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I really like(d) undergraduate economics. Should I get an MA in economics?

An MA in economics is not for everyone. It typically takes about 2 years (full-time) and requires a strong quantitative background. If you were a strong undergraduate with good quantitative skills, the MA may be the right degree for you.

What can I do with an MA in economics?

Most MA graduates work in the private sector or for the government. (See recent UMSL placements below.)
Some continue their economics education and pursue a Ph.D. in economics (at a different institution; see below).

What are the key benefits of getting an MA in economics at UMSL?

Our graduates have been very successful at getting placements in industry and government. Our program also offers valuable training to students intending to enter an economics Ph.D. program.

Our program provides a solid grounding in graduate level economic theory. In addition, a unique feature of the program is the large number of applied econometrics and quantitative courses offered (e.g. applied econometrics, time series econometrics, business & economic forecasting, cost-benefit analysis, spatial analysis (GIS), business cycles, managerial economics). 

Graduate students often have opportunities to gain practical experience working as an economics tutor in our Economics Resource Center (ERC) or as a research assistant for one of the faculty.

The economics faculty is committed to students and takes the time to mentor. In other words, there is considerably more faculty-student interaction compared to most graduate programs.

Where are recent MA graduates from UMSL working?

Recent employers of UMSL students include: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, MasterCard, Southwestern Bell, Wells-Fargo, Edward Jones, and Caterpillar. For more placements, see Where Our Graduates Work.

When MA graduates from UMSL continue for a Ph.D. in economics, where do they go?

Currently former UMSL students are at institutions including UC-San Diego, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Colorado State, and Notre Dame. Students recently received PhDs from Cornell, Penn State, Florida, and George Mason. For more information, see Economics Ph.D. Programs.

How do I apply?

Go online and fill out a graduate application ( You also will need transcripts, 2 letters of recommendation, and GRE scores.

Additional information is online at

If you are an international student, International Student Services can help with the paperwork. Information is available at:

What is required to gain acceptance?

You need not be an economics undergraduate...any student with an undergraduate degree can apply.

There is no real minimum requirement for GPA or GRE scores. We evaluate the entire record, so a higher GPA (and/or strong letters of recommendation) can offset lower GRE scores (and vice versa).

Typically, the "target GPA and GRE" is an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 and GRE scores above the 60th percentile (especially the quantitative score).

What if I already have an advanced degree (or have studied elsewhere previously)?

With approval from the Director of Graduate Studies, you may transfer up to 9 credit hours (with a B or higher earned) into the program. Any acceptance of transfer credit would reduce the number of elective hours required for the MA (by the number of accepted transfer hours).

In you have previously taken entrance exams (e.g., GMATs or LSATs) for other degree programs, these exam results may be substituted for the GRE exams. Further, if you have recently earned a graduate degree (e.g., MBA), the GRE exams may be waived.

What constitutes the degree program?

There are 30 hours in the program, 21 must be in residence.  Details can be found on the MA page.

Up to six credit hours may be economics courses at the 4000 level (4100 and 4150 cannot be used); all other electives must be at the 5000 level or higher.

Subject to pre-approval by the Director of Graduate Studies, up to 9 hours (5000 level or higher) may be from outside the department (typically Mathematics or Business courses).

What courses (outside the Department) can be used for electives?

The following Business courses can be used as (non-economics) electives in the MA program: 

The following Math courses can be used as (non-economics) electives in the MA program:

In special cases, other courses outside the Department may be used as electives---with prior written permission from the DGS.

How much does it cost?

You pay the Graduate tuition rate (check for the most recent information)

Is there financial aid available?

A limited number of assistantships are available. The assistantships are assigned competitively; very few students receive aid their first semester (or year). The best performing students (usually about 1/2 of all students) can expect an appointment in subsequent semesters.

Most assistantships are .25 appointments which pay $1250 per semester and entitle the non-resident student to the much-lower in-state tuition rate. A few appointments are one-half time which pays $2500 per semester and pay the student's tuition fees (for up to 9 credit hours; other educational fees still apply).

How much math background is required?

One semester of calculus is the bare minimum; two semesters of calculus would be better. If you are planning to pursue a Ph.D., then much more math is recommended.  (See the FAQ on Ph.D. studies.)

Is there a formal program of study, i.e., is there a "preferred" course sequence?

The sequence depends on background, interest, and when you enter the program. A typical program for a student entering in the Fall, would be similar to the following:

Year 1
Fall: Elective - Elective - Elective (or ECON 4100 or 4150 or intermediate if needed)
Winter: ECON 5001 (Microeconomic Analysis) - Elective - Elective

Year 2
Fall: ECON 5002 (Macroeconomic Analysis) - Elective - Elective
Winter: ECON 5100 (Econometric Theory & Methods) - Elective - Elective

For additional information, contact Don Kridel, Director of Graduate Studies: