M.S. Economics & Computation

The joint field of economics and computer science has emerged from two converging intellectual needs: Computer science has become increasingly important for economists working with big data to address complex questions. Students interested in learning about computational mechanism design with applications to economics are ideal candidates for this program. Students whose interest is more generally focused on data analytics across a broad range of fields may also be interested in Duke’s Master of Quantitative Management (MQM) program, offered at the Fuqua School of Business, and/or Duke’s Master in Interdisciplinary Data Science (MIDS) program, which accepted its first class in Fall 2018.

The MSEC program combines the strengths of the Departments of Economics and Computer Science to educate students in these important computational skills linked to economics, and to prepare them for Ph.D. studies or careers in economics, finance, government, and business. Reflecting this strong interdisciplinary relationship, Duke University ranks No. 3 for research in economics and computation, according to CSRankings.org.

This program is designed to meet the needs of students with varied levels of exposure to either field, but a strong quantitative background is recommended.

Program Requirements

  • 30 credits in economics and computational science
    • At least 12 credits in Economics, with no more than 6 credits from any one of following the three sub-fields:
      • Microeconomics
        • ECON 601 Microeconomics 
        • ECON 605 Advanced Microeconomic Analysis
        • ECON 701 Microeconomic Analysis I
        • ECON 705 Microeconomic Analysis II
      • Macroeconomics
        • ECON 602 Macroeconomic Theory
        • ECON 606 Advanced Macroeconomics II
        • 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
      • Or approved substitutes.
    • At least 12 credits in Computer Science (500-level or higher)
  • Internship (optional)
  • ONE capstone course, selected from the following options:
  • Completion exercise: The student must pass a final exam administered by the student’s committee covering a portfolio of learning and research activities carried out during their master’s studies. The portfolio must include one of the following two items: a capstone course in either computer science or economics, or a project paper on an approved topic developed via independent study with one or more computer science and/or economics faculty advisors if available. This document is expected to describe a mature project with research content.
  •  Responsible Code of Research (RCR) training during orientation and 1 RCR forum 2-hour course (either GS 711 or GS712)
  • (For International Students) English Language Proficiency

Course Details

The program requires 30 credits in computer science and economics, or related fields, subject to approval by the program's directors of graduate studies. We expect that students will take four semesters to complete all the requirements. Students must receive a grade of B- or better in the 30 degree course credits. All courses below the 500 level taken during or after the Fall 2018 term will NOT be included in a student's GPA and cannot count towards course credit, per Graduate School requirements. Undergraduate courses taken before Fall 2018 do count towards the degree (given a grade of B- or better) and GPA. Graduate courses paired with undergraduate courses can be taken for credit toward a graduate degree if the graduate versions have distinct, more rigorous requirements for graduate students.

STEM Designation

This degree program classifies as STEM (CIP Code 45.0603: Econometrics and Quantitative Economics), and students in this program can apply for a 24-month STEM extension of F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT).