UMass Boston's Applied Economics MA offers a distinctive research-focused master's program that expands on both orthodox and heterodox theories and their policy implications.
How does the programme provide content to ensure students achieve an understanding of a reasonably diverse set of perspectives on understanding economies?
Our faculty specialize in a broad range of perspectives in economics, including feminist economics, Marxian economics, post-Keynesian economics, ecological economics, and economics of race. By being exposed to such a wide range of perspectives in courses and department seminars, MA students in Applied Economics at UMass Boston come to appreciate the pluralistic nature of the economics discipline. By collaborating with our faculty on original research, either as advisees or research assistants, MA students gain hands-on experience of how different perspectives can enrich our understanding of economic activity. Diverse perspectives in economic theory and quantitative analysis are embodied in our curriculum.
How does the programme ensure students understand the interaction between economic and ecological systems?
Our program emphasizes economic issues facing urban areas locally, regionally, and globally with a particular focus on equitable economic development, our ecological footprint, and inequality by gender, race, and class. Interested students can take specialized courses in ecological and environmental economics and work closely with faculty who specialize in ecological economics. Furthermore, the ideas that ecological issues are central to our well-being and that economic theory and policy needs to provide solutions to our key environmental challenges permeate a wide range of our courses.
How does the programme ensure students understand how to critically explore real-world evidence, both qualitative and quantitative?
MA students in Applied Economics at UMass Boston must design and complete an original applied research project, either in the form of a capstone or a master’s thesis. In both cases, students design –under the guidance of at least two faculty members – a substantive paper or policy report, tailored to their own policy and academic interests. As part of this original research, students have to locate the necessary data to analyze economic phenomena and evaluate economic policies using appropriate quantitative methods. Moreover, they sharpen their critical thinking and problem-solving skills by juxtaposing traditional and alternative economic theories, and testing economic theories against observed outcomes. A number of students have published their capstones/theses as academic articles in peer-reviewed journals.
What pedagogical approaches does the programme use to ensure that students examine the historical context, assumptions and values in all economic thinking?
All students have to take a required Political Economy course that contextualizes the historical evolution of capitalism and highlights conflict among different groups of economic actors as a driver of economic phenomena.
How does the department ensure that the teaching culture and capacity to deliver economic pluralism are continually improving?
All our classes are taught by permanent research-active faculty, thus ensuring program continuity as well as reflective teaching. Faculty teaching graduate courses come from a wide range of approaches. Moreover, our department is deeply committed to diversity along many measures including economic approaches but also the gender, race and class of people “doing” economic analysis, which is reflected in our faculty as well as our student body.
Our program offers a small number of graduate assistantships to qualified students who wish to work as teaching or research assistants. Such assistantships come with a stipend and partial tuition waiver.
University of Massachusetts Boston
Department of Economics