M.A. Analytical Political Economy

MAPE in brown box

The Master of Arts in Analytical Political Economy (MAPE) degree is a joint master’s program of the Departments of Economics and Political Science, necessitated by a growing interest in political economy among young economists and in economics by young political scientists. These fields are converging, and economic policy making in fields such as immigration, environmental regulation, digital rights, and international trade increasingly includes a strong political component.

Political economy examines the reciprocal relationships between politics and markets, both within and among countries, using a variety of analytical tools, including those of economics. Its concerns include interactions among economic and political development; cooperation and conflict among nations, groups, and individuals; the distribution of material resources and political power; the effects of political actors and institutions on economic outcomes; the causes and consequences of technological and structural change, growth, and globalization; and local, national and international regulation.

The MAPE program offers a quantitatively rigorous curriculum rooted in economic and political theory, application, and analysis. It gives students experience with economic modeling, along with a deep understanding of how and why policies are developed and implemented.

MAPE students are eligible for research assistantships through either department. The RA positions are administered by the department of the respective faculty supervisor. Interested students must find a professor willing to include them in an ongoing research project. Although not every aspiring student achieves a match, many MAPE students have held a research assistantship under this program.

Students pursuing an MA in Political Economy can participate in research involving applied development and program evaluation in conjunction with the Duke Center for International Development. DCID provides an applied learning environment that focuses on connecting international development scholars with practitioners to carry out development projects. It brings together faculty and graduate students from several Duke units. They work in a broad range of areas, including education, health, governance, environment, labor, trade, finance, and growth.

What Makes Our Program Different?

MAPE students learn about interactions between economics and politics with the flexibility to develop quantitative skills, emphasize one discipline or another, and take courses in a wide range of Duke schools and departments. They have access to subsidized research assistantships as well as opportunities to enroll in PhD-level courses!

The MAPE differences:

  • Courses everywhere: Our students develop their economics knowledge through rigorous graduate courses offered by the Economics and Political Science departments, but they do not stop there. They may enroll in advanced mathematics, statistics, and computer science courses that count toward MAPE requirements. Subject to advisor approval, practically all students branch farther out to take graduate classes in the Sanford School of Public Policy, the Fuqua School of Business, and the Law School, among others.  
  • Research opportunities: MAPE is designed to enhance research competence. Students take courses that require challenging research papers. In addition, Duke faculty regularly hire MAPE students to work as research assistants, enabling them to strengthen their applied skills and tools. The rigor of the MAPE curriculum is recognized not only by MAPE’s parent departments, Economics and Political Science, but also by other Duke units. Several of our recent students have held research positions in Duke’s public policy and business schools. Research assistantships are paid positions. They help students defray the costs of pursuing a MAPE degree.
  • Teaching Assistant (TA) opportunities: Very few master’s programs give their students opportunities to work as a teaching assistant. We are different. Many of our master’s courses select their TAs from second-year cohorts of our master’s programs. Working as a TA enables students to deepen their learning of materials. It provides opportunities to develop leadership skills. Finally, it allows students who wish to enter a PhD program to signal their ability to communicate ideas clearly and compellingly. The last opportunity is especially valuable to international students. Like a research assistantship, a teaching assistantship is a paid position.
  • Diversity of student interests: MAPE students share a passion for understanding the interactions between economics and political science. But their interests are quite varied. Some pursue research-intensive experiences; others explore internships. Some deepen their exposure to advanced economics; others broaden their knowledge of political science. Some choose courses that build theoretical capabilities; others are drawn to policy-oriented courses. MAPE supports all such paths. Subject to program requirements, students can develop their own interests. Because of this feature, the program is ideal for students who have not yet settled on a career path.
  • Career vs. further education: To date, roughly 40% of MAPE students have gone on to a doctoral program, usually directly after graduation. The majority have been in, or ultimately selected, the “career path” to a job in consulting, a think tank, government, even business. We value this diversity of goals. We believe in letting you discover the path that suits you best through the rich experiences provided by our program, including interactions with other students. Whatever goals you select, MAPE advisors and faculty will assist you in reaching them.   

Degree Requirements Summary

  • 30 credits in graduate Economics and Political Science
  • Qualifying examination
  • Completion exercise: Portfolio
  • Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training
  • (For international students) English Language proficiency

30 credits in graduate economics and political science, or related areas, are required. They must include:

ECONOMICS: At least 12 credits in economics graduate courses selected from the subfields of microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics, with no more than 6 credits in any one of the three sub-fields. The courses listed below are highly recommended, but others can be substituted with the approval of the program co-directors.

POLITICAL SCIENCE: At least 12 credits in core political science graduate courses, normally including POLSCI 745. The following courses are highly recommended, but others can be substituted with the approval of the program co-directors.

  • Microeconomics
    • ECON 605 Advanced Microeconomic Analysis
    • ECON 601 Microeconomics 
    • ECON 701 Microeconomic Analysis I
    • ECON 705 Microeconomic Analysis II 
  • Macroeconomics
    • ECON 602 Macroeconomic Theory
    • ECON 606 Advanced Macroeconomics I
    • ECON 652 Economic Growth
    • ECON 656S International Monetary Economics
    • ECON 702 Macroeconomic Analysis I
    • ECON 706 Macroeconomic Analysis II
  • Econometrics
    •   ECON 608 Introduction to Econometrics
    •   ECON 612 Time Series Econometrics
    •   ECON 613 Applied Econometrics in Microeconomics
    •   ECON 703 Econometrics I 
    •   ECON 707 Econometrics II
  • Political Science
    • POLSCI 522S Comparative Party Politics
    • POLSCI 632 Computational Political Economy
    • POLSCI 644S The Political Economy of Inequality
    • POLSCI 645S Political Economy of Growth, Stabilization, and Distribution
    • POLSCI 646S The Politics of European Integration
    • POLSCI 705S Political Economy of Macroeconomics
    • POLSCI 715 Core in Political Institutions
    • POLSCI 730 Formal Modeling in Political Science
    • POLSCI 745 Core in Political Economy
    • POLSCI 762 The Political Economy of Institutions
  • Every student must pass a qualifying exam in political economy. This exam tests for competence in core themes of the program, including microeconomic and macroeconomic policy. The exam is administered by the Department of Political Science at the end of the final semester of enrollment in the program.
  • Every student must pass a final portfolio review conducted by the student’s committee. The portfolio provides a record of the student’s learning and research in the program. It must include the following items: final versions of all papers; slides from oral or written presentations; updated resume or CV that meets professional standards; transcript; account of career goals; and a self-evaluation of program performance. The portfolio review is administered by the Department of Economics.
  • Every student must participate in a the 4-hour Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training during orientation week and must take 1 RCR forum, which is a 2-hour course (either GS 711 or GS712).
  • Every international student must meet the English Language Proficiency requirement.

Independent Study

Students may take up to 6 credits in independent study or research, with faculty members from the Department of Political Science and/or the Department of Economics. 

Program Length and Residency

Requirements of the program may be completed in either 3 or 4 semesters.

  • Students planning to apply for doctoral studies are strongly advised to use all 4 semesters and plan their studies accordingly in consultation with the MAPE co-directors.
  • Students planning to complete the program in 3 semesters must plan their studies accordingly in consultation with the MAPE co-directors. They must also ask the program co-directors for permission to take the fall semester’s qualifying exam no later than October 1. Approval is contingent upon anticipated fulfillment of all other program requirements at the end of the fall semester.

A student taking the political economy qualifying exam in the spring of year 2 must be enrolled in at least one course and remain in residence during that semester. Any travel potentially in conflict with this requirement must be cleared in advance with a program co-director.  

It is the policy of The Graduate School that undergraduate courses (499 or lower) do not count towards the M.A. degree or a student's GPA. Courses that are cross-listed as both undergraduate- and graduate-level courses count towards the M.A. degree and a student's GPA only if they have a separate, more rigorous syllabus for graduate students. It is the student's responsibility to verify that this is the case before enrolling in any cross-listed courses.

Mentoring relationships with faculty are an important element of the graduate education experience.  Mentoring is most important for students conducting research or other independent work. The Political Science and Economics Departments both have mentoring statements that are somewhat applicable, but these are largely aimed at PhD students. Nonetheless, you should review these statements (Pol Sci doesn’t have one yet, coming soon!), below for Economics (open "Faculty Advisor & M.A. Student Relationship" tab, as much of the commentary is highly appropriate, and will not be repeated here.

Given the limited time (3-4 semesters) of the MAPE program, the deep mentoring relationships that are formed during doctoral study are modified at the master’s level. However, an outstanding feature of the MAPE program relative to most if not all peer programs is that a substantial amount of mentoring exists, as do structures for it.

A mentor works with you to form goals that are right for you and to plan how to achieve them.  A mentor also evaluates your work and gives constructive feedback to help you focus your work and be more effective. Your primary mentors are, in approximate order of importance:

  • The MAPE Directors of Graduate Study (DGS) in Economics (currently, Timur Kuran) and Political Science (currently, Bahar Leventoglu), who serve as your academic advisors;
  • Any faculty in Political Science and Economics for whom you are a research assistant
  • The MAPE Alumni Mentoring Team, which consists of 8-10 recent alumni both in industry and academe, and who meet periodically to discuss their career trajectories or to be available to offer career advice
  • The Economics Master’s Alumni Advisory (MAAB) Board, which plays a similar role, but consists of more senior alumni and is available to all Economics master’s program students.

This document sets out some rules, responsibilities, and expectations for mentoring in the MAPE program. Its purpose is to guide students and faculty toward effective mentoring relationships that are mutually beneficial and free of conflicts.   Many mentoring interactions occur in the context of your research efforts, which are formalized in a research milestone assessment for the graduate program, and which involves independent work under the guidance and supervision of the faculty.

Completing the Graduate Program

You may view your graduate program as a sequence of steps or milestones in addition to coursework. In a research milestone you conduct some independent academic work in collaboration with a faculty research advisor and possibly others. You write a paper or organize a research-oriented website. An academic committee of faculty members evaluates the work and certifies successful completion. Your advisor guides you in the work, certifies when it is complete.

The MAPE program has two milestones.

  1. You are expected to submit a comprehensive portfolio that includes major papers and reports of internships that you completed during your period of study. The portfolio is reviewed by the directors of the MAPE program who evaluate the work and certify successful completion.
  2. You are expected to take a qualifying examination that tests your knowledge in what you have learnt in the MAPE program - microeconomics, macroeconomics, and general breadth of knowledge in political economy. The exam is reviewed by the directors of the MAPE program as well as a third reader from the Political Science department

Graduate Program Offices

The graduate program office (DGS office in Political Science; EcoTeach in Economics) is here to assist you as you progress through your program.  We handle various administrative details for you to manage your funding, receive credit for your work, and complete your degree. The office also manages an administrative process when you enter the program and when you apply to graduate, and also plays a role in courses, exams, internships, fellowships, and other matters.   A designated faculty member from each department serves as Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), and works with a staff assistant (DGSA) and Graduate Program Coordinators.

We ask you to help us help you. In particular, we expect you to know your degree requirements, plan ahead, follow our administrative instructions carefully, meet all relevant deadlines, and be responsive to our communications with you on your department email address.  In particular, students who get into trouble with meeting a degree requirement often say that they were unaware of what was expected of them, or that their advisor failed to push them to complete it.   It is your responsibility to know the requirements for your graduate program and to work with your advisor to meet them.

You should ask the DGS/EcoTeach office for help when you need it.  We can answer your questions and address situations that might arise.  If you feel that something is not going well or that you are blocked from your goals, then you should talk to us.  We will help make a plan to address the issue and connect you with other resources in the University as needed.

Your communications with the DGS/EcoTeach office are confidential, except that we are mandated to request help from a University office for certain equity issues and risks, such as situations involving harassment or a risk of violence.

In particular, you should contact the DGS/EcoTeach office to help you if you feel that you are treated unfairly or unprofessionally, that others are not meeting their responsibilities to you, that expectations set for you are unclear or unreasonable, or that you are encountering a hostile work environment or other unhealthy or unsafe conditions.  If you prefer, you may instead contact other offices or resources at Duke for help. For example, you may connect at any time certain Duke University resources for wellness or counseling, or the Office of Institutional Equity, or the Graduate School (TGS) or the Chairs of the Political Science and Economics departments. These offices and others publish web pages and other outreach to help you find them and understand what services and confidentiality they provide.

The Faculty

The Graduate School (TGS) outlines responsibilities of faculty members and students in mentoring roles and in all of their various roles and interactions.  That document also summarizes responsibilities of the graduate program and TGS, and a process for appeal of grievances to the Chair and Dean if the DGS is unable to resolve the situation. 

To summarize using language from that document, faculty are expected to: respect your interests/goals; assist you in pursuing/achieving them; provide clear expectations on your responsibilities as a student and expectations for the work you undertake with them; evaluate your progress and performance in a timely, regular, and constructive fashion; avoid assigning any duty or activity that is outside your interest or responsibility;  be fair, impartial, and professional in all dealings with you; avoid conflicts of interest; and ensure a collegial learning environment of mutual respect and collaboration.

Naturally, you share the faculty's responsibility by taking the lead for your own success, communicating your needs clearly, being appropriately professional, honorable, and respectful in your dealings with others,  and doing your part to promote a collegial and respectful learning environment for everyone.

In an academic environment, students and faculty are free to choose how to meet their goals and responsibilities to one another.  When you interact with faculty in any of their roles, you must be mindful that they balance their time spent with you against their other responsibilities, goals, and interests.  They choose how much of their time to allocate for you.  Their choices are based in part on the significance of their responsibilities to you in a specific role.  For example, your advisor for a research project may delegate some of their mentoring responsibility to guide your work and monitor your progress to other members of the research group.   Committee members may take a more or less active role depending on the nature of the project and milestone.

You in turn are responsible to make efficient use of the faculty time that you request, and to talk to the DGS office (in Political Science) or EcoTeach office (in Economics) if you feel that you are not getting sufficient attention.

Faculty advisors assigned to MA students are responsible for assisting them in discovering and participating in appropriate channels of scholarly, professional, and disciplinary exchange; and for helping students develop the professional research, teaching, and networking skills that are required for a variety of career options, both within and outside academia. By doing this, advisors play a crucial role in the development and success of our graduate students, engaging with the next generation of researchers and scholars.

The advisor-advisee relationship is a cooperative partnership that should be based on mutual respect and acceptance of responsibilities. In this document, we describe the main responsibilities of advisors and students, as well as the channels available to resolve problems that can appear in this relationship.

Responsibilities for MA Advisors

An effective academic advisor has the following responsibilities:

  • Have basic knowledge of MA program requirements and the Graduate School policies regarding academic milestones.
  • Listen to and support an advisee’s scholarly and professional goals.
  • Help the advisee develop a timeline for completing academic requirements and meeting professional goals. Take reasonable measures to ensure that this timeline is met.
  • Communicate clearly and frequently with an advisee about expectations and responsibilities.
  • Meet with an advisee to review progress, challenges, and goals.  Advisors should meet with their students at least once a semester, prior to registration. They should have at least one additional meeting with incoming students at the start of their first semester.
  • Encourage openness about any challenges or difficulties that impact the graduate student experience and work with the advisee to resolve any challenges.
  • Act as a liaison between the student and the Director of Graduate Studies and the department.
  • Be aware of institutional resources that can provide support to advisees in times of academic, professional, and personal challenges and whom you, as an advisor, may consult for further guidance.
  • Notify the Director of Graduate Studies if you know or suspect that your advisee is facing significant academic or personal challenges.

Responsibilities for Students

To be an effective advisee, students have the following responsibilities:

  • Become familiar with the graduate program requirements and the Graduate School policies regarding academic milestones.
  • Work with your advisor to develop a timeline for completing academic requirements and meeting professional goals.
  • Devote an appropriate amount of time and energy toward achieving academic excellence and earning the advanced degree in a timely fashion.
  • Take the initiative. Be proactive in finding answers to questions and in planning your future steps.
  • Meet with their advisors once a semester, before registration. First-year students should also meet with their advisors at the start of their first semester.
  • Be honest with your advisors. Alert them about any difficulties you may have about program requirements, normal progress, and performance expectations.
  • Be willing to be mentored and open to feedback. Listen and respond appropriately to recommendations from advisors.
  • Be mindful of time constraints and other demands imposed on faculty members and program staff.

Problem resolution

As with any other relationship, the advisor-advisee partnership may fail to function as expected. There may be multiple reasons for this. For example, the advisor or the advisee may repeatedly fail to satisfy the responsibilities described earlier; or the advisor and advisee may have a personal conflict that cannot be easily resolved.

These situations should be discussed first with the Director of Graduate Studies, and subsequently, and only if necessary, the Chair of the department. These department representatives will assist in mediating existing problems.

If the departmental efforts to resolve these problems are unsuccessful, students and faculty can refer to the Associate Dean or the Dean of the Graduate School for a formal resolution.