M.S. Economics

The Master of Science in Economics program is designed primarily for students who have the desire and the aptitude to pursue a Ph.D. in Economics or Agricultural Economics, but require additional coursework background before beginning Ph.D.-level studies. These students will be given special consideration for admission to the department's Ph.D. program after completing the first year of the M.S. program.

Students who do not wish to pursue a Ph.D. at Iowa State follow the M.S. Normal Progress Guidelines and complete the M.S. degree requirements in 1.5 to 2 years. M.S. graduates may pursue Ph.D. studies elsewhere or enter the workforce directly. In any case, students develop their understanding of economic theory, sharpen their quantitative skills, and gain the ability to analyze a wide variety of applied problems.

M.S. Degree Coursework

Thesis: The thesis option requires a minimum of 24 credits of formal coursework plus completion of a traditional master's thesis (maximum 6 credits) for a total of 30 credits.

Non-thesis: The non-thesis option requires 30 credits of formal coursework plus completion of a less formal research project called a creative component (2 credits) for a total of 32 credits.

All M.S. students must pass a final oral exam during which they defend their thesis or creative component. Students do not formally declare an area of concentration in the M.S. program. Nevertheless, most students concentrate their study in one or two fields. The most common fields include:

  • Agricultural Marketing
  • Agricultural Policy
  • Human Resources
  • Finance
  • Industrial Organization

Admission Guidelines

Admission to the M.S. Economics program is based on a combination of factors: prior coursework and performance, GRE and TOEFL (international students) results, letters of recommendation, and statement of purpose. Applications are evaluated both individually and in relation to other applicants to the program.


Learn about tuition, fees, housing, and other expenses.