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Frequently Asked Questions

In this FAQ:

  1. Application Process and Admissions
  2. Admission Requirements
  3. Program and Curriculum

Application Process and Admissions

When can I apply?

How much does the program cost?

The program consists of three semesters. Tuition charges are generated when 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 and other fees and anticipated expenses students will incur can be found on the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Cost of Attendance page.

What is the deadline?

Application deadlines are available on the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Admissions Deadlines page.

How many students do you admit?

The M.A. program anticipates admitting approximately 80 students per year.

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.

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.

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 the application fee be waived?

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

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 accepts 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 as noted on their FAQ page.


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 provides extensive information on submitting supporting materials on their FAQ page.

Please do not send letters of recommendation to the Economics Department as they will not be reviewed with your application.

How are letters of recommendation submitted?

Letters of recommendation should be submitted through the online application system as noted on the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Admissions Supporting Material page.

How do I check if my application is complete?

Application Tracking instructions are found on the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences FAQ page.

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.

If I’ve already applied for the PhD program in Economics, do I need to submit another application 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. Applicants have the option of electing to be reviewed by a second program, when submitting their initial application.

The Decisions and Reapplying section under the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences FAQ page gives more details.

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. Additional information can be found on the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Deferrals page.

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. As noted on their Admissions Supporting Material page, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences allows re-applicants to reuse letters from an application in the prior year.

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, intermediate macroeconomics, and econometrics). 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 may be required as part of the admissions process.

Can I transfer credits from another program or school?


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.

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.

Do you accept international students?

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’ Information for International Students page.

May I substitute some other similar test for the English proficiency requirement?

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 Information for International Students page.


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

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

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.

For more information see the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Admissions Supporting Material page.

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.

Program and Curriculum

What are the program requirements?

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

Students are expected to fulfill all the requirements for the degree over the course of three semesters. Course requirements for the M.A. degree will be satisfied by taking four core classes in the fall, three core classes in spring, one core course in the fall of second year and a total of at least nine credits from elective courses over the course of all three semesters.

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.

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 cannot be substituted with courses outside of the Economics M.A. program.

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

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

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

Yes.  As a STEM-designated program, F-1 visa holders within the M.A. program are eligible to apply for the F-1 STEM OPT Extension.

Can I apply for CPT?


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 their job search, including support from the M.A. Program Coordinator, Assistant Director, Director, and the faculty teaching in the M.A. program.

In addition, students will have access to the resources of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. GSAS Compass is a new initiative in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences that offers a variety of career development services tailored to masters and doctoral students. This includes workshops, special events, and one-on-one career counseling.

1022 International Affairs Building (IAB)
Mail Code 3308  
420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
Ph: (212) 854-3680
Fax: (212) 854-0749
Business Hours:
Mon–Fri, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

1022 International Affairs Building (IAB)

Mail Code 3308

420 West 118th Street

New York, NY 10027

Ph: (212) 854-3680
Fax: (212) 854-0749
Business Hours:
Mon–Fri, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
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