A diverse group of graduate students surround the Champ bobcat statue.

Through coursework and collaborative research with faculty, the Master of Science in Applied Economics Program develops students’ understanding of economic theory tools and quantitative and econometric data analysis applied to a broad range of economic issues. The program culminates with an intensive research thesis addressing an important economic issue.

Why choose the Montana State
M.S. in Applied Economics Program?

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 Master's degree programs. Our program is consistently ranked in the top five in the nation among M.S. 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 satisfactory performance in the program. 

Opportunities for faculty-student research collaboration:

Our faculty have expertise in a wide variety of fields and research methods. Faculty members take an active interest in each of our graduate students, and we strive 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 sectors 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 graduates consistently begin well-paying careers in industry, government or other fields. In the past three years, some of these have included:

  • Data Scientist, Atrium

  • Economist, Montana Department of Labor & Industry

  • Senior Credit Risk Analyst, Discover Financial Services

  • Economic Development Consultant, A2F Consulting

  • Fiscal Analyst, Montana Legislative Branch

  • Economic Analyst, Rhode Island Dept. of Revenue

Others use their master's degree as a springboard to prestigious doctoral programs or other education and professional training opportunities. In the past three years, some of these include:

  • Boston College School of Law

  • Harvard Kennedy School Ph.D. in Public Policy program

  • Harvard Kennedy School Ph.D. in Public Policy program, Economics track

  • University of California-Davis Ph.D. program in Agricultual and Resource Economics

  • University of Oregon, Master of Community and Regional Planning Program

For more examples, view our placement records for the past 10 years.

Application Information

Decision time frame: Application reviews take place at the end of February and decisions go out around March 16, and no later than April 15. If you have any questions about your application, please contact Monica Martinez, [email protected] 


TOEFL School Code: 4488

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 must be received by January 15. Late applications will be considered as space and funding are available. 

What materials are required for application? 

What preparation is necessary for incoming students?

    • Intermediate microeconomic and macroeconomic theory

    • Calculus and matrix algebra

    • Statistics

Program Information

The M.S. program in Applied Economics is an 18-month to two-year program combining two semesters of course work and the preparation and defense of a master’s thesis.


During the first year in the Applied Economics program, 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.


All students in the M.S. in Applied Economics program 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.

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