For the first time in program history, the M.S. Economics & Computation (MSEC) held a visit day for prospective students on March 30. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the visit day was held via Zoom. MSEC is a joint program with the Computer Science department for students interested in learning about computational mechanism design with applications to economics. Admitted students were able to chat with current students, administrators, and professors.
Master’s Program Assistant Addie Stagg said that the department was looking to cover common questions, topics, and to ease the stress that the applicants might have regarding the program. “We wanted to assure them that Duke Econ, and greater Duke, are working on procedures and policies to best help and assist applicants during this COVID-19 chaos,” Stagg said. She noted that while they do not normally do visit days for master’s students, the sheer number of concerned emails Stagg and other professors involved in the program received about the admissions process, policies, and plans for classes warranted a response.
Co-Director of Graduate Studies Charles Becker thought it would be beneficial to hit all the points in a single meeting and include current students. “We thought it would be great to get them together, and it's much easier to let the admitted students get a sense of the diversity and enthusiasm of our current students if we can talk with them live.” Becker mentioned that the current students have much more credibility and are able to add their personal experiences in the program, something that professors are not able to speak to.
MSEC student Stella McCullen was involved in the visit day, and overall thought it went well. “I think that visit days are a great opportunity for prospective students to learn about the program, especially because it is not a 'typical' Master's degree,” McCullen said. “We answered questions about our experiences in the program and our plans after graduation. We were asked lots of thoughtful questions, and the responses from the prospective students were positive.” Several students mentioned that it was a great way to connect to the admitted students and give them a view of life at Duke and in Durham.
Becker said that he is optimistic that it was a good move for the program, and hopes to get more feedback in the coming weeks as he checks in with admitted students via Zoom.