Program Comparison

We take pride in our program, and Duke as an institution is committed to offering a wide range of excellent masters’ programs. Indeed, the Duke Economics M.A. may be the best program of its kind – but we emphasize that there are many other outstanding programs as well, most with slightly different foci than ours. Students should choose the program that best fits their specific needs, and in fact we encourage prospective applicants to explore a range of different types of excellent programs. These include:

  • Policy-oriented programs with moderate mathematics and statistics requirements. Some of the best programs of this type include Yale, Columbia, Williams, Johns Hopkins, American University, Brandeis, and the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex.
  • Programs that emphasize business economics, usually with an emphasis on topics such as managerial and financial economics, and applied econometrics – but limited amounts of rigorous, formal theory. The University of North Carolina – Greensboro is an example of an excellent program of this sort, as is the University of Arkansas. Boston University has programs both in the first category as well as a joint M.A. economics-M.B.A. program.
  • Programs that emphasize applied econometrics, but with very limited theory. The University of Colorado at Denver, where one can take four of 10 courses in econometrics or forecasting, is an excellent example. Beyond that are a range of MS programs in Statistics. CU-Denver also has a dual degree program in economics and finance.
  • Programs that emphasize the M.A.: in addition to UNCG, Arkansas, and UC-Denver above, Miami University of Ohio is nationally renowned in this area, as is the University of Delaware.
  • Programs that emphasize agricultural economics, generally accompanied by strong applied econometrics. Iowa State is a standard example.
  • Programs that mix policy with the opportunity to take rigorous Ph.D. coursework for advanced students. Vanderbilt, Michigan, and Illinois  are leading examples.
  • Programs with a high degree of rigor, though not intended to lead to a Ph.D. Some of the tracks at the London School of Economics (LSE)  fall into this category, as would New York University.
  • Programs that lead to the PhD. In Britain, M.Sc. programs at leading institutions are highly rigorous, though one typically takes courses from a limited set of options within Economics. LSE is a preeminent example. In the U.S., the University of California – Santa Barbara (UCSB) exemplifies programs at which strong master’s students continue on to doctoral work; UCSB also has a strong business focus. Among the very best of these programs in the world are the top programs in transition economics, including EERC at the Kyiv Mohyla Academy in Kiev, Ukraine, the Central European University in Budapest, and the New Economics School in Moscow.
  • Programs that offer a M.S. in Mathematical Finance. USC is a good example, and Princeton has an extremely prominent program.
  • Two other programs that appear to be highly flexible, with good quantitative courses, and with good financial aid prospects are San Diego State University and the University of North Texas.

Other Relevant Programs at Duke

You may be interested in attending Duke, but want a more applied, policy-oriented program than the Economics Department’s M.A. offers.

Fortunately, Duke also has a master’s program in International Development Policy with an Applied Economics concentration. Those who want a policy focus comparable to programs like Columbia or Johns Hopkins should apply to the PIDP program, which is hosted by the Sanford Institute of Public Policy.

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