How do I apply for admission to the Economics Department's master's programs at Duke?

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.

Which program(s) should I apply to?

Applicants are encouraged to refer to our degree comparison chart. Additional information about each program can be found on the department's Master's Programs site. If you intend to apply to more than one of our programs, please keep in mind that you will need to submit one application per program.


What are the prerequisites for applicants?

Our programs are quantitatively rigorous. At a minimum, you should have taken multivariable calculus and differential equations, linear algebra, and statistics, and both microeconomics and macroeconomics. We also expect strong academics and GRE scores -- see GRE Scores for more information.

How relevant is work experience (in the field or in general) to admissions decisions in your master's programs?

It is not directly relevant.

Do I need to have a bachelor’s degree in economics to gain acceptance to the program(s)?

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. However, you should have taken at least introductory-level microeconomics and macroeconomics.

How important is a good grasp of English?

English proficiency is a significant 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 150 are unlikely to be admitted.

Can students (from India or elsewhere) who have only 15 years of primary and secondary schooling plus undergraduate study apply?

No. A three-year bachelor's degree does not qualify for our programs. Duke University requires 16 years of prior study before one is eligible for master's or Ph.D. study. Applicants with a three-year B.A. or B.S.  are advised to take a one-year master's program in their home country in order qualify for our program and  to complete the 16-year requirement and then to apply to Duke Econ's master's programs.  


How long does it take to complete the degree?

Most students complete the M.A. degree in 18 to 24 months; the duration depends on your level of preparation. The MSEC and MSEM degree programs take two years to complete. All of our master's programs have a minimum of 30 academic credits (10 regular courses), but some students may need more to complete their courses of study.

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 a faculty advisor based on their goals and areas of interest. You can find more information on the Economics faculty on our website.

Where can I find descriptions of the course offerings?

You can find a complete list of all of the M.A. Economics courses in the Duke Graduate Bulletin. You can find sample economics M.A. course syllabi on our website, as well as links to courses offered in related departments such as Computer Science, Mathematics and Statistics. Or you can refer to our current departmental course listings.

Some courses are taken in sequences, like microeconomics and macroeconomics. Do the courses in a sequence have to be taken in certain order?

In some cases it may be preferable to take certain courses in sequence. The exact courses you take depend on your background.

Can I take courses offered at The Fuqua School of Business and elsewhere in the University?

Yes, some (but not all) Fuqua courses are available to our master's students. Duke Econ master's students are allowed to take a maximum of three Fuqua M.B.A. courses. Students also regularly take courses in mathematics, statistics, public policy, environmental science, computer science, and political science.

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.  


How many students are admitted to the programs?

We plan on an enrollment of approximately 70 incoming M.A. students, 5-8 incoming MSEC students, and 8-10 incoming MSEM students each fall. In our most recent admissions cycle we received more than 1,000 applications for all three programs combined.

What proportion of the M.A. student body is international? Are international students encouraged?

At present, approximately 65 percent of all M.A. students are foreign. Historically, 50-70 percent of the M.A. student body is international.

What proportion of the M.A. student body consists of underrepresented U.S. minorities (black, Hispanic, or Native American)? Are minority applicants encouraged?

The proportion of M.A. students from underrepresented minorities is usually around 8-10 percent.  We welcome applications from underrepresented minorities.

Financial Support

How much does the degree cost?

You can find updated tuition costs and other expenses on The Graduate School's Financial Support website.

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 tuition waivers. These awards are made based on academic merit, financial need, and the department’s goal of having a diverse, heterogeneous student body.

Are there opportunities to work as a teaching assistant, research assistant, grader, or technical support expert?

Yes, other than in the first semester, it is possible for students to secure part-time employment 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, both in the Economics department and in other departments. 


Are economics M.A. students able to enroll in the Ph.D. program in economics at Duke after completing their M.A.?

Economics M.A. students are not automatically able to enroll in the Duke Ph.D. program; they are required to apply like all other applicants. However, strong students on an academic track are encouraged to apply to the Duke 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.  

Program Contacts

(919) 660-1884

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