Department of Economics at Illinois State University Department of Economics at Illinois State University Department of Economics at Illinois State University

About the Master's Program

If the prospect of a well-paying job as an economist, analyst, or planner in the private or public sectors appeals to you, Illinois State University offers a very special graduate degree in applied economics that you should know about. Our program emphasizes applied economics with a curriculum that links basic economic theory and statistical techniques to "real world" problems faced by decision makers. Students completing the degree are qualified to seek employment in management as professional economists or research analysts. The program is also well suited for individuals who wish to return to school to obtain a graduate degree in a business-related discipline for the purpose of career advancement. While the curriculum is structured as a terminal degree in applied economics, many graduates have advanced to doctoral-level programs in economics and in related disciplines.

Program Options

The Department of Economics offers work leading to the M.A. or M.S. degree in applied economics. Five program options are available:

Option 1 - Applied Economics with Capstone

Students select a concentration in an applied economics field, including business economics, monetary economics/finance, economic development, international economics, and human resources. Associated with this option is a "capstone project" that students will complete in conjunction Seminar in Research Methods and a field course within each concentration. Students selecting this option will be prepared for careers as an economist in a wide variety of industries, including management consulting firms, banks, securities and commodity brokers, computer and data processing companies, marketing research firms, and federal, state and local governments.

Option 2 - Concentration in Electricity, Natural Gas, and Telecommunications

The Electricity, Natural Gas, and Telecommunications Economics Sequence is a structured program that combines training in basic economic theory and statistical methods with specialized training in the theory, history and institutions of economic of regulation. Students develop skills in analyzing regulatory policy and in communicating the results. In addition, students may have the opportunity to gain valuable practical experience as an intern with an employer in the telecommunications, electric power, or natural gas industries, or with an appropriate government agency. Three hours of credit is awarded for this internship experience. Graduates are awarded a Master's Degree in Applied Economics with a Sequence in Electricity, Natural Gas and Telecommunications Economics. Associated with the sequence is the Institute for Regulatory Policy Studies. The Institute provides a key link between the university and the telecommunications, electric power, and natural gas industries. Students selecting this 39-hour sequence will be prepared for effective and successful careers as economists, analysts and planners with firms in the natural gas, electric, and telecommunications industries. The option is also suitable for careers with governmental agencies responsible for the regulation of public utilities, consumer advocacy organizations, and firms providing consulting and ancillary services.

Option 3 - Concentration in Applied Community and Economic Development

The Applied Community and Economic Development sequence is a multidisciplinary program with the departments of Politics and Government and Sociology-Anthropology. The sequence is designed for Peace Corps volunteers who have returned from the field and wish to acquire graduate-level training to build on their Peace Corps experience, students with experiences equivalent to Peace Corps, and students who wish to combine a graduate degree with Peace Corps experience. As a part of the program, students fulfill a significant internship experience. As of now, students have completed internships with rural economic development organizations, community colleges, Indian reservations, urban organizations such as the Chicago Housing Authority, and Peace Corps. Up to five hours of credit is awarded for this internship experience. Graduates are awarded a Master's Degree in Applied Economics with a Sequence in Applied Community and Economic Development. Associated with the sequence is the Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Development. The Center plays an important role in connecting the university with the community, and it plays a vital role in identifying internships and financial support for the program. Students pursuing this 39-hour sequence will receive a solid and relevant educational opportunity to pursue careers in community and economic development in the United States and around the world.

Option 4 - Concentration in Applied Financial Economics

This sequence provides students training in the financial theory of the firm, financial markets and institutions to complement their training in applied economics analysis.  Before enrolling in the sequence, students must consult the Graduate Program Director of the Department of Economics and the MBA Program Office to obtain approval for registering for FIL courses.  In order to enroll in FIL courses, students must have satisfied the following requirements: (1) complete ECO 437 with a grade of B or better; (2) have a GPA of 3.0 or higher; (3) complete FIL 404 or equivalent (the student has either taken a similar course at the undergraduate level or passed a proficiency exam administered by the MBA Program Office) before registering for FIL 440.

Option 5 - Applied Economics with Thesis Option

This option is appropriate for students whose interests lie outside one of the applied fields noted above and for those who intend to pursue a more rigorous research agenda. With the advice of the Graduate Program Director, students select a set of courses beyond the core curriculum to meet specific career objectives. Students complete this 34-hour option by writing a master's thesis in their area of specialization.