MA in Economics

The Mason style of economics fuses scholarship in the fields of public choice (founded by Nobel Laureate and former Mason professor, the late James Buchanan), Austrian economics, and experimental economics (the latter founded by Nobel Laureate and Mason professor emeritus Vernon Smith). Our nationally ranked graduate economics programs are noted for their emphasis on comparative institutional analysis and their concentration on the relationships among economic, political, and legal institutions.

Economics faculty are often sought after by media outlets to provide their opinions and expertise, invited to give congressional testimony, and frequently offer value-added advice to policy makers. Faculty are actively engaged in academic research on, and teaching about, numerous subjects including: experimental economics, Austrian economics, public choice, constitutional political economy, law and economics, and new institutional economics,

As a part of the Master of Arts in economics program, you will gain knowledge of economic theory and improve your ability to apply this theory to economic problems. Graduates are qualified to read and judge other's research and to conduct their own, either individually or as members of research teams in government or business. They are also prepared to write policy analysis articles.

Many students benefit from Mason’s proximity to the resources of the Washington, D.C., area. Graduates move on to successful careers in policy institutes and non-profits, as well as the public and private sectors.

The MA in economics is a self-contained course of study for students who are not planning to pursue the PhD program at George Mason University. Students who plan to pursue the PhD degree should apply directly to the doctoral program. They can earn a master’s while pursuing the PhD.

Classes for the MA Economics on-campus program are generally offered in the evening, and courses for the the online program are usually scheduled asynchronously. Many of our students are already in the workforce and we value the contributions they bring to the classroom.


Funding Opportunities

Funding opportunities are available on a competitive basis for full-time, MA in economics on-campus students. The application process for fellowships and assistantships is separate from the admissions process. Therefore, a separate application should be submitted to each opportunity an applicant is interested in.

Questions regarding funding opportunities for MA in economics students can be emailed to


The James Buchanan Fellowship is an opportunity for incoming full-time, on-campus students who are pursuing their MA in economics and who are interested in a career in public policy. At George Mason University, graduate students are considered full time if they are enrolled in at least nine graduate credits per semester. This fellowship is competitively awarded based on overall application strength and provides support of up to $37,600 a year for two years. The fellowship has no work component and is intended to cover tuition and fees up to nine graduate credits a semester for a total of 30 credits and provide students with a stipend. Recipients will be required to submit an annual report regarding their progress and future plans, which will be due at the end of each spring semester.

Department-provided funding for MA in economics students is contingent upon satisfactory performance in the program and continued funding is awarded under the expectation that students will be full-time graduate students who will complete the degree in two years. Performance that interferes with satisfactory progress can lead to a revocation of the fellowship. Unsatisfactory performance is defined as:

  1. Failure to register for, and complete, the appropriate courses to complete your degree in a timely manner.
  2. Poor academic performance as evidenced by a GPA for the academic year below 3.5. Any recent unsatisfactory grades (C, F, IN) can also lead to a revocation of a fellowship. Recent is defined as the last completed semester.
  3. Failure to attempt and pass the comprehensive exam after the first year in the program.


**Applications for the 2022-2023 James Buchanan Fellowship are now closed.**  


How to Apply to the James Buchanan Fellowship

Applicants to the MA in economics on-campus option who are interested in applying for the James Buchanan Fellowship should submit a 2-page essay to answering the question: How will a master of arts in economics and the James Buchanan Fellowship contribute to advancing and achieving your career goals?  Word documents or PDF files should clearly state the applicant’s name and email address as listed on their admission application. Essays should be emailed at the time your graduate application is submitted to George Mason. Fellowship applications will be considered during admission decisions after the MA in economics application deadline. Only incoming first-year graduate students in the on-campus option are eligible to apply. 

Graduate Research Assistantship

Mercatus Center’s MA Fellowship is a two-year, competitive, full-time program for on-campus students pursuing an MA in economics at George Mason University who are interested in gaining an advanced degree in applied economics in preparation for a career in public policy. MA Fellows have the opportunity to work as research assistants and coauthors with Mercatus scholars. This opportunity involves a work component.

How to Apply to the Mercatus Center’s MA Fellowship

Please review information on the Mercatus Center’s MA Fellowship webpage for program details and application requirements.