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Preparing for Graduate School

Master’s in Economics

Many people choose to pursue a MA (Master of Arts) or a MS (Master of Science) in economics or applied economics.

These programs usually take 1 to 2 years, depending on the school and curriculum. You can also sometimes pursue an MA or MS part time, unlike a PhD. These programs generally offer courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics, and various specialty areas (such as health, energy or international economics). Students entering MA programs are frequently required to take the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) in order to apply to grad school.

Increasingly, the more interesting, challenging and well-paying jobs in economics require some education beyond a BA or BS. This means to be competitive you might want to consider a Master’s degree. This degree can prepare you for a wide variety of jobs in business, consulting, and government. People who specialize in econometrics and forecasting are particularly employable as economic analysts, research analysts, and economic consultants. While people with MA or MS degrees work mostly in business, non-profit organizations, and government, others decide to go on and pursue a PhD in economics or a related field.

The Master’s in Economics is an applied degree. While PhD programs normally concentrate on theoretical issues, Master’s programs focus on the practical application of economic theory. Master’s programs are often designed to meet particular needs of regional industries. These programs commonly place a heavy emphasis on statistical analysis and econometrics.

It is also important to note that a Master’s degree is not normally a prerequisite for entering a PhD program. In fact, if you plan to earn a PhD you may end up wasting valuable time pursuing a MA. However, it can also serve as a bridge or stepping stone for those whose qualifications for a PhD program are lacking. It is important to know if the school you apply to for a Master’s program that is distinct from their PhD program. Master’s programs that overlap completely with PhD programs are usually not as valuable on the job market, and pursuing a separate “terminal” master’s degree is likely to be more useful. In addition, many schools offer specialized programs, and you should be able to find one that emphasizes topics you’re interested in.

The UH Department of Economics offers a terminal MA in Applied Economics. Our program offers courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics, and economic forecasting with specialty courses in health, energy, and capital market economics.

In addition, as an economics major you can go on to earn a PhD or MA in many other related areas. Consider some of the possible paths below after completion of your bachelors in economics.

  • Public Policy, Public Affairs, or a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA)
    • Specialties include public-policy analysis, public management and administration, public finance and budgeting, city management or urban policy, criminal justice policy and management, health policy and management, environmental policy and management, nonprofit management, information and technology management, and social policy.
    • UH College of Pharmacy offers a PhD in Pharmaceutical Health Outcomes and Policy which can be completed jointly with our MA Applied Economics program. Health economics and policy is expected to be a rapidly growing field, so this unique combination will be very useful for certain career paths.
  • Law School
    • Law specialties include sports law, clinical training, dispute resolution, environmental law, healthcare law, intellectual property law, international law, trial advocacy, anti-trust law, and tax law.
  • Business and MBA Programs
    • Consider pursuing an MBA (Master of Business Administration) or MA’s or PhD’s in finance, human resources, industrial relations, management or other fields of business specialization.