We are especially strong in public choice (the economics of government decision-making), law and economics, Austrian or “market process” economics, history of economic thought, and economic history.
Both MA and PhD admissions decisions are based on grade point averages, GRE scores (optional for the MA application), letters of recommendation, a written goals statement, and a resume. Each completed application is evaluated in its entirety; we do not adhere to rigid numerical formulas to determine admissions.
The average incoming MA student has a GPA of 3.36 and GRE scores of 155 verbal and 154 quantitative. The average incoming PhD student has a GPA of 3.5 and GRE scores of 160 verbal and 158 quantitative. Students receiving funding typically score above these averages.
Each year we aim for PhD and MA classes in the range of 25-35 people (these targets are not always met, however). In recent years, the number of MA applicants has been about three times that number and the number of PhD applicants about 6 times that number. Admissions decisions are made on the criteria mentioned above.
Full-time graduate enrollment at Mason is 9 credits per semester. Less than 9 credits per semester is considered part-time. Many of our MA students are part-time. Approximately half of the entering PhD class is part-time. For this reason, most of our classes are held in the evening, with class times at 4:30-7:10 pm and 7:20-10:00 pm.
Part-time MA students should plan to take the applied economic theory courses (Micro I and II, and Macro I) during the first year so that they can take the MA Comprehensive Exam the following summer. Part-time PhD students should plan to take two classes per semester at least one semester per year so that they can finish 48 credit hours and advance to candidacy within the 6 year time limit.
The most current fall and spring schedules are the best guides to expected course offerings in the future. The university catalog lists all courses but includes some that are not taught on a regular basis.
A typical full-time PhD first-year course of study would include two semesters each of micro and macro, and one semester each of Mathematical Economics (fall) and Econometrics (spring). Part-time students will usually take less than this full load.
MA students should take two semesters of micro (fall-spring) and one semester of macro (spring). It is recommended that MA students also take Mathematical Economics, which is offered in the fall. A full-time MA student should supplement the core and recommended coursework with one elective class per semester. The special topics courses (Econ 695) are usually best suited for first-year MA electives.
PhD students must take the micro and macro classes held at the Main Campus. MA core courses are offered on the Mason Square (Arlington) campus.
Applicants to the PhD program are not required to have an MA prior to beginning our doctoral program. Our MA program 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 our PhD degree can earn an MA while pursuing the PhD and should apply directly to the doctoral program.
An applicant can request to be considered for the MA in Economics program if denied admission to the PhD program. The applicant's application will be included with the other MA applications and will be evaluated against that pool of applicants. PhD applicants may select this option in the online doctoral admissions application. For questions, please reach the Economics Graduate Studies Office at email@example.com.
After the first year, students have the opportunity to take comprehensive exams in microeconomics and macroeconomics. These exams are given every August and January. Students who fail either exam twice must leave the PhD program, and may elect to transfer into the MA program. During the second year, students take the required coursework in each of two fields. After the second year, students take the field exams for the two fields that they have chosen. A student cannot flunk out of the program by failing field exams, but may be asked to pick a new field if the same exam is failed twice.
We currently have fields available in industrial organization, public choice, monetary economics, Austrian economics, experimental economics, law and economics, institutions and development, economic history, Smithian political economy, and economic sociology. Field exams are currently offered in each of these areas. Students also have the option of designing a field in which the student desires to secure professional competence that is not covered by one of our regular fields.
The program is designed so that a full-time student (9 hours a semester) takes 2 ½ years of class work and then writes a dissertation. Finishing in four years is entirely feasible, although many students take longer.
Last updated: 09/26/2019