The Graduate Program in Economic Development (GPED) is a professionally oriented Master’s program in economics preparing students for both domestic and international careers in economic development. The GPED is intended primarily for students seeking a terminal Master’s degree in economics with an interest in international development. The program also provides solid training in economic theory for students who plan to pursue PhD study in Economics or a related field. The MA degree in economics is conferred upon completion of all requirements.
For more information, please visit: http://as.vanderbilt.edu/gped/about/program-overview.php
How much is the application fee?
There is no fee to apply to the GPED.
(Please note: the Graduate School application fee is $95, but it does not apply to the GPED applications.)
The application deadline is February 15. Students can start the GPED in the Fall semester only. For Fall 2019 admission, applications may be submitted between September 1, 2018 and February 15, 2019. Applications must be submitted and all required application materials must be received by February 15, 2019; incomplete applications will not be reviewed.
After an admissions committee reviews all applications, the Graduate School communicates admission decisions by the end of March (via the online application portal).
Admitted applicants must accept or decline admission offers by April 15, via the online application portal of the Graduate School. Please only accept Vanderbilt’s admission offer if you intend to pursue your studies in the GPED; along the same lines, please decline your admission offer if you intend to pursue your studies at another institution.
We are not able to extend the deadline beyond April 15. We are on a fixed timeline to move forward with any second-round offers we might be able to extend as well as offer admission to students on our wait list.
At this time, Vanderbilt Graduate School programs do not require a deposit for accepting an admission offer. However, we do ask that you only accept the offer if you do really intend to enroll in our program, since we have other students on the wait list.
The GPED allows admitted students to defer their admission for one year to the following Fall semester. After a period of one year, applicants need to reapply. If you wish to defer your admission, please send an email to email@example.com. Please note that only the admission offer is deferred; no financial awards carry over.
Two semesters of calculus (including multivariate) are required for admission to the program. Though not required, we recommend that incoming students have previous coursework in linear algebra and real analysis. For those interested in pursuing a PhD, we additionally recommend calculus 3 and differential equations. You will have the option to take advanced math courses at Vanderbilt as GPED electives.
Also note that the GPED offers a 5-day Math Workshop to the incoming class in early August to help students brush up on their math skills. The focus of the workshop are those topics identified by instructors of the four core courses new students take in their first year. There is no cost for the workshop, and attendance is not required.
The admission committee prefers a one-page statement that clearly explains why you are interested in economics, what you plan to do with your degree, and why you want to come to our Master's program at Vanderbilt.
What is an acceptable GRE score?
There is no fixed requirement for GRE scores. Students who apply to the GPED usually score between 153 and 170 on the Quantitative section.
What is an acceptable TOEFL/IELTS score?
The minimum score is 88 on the Internet-based TOEFL (iBT) or 7.0 on the IELTS.
Can the TOEFL/IELTS score requirement be waived?
The TOEFL/IELTS requirement can be waived for international applicants who have earned a degree from an English-speaking institution. To request a waiver, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org that includes your name, date of birth, application reference number and the following degree details: the date you received the degree, and the name and location of the institution where you completed your degree.
What are the minimum academic/professional requirements?
The program accepts students from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds. There is no minimum requirement for work history, and a lack of professional experience will not weaken your application. Applicants must have, at a minimum, the equivalent of a U.S. Bachelor’s degree. While we do not require a major in economics, applicants should have a B average in undergraduate coursework, a solid math background, and a basic understanding of macro and micro economics. The admissions committee will review your application holistically, including your grades, test scores, statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation.
Please contact the GPED office at email@example.com, and we are happy to arrange a time that you can meet with the GPED director and, depending on the time of year of your visit, possibly meet with current students and attend a class. You may also wish to schedule a campus tour: https://admissions.vanderbilt.edu/visit/daily.php
If you cannot make it to Nashville, we would be happy to arrange a time to talk with you via Skype to answer any questions you may have about the program. And take this virtual walking tour of campus from anywhere in the world!
Is this degree STEM-designated?
Yes, the program leads to a STEM-designated MA in Economics degree.
What is the duration of the program?
The 30-credit program is designed to be completed in 21 months (four semesters – fall/spring/fall/spring). The program starts in August and most students graduate in May 21 months later.
However, it is possible to complete the program over three semesters (fall/spring/fall) and—though very uncommon—several students have done this. It would typically require students to take 1-2 summer courses outside of the economics discipline (since no graduate economics course are offered in the summer) plus more than a fulltime load in the final semester. In some years, we offer a research course with an international field component during the intensive 4-week Maymester, and when offered, this is an additional way to complete extra credit hours.
Other students wish to take the full two years to concentrate on PhD applications or the job search, when the main recruitment season is in the fall. It varies by student. Students meet with the GPED director each semester to go over their course selections and advising based on their individual career goals.
The GPED plans a series of welcome events for students upon arrival. We’ve allotted a few days for students to settle in; during this time students typically take care of logistical issues related to housing, utilities, finances, shopping, and so on. As a part of GPED’s welcome events programming, we offer an optional (but highly recommended) math workshop within the first week. There are also required Graduate School orientation and ISSS orientation sessions in addition to GPED’s specific orientation, which wraps up orientation programming before classes begin. During this time, students will be connected with international student advisors as well as a faculty advisor who will be available for student advising throughout the program. For more information, please visit our Student Orientation page.
You can find information about our curriculum here. During the first semester of the program, all incoming students take the same three core courses: ECON 6100: Microeconomic Theory, EOCN 6200: Macroeconomic Theory, and ECON 6500: Statistical Analysis. All students are required to take four core courses, a research course, two field courses, and the remainder are electives. For information about our flexible elective policy, see What types of electives are possible?
When you start the program, you will create a student degree plan that will help you map the courses you want to take and ensure you fulfill all degree requirements. Each semester, you will meet with the program director, who will serve as your academic advisor and will advise you on course selection based on your interests and career goals.
To learn more about graduate programs and courses, please review the Vanderbilt Graduate Catalog here. Note that not all courses are offered each semester.
Students take 9 credit hours of electives, and up to 6 hours may be taken outside of Economics or Financial Economics. This flexibility enables students to take classes in other areas of interest, for example in the Peabody College (education and human development), Owen Graduate School of Management, Biostatistics, and the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health—just to name a few. Because of our flexibility with electives, some of our students also opt to complete a graduate certificate from another area, within the regular 30-hour requirement. For example, previous students have completed the graduate certificate in Global Health and in African American and Diaspora Studies.
For more information on the types of classes you make take as an elective, refer to the GPED curriculum.
Our program requires 30 credit hours. The M.A. in Economics degree requires 12 hours of core courses, 3 hours of research (individual research project), 6 hours of field courses, and 9 hours of elective courses. Most graduate courses at Vanderbilt are 3 credits each and are semester-based. Our students typically take hours as follows:
- Fall I—9 hours (3 core courses are required: macro, micro, statistics)
- Spring I—9 hours (1 core course required: econometrics)
- Fall II—6 hours (students typically take research seminar this semester, which gives fulltime enrollment status)
- Spring II—6 hours
Some of our students take classes in the Owen Graduate School of Management, and most of their classes are 2 credit hours (they are module-based, with 2 modules per semester). For an overview of the curriculum, click here.
GPED provides a great audit option—all for just $10! Audited classes will not count towards degree requirements, but they provide a great opportunity to take a class out of pure interest. To enroll in a class as an auditor only requires the permission of the professor and the completion of a short form.
We do not offer minors at the graduate level of study. However, the GPED curriculum is flexible and if you plan your electives carefully, it is possible to earn a graduate certificate in another area within the regular 30-hour requirement of the GPED. See also: What types of electives are possible?
The GPED does not have a thesis requirement, but our mandatory research component does require a substantive research project.
How much does the program cost?
Tuition in the Vanderbilt Graduate School is charged by the credit hour, and the GPED requires 30 credit hours to complete the MA degree. You can find the current tuition and fees for the Graduate School listed here: https://gradschool.vanderbilt.edu/funding/fees.php
You may also refer to the International Student Financial Statement:
In the Expenses section, select the program Graduate School and degree Master’s. This information provides an accurate breakdown of what you can expect your expenses to be in the first year – regardless if you are a US citizen or an international student. The tuition figure assumes 18 hours for the first year (of a 30-hour program).
Is financial aid available?
There is very limited aid—in the form of a few partial tuition scholarships—for Master’s students. Most financial aid goes to students in PhD programs. International students should look for the financial aid information on International Student & Scholar Services website. U.S. students should check with the Office of Financial Aid.
The university does not offer assistantships to Master’s students in economics. Only PhD students receive assistantships. The university provides limited financial assistance for Master’s students, and this assistance is only for tuition support. See also: Is financial aid available?
Most of our students find campus jobs. Students may look for on-campus job postings in the Vanderbilt’s online job bank, HireADore. Several of our GPED students have worked in one of the libraries on campus. We have a limited number of graduate student positions to work within our GPED office (helping with general office operations, alumni outreach, social media, and so on) – but just a few and we reserve these for second-year students. We also offer tutoring positions to second-year students to tutor the core first-year classes (macro, micro, statistics, econometrics). A student who has demonstrated excellence during the first year and is able to explain concepts well will be hired to hold the one-week math workshop in early August for incoming first-year students. We generally do not have any teaching or research assistant positions within our GPED MA program (only at the PhD level in the Economics department). Occasionally, when the Economics department is short on PhD teaching assistants, they may hire a few GPED students for lower level Economics classes.
GPED students, who are highly sought after due to their excellence in math and research skills, have been successful at finding positions as graduate research assistants. Past GPED students have worked as graduate research assistants at the Owen Graduate School of Management, Energy Balance Core Laboratory, and Center for Latin American Studies – to name just a few. Most students find RA positions after they have completed 1-2 semesters and have established graduate academic credentials. Students search out these opportunities on their own.
You can refer to the Student Employment website for further information.
Are internships or similar opportunities available?
The GPED does not guarantee placement for students interested in internships; however, our program receives internship and job opportunities from time to time (from alumni or other organizations) and we forward these to our students. We also organize various info sessions and workshops with the Graduate School Career Development Office, tailored toward GPED students.
Some of our students are also quite active in the Turner Family Center for Social Ventures, part of the Owen Graduate School of Management. Since the TFC’s inception, GPED students have been part of the board, have been selected to participate in Project Pyramid, and three of our students have been selected as TFC Summer Fellows.
Vanderbilt University does not offer on-campus housing for graduate and professional students. Off-campus housing options vary based on the size and location. GPED students usually live within a one-mile range of campus, at least for their first year. Places closer to campus generally cost more due to limited availability and high demand. Most GPED students share a place with one or more roommates, either from the GPED or other graduate programs at Vanderbilt. The GPED provides a housing guide to incoming students to aid them in their search.
Note also: All Graduate School students can ride to and from the Vanderbilt campus free of charge on Nashville’s Metropolitan Transit Authority buses. To utilize this service, a valid student ID card is required for boarding the bus.
Most of our students are international. Internationalism is the historical emphasis of our program, though we have seen an increase in domestic students as well. In recent years, we’ve had the following countries represented: Afghanistan, China, Haiti, India, Korea, Kosovo, Lithuania, Nepal, Pakistan, Turkey, and the United States. We usually have at least 10 countries represented. Since we have applicants coming from regions across the world, many of our students share the experience of being in a new country and a new environment, strengthening the support and empathy between them and creating a home away from home. Overall, our students comprise an interesting mix of ethnicity, religion, region, and personality. The GPED alumni base is over 1700 students from 136 countries, so we have quite a history—and our graduates are doing great things all over the world!
The environment in the program is very welcoming and inclusive, and alumni and students alike fondly refer to the group as the GPED family. Students are very helpful and supportive to each other.
See also: What types of applicants apply to the GPED?
Our age ranges vary year to year. Currently, many students in our program come directly from undergraduate studies, but we do have other students—often government officials and students with other work experience—who are older.
We typically have a few students each year in our program who are government officials in their country and have been selected to pursue the master’s degree; some of our students have been working in the development sectors; and others are coming directly from undergraduate studies. It’s a different mix each year.
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Our cohorts vary each year, with each cohort usually between 25-30 students.
The GPED began in the 1950s as a program to train government officials from developing countries in economic analysis. The program changed its emphasis over time although the name of the program remains as it was in the 1950s. We have students who fall into three groups.
The first group is comprised of international students, often funded by their government (Korea and Turkey, for example) or the US government (Fulbright or USAID assistance). These students return home after graduation and work in government or the private sector, whatever is required to fulfill the requirements of their contracts.
The second group is comprised of international and domestic students who want to pursue a PhD in economics or finance but need more preparation before they apply for these programs. These students take courses in mathematics and, if they are really excellent students, may get permission to take one or two PhD courses.
The third group is comprised of students who want to work after completion of the program. They earn a Master's degree in economics, not in economic development. Some of these students do want to work in the development area; we placed them at the World Bank, international consulting firms in the US or abroad, or at NGOs. Some of these students are interested in more technical areas, such as finance, data science, and project evaluation. They take a variety of courses after the core. Some take 4-6 hours of coursework at the Owen Graduate School of Management; some students focus on education or health and take courses in public health (Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health) or education (Peabody College of Education and Human Development); some students take math and computing courses plus some programming courses at Owen. They get jobs in insurance, business consulting, finance, or state/local government, for example.
There is not one model for this degree. Our program is very flexible. Students can choose the direction they want to go, and we help them select courses that will move them in this direction after graduation.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Current Student Contact Request” and we’ll be happy to connect you with a current student. We are fortunate to have a very close-knit, friendly, and supportive group of students who are eager to speak to incoming students about their experience at Vanderbilt and in the GPED. You will get the best feel for our program and whether it’s a good fit for you by talking with them!
Can you provide details about placements (PhD programs and jobs)?
Here you can find information about placements from recent years: GPED Placement (Oct 2017)
Selection in PhD programs is very competitive, so you have to have a very strong application and strong academic credentials. Each year, on average 4-6 GPED students apply to PhD programs and we have a very successful placement rate. Occasionally, one of our GPED graduates will be accepted into the PhD Economics program at Vanderbilt. In the past, students have received fully funded offers from universities across the United States and around the world. You can find an overview of programs to which students have been admitted here.
Students who wish to enroll in a PhD program post-GPED have the opportunity in their second year to take one or more PhD Economics classes in the Economics Department at Vanderbilt. To do so, they must excel in their first-year courses and obtain the permission of the GPED director, the PhD class instructor, and the director of graduate studies for the Economics Department. Any PhD course work you complete while in the master’s program will not count toward your PhD course work; it is to demonstrate that you have the ability to succeed in PhD course work and it greatly improves your PhD applications (if you receive good grades in the PhD course).
Lastly, you have the opportunity to take additional math classes at Vanderbilt as needed, as electives (for example: linear algebra, real analysis, calculus III, differential equations).
Graduate students may utilize the services of the Graduate School Career Development Office, and the GPED works with this office to organize special workshops geared to GPED students – for example, writing resumes and cover letters, networking, and applying to PhD programs. We also receive information about internships and jobs from both alumni and directly from organizations, and we pass these along to our students. The GPED has an extensive alumni base of over 1700 graduates, and many of our alumni serve as mentors to our students.
Yes, our MA in Economics program is STEM-designated, meaning that it is eligible for the 24-month STEM OPT extension – up to a total of 36 months of OPT, provided certain employment conditions have been met. Vanderbilt’s International Student and Scholar Services office advises students on issues related to OPT and the STEM extension.