columbia university economics

Last Updated on December 24, 2022

The free-standing MA program in Economics is intended for students who wish to improve their knowledge of economic theory and its applications, but who plan to pursue only the MA degree. The free-standing MA program may also be of interest to students seeking further training in economics before deciding whether to pursue a PhD in economics. Students interested in earning a PhD are advised to apply to the PhD program directly.

Ph.D. | Columbia | Economics

The MA program has been designed to provide a technical and rigorous approach to the study of economic theory. At the same time, the program offers students the flexibility to take field electives in order to tailor their programs of study to their academic and professional goals. We welcome applications from all students who would like to pursue a free-standing MA degree in Economics at Columbia University. Admission to the MA program is limited to highly-qualified applicants, and study must be undertaken on a full-time basis.

The MA program in Economics requires successful completion of 22 credits through eight core classes and 9 credits through the program elective classes. Students satisfy the course requirements for the MA degree in three semesters: four required classes in the first fall semester, three required classes in the following spring semester, one required class in the second fall semester, and electives completed between the spring and second fall semesters. In addition, each student will be required to complete a research paper by the end of the third semester. The research paper will have to demonstrate mastery of the field, along with the ability to think originally and to convey results clearly in writing.

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Columbia University Economics

The Department of Economics at Columbia University is ranked among the top institutions for research in economics in the world, and as an undergraduate student you will have the opportunity to engage with faculty and explore research across a range of policy areas encompassing fiscal, economic and financial policies. The goal of the economics program is to train students to think analytically about social issues, and as such provide a solid foundation for further study and careers in economics as well as for multiple other pursuits.

The single best resource for getting accurate and timely information about the economics major is the department’s own website. This website will direct you to the sources of the specific information that you need to make the most of your experience here at Columbia as an economics student.

The NOMIS Foundation - Columbia University - Department of Economics

The economics major at Columbia University takes a scientific approach to the study of micro and macroeconomic theory.  In this program students learn how to conduct formal modelling of economic relationships, test hypotheses against data, and think critically about economic problems and policy issues. To make sure that you are making good progress towards your degree in economics, download and fill out a checklist for your major from the department website. You should do so prior to the April registration period. The checklist will alert you to any problems that you will need to bring to the attention of the economics department. If you have any questions or concerns about your major requirements, then you should come into the department and speak with econ-advising

As a declared major, you will receive on occasion important information about the department, courses offered, opportunities for undergraduates and events that we think may be of interest to our majors. Note that we do not send out information very often, so that when you do receive an email from the department, please take a moment to read it.

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columbia university economics major requirements

An undergraduate degree in economics is not required for admission to the MA program, but a strong background in undergraduate economics is highly recommended (principles of economics, intermediate microeconomics, and intermediate macroeconomics). Substantial training in college-level calculus and statistics is also recommended (multivariate calculus, linear algebra, and statistics). Applicants will be evaluated on the quality and breadth of their undergraduate preparation for the study of economics at the graduate level.

In addition to the requirements listed below, all students must submit one transcript showing courses and grades per school attended, a statement of academic purpose and three letters of recommendation from academic sources.

All international students whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate degree is from an institution in a country whose official language is not English must submit scores of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS.

Deadline for Fall Admission:Thursday, January 14, 2021
Resume Requirement:Yes
Writing Sample:No
GRE General:Yes
Degree Programs:Full Time
Letters of Recommendation:3

columbia university economics masters

The Master of Arts degree in Economics requires successful completion of eight core courses and at least nine credits from elective courses. Students may register for courses offered by other Columbia schools or departments if the course is open to registration to students outside of the home unit. However, required core and elective courses cannot be substituted with courses outside of the Economics M.A. program.

What it's like to studying economics at Columbia University

In order to maintain good standing in the program, students must be making satisfactory academic progress toward completing their degree.  Per Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) policy, students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA in all courses for which they are registered.  For a complete description of the requirements for good academic standing, please see the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Policy Handbook.

Students who do not maintain the required 3.0 GPA, beginning in the first semester in the program, must meet with the Program Director. At the meeting, the Program Director will explain to the student what requirements must be fulfilled in the next semester in order to regain good standing. Students who do not satisfy the requirements in the next semester may not be allowed to continue in the program. Students who find themselves in academic difficulty should contact the Program Director as soon as possible.

Students are expected to fulfill all the requirements for the degree over the course of three semesters. Course requirements for the M.A. degree will be satisfied by taking four core classes in the fall, three core classes in spring, one core course in the fall of second year and a total of at least nine credits from elective courses over the course of all three semesters.

In addition,each student is required to write a research paper as a capstone project of the program. Students are expected to produce a research paper that demonstrates their ability to think originally and convey results clearly.


  • GR5211 Microeconomic Analysis I
  • GR5212 Microeconomic Analysis II
  • GR5215 Macroeconomic Analysis I
  • GR5216 Macroeconomic Analysis II
  • GR5410 Mathematical Methods for Economists
  • GR5411 Econometrics I
  • GR5412 Econometrics II
  • GR5120 Research in Economics


Students are required to take at least nine credits in elective courses:

  • GR5218 Advanced Microeconomics
  • GR5220 Advanced Macroeconomics
  • GR5311 Economic Policy Analysis
  • GR5415 Advanced Econometrics
  • GR5711 Financial Economics
  • GR5911 International Economics
  • GR5110 Fieldwork in Economics

Core Courses in the M.A. program are offered as follows.

Fall Semester:

  • Mathematical Methods for Economists
  • Microeconomic Analysis I
  • Macroeconomic Analysis I
  • Econometrics I

Spring Semester:

  • Microeconomic Analysis II
  • Macroeconomic Analysis II
  • Econometrics II

Second Fall Semester:

  • Research in Economics

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