work experience will almost never equal a PhD. They're just apples and oranges skill sets.  


On the other hand, if you see yourself working on more of an administrative or policy side of econ, then there is a lot more flexibility in the degree possibilities, anything from a largely nonquantitative MPP to a PhD in econ or stats. 


That being said, you may look at MPP or MPA programs that either have flexible coursework or where you could do an emphasis in methods or something. 1) this would give you a chance to tech up, 2) many people at the lower end of econ qualifications are at the higher end of MPA/MPP qualifications, so you would probably have a shot at better schools than you would if you went for straight econ 3) Also, because of 2, you would likely also have better funding opportunities, TA's, etc.  


Upshot is, if you give us a clearer sense of how you would want to put the degree to work, we could give you a better sense of the degree to pursue.  

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Check out Duke, Wisconsin, and Johns Hopkins. I'm at the IMF, and I have a friend who attends SAIS at JHU, and he's met many people working for the government. Honestly though, I would say take the fundamental math you need to get into a PhD program and apply there. If you get funded, worst case scenario you leave with a free masters degree. These masters programs are very expensive.

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Hey, I think we are in the same boat.  I graduated from the University of Portland with a BBA in Econ in 2013.  Felt my math skills weren't strong enough so I went to the University of Nevada Reno for a year to take Multivariate Calc, Probability Theory, Linear Algebra, and Computer Sci.


Here are the Masters Programs I applied for, with corresponding IDEAS Econ Department ranking.

U Minnesota (38)

U British Columbia (24)

U Toronto (42)

Simon Fraser U (78)

Duke U (32)

UC Santa Cruz (73)

U Edinburgh (96)

UC Santa Barbara (43)

Vanderbilt (44)

Tufts (130)

U Illinois-Urbana (98)

Erasmus U Rotterdam (63)


My strategy was to spread my applications broadly among the rankings spectrum.  This was advantageous because the rankings reflect minimum requirements.  For example a top school like U Minnesota require Linear Algebra and Multivariate Calc.  Whereas a lower ranked U such as Tufts does not specifically require any mathematics preparation.


Good luck buddy.  Give me a call if you want to talk about it!



Edited by rchien
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  • 3 months later...

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