Master of Arts in Economics
Balancing Quantitative and Interdisciplinary Knowledge
A master of arts in economics is designed for students interested in an applied economics degree with a maximum of electives. This degree improves your knowledge of economic theory and its applications, and prepares you for a variety of public and private sector careers.
This degree is also ideal for students with a relatively more limited undergraduate background in economics. For example, students who took economics courses as an undergraduate but majored in political science, finance or public affairs will find this program especially attractive.
We offer courses in traditional economics fields including labor economics, public finance, industrial organization and regulation and natural resources and environmental economics. Many students specialize by combining these economics courses with those in agricultural economics, business administration, finance, operations research, energy policy, experimental economics and urban affairs. M.A. students interested in international issues can choose from a variety of courses in international monetary economics and economic development.
The program also serves as a natural complement to interdisciplinary interest in law, public policy, environmental science, political science, public health, statistics, demography or other areas of study.
The M.A. degree requires 30 credit hours of graduate work, nine of which come from three required courses: microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometric theory.
Students must also demonstrate a capacity for economic research by completing a 3-credit research project and must attend the ECON890 Colloquium, a weekly department seminar. Students who do not earn an A or A- in microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory or econometrics must pass a comprehensive examination in that class. Current students: access the exam schedule on myLerner.
Network with Top Economists
Since 1990, the economics department has welcomed some of the world’s leading economics researchers and policy leaders as part of the Hutchinson Lecture in Macroeconomics.
Recent speakers include several noted Harvard economics professors, high-ranking officials from the U.S. Federal Reserve system and leaders from the Federal Reserve, an official from the International Monetary Fund and the Chief Economist from the Securities & Exchange Commission. Some of these speakers are UD alumni.
By investing in the M.A. degree, students can add roughly 30 percent to their starting salaries. We have excellent success in placing our graduates in professional positions where employers value their experience and skills.
Through our centralized Career Services Center, we offer career resources such as job listings, job fairs and student recruitment programs and provide career planning and placement assistance. The economics faculty also provides job interview coaching and guidance.
Where Our Graduates Work
Q. What is distinctive about your programs?
A. First, we take a personalized approach to our students. Our program is small enough that each student receives personal attention. As a result, students finish their degrees at a faster rate than is typical elsewhere. Second, we focus on the application of economics to the real world and offer a wide array of econometrics courses designed to train students for jobs that emphasize the practical application of economics. As a result, we have been highly successful in placing our graduates in meaningful jobs that demand such skills. Third, a large number of our funded students teach either economics courses for our department or statistics labs for the Department of Mathematics. As a result, these students gain valuable experience that translates well not only to academia but to the business world, which places a premium on the ability to communicate effectively.
Which program is best for me?
Q. What is the main difference between the M.A. in economics and the M.S. in economics and applied econometrics?
A. The M.A. degree is designed for students interested in a more applied, less technical graduate degree that offers a maximum of electives. This degree is also ideal for students with a relatively more limited undergraduate background in economics. For example, students who took economics courses as an undergraduate but majored in political science, finance, or public affairs will find this program especially attractive. The M.S. in economics and applied econometrics is more focused with fewer electives. Students take more mathematically oriented theory courses and are required to take at least three econometrics courses out of the five offered. The M.S. degree is ideal for students who majored in economics as undergraduates and who want a more specialized applied background in econometric methods. Note: all students who earn a Ph.D. in economics without prior graduate work in economics will earn the M.S. degree as well as the Ph.D. As a result, the M.S. degree is also a solid foundation for a Ph.D. not only at UD but at another university.
Q. I am trying to decide between the M.A. and M.S. degrees. I want a Ph.D. eventually, but I am concerned that my background is not strong enough to start with the Ph.D. program. What should I do?
A: You can apply to either program and still complete all coursework for the Ph.D. within three years. Regardless of which program you choose, you can switch between programs once at UD if approved by the graduate committee. The path to the Ph.D. degree is more direct for M.S. students, since Ph.D. students and M.S. students take the same three courses during their first semester (ECON810, ECON811, and ECON822). M.A. students typically take the less mathematically-demanding ECON801, ECON802, and ECON803 during their first semester. If you have had two semesters of multivariate calculus and statistics and an intermediate-level (calculus-based) course in microeconomic theory, you have met the minimum requirements for taking the M.S./Ph.D. courses. If you still want to start with the M.A. program but have had a two-course sequence in statistics, you should consider taking ECON822 instead of ECON803. ECON801 and ECON803 cannot be used to meet the requirements of the M.S. or Ph.D. degree.
Time to completion of degree
Q. How long does it take to finish the different degrees?
A. Both the M.A. in economics and the M.S. in economics and applied econometrics are three-semester degrees. Students can take three courses each semester and register for ECON868 Research Paper, in any of the three semesters. Students often work on the research project during the summer between the second and third semesters. M.S. students may take a tenth course instead of ECON868. We advise students to do this during their third semester. Ph.D. students need three years to finish their coursework and an additional year to complete the dissertation.
Q: What do you mean by “equivalency” ?
A: Although a student cannot use credit earned for another degree to earn a master’s degree in economics at the University of Delaware, some of these credits may reduce the overall number of credits needed to complete the Ph.D. degree. Students without prior graduate work in economics must complete the requirements of our M.S. in economics and applied econometrics (30 credits) in addition to satisfying the requirements for the Ph.D. (29 credits). Students will be awarded both degrees upon completion of the requirements. If you have completed a master’s degree in economics at another comparable university, it is possible that you may only need to complete the remaining 29 credits (including 9-credit thesis) at the University of Delaware. However, since master’s degrees do not always include comparable courses at a comparable level of rigor, the graduate committee must evaluate each student’s record on an individual basis. Students must supply information concerning course content (for example, copies of course syllabi and exams) to support their request for equivalency. You will find copies of our course syllabi at our website.
Q: If I have completed a MBA recently, how many more courses will I have to take to complete the Ph.D.?
A: This depends on exactly what courses you took for your MBA degree. Generally, there is little overlap between coursework for a traditional MBA and a master’s degree in economics. The graduate committee evaluates each student’s record on an individual basis. Students must supply information concerning course content (for example, copies of course syllabi and exams) to support their request for equivalency.
Q: I’m applying for the Ph.D. in economics; I currently hold a MBA degree. You stipulate that I must eventually meet the requirements of the M.S. in economics and applied econometrics in addition to the requirements for the Ph.D. program. Do I submit my application for the M.S. or the Ph.D. program?
A: You can apply directly to the Ph.D. with a MBA degree. You will be required to complete the M.S. equivalency at UD as part of your Ph.D. program (30 credits for the M.S. degree plus the 29 credits for Ph.D.). If you receive equivalency for any coursework taken for the MBA, you will not be able to use those credits for the M.S. degree. However, those credits would reduce the total number of credits needed for the Ph.D. degree. Students who receive equivalency for coursework will receive only a Ph.D. degree.
Limited background in economics
Q: I have a limited background in economics but, as an undergraduate, I took two semester courses in calculus and statistics. Should I get a M.A. degree prior to switching to the Ph.D. program?
A: You would benefit from a calculus-based Intermediate microeconomics course. You should consider taking the course prior to starting graduate work in economics. If your background in mathematics and statistics is especially strong, you could still succeed in either the M.S. or Ph.D. program. The graduate committee would have to evaluate your record once you have applied and advise you as to which program is the most appropriate. Once at UD, you can change programs at any time as long as the graduate committee approves.
Q: What can I do to increase my chances of being admitted to the M.S. or Ph.D. program?
A: We have found that students do better if they have a stronger background in mathematics. The minimum mathematics requirement is a two-course undergraduate sequence in calculus that includes multivariate calculus (that is, partial differentiation). We offer a self-contained course in mathematics for economists (ECON810) in the fall semester. Also recommended are courses in linear algebra and differential equations.
Q: What is the minimum requirement (such as TOEFL and GRE scores) if I want to apply for a TA or RA?
A: The minimum TOEFL for admission to the Ph.D. is 600 and the minimum GRE score is 1100 (verbal + quantitative).
Q: Does the University of Delaware treat a 3-year bachelor’s (honors) degree from another country as equivalent to its U.S. counterpart and accept the applicant for direct admission to the graduate program?
A: No, a three-year degree is not acceptable for admission to UD. One more year of post-graduate studies at your University would be acceptable and then you may apply for admission to graduate studies at UD.
Q: I have already received the official letter of admission from the University of Delaware but I was not given financial aid. Do I have any chance of obtaining financial aid?
A: We realize that money is a problem and it is very difficult for you to come without aid. However, we have limited aid awards. It is our experience that it is very difficult for foreign students to cope financially in the United States without the help of a sponsor from outside the University.
Q: When do you make your funding decisions for the fall semester? Can you tell me what my chances are in advance?
A: We do fund a limited number of new students. Funding is highly competitive. We make the funding decisions for the fall semester in either March of April once we have reviewed all of the applicants’ records. The committee looks at all applicants at the same time and uses the criteria listed on our website. Unfortunately, it is not possible to make more specific statements about an individual student’s situation until we see the completed application.
Q: If I do well in my first year, will I be funded during the remaining time that I will need to finish the Ph.D.?
A: While continued funding is based on student performance, Ph.D. students who receive funding after the first year are normally required to teach in the undergraduate program. Funding is highly competitive. We make the funding decisions for the fall semester in either March of April once we have reviewed all of the applicants’ records.
Q: Am I more likely to receive funding if I apply to the Ph.D. program than a master’s program?
A: While we fund a small number of new master’s and Ph.D. students, applying for the master’s or Ph.D. program does not affect the funding or admission decision. Funding beyond the first year is dependent on success in the first year.
Q: I am interested in finance. I see that your College offers a M.S. in finance as well as concentrations in finance as a part of the MBA and Ph.D. in economics. What is the difference among these three degrees?
A: The M.S. in finance is 30-credit degree with courses offered also to MBA and economics graduate students. The MBA finance courses are mostly managerial and institutional in nature, while the courses open to economics students are research-oriented and have a graduate course in econometrics as a prerequisite. The Ph.D. in economics offers a concentration in financial economics in collaboration with the Finance Department. Students interested in the Ph.D. in economics with a concentration in financial economics can earn either a M.S. in finance or a M.S. in economics and applied econometrics while doing coursework for the Ph.D. In either case students can complete all coursework within three years with a fourth year dedicated to completing the dissertation. The website provides the details concerning courses and total number of credits for each degree. Ph.D. students take the same three research courses offered to the M.S. in finance students, and do their thesis in financial economics with faculty advisors from both departments.
Learn more about master of arts in economics admissions requirements, deadlines, tuition and financial aid available to you.