Admissions


What are the general admission requirements for the M.A./M.S. in Applied Economics?

Please visit the Prospective Students page on this website and select the desired sequence for detailed requirements.

What are the requirements for international students to be admitted into the program?

To be admitted into the university you must follow the admission requirements outlined on the graduate school website.

Does admission to the M.S. in Applied Economics program automatically come with a graduate assistant position?

No, admission to the program and a GA position are two separate processes. Even though we do our best to offer as many GA position as possible to our graduate students, a student can be admitted in the program but without receiving a GA position.

Do I need to submit a separate admission application and a separate application of a graduate assistantship position?

The admission application to the program is separate from the Graduate Assistant application. Please follow the links provided within each of the desired sequences under Prospective Students on how to apply for admission to the program and on how to apply for a GA position.

Can I defer my admission to the following semester?

International students may defer their admission to the program for the following semester by contacting the Office of International Studies and Programs. Please note that admission is not automatic; your application will be re-evaluated for admission to the master’s program based on the required materials listed on our website for each of the desired sequences. Similarly, if you have been awarded a GA position and you decide to defer your admission to the next semester, the GA offer letter will be cancelled, your GA application will go back into the pool of applicants for this new semester and your GA application will be re-evaluated.

As an international student when should I start my visa process?

As soon as you receive your acceptance into the program and you have made your decision of joining the program, start the visa application process. Once you have received the I-20 form you can go to the consulate or embassy to start the visa process. Please do not postpone the process since timing varies significantly based on the number of applications, timing, country of residence, and evidence of financial support.

Can I substitute the GRE with the GMAT score?

Admission to the master’s in Applied Economics program, requires submission of the official GRE test scores; we require a minimum of 140 in the Verbal section and a minimum of 150 in the Quantitative section of the GRE. In rare occasions, we may allow substitution of the GRE with the GMAT test score for students who have already taken the GMAT. You can use the online conversion tool provided by ETS to determine the equivalency between GMAT and GRE.

As an international student, do I need proof of proficiency in English?

Students from all non-native English speaking countries are required to have a minimum of 79 in the internet-based TOEFL or 6.5 in the IELTS overall band score for admission to the University and for receipt of a Graduate Assistantship. For exceptions to the TOEFL/IELTS score visit the International Admissions website.

Dates & Timelines


What is the time limit to get a Master’s degree in Applied Economics?

You have six years to obtain your master’s degree from the time you are admitted.

Can I take a leave of absence from my program?

Yes, you may take a leave of absence for up to one year. At the time you take your leave, the clock stops for all deadlines of completion. You must send a request to the graduate coordinator in order to receive a leave of absence.

What are the last dates to drop/add a course? Will I incur any financial penalties for withdrawing from a course?

This information changes from semester to semester. The academic calendar includes an overview of these deadlines. Consult the withdrawal dates for information about any financial penalties.

Do I have to register to get my degree in my last semester?

Yes, a student must be registered during their last semester of studies and must file a degree audit form with the graduate advisor. A student who has completed all course requirements in the previous semester but has an Incomplete grade (I) in the graduate capstone project (ECO 492), is not required to re-register for this course.

How do I apply for graduation and participate in the Commencement Ceremony?

In preparation of graduation within the first week of classes of the semester of graduation, each student needs to submit two forms: a master’s degree Audit Form, and a Completion of Degree and Commencement Participation Form. For the Degree Audit Form, fill out everything you can, including the courses you took, the number of credit hours, and your grades. Send your completed form as an email attachment to the graduate program director. The instructions for completing the Completion of Degree and Commencement Participation Form are on the first page of that form. There is a $40 fee for filing this form. It is important that you follow the deadlines for submitting both of these forms. Email the degree audit form to the graduate program director as soon as you enroll for courses in the Fall (if you will graduate in December), and in the Spring (if you will graduate in May). Leave blank the grades on any classes that the grades have not been posted yet, and for courses that you are signed up for your last semester.

For further information regarding graduation and commencement please visit the Graduate School website. When it becomes time to participate in commencement, you will want to order your cap and gown. Detailed information about participating in the Commencement including schedule, directions, and parking availability is available through the Graduation Services website.

Credit Hours & Courses


Where can I find an outline of the degree requirements for the M.S. in Applied Economics?

Consult the graduate catalog for all courses needed to graduate with a master’s in Applied Economics for each of our sequences. For a personalized plan of study schedule a meeting with the graduate program director, Dr. Nikolaou.

How and when do I register for courses?

Registration for summer and fall classes begins mid-spring, and for spring classes in mid-fall. You can register for courses on MyIllinoisState under the student services center tab. Before enrolling for any courses consult with the graduate program director, Dr. Nikolaou.

How do I request an override into a course?

For courses within the Department of Economics contact the graduate program director. For overrides outside the Department of Economics contact the graduate advisor of the respective department. You can find the contact information on all graduate program directors here.

What is the minimum number of credit hours I can register for as a graduate student?

Part time students enrolled in the Department of Economics may have less than 9 credit hours. Graduate students who hold a Graduate Assistant position or a fellowship, and all international students must be registered as a full-time student which is at least 9 credit hours. If you plan to register for more than 15 credit hours, you must obtain approval from the graduate program director. During the summer session, a student is considered to be full-time if they are registered for at least 6 credit hours. However, if you are in your last semester as a master’s student you can register for a minimum of 1 credit hour but must file a form with the graduate program director who will evaluate the request for a reduced course load.

Can I take undergraduate courses, and will they affect my GPA?

Yes, graduate students are allowed to register for undergraduate-level courses. However, only 300-level courses that are approved for graduate credit will count towards your graduation credit hours and towards your GPA. Graduate students can enroll in 100-level and 200-level courses, but these courses will not count towards your required graduation credit hours and they will not affect the calculation of your GPA. However, undergraduate courses will count towards your course load requirements for each semester.

What is the maximum number of credit hours I can register for as a graduate student?

A graduate student can register for a maximum of 15 credit hours per semester. Enrollment in excess of the 15 credit hours requires prior approval from the graduate program director. For ECO 400 (Independent Study) only a maximum of 6 credit hours will count towards your degree. For ECO 498 (Professional Practice) only up to 3 credit hours will count towards your degree unless otherwise stated the requirements of your sequence.

Can I repeat a course?

Yes, a graduate student can take a course at most twice in consultation with the graduate program director. Taking a course for a third time requires permission from the graduate coordinator and the graduate school. Note that permission is not always granted, and the grade received during your repeat semester is the grade that goes on your transcript regardless of if it was better or worse.

Can I use courses from outside the Department of Economics in my plan of study?

Yes, some courses that are related to your plan and sequence of study may be approved and count towards your degree. However, for courses outside the Department of Economics you must have received prior approval by the graduate program director in order to be counted towards your degree.

Can I transfer credits from other institutions to count towards my Master’s degree?

Sometimes courses can transfer with approval from the graduate program director and the Graduate School. Courses that are more than 6 years old will not transfer, or courses that were used to count towards your bachelor’s degree. Only graduate level courses with a grade of B or better will transfer and they will only transfer as 300-level electives.

How do I audit a course and what does it mean to audit a course?

A student may register as an auditor in a class or classes if space is available. To audit, a student must obtain a Request for Auditor registration form, request the instructor sign it and return the signed form to the Registrar Service Center.

A student may register as an auditor in a class or classes if facilities are available. A class taken under the audit option does not count toward a degree; it does not count toward full-time student status for financial aid and other purposes, nor does it count toward total hours enrolled in determining registration priority. Students auditing a class will be charged all applicable tuition and fees. An auditor is expected to attend regularly. An Audit (AU) designation will appear on the student’s transcript when the instructor certifies that the student has attended the class on a regular basis. If the student has not attended regularly, a WX will be recorded on the transcript after the instructor has notified the Office of the University Registrar in writing that the student has not attended regularly.

Will you waive courses I have already taken?

We may waive master’s level courses you have taken from a different institution on a case-by-case basis after examining your transcripts. Decisions to waive a course refer to specific courses, not credit hours. In other words, if you waive a course you will need to replace the credit hours associated with the waived course with an equal number of graduate level Economics credits.

Note that we don’t waive credits only individual course requirements. This means that you must replace the credits for any course we waive with an equal number of other graduate mathematics credits.

What is a visiting graduate student?

A visiting graduate student is one who either does not seek a degree at Illinois State or has not been officially admitted to a degree program. Only students admitted to Illinois State as a degree student or a visiting student may take graduate classes. More information can be attained on the Graduate Admissions page about visiting graduate students.

How many credits can I take as a visiting graduate student and will those credits transfer to a graduate program at ISU in the future?

A student who has not yet been admitted into a degree program can take up to 9 credit hours as a visiting student at ISU. If a student at large gets admitted into a graduate program at ISU they can transfer up to 12 credit hours to their degree program.

Graduate Assistantships


How and when can I apply for a GA position?

All information pertaining to how and when to apply for a GA position is available under Funding. The deadline for the Fall Semester is March 1st of each year, and the deadline for the Spring Semester is October 15 of each calendar year.

Am I a good candidate for a GA position?

We encourage all students who apply for admission to the master’s program in Applied Economics to complete an application for a graduate assistant (GA) position. The GRE score will significantly determine the allocation of the graduate assistantships. In the past, only students who scored above 300 cumulative in GRE received assistantship, with emphasis on the Quantitative component. Performance in the GRE is only one component that determines graduate assistantships though, and it does not automatically qualify a student for a GA position since all your portfolio is considered. Therefore, we cannot make any GA assignments without receiving a formal application for all students who apply for the GA positions. Apart from GA positions within the Department of Economics, a student can apply for other Graduate Assistant positions or Student Employment. Please look at the Human Resources website under Graduate Assistant and Student. You should also explore external sources of funding.

When will I receive a notification about assistantship decision?

You will receive an email from the graduate program director after the due date and after all applications have been reviewed. Assistantships for the Fall Semester will be announced at the beginning of April, and assistantships for the Spring Semester will be announced at the end of November. If you receive a GA position, the offer letter will state the deadline for you to accept your offer by.

What does a GA position cover?

All GA position within the Department of Economics cover tuition and a monthly stipend that will be stated in your GA offer letter. Each student will need to pay the mandatory students fees which are not covered by the GA position. For details see the Funding page of the website.

Do you offer GA positions over the summer?

No, the Department of Economics does not offer GA positions over the summer.

When do my GA responsibilities begin and end?

The specific start and end dates for your GA responsibilities will be stated on your offer letter. GA responsibilities start on the first day of classes for the semester that you are assigned as a GA, and they end on the last day of the month that you have registered for classes. International students who receive a GA position are required to attend a mandatory training/orientation session from the Office of International Studies and Programs. If for any reason you are expecting to arrive on campus after the first day of classes, contact the graduate program director as soon as possible.

What are my rights and responsibilities as a GA?

Before the first week of classes we will hold a mandatory orientation session within the Department of Economics to discuss, among others, rights and responsibilities associated with your new position. You are assigned a specific number of working hours per week as part of your graduate assistantship. A full-time assistantship is 20 hours per week. A half-time assistantship is 10 hours per week. Your work schedule is set so as to provide you with a specific amount of time to assist your assigned professor, but also have time to attend classes and study.

Graduate research assistants are generally assigned to individual faculty members to assist with their research, and most of the assigned duties are tied to this research. The nature of the assistance varies by faculty member and can involve a variety of activities including data gathering, data analysis, tutoring, grading homework and quizzes, papers, monitoring exams in large sections, or other academic-related activities.

For a complete description of your new role, please read carefully the Graduate Student Handbook, and consult the graduate program director about any questions.

How do I obtain a GA position for my second year of graduate school?

Renewal of a GA position is conditional on maintaining good standing as a graduate student, which means you need to maintain a minimum of 3.0 cumulative graduate GPA for each semester of your studies. In order to receive your GA position for a second year to finish your master’s, you must re-apply before the end of each semester.

Can I lose my GA position?

Students who fail to maintain a minimum of a 3.0 graduate cumulative GPA are not eligible for a GA position. Continuing students whose cumulative graduate GPA is below 3.0 are not permitted to hold assistantships. If for some reason, a student fails to maintain this minimum GPA will be on probation for a semester by the end of which the student will need to raise their GPA to a minimum of 3.0. Even though we can request for an exemption from the Graduate School to allow a student to continue their assistantship during the semester after the semester when the less than 3.0 GPA was attained, you should not put yourself in this situation. Students with exceptionally low GPAs will need to forfeit their GA position. Not completing the assigned tasks associated with your GA position may also lead to termination of your assistantship.

Can I request to be with a certain faculty member for my assistantship?

Yes, at the end of each semester, the graduate program director will ask for any special requests for assignments. Please note that due to changing schedules, we may not be able to accommodate your requests. New incoming students can include any preference about faculty assignments in their statement of interest or email the graduate program director directly upon receipt of the official GA offer letter.

When do I find out who I am working with during the semester as a GA?

Typically, you will find out your assignment a week before the semester begins. Keep in mind that because some students may not be able to attend during a semester, we may have last minute changes in the allocation of the GAs to faculty members.

What can I do if I have problems with my GA assignment?

For any issues or concerns about the content of the tasks you are performing for your GA position, talk with the faculty member you have been assigned to. For any concerns that you do not feel comfortable addressing with the faculty member, contact the graduate program director who will do their best to support you and address your concerns.

Can I work outside the Department of Economics if I receive a GA position?

International students are restricted by their visa in terms of how many hours per week they can work. On-campus employment is a very standard part of the university experience for both international and domestic students. International students in F-1 or J-1 status are allowed by immigration regulations to work up to 20 hours per week during the Fall and Spring semesters while classes are in session and up to 28 hours during official university breaks. See the Student Employment section in the Graduate School website for more information.

Financial Issues


When will I receive my paycheck for my GA position?

Paychecks arrive on the last working day of the month. For new incoming GAs, the first paycheck may not be generated in time for the end of August payroll. In that case, your August pay will be combined with your September pay and will be on the payroll at the end of September.

Can I get an advance on my first paycheck?

Yes, you may get an advance on your first paycheck by contacting Graduate School. For information on loans for GAs see the Graduate Student Handbook under the Forms & Links page on this website.

Is summer support guaranteed for a GA?

There are no graduate assistant positions offered through the Department of Economics during the summer. However, students who have been awarded a graduate assistant position in the Fall or the Spring Semester are eligible for a tuition waiver for up to 12 credit hours for the summer semester after the semester in which you hold your assistantship.

Do I need to purchase student health insurance?

New incoming international students will fill and submit their Health Insurance Certification form during the orientation session at the Department of Economics. You will have to complete this form at the beginning of each semester. You can request to opt out of ISU health insurance if covered under an external plan (i.e., parents, spouses, or personal plan). You must return the form to ISU Student Health Insurance Office by the 15th calendar day of the fall and spring semesters, or the 8th calendar day of ISU’s first summer session. For detailed information on health insurance see the Student Health Services website.

Where and how do I pay my bill for ISU fees?

Please visit Student Accounts to gain further instructions on graduate tuition rates, mandatory fees rates, and deadlines for any billing on your account. The New Student and Returning Student Checklist is a checklist of everything you need to do in order to pay your bill. If you wish to have your personal bank send a check directly to Student Accounts, please follow the directions at How-To guides on the same website.

Can I apply for research support and travel support to attend professional meetings?

Graduate students are encouraged to consult with their advisor and participate in professional meetings. There is some support offered for students to present in academic conferences and participate in the University Research Symposium. See the Awards & Scholarships page on this website for more information.

Are there scholarships or other funding opportunities to fund my education?

Yes, see the Awards & Scholarships page on this website for information on sources of funding from the College of Arts and Sciences, the University, and external sources of funding.

Academic Issues


Can I graduate with two master’s sequences in Economics?

Yes, this is possible. Some courses may overlap and can be counted towards both degrees depending on the sequence. Contact the graduate program director if you want to know more about a master’s with two sequences.

Can I graduate with two master’s degrees from two different departments?

Yes, this is possible and many of our graduate students graduate with a master’s in Applied Economics and a master’s in Mathematics, or a master’s in Project Management. You will discuss these plans with your graduate program director when you first join the Department of Economics to design a course schedule that will allow you to be successful in both degrees and graduate in a timely fashion.

Are there any limitations in my course selection if I want to graduate with two master’s degrees?

A maximum of 12 credit hours of course work is allowable to count simultaneously towards two master’s degrees provided that the following stipulations are met: (1) the student must be admitted to the second master’s program prior to the completion of the first degree, (2) all requirements for both degree programs are met within the six year graduation time limit, (3) a particular thesis cannot be used to meet the degree requirements for more tan one degree, and (4) not more than three hours of the 12 credit hours allowed to count toward the second degree are generated by independent study, practicum, or workshop credit.

How should I choose my thesis or graduate project advisor?

By the end of the first year, you will have developed an interest in a more specialized field within economics. Given your research interests, you should select a faculty member whose research interests coincide with yours and approach them to express your interest in working with them. The graduate program director will provide guidance about the research areas of each faculty member and facilitate your selection of the most appropriate graduate project advisor.

Do I have to follow the thesis or the non-thesis option to meet my graduation requirement?

Each student can select either the thesis or the non-thesis option. The thesis option is a more well-structured option for students who may want to receive feedback from different faculty members since they will have a committee that will supervise their culminating research project. This option includes stricter deadlines set up by the Graduate School that all thesis students are required to abide by. Students who select the non-thesis option have one research advisor (not a committee) who will provide guidance with the completion of their culminating research project. Students who follow the non-thesis option still have specific timelines for the completion of their project, but these dates are specified by their research advisor. Consult with the graduate program director about which option might be the best for you.

What happens if my graduate GPA falls below 3.00?

You will not be in good academic standing with the university and may be placed on probation. Once on probation, you may not hold a Graduate Assistantship unless told otherwise by the graduate program director. In addition, on probation you will become ineligible for other financial aid opportunities. Students not in good academic standing cannot graduate from their graduate program.

Where can I get help with difficulties in one of my courses?

Talk with the instructor of the course as soon as possible. Do not let questions on the course material pile up but address them once they arise. Your instructors are the best source of information for the course material and they will provide other study suggestions. Create study groups with your fellow graduate students. As always, contact the graduate program director about any difficulties you may experience.

Other Issues


Should I attend workshops and seminars organized by the Department of Economics?

Yes. One of the most important skills each graduate student should acquire is how to conduct independent research. All your coursework is designed to facilitate your transition from a student to a researcher. The seminars and workshops organized by the Department of Economics expose you to different fields within economics that you would not otherwise be able to experience. They will expose you to different econometric strategies, data issues, and presentation skills from academic researcher other than the faculty within our department. Even if the topic of a presentation does not seem relevant to your interests you should still attend since you will gain more knowledge than not attending. Participation in departmental activities (including seminars and workshops) is one of the job descriptions for students who have been awarded a GA position.

What is the Research Symposium and who can participate in it?

The Research Symposium is held each spring and offers an exciting opportunity for enrolled Illinois State graduate and undergraduate students to present what they have learned through their research, scholarship, and creative endeavor to a large audience in a professional setting. All students enrolled at the University and engaged in research, scholarship, and creative endeavor under the

If I witness or am a victim of sexual or any other kind of harassment, what do I do?

Consider making a report. Your report can be made with law enforcement, be confidential, be a university report, be an anonymous report, or you can report it in person. In addition, counseling is available for you at Student Counseling Services. Sexual assault resources can be found at ISU’s Get Help Page.

Is there help available for confidential medical and psychological problems?

Psychological emergency services are available at ISU’s Psychological Emergency Services. In addition, Student Counseling Services holds appointments available for individual and group needs at ISU’s Counseling Services. Student Counseling Services will also help you with any self-help needs including anxiety, body image, eating disorders, depression, grief, pregnancy, suicide, veterans, etc.

Is there someone outside the department with whom I can discuss problems?

You can discuss issues with Student Counseling Services.