Earn both an MA and a PhD in economics

If your goal is to earn a Ph.D. in Economics and you do not already hold a master’s of economics degree, we’ve designed this track for you!  The Masters of Arts in Applied Economics Doctoral Track provides a flexible pathway to the doctoral program. Through the MA Doctoral Track, you’ll be co-admitted to both the Master’s of Arts in Applied Economics and PhD in Economics degree programs. This allows the master’s degree to be conferred en route to the doctorate in economics and reduces the time to completion for both programs: select courses can be counted towards both the master’s and doctoral degree requirements.

A focus on policy research


Graduates of the PhD in Economics program work in a broad range of fields including forecasting, policy analysis and evaluation, risk analysis, and economic analysis.  These fields are in high demand by a wide variety of organizations including research institutes, medical centers, financial institutions,  governmental agencies, and academic departments that focus on public policy and applied microeconomics.

Our innovative program provides our students with the advanced theoretical, quantitative, and statistical skills that are required to perform and interpret economic analyses in a wide range of policy-oriented areas including education, environmental, health, labor, public economics, and technology and innovation.

General Program of Study

Credit Hours # of Courses
Master’s Core Knowledge 18 hours 5
MA Doctoral-Track Electives* 12 hours 4
Doctoral Advanced Theory 6 hours 2
Empirical Field Courses 9 hours 3
Independent Field Research 12 hours 2
Dissertation Research 12 hours 2

*Electives may count towards both the MA in Applied Economics and Ph.D. in Economics program requirements.

Full-time & Part-time Program Options

MA Doctoral-Track courses are only available during the day and on-campus; we do not offer evening or online doctoral courses. Full-time and part-time options are available for completing the combined MA in Applied Economics and PhD in Economics program (MA Doctoral-Track). For those who wish to pursue the program full-time, this program can be completed in as little as four years. For those who would rather pursue the program part-time, we’ll sit down and work out your plan of study to fit your needs. The time to complete both degrees part-time will depend on the specifics of that plan, but commonly results in completion in five or six years.

Program Features

  • Be admitted to the doctoral program directly after completing your bachelor’s degree
  • Up to 12 hours of graduate coursework can count toward both degrees
  • The MA in Applied Economics will be awarded en route to the Ph.D. (in your second year)
  • Emphasis on career preparedness and dedicated resources for Bryan School graduate students
  • Strong mentorship and collaborative environment
  • Select a Ph.D. focus on Public, labor, health, environmental economics, economics of technology and entrepreneurship, macroeconomics

Admission Requirements

Admission to the MA Doctoral Track (combined MA in Applied Economics and Ph.D. in Economics) program requires the submission of a completed application including Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test scores and an undergraduate degree with the following coursework:

  • Intermediate Microeconomics,
  • Intermediate Macroeconomics,
  • Mathematical Economics (or equivalent coursework in mathematics and statistics), and
  • Economics and Business Statistics II (or equivalent coursework in mathematics and statistics)

Students interested in earning a Ph.D. in economics who already hold a master’s degree in economics and who meet most admission requirements to the Ph.D. in Economics may apply for direct admission to the doctoral program.

Total Program Costs (both degrees)

Tuition Fees Total
In-State*  $19,600 $9,200 $28,700
Out-of-State $71,000 $9,200 $80,200

Estimated program costs are based on completing 69 credit hours to earn both the MA in Applied Economics and Ph.D. in Economics. Costs exclude student health insurance and are calculated by 2019-2020 UNC Greensboro rates. For detailed information on all current tuition and fees, please visit the Cashiers & Student Accounts website.

The Department typically provides tuition waivers to qualified doctoral applicants along with a modest stipend, fellowship, or scholarship to reimburse student fees and the majority of cost of living expenses.

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Application Deadlines

February 1st – Priority deadline: Complete applications submitted by this date are given first priority for admission and for financial support through fellowships, scholarships, and assistantships.
May 15th – Standard deadline: Complete applications submitted by this date will be considered for admission and for financial support after applications that were submitted by February 15 have been evaluated.

Student experience

Close Collaboration with Faculty

Our MA Doctoral-Track students work under the guidance of faculty who conduct nationally and internationally recognized research that promotes economic understanding, policy improvements, and economic development. Whether it is classroom interactions or one-on-one discussions, you’ll find our faculty always have time to support you as you make your way through the PhD program.

Classes at the master’s and doctoral level are small, and students benefit from direct and frequent interactions with faculty.  Students begin working in applied research early in their programs and are encouraged to work with faculty to identify policy problems they want to investigate through their dissertations.  They frequently work with faculty on grant-funded research, and co-author papers with faculty for presentation at regional and national professional meetings.

Students Who Work (and Play) Together

Because our PhD program is small, you’ll also find that it’s easy to get to know your fellow students. PhD work can be a daunting process, but it’s made easier and more rewarding when students work together. We strongly encourage our students to work together, to help each other out, and share in their successes. Whether it is work in the classroom, as a graduate assistant, or on a dissertation, you’ll find our students accessible and willing to pitch in to help. That help sometimes extends beyond the formal boundaries of the program; sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is to help them relax!

Opportunities to Share Your Work

Part of being an economist is sharing one’s work, getting feedback, and, yes, sometimes engaging in discussions over contentious issues. As a result, we strongly encourage our PhD students to share their work at all stages of the research process. This can take place informally through one-on-one conversations with faculty or fellow students, casual group conversations at the end of the day, or even by exchanging written work and asking for feedback. But formal interactions are also an important part of the world of the economists, so the Department also strongly encourages PhD students to participate in our informal Brown Bag Presentations intended for work still in the early stages and in our more formal Seminar Series where more complete, polished work can be shared.

Current graduate students may access program-specific resources

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