The Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics offers a Master of Science degree in Applied Economics. This graduate program develops students’ understanding of the tools of economic theory and quantitative and econometric data analysis applied to a broad range of economic problems. These capabilities are developed through coursework and collaborative research with department faculty. The program culminates in an intensive research thesis addressing important economic issues.

Why choose the MS in Applied Economics program at Montana State?

  • Top ranked program with funding available: Our graduate program offers a unique value proposition, the opportunity to undertake advanced coursework in economics and conduct high-level research without committing to a lengthy Ph.D. program or incurring the high cost of some terminal Masters programs. Our program has been consistently ranked in the top five in the nation among Masters programs in agricultural and natural resource economics, and we are committed to funding students through teaching and research assistantships. For the last two decades, we have offered assistantships to the vast majority of students, contingent on their satisfactory performance in the program. 

  • Opportunities for faculty-student collaboration: Our faculty have expertise in a wide variety of fields and research methods. The faculty take an active interest in each of our graduate students and strives to match students to faculty members with common research interests. This one-on-one contact with faculty has led to a significant volume of co-authored published research and is consistently given high praise among our alumni.  
  • Excellent employment prospects and preparation for Ph.D. study: Our program has a strong reputation as a leader in preparing students both for employment in the private and public sector and for continued graduate study. Demand is high for individuals with training in statistical methods and economic analysis. Many employers and faculty seek us out as a source for potential employees and Ph.D. students in these areas. Our full placement record, provided below, shows that our graduates consistently find well-paying jobs and prestigious Ph.D. program placements. 

Application Information


Applications should be submitted online through the Montana State University Graduate School website. To receive full consideration for assistantship awards for the fall semester, applications should be received by January 15. Late applications will be considered as space and funding are available. 

  • What materials are required for application? 
    Applications should include:
    • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, 
    • Official transcripts of all degree coursework, 
    • Three letters of recommendation, 
    • The application fee.
    • Non-native English speakers must also include Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores of at least 550 for the written format (or 80 for the Internet format),
    • A personal statement is strongly recommended, but is not required. 

  • What preparation is necessary for incoming students?
    Success in our graduate program typically requires completion of courses in:
    • Intermediate microeconomic and macroeconomic theory,
    • Calculus and matrix algebra,
    • Statistics. 

Program Information

The MS program in Applied Economics is a one-and-one-half to two year program combining two semesters of course work and the preparation and defense of a master’s thesis.

  • Course work: During the first year in the program, MS in Applied Economics students take a rigorous set of courses in microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory, and econometrics. Students may also take courses in supporting areas such as mathematics and statistics. The small size of the program necessitates a limited course offering, but also provides opportunity for substantial interaction with faculty.
  • Thesis: All MS in Applied Economics students are expected to complete an original research project culminating in a thesis defense in the second year of the program. Students work collaboratively with faculty to form a thesis committee that includes a major advisor. The major advisor provides individualized guidance with respect to courses, the thesis, and any other matters that may concern the student. In consultation with their graduate committee, students select, research, write, and defend a thesis topic to complete a program of study consistent with his or her interests.
  • Financial Assistance: Financial assistance is an integral component of our graduate program. The primary form of financial assistance is a graduate assistantship in the form of a stipend and partial tuition waiver. Graduate assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis with continuance dependent upon satisfactory progress toward degree requirements and performance of assigned duties. Each student on an assistantship is assigned to work for one or two faculty members, assisting with their ongoing research and/or teaching work. Specific duties will vary by faculty member, and from semester to semester. The department’s graduate program chairperson coordinates assignments.