Orientation Week Begins for New Master's Students

Monday, August 21, 2017

This year Orientation Week for 91 incoming Duke Economics master’s students started off with a bang — or, more accurately, a rare astronomical event. On Monday a near-total eclipse of the sun was visible in Durham, with the maximum eclipse taking place shortly after scheduled breakaway group advising sessions.

“We plan the department's Orientation Week several months in advance, and it always falls between orientation week for international students and the first week of classes,” said M.A. Program Assistant Addie Stagg. “It was a complete coincidence that this year’s jam-packed first day coincides with the eclipse, but I’d like to think this is an auspicious start to the new year for our students.”

Monday’s schedule also included an official welcome from Professor Kent Kimbrough, director of graduate studies for the M.A. economics (MAE) program, Q&A with a second-year student panel. The rest of the week will include a two-day math review, professional headshots, career and Ph.D. advising sessions, and a welcome dinner.

Students from the four programs —MAE, M.A. analytical political economy (MAPE), M.S. quantitative financial economics (MQFE), and M.S. economics and computation (MSEC) — represent 11 different countries: China, India, Kazakhstan, Paraguay, Poland, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The MAE program received 536 applications and has 61 matriculates; in its second year, MAPE received 79 applications — up 34 percent from last year — and has 9 matriculates; MSEC received 62 applications and has 12 matriculates.

New program MQFE received 162 applications and yielded nine matriculates.

“We are extremely fortunate to have had a very large and strong application pool, and these incoming students are among the very best of that group,” said Professor Emma Rasiel, director of graduate studies for MQFE. “We are looking forward to working with this group to give them the best possible academic experience, which will serve them well in their next steps after MQFE.”

For some of the MQFE students, post-graduate plans will be largely impacted by the first semester of the program. Rasiel warned that students interested in finance jobs will need to hit the ground running, because investment banks recruit for summer internships — essential precursors for full-time jobs — as early as September. Rasiel’s advice for the MQFE cohort is to focus on coursework and recruiting, if applicable, and refrain from taking on RA or TA roles until the spring.

Students would be wise to heed her recommendation and need not be shy about offering their feedback in kind. “I’m looking forward to getting to know this first group of students and learning about their goals for the program and aspirations for what they will do next,” Rasiel said. We will welcome lots of feedback from this group, and we look forward to incorporating their feedback as the program evolves.”