Frequently Asked Questions


How do I apply for admission?
You can find application instructions on the Graduate School website.

When is the fall application deadline?
You can find the most up-to-date deadlines on the Graduate School website.

What are the prerequisite for applicants?
At the very minimum, you should have a full calculus sequence. We expect strong GRE scores and some knowledge of economics — enough so that you can write a coherent statement of why you want to study in the program, and what you hope to gain from it. Your statement of purpose, grades in core economics, math, and other quantitative courses, and recommendation letters are the most important determinants of admission.

How long does it take to complete the degree?
Most students complete the degree in 18 to 24 months. The duration depends on your level of preparation and the track you choose to pursue. The program has a minimum of 30 academic credits (10 regular courses), but many students need several more to complete their courses of study. 

How much does the degree cost?
You can find updated tuition costs and other expenses on the Graduate School website.

How many students are admitted to the program?
We plan on an enrollment of 55-58 incoming students each fall and 5-8 each spring. In our most recent admissions cycle we received more than 600 applications.

Where can you find descriptions of the course offerings?
You can find sample course syllabi on our website. Or you can refer to our current course listings

What is the average GPA of incoming students?
The average GPA of our incoming students is 3.7. The mean GRE is about 164 quantitative and 160 verbal. However, many other factors are weighed more heavily  for admission. For instance, your statement of purpose is very important — we want students who understand what they are trying to achieve from the program.

What math courses are expected to be completed upon entry?
A minimum would be two semesters of calculus. Three semesters is advisable. By the time you graduate, you will also be familiar with linear algebra and differential equations, and will have to take coursework to learn these topics if you are admitted but do not have it already. Business statistics and calculus are not good substitutes for formal courses in these areas.

How relevant is work experience (in the field or in general) to admissions decisions in this program?
It is not directly relevant, but it can help.

Do I need to have a bachelor’s degree in economics to gain acceptance to the program?
No. Many of our students’ backgrounds are in areas other than economics. In the past we have had students with degrees in computer science, engineering, mathematics, statistics, political science, etc. You should have a good understanding of basic economic courses such as microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics.

Does the master’s program lead to the Ph.D. program in economics at Duke?
No. M.A. students have to apply to the Ph.D. like all other applicants, and should not view the M.A. as a “back door” to the Ph.D. However, good students are encouraged to apply to the Ph.D, and several have entered the Ph.D. program in recent years.

To which other Ph.D. programs have Duke master’s students gone in recent years?
You can find our most recent placements on our placement page.

Can I take courses offered at The Fuqua School of Business and elsewhere in the University?
Yes. Students regularly take courses in business, mathematics, statistics, public policy, environmental science, computer science, and political science. M.A. students are allowed to take a maximum of three Fuqua M.B.A. courses.

How do I select my courses? Will I have an academic advisor?
You will work with your academic advisor to design a personalized plan of study that meets your objectives, subject to meeting core course requirements. Students are assigned to a faculty advisor based on their goals and area of interest. You can find more information on faculty on our site.

Is there any financial aid for incoming Master’s students?
A limited amount of financial aid is offered by the Economics Department. This aid consists of partial (25% to 50%) tuition waivers. These awards are made based on academic merit, apparent need, and the department’s desire to have a diverse, heterogeneous student body.

Are there opportunities to work as a teaching assistant, research assistant, grader, or technical support expert?
It is possible for students to secure part-time employment after the first semester as a grader or doing other support work (in computer labs, the library). Second year students may also be invited to work as teaching assistants, and some M.A. students work as research assistants — some in the Department of Economics, but also in other departments.

Who should I get to write my letters of recommendation?
It is important to have recommenders who know you well, and who can attest to your research interests, achievements, and academic performance. Writers also should be able to elaborate on your record beyond providing information that is available on the transcript.

Some, but not all, letters can be from a senior supervisor, but it is also important to have letters from faculty who can attest to your academic ability. Do not write a letter for someone and have them sign it: this is easy to detect and harmful to your application.

Should I submit an example of my original research?
If you have one or more papers that demonstrate your research interests and capabilities, we welcome you to submit them. Research papers in English are preferred, but submissions in your native language also are acceptable.

How important is a good grasp of English?
English proficiency level beyond advanced intermediate fluency is not a major admission criterion for admission. The Duke University Graduate School requires that all applicants whose native language is not English submit scores from either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the academic modules of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). However, international applicants who have attended college/university in English-speaking countries for at least two years can petition to have this requirement waived. However, it is the policy of the Graduate School to admit only those students with a minimum TOEFL score of 90, or a minimum IELTS score of 7.0. Applicants with GRE verbal scores below 149 are unlikely to be admitted.

What proportion of the M.A. student body is international? Are international students encouraged?
At present, approximately 65% of all M.A. students are foreign. Historically, 50% to 65% of the M.A. student body is international, though this percentage fluctuates widely. Admission is made solely on merit, and international applicants are neither favored nor disfavored.

What proportion of the M.A. student body consists of underrepresented U.S. minorities (black, Hispanic, or Native American)? Are minority applicants encouraged?
At present, there are four U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are underrepresented minorities in the program, along with 20 non-minority (white or Asian-American) U.S. students. Minority applicants are strongly encouraged.

Is there a difference between the A.M. degree and the M.A. degree?
No.  The A.M. on official Duke documents is an abbreviation of the Latin degree name "artium magister," and there is no distinction between it and a M.A.

Can students (from India or elsewhere) who have only 15 years of primary and secondary schooling plus undergraduate study apply for the M.A.?
No. A three-year bachelor's degree does not qualify for our program. Duke University requires 16 years of prior study before one is eligible for M.A. or Ph.D. study. Applicants with a three-year B.A. or B.S.  are advised to take a one-year M.A. program in their home country in order qualify for our program and  to complete the 16-year requirement and then to apply to the Duke M.A. program.

If I wish to write a major research paper (master’s exercise), who will supervise my work?
If you write a major research paper, you will need a committee of three supervising faculty. The program director will advise you on whom to approach to serve as your director, and also normally serves as one of the readers.

Some courses are in sequences, like microeconomics and macroeconomics. Do the courses in a sequence have to be taken in certain order?
The courses do not have to be taken in sequence, though there is some advantage to doing so, and the exact courses you take depend on your background.

Program Contacts


(919) 660-1884

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