Degree Requirements

A minimum of 36 credit-hours of course work are required. These 36 credits include: 15 credit-hours of required core Economics courses and 6 credit-hours of required Public Policy courses. The remaining 5 courses are electives. Electives may be chosen from a variety of disciplines tailored to suit the interests of the student. Possible electives include courses in economics, public policy, political science, geography and environmental systems, sociology, math, computer science, information systems, data sciences, or the life sciences.

Economics Core Courses

5 courses (15 credit hours):
  • ECON 601 – Microeconomic Analysis
  • ECON 602 – Macroeconomic Analysis
  • ECON 611 – Advanced Econometric Analysis I
  • ECON 612 – Advanced Econometric Analysis II
  • ECON 699 – Capstone Seminar for the M.A. in Economic Policy Analysis
    • Students write a major research paper in ECON 699, and present this research to faculty and other students in two one-hour seminars. In this paper, students are required to analyze a policy issue from an economic perspective, to use empirical analysis to shed light on important underlying economic relationships and, when possible, to suggest future directions for policy.

Public Policy Core Courses

2 courses (6 credit hours) from the following:
  • PUBL 601 – Political and Social Context of the Policy Process
  • PUBL 603 – Theory and Practice of Policy Analysis
  • PUBL 607 – Statistical Applications in Evaluation Research
  • SOCY 606 – Social Inequality and Policy
  • PUBL 611 – Causal Inference in Program Evaluation
  • PUBL 613 – Managing Public Organizations
  • PUBL 623 – Governmental Budgeting
  • ECON 605 – Benefit-Cost Evaluation
  • ECON 661 – Microeconomics of Public Finance


5 courses (15 credit hours):

In addition to economics classes, students may choose electives from a variety of disciplines: Public Policy, Data Science, Mathematics and Statistics, Information Systems, Education, Geography and Environmental Systems, and others. Electives may also include graduate classes at other University of Maryland campuses. At least two electives must be ECON classes, although students can request an exemption from this requirement from the Graduate Program Director.

Students may count Economics courses at the 600, 700 and 400 level toward the MA degree. Graduate students should register for the 600 level course if a course is cross-listed at both the 600 and 400 levels. However, students who take undergraduate courses for graduate credit will be expected to write an additional paper related to the subject of the course using techniques learned in the economic theory and econometric core courses. 400 level classes taken as an undergraduate cannot count towards the MA degree.

Before or during their first semester, students will meet with the Graduate Program Director to develop a set of possible elective courses that fit their particular interests.  Students must choose an advisor who will supervise their capstone paper. In the second or third semester of study students must meet with the advisor for their capstone paper to review the package of elective courses. With the approval of the Graduate Program Director, students may revise their package of possible elective courses at any time.

Elective Concentrations:

The Economic Policy Analysis M.A. recommends that students choose electives to fit one of the following three elective concentrations:

  1. Economic Policy: For students who would like to focus on the economic tools used in policy analysis. This is the broadest and most flexible concentration.
  2. Public Policy: For students who would like a comprehensive study of the public policy process, including the techniques of evaluation of public policies and the political and sociological aspects of the public policy process. This concentration is strongly recommended for students who plan to continue on to the Public Policy Ph.D. at UMBC.
  3. Economic Policy and Data Sciences: For students who are interested in learning more about computer programming languages and statistics programs that are relevant to Economic Policy Analysis. This concentration is offered in collaboration with the MPS in Data Sciences at UMBC.

Comprehensive Examination

Students will write and present a major paper in Econ 699, the capstone seminar. In this paper, students are required to analyze a policy issue from an economic perspective, and to use empirical analysis to shed light on important underlying economic relationships and, when possible, to suggest future directions for policy. In this paper students pull together the skills and insights they have gained in the M.A. program. In addition to the instructor in Econ 699, each student will have a faculty advisor for this paper. (If the Econ 699 instructor and the faculty advisor are the same, the student will need to have a second reader).

Writing the major paper will follow a two-step process in Econ 699. Students will first be required to write a proposal for their study in consultation with their faculty advisor. The proposal will summarize the policy issue the paper will address and the methods that will be used to analyze the issue. Students present their proposals to the Econ 699 class, revise them and then distribute them to the economics department faculty. In the second stage, students will write and present the paper itself to the Econ 699 class. To complete the B.A. degree, students must receive a “B” or better on this paper from both the faculty advisor and the instructor for Econ 699.

Grade Requirements for Courses

All students in the MA program must a have a “B” average in the four entry-level courses: Econ 601, Econ 602, Econ 611, Econ 612. In addition, a student can have no more than one “C” in these four courses. Students may retake any course in which they did not receive a “B” to try to attain the “B” average or to replace a “C” in one of the core courses.

Seminar Requirement

M.A. students will be required to attend professional seminars on economics or policy issues, either at department-sponsored events or in other settings related to their policy interests. Students must attend at least four such seminars during the last two semester of their program, and evidence of this attendance will be part of their grade in Econ 699.