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The general Graduate School requirements for a Master of Science degree can be found in the Graduate School Handbook, the Graduate School Policies and Procedures, and the Graduate Catalog. You will want to be familiar with these requirements.

While the Economics Department offers a Master of Science (MS) degree, it is intended to complement PhD programs from our and other departments. Students can obtain an MS while working toward a PhD in Economics or they may pursue an MS if they decide to leave the PhD program early or they do not meet the requirements. In addition, students from other graduate programs at UNC-Chapel Hill may pursue an MS in Economics while completing the PhD in the other program. Note that our Economics graduate program does not include separate MS- and PhD-level courses. Thus, any student pursuing an MS through our program must have the background and qualifications to successfully complete PhD-level course work. For these reasons, only applications from UNC-CH graduate students currently enrolled in another primary degree program will be considered. The Master’s program does not consider candidates outside of these circumstances.

  1.  Course Requirements:

A master’s candidate must complete nine economics courses plus a one semester research course, Econ. 992.  All courses must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.

Master’s students take courses in the fundamentals of Economics, as well at least two 800-level courses in a field of specialization.

Courses in the Fundamentals of Economics. The following courses or equivalents approved by the DGS and relevant faculty are required:

  •   Economics 710: Graduate Microeconomics
  •   Economics 720: Graduate Macroeconomics
  •   Economics 770 (depending on prior course work), 771 or 870
  •   Economics 700: Quantitative Methods

Courses in the Field of Specialization:  The standard fields for Master’s students are:

  •   Econometrics
  •   Health Economics
  •   Industrial Organization
  •   International/Macroeconomics
  •   Labor Economics
  •   Microeconomic Theory

Please consult with the DGS about other possibilities for the field of specialization, including financial econometrics or the combination of two fields. The Master’s degree requires two 800 level courses in the field of specialization. The remaining courses are supporting courses chosen by the student in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies and other faculty

     2.  Masters Examination and Paper Requirements:

The student’s faculty advisor supervises both the written examination in the field of specialization and the student’s Master’s paper (or project).  The Graduate School Handbook describes the general requirements for the Master’s exam and project.  Students will register for the ECON 992 section directed by the faculty member who will advise on the Master’s project. Keep in mind that a formal paper written as a Substitute to a Master’s Thesis must be submitted to the advising faculty member no later than the last day of instruction for the term in which the student’s plans to have the MS degree conferred. The Master’s examination may be an oral or written exam, and is entirely up the Master’s student’s adviser.

Please keep in mind that the first paragraph of the Graduate School Handbook and many other Graduate School documents includes the sentence “It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of, and comply with, rules, regulations, policies, procedures, and deadlines.”   We try to remind students of all deadlines and requirements, but expect students to be familiar with the rules also.

      3.  Application by Students in Other UNC Programs:

If you are in another program at UNC and interested in a Master’s in Economics, please talk with the Director of Graduate Studies.  Even if you are already a graduate or professional student at UNC, you must apply formally for admission to the Master’s Program in Economics.  If you would like to reuse materials from your previous application to UNC, please confirm with Graduate Admissions ( that the materials you would like to reuse are able to be transferred before submitting your application. Some programs such as Public Policy and Health Policy require a number of graduate courses in economics and very few additional courses may be required in order to earn the Master’s in Economics.  One complication for students from other departments is the Graduate School’s “20% rule”.  Only 20% of the courses required for the Master’s may be taken prior to formal admission to the Master’s of Economics program.  Thus, it is best to talk with the Director of Graduate Studies and to apply for admission to the Master’s program before taking many economics classes.  If you do not become interested in a Master’s of Economics until after having already completed several graduate economics classes, you will want to meet with the Director of Graduate Studies about your options.  We can often find opportunities that fit your particular needs and that incorporate work previously completed.  If you are not already in another graduate/professional program at UNC but are interested in the Master’s program, please contact us.

Graduate Program Home Page Last edited 10/1/2018