New Master’s Program to Sharpen Students’ Skills in Urban Issues, Inequality

Colleen Locke | December 07, 2011
New Master’s Program to Sharpen Students’ Skills in Urban Issues, Inequality

UMass Boston students can earn bachelor’s degrees in French and Italian. They can minor in Chinese and Japanese. But there’s another type of language which UMass Boston graduate students will be able to perfect starting in fall 2012.

“Economics is like a separate language sometimes,” Randy Albelda, graduate program director and professor of economics, says. And, sometimes, hospitals, nonprofits, and corporations are looking for economic analysts with skills that go beyond a broad liberal arts-based undergraduate economics education. That is why UMass Boston has gone through the process to create a new Master of Arts Program in Applied Economics.

“This master’s fills that big gap from undergraduate skills to the PhD skill level,” Albelda says. Through the applied economics program, students will learn to speak the language of economics by beefing up their survey research, technical writing, and problem-solving skills. They will broaden their critical thinking skills by testing economic theories. And they will be able to apply what they are learning in the classroom in a real world setting, she says.

The 30-credit applied economics master’s degree is designed for people currently working in a policy setting or looking for a job as an economist in business, government, or nonprofit organizations. Also, students who are currently juniors at UMass Boston are eligible for the accelerated five-year BA/MA program. Students who are accepted into the master’s degree program in their junior year start taking graduate courses in their senior year and complete the requirements in their fifth year.

In addition to courses in economic theory and an applied economic policy research workshop, students will take two quantitative methods courses in areas such as geographic information systems and survey research. For their two electives, students will be able to choose from courses on urban labor markets, poverty, health, housing, education systems, the economic roles of governments, and other topics. To graduate, students will need to complete either a thesis or a capstone project, with the latter presenting some opportunities for community engagement.

Albelda says what sets UMass Boston's program apart from others is that it teaches several approaches to economics, including institutional, feminist, and Keynesian economics, a school of thought based on the ideas of twentieth-century English economist John Maynard Keynes.

“We have a terrific faculty and students will really get a well-rounded economics education that they can use,” Albelda says. “We want to train students to do good work, to take the skills and use it in ways that will make everyone better off."

The deadline to apply for the Fall 2012 semester is February 15. For admission requirements, degree requirements, and a list of faculty members, visit

Tags: applied economics , economics , master's , randy albelda

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