FAQs - M.A. Program in Economics


In this FAQ:

  1. Application Process and Admissions
  2. Admission Requirements
  3. Tuition and Financial Aid
  4. Program and Curriculum

1. Application Process and Admissions

When can I apply?

Application dates are available on the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences website:


What is the deadline?

Application deadlines are available on the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences website:

See “Application Deadlines” at http://gsas.columbia.edu/admissions

Can the application fee be waived?

In general, no.  However, in certain cases, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will consider waiving the fee. 

See “Application Fee Waivers” at https://gsas.columbia.edu/degree-programs/admissions/application-fee-waivers.

Can I take this program part-time?

No. At this time, only full-time students will be accepted to the M.A. program.

Can I apply for entrance in the spring term? Summer term?

Applications for admission to the M.A. program are considered for the Fall term only.

If I’ve already applied for the PhD program in economics, do I need to submit again with new letters of reference to apply to the M.A. program?

New letters of reference are not required, but a new application will be.  Please see these requirements regarding applying to multiple units in the university:

See “Applying to Multiple Programs” at http://gsas.columbia.edu/admissions

If I email you my resume, can you tell me my chances for admissions?

We are unable to review your resume to determine the likelihood of admission. To be considered for admission, you must complete the full application. Please do not email your resume to the department, as it will not be reviewed.

Can I schedule a meeting with faculty or an administrator to talk about the program? 

Due to the high number of applicants and inquiries the department receives, individual meetings with faculty or administrators are not possible. Questions not answered on the department website should be sent to econ-MA@columbia.edu.

Can I find out what an admitted student's average GPA or GRE score is?

The department does not release information about applicants or admitted students, including GPA and GRE scores. As the department receives hundreds of applications, admitted students are generally very qualified. Anyone interested in the program is encouraged to apply. 

How many students do you admit?

The M.A. program anticipates admitting between 50-60 students per year.

I have a three year B.A.  Am I eligible for admissions to the M.A., or do I need an additional year?

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is now accepting applications from students earning three-year bachelor’s degrees in Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, and any country which is a participant in the Bologna Process.  For additional details see the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences website:


Can I submit letters of recommendation from people outside of academia?

Yes. All applicants will be evaluated based on the strength of their overall application, including supporting material. The people writing letters of recommendation should be in a position to evaluate the applicant's potential for studying at the graduate level. 

Does Columbia require that letters of recommendation be written on a form the university provides?

No. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences FAQ provides answers to questions related to submitting supporting materials, including letters of recommendation.  Please refer to their website:


Please do not send letters of recommendation to the Economics Department.

Can letters of recommendation be submitted electronically?

Letters of evaluation may be submitted online. Before starting your online application, check with the professors from whom you are requesting evaluations to see if they would like to use Columbia’s secure online system. The process is simple for them to use, and allows the applicant to track the status of the evaluation using the “Apply Yourself” system. You may submit your online application even if the letters of evaluation have not yet been submitted by your recommender. When the letters are submitted, they will be attached to the rest of your documents.

How do I check if my application is complete?

Applicants may now check the status of their application on the GSAS website. 

See: http://gsas.columbia.edu/faq#tracking

If I am admitted to the M.A. program, may I defer admission for a year?

The Department will consider deferred admissions on a case by case basis.

Suppose that I apply and am not admitted. May I ask you to reconsider me next year? Do I have to repay the application fee?

If you are reapplying for the next academic year you must submit all new application forms, including the application fee. We do not use materials from a prior application.  The one exception is letters of recommendation.  The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences allows reapplicants to reuse letters from an application in the prior year.

See http://gsas.columbia.edu/content/letters-recommendation

I am already admitted to another Master’s program at Columbia.  Can I also apply to this program?

Students in other programs are welcome to apply to the M.A. program in Economics, but will be considered for admissions with all other applicants. 

Can I take two masters programs simultaneously at Columbia?

No.  The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences does not allow a student to pursue more than one GSAS degree (e.g., M.A./M.A.) concurrently.  The Department of Economics does not offer dual degree Master’s program.

See https://gsas.columbia.edu/dual-degree-programs


2. Admission Requirements


What are the requirements for admission?

An undergraduate degree in economics is not required for admission to the M.A. program, but a strong background in undergraduate economics is highly recommended (principles of economics, intermediate microeconomics, and intermediate macroeconomics).  Substantial training in college-level calculus and statistics is also recommended (multivariate calculus, linear algebra, and statistics).  Applicants will be evaluated on the quality and breadth of their undergraduate preparation for the study of economics at the graduate level. 

All international students whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate degree is from an institution in a country whose official language is not English must submit scores of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS.

Students must submit the following materials to be considered for admissions:

·         Resume

·         Transcripts from all institutions attended

·         Three Letters of Recommendation 

·         Statement of Purpose

·         GRE General Exam

·         Scholarly Writing Sample is NOT Required

Additionally, a Skype interview is required as part of the admissions process.

I live in the NYC area or will be visiting the NYC area.  Can I conduct my interview on campus?

No.  To ensure that all applications are considered fairly, all application interviews will be conducted via Skype.

May I substitute some other exam, such as the GMAT or LSAT, for the verbal, quantitative, and analytic sections of the GRE?

You must take those three parts of the GRE. There can be no substitutions or exceptions.  

Do you accept international students?

Yes.  For additional details see the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences website:


What is the language requirement for international students?

Applicants from countries where the native language is not English must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) administered by the Educational Testing Service, or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) examination.

Please note: Applicants who have studied for at least two years at a U.S. institution or at an institution in a country where the official language is English and earned their undergraduate degree at that institution are not required to complete the English proficiency requirement..

If you are in any doubt as to whether your undergraduate degree exempts you from the TOEFL/IELTS, it is always advisable to take the test and submit the results with your supporting materials.

Applicants are strongly urged to make arrangements to take these examinations early in the fall. Scores more than 2 years old are not accepted. Student score reports are not considered official.

The Graduate School requires the following minimum scores: 600 on the TOEFL paper-and-pencil test,100 on the TOEFL internet-based test, or 7.5 on IELTS.

For additional details see the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences website:


May I substitute some other similar test?

No other exam may be substituted for the TOEFL/IELTS.

English is not my native language, but I have already attended a college or graduate program in the U.S. Do I have to take the TOEFL/IELTS exam?

You are only exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS if you attended an English-speaking undergraduate institution in an English-speaking country for at least two years. If you attended an institution in an English-speaking country for a graduate degree, but your undergraduate degree is from a non-English-speaking country or institution, the Department of Economics requires that you take the TOEFL/IELTS. This is a stricter requirement than that of the Graduate School and reflects the fact that successful graduate study in economics depends crucially on your ability to understand, read, write and speak English. Further information is available on the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences website.

For additional details see the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences webpage:


What is the latest date that I can take the GRE and/or TOEFL/IELTS without risking the score not meeting the deadline?

Applicants are strongly encouraged to register early for the GRE and TOEFL/IELTS as incomplete applications can cause a delay in giving full consideration to your application.  The web sites of these testing organizations show test dates and approximate score report mailing dates. The applicant should plan to have the results of their tests available no later than the application deadline.

Should I report my test scores directly to the Graduate School?

Educational Testing Service (ETS), who manage the GRE and TOEFL tests, and IELTS are required to report their official test scores directly to the University. We recommend that you also include a photocopy of your score report, if it is available, at the time you complete your application. Please be reminded however, these scores are not considered official unless they are reported directly to the University by ETS or IELTS.

How much weight will be given to work experience while selecting applicants?

The admissions committee will consider every aspect of the application, from every applicant.  Students will be able to provide details of relevant work, volunteer, or extracurricular experience on the personal statement.

Can I transfer credits from another program or school?



3. Tuition and Financial Aid  


How much does the program cost?

The program consists of three semesters. Students register for a Residence Unit in the first and second semester and an Extended Residence Unit in the third semester. The current rates for tuition per Unit can be found on the following GSAS webpage:


What type of financial aid is offered?

At this time, there are no department-level financial aid packages available for M.A. students.  Student are encouraged to seek outside sources of funding.

­Are there scholarships for international students?

At this time, there are no department-level scholarships for international students.


4. Program and Curriculum


Is the M.A. in economics a STEM program?


How many students will be in your program?

The M.A. program anticipates admitting between 50-60 students per year.

How long does the M.A. take to complete?

The requirements for the M.A. program are completed over the course of three semesters. For the academic year 2016-2017 the M.A. program is designed to be completed in approximately 11 months of full-time study. Students enroll for classes in a fall, spring, and summer semester.

*Note* Beginning in fall 2017 the program will change to a format where the third semester will be offered in the fall of a second year instead of the summer. Students will satisfy the course requirements for the M.A. degree by taking four required classes in the fall, three required classes and one elective in the spring, and two electives in the fall of a second year. 

What are the core requirements?

Please review the core and elective requirements at the program website:


Can students take courses from other Columbia Units or departments?

Yes, if the course is open for registration to students outside of the home unit. Required core and elective courses can not be substituted with courses outside of the Economics MA program.

How can I find out who the instructors are for the program?

Instructors in the program are a mix of full-time Columbia Department of Economics Faculty members, lecturers, and adjunct professors.
Faculty teaching in the current academic year can be found on the Columbia University directory of classes by searching for the department of Economics, selecting the relevant term, and locating the MA level courses labeled ECON GR5000-GR5999. 

If I complete the M.A. program, can I enroll in the PhD program?

Graduates of our MA program are welcome to apply to the PhD program, but will be considered for admissions with all other applicants.  Continuation into the PhD program is not automatic.  Students interested in the PhD are encouraged to apply directly to that program.

Will the department help students with job placements?

Students enrolled in the M.A. program will have access to a wide variety of resources for career counseling and job search, including support from M.A. Program Coordinator, the M.A. Program Director, and the core faculty teaching in the M.A. program.  In addition, students will have access to the resources of the Columbia University Center for Career Education, in particular their career resources for M.A. students.

See: http://www.careereducation.columbia.edu/students/grad/masters