Program Requirements

The core of the master's program is seven courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics (including a math/stats course). In addition to the core courses, master's students will also take three electives of their choosing. Most students will complete the curriculum as outlined on the Coursework webpage.

The economics department and graduate school have established guidelines on the coursework and credits that can be applied toward a master's degree. The following are required to earn the master's degree in economics:

  • A minimum of 30 credits
  • At least half of all degree coursework must be completed in courses numbered 700 or higher
  • At least 16 credits must be taken as a graduate student at the UW-Madison campus
  • In rare situations, with approval from the economics department's Director of the Master's Program, prior coursework taken as a UW-Madison undergraduate or special student may be counted towards the minimum degree requirements. Please note the following:

    • No credits from other institutions are allowed to count toward the master's degree
    • No more than seven credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW-Madison undergraduate may be counted,
    • No more than nine credits of coursework numbered 700 level or above taken as a UW-Madison special student may be counted, and
    • Coursework earned five years or more prior to admission to the Master's program is not allowed to satisfy requirements.
  • Students must also meet the Graduate School minimum degree requirements.

Most students will complete the degree in four semesters (two academic years), but it is possible to complete the required coursework in three semesters.

The Master's Program is coursework-based and does not require students to complete a Master's thesis. Students who are interested in completing an optional thesis should contact the Master's Program Advisor to discuss the process.

Students enrolled in the Master of Science in Economics Program are not allowed to accept research assistantships, teaching assistantships, project assistantships or other University appointments which grant waivers of tuition and/or academic fees. Accepting an assistantship or tuition waiver while enrolled in the program may lead to removal of the student from the M.S. in Economics student cohort. Corporate tuition support is not included in these categories, nor is the waiver of tuition due to veteran status.

Enrollment Policy

The Economics Master's Program is considered a full-time program. It is expected that Master's students will enroll full-time every semester; exceptions need to be approved by the Director of the Master's Program (DMP).

Master's students are required to enroll in all core economics courses. Students with exceptional academic backgrounds may request exemptions from master's program core courses. Such requests should be sent to the Director of the Master's Program (DMP). Exemptions from these courses are infrequently granted.

The Graduate School has requirements for enrollment each semester. All of the credit requirements must be satisfied by graded, graduate-level courses. Courses with course numbers below 300, audited courses, or credit / no credit (pass/fail) courses do not satisfy the minimum requirement.

While in most cases participation in the program is continuous through time, students sometimes find it necessary to take a temporary leave of absence. Written requests for a one semester or full year leave of absence should be addressed to the DMP and turned into the Master's Program Advisor (MPA).

Students are prohibited from enrolling in other degree or certificate programs while enrolled in the Economics Master's Program. Double degrees are possible, but enrollment in degree programs should be done consecutively.

Enrollment Requirements for International students

Both F-1 and J-1 student visa regulations require students to be enrolled full-time each fall and spring semester (eight credits per semester, not including audited classes). Summer enrollment is not required by the U.S. federal government regulations for F-1 and J-1 visa holders.

Failure to maintain full-time status can result in loss of F-1 or J-1 student benefits, including on-campus employment and practical or academic training options. Any exceptions to full-time enrollment must be authorized by the DMP and International Student Services (ISS). Visit the ISS web page to learn more about visa requirements.