A group of first-year master's students

Application Information

Decision time frame:  The priority application deadline is January 15. Late applications will be considered for admission only. If you have any questions about your application, please contact our Student Success Coordinator at [email protected].

Regarding Application Fee Waivers: Please know that our university receives many requests for application fee waivers, however, we regret to inform you that MSU is not in a position to provide them. Our suggestion is that you seek a third-party sponsor to pay your application fee and other associated educational costs.

Academic Requirements

In order to be accepted into this program, you must have completed the following required classes:

    • Intermediate Microeconomic and Macroeconomic Theory. Both courses should be calculus based.

    • At least one year of Calculus and a semester of Matrix Algebra or Linear Algebra.  Multivariable calculus is also recommended.
    • One semester of Econometrics or the equivalent

Application Materials

    • Unofficial undergraduate transcripts  (Official transcripts will be requested for formal admission) 

    • Three letters of recommendation

    • The application fee ($70.00).  (Anyone applying for a second program in the same year will be automatically charged half that rate). 

    • Non-native English speakers must also include evidence of English language proficiency    

    • A personal statement is strongly recommended, but is not required.

      • You are not required to be accepted to the research team of an individual faculty member.  However, your personal statement should describe your research interests and how they relate to the research programs of specific faculty members.

Application Deadlines and Dates

The M.S. program in Applied Economics typically has 5-10 funded slots in a given year, with the exact amount varying from year to year.  Applications to be considered for funding are due January 15. 

Initial award and acceptance letters are sent in February.

International applicants must apply by January 15 to have a decision in time for visa processing.

Applications submitted between January 15 and March 15 will be considered for admission only.  The application site will close for the 2024-25 school year on March 15th.
    • July 1: Application opens for Fall admission of the next year.
    • January 15: M.S. Priority application deadline to be considered for funding. International applicants must apply by this deadline.
    • March 15: Application closes.

Funding: Please note that although the program waives 70% of tuition, students are responsible for 30% of tuition fees. Students who work as research and teaching assistants receive additional funding in the form of a monthly stipend.



Please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page for information about the Department of Agricultural Economics & Economics graduate programs.

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

Partially-funded program:

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. For the last two decades, we have offered partial funding to the vast majority of students, contingent on satisfactory performance in the program. Although the stipend amount varies from year-to-year, it is commensurate with the cost of living. 70% of tuition costs are waived.

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

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.

Please Note: ECNS 401 Microeconomic Theory I is now listed as ECNS 503 Microeconomic Theory I.


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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