The Applied Economics Master's degree trains students in the skills leading to success in analytical, policy, or management careers or as preparation for further graduate education. Our focus is on applied economic and policy analysis, quantitative analysis of natural resources and the environment, sustainable development, markets, and related areas.

Students beginning MS/MA studies are initially advised by the Graduate Program Director. The director will provide guidance on first year courses suitable to the program requirements. The course curriculum consists of the core subjects (MS-level economic theory and econometrics), the student’s concentration courses, and electives. Program emphasis is on the application of economic theory to real-world settings, institutions, and problems. Core, concentration, and elective courses are taught by Program faculty in the Applied Economics Department; the Colleges of Forestry, Agricultural Sciences, and Liberal Arts; the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences; and the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. The student’s advisory committee is selected from this same faculty.

Two options are offered for meeting the supervised research portion of the program: (a) a Research Paper and (b) a Thesis. Together with the associated coursework, the former usually requires 15 months of study, while the latter requires approximately 21-24 months.

To fast-track the Master’s program, the Department of Applied Economics is now also offering an Accelerated Master's Platform. This program option allows students to complete an undergraduate degree in Agricultural and Food Business Management (AFBM), Environmental Economics and Policy (EEP), or related undergraduate degrees and an M.S./M.A. in Applied Economics in 5 years of study (known as a 4+1 degree program). Learn more on the AMP website.

Across all options, students must receive an average of B or higher among the core courses, and among all courses intended to fulfill the Master's degree course requirements.


The program consists of four components:

(1) core courses

(2) restricted electives

(3) unrestricted electives, and

(4) supervised research

Possible areas of concentration include (but are not limited to):

  • Resource and Environmental Economics
  • International Trade
  • Sustainable Development Economics
  • Marine Resource Economics and Policy
  • Rural Development Economics
  • Agricultural Economics and Business Management
  • Applied Economic Policy Analysis
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Forest Resource Economics
  • Bioenergy and Climate Change Economics

Following is an outline of the degree requirements.

Core Courses (13 credits) (course catalog)

The core courses consist of microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory, econometrics, and professional ethics.

AEC 512 (4) Microeconomic Theory I (Fall Term, first five weeks)

AEC 513 (4) Microeconomic Theory II (Fall Term, second five weeks)

AEC 525 (4) Applied Econometrics (Fall Term)

GRAD 520 (1) Responsible Conduct of Research (Fall, Winter or Spring Term)

Restricted Electives (minimum 8 credits)

At least two of the student’s electives must be chosen from a designated list that reflects the program’s emphases and faculty expertise.

AEC 550 (4)  Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

AEC 551 (4)  Applications of Environmental and Resource Economics

AEC 543 (4)  International Trade

Unrestricted Electives

The student’s remaining electives will be drawn from other courses, including those available in the Applied Economics program, in departments closely associated with the program, and elsewhere on campus.

Like the restricted electives, unrestricted electives will be chosen in consultation with the student’s advisory committee to best support the student’s concentration area. Consistent with Graduate School requirements, 400/500 level courses may be used as unrestricted electives.  The minimum total number of elective credits required for graduation depends upon the Supervised Research option chosen (see below).

Examples of Unrestricted Electives (may include but are not limited to):

Agricultural Business:  

AEC 444/544 (4) Commodity Futures and Options Markets 

AEC 460/560 (3) Capital Investment Analysis Using AgBiz Logic

AEC 465/565 (3) Agricultural Financial Reporting and Analysis

Resource and Development:

AEC 432/532 (4) Environmental Law

AEC 452/552 (3) Marine Economics

AEC 454/554 (3) Rural Development Economics and Policy

ECON 440/540 (4) Economics of Globalization 

ECON 455/555 (4) Economic Development

ECON 466/566 (4) Economics of Traditional and Renewable Energy

ECON 539 (4) Public Policy Analysis  

FOR 534 (3) Economics of the Forest Resources 

Graduate level classes from other supporting disciplines, for example:

MRM 520 (3) Coastal Law

MRM 521 (3) Ocean Law

MRM 535 Rights-based Fisheries Management  

GIS, STAT classes 

Supervised Research

Master's students may satisfy the supervised research requirement by completing either a Research Paper (Option 1) or a Thesis (Option 2). A Masters Research Paper, completed under the supervision of the student’s advisory committee, normally requires about three months of full-time-equivalent work. In comparison, a Master's Thesis normally requires about nine months of full-time-equivalent work. Either requires an oral defense presentation before the student's advisory committee at the end of the student’s program. Some examples of previous students masters thesis and projects are here

The Research Paper approach to the Master's degree involves more elective credit hours than the Thesis approach does. Course and research credit requirements in the two approaches are as follows:

Option 1
Core courses 13
Elective courses (restricted + unrestricted) 26
Masters research paper 6
Option 2
Core courses 13
Elective courses (restricted + unrestricted) 20
Masters thesis 12
Sample Program Schedule
Option 1: Research Paper (Complete in ˜15 months)
minimum 45 credits
Before the start of the program Math Boot Camp (offered in September)
  Fall Winter  Spring
Year 1
AEC 512 (4 credits) Electives (8 credits) Electives (8 credits)
AEC 513 (4 credits) 4 other credits 4 other credits
AEC 525 (4 credits)    
GRAD 520 (1 credit) File Program of Study  
Year 2 Research (minimum 6 credits)
6 other credits
Sample Program Schedule
Option 2: Thesis (Complete in ˜21 months)
minimum 45 credits
Before the start of the program Math Boot Camp (offered in September)
  Fall Winter Spring
Year 1
AEC 512 (4 credits) Electives (8 credits) Electives (8 credits)
AEC 513 (4 credits) Thesis and other credits
AEC 525 (4 credits)    
GRAD 520 (1 credit) File Program of Study  
Year 2 Thesis (12 credits)

Students must file a program of study with the Graduate School by end of Winter term of the first year of study. A description of the program of study, and the necessary forms, can be accessed from the Graduate School.
Program of Study Information


Additional Resources: 

Courses and Curriculum

Learn more about the Applied Economics Graduate Program