FAQs for Admitted Students

 

When Do Classes Begin?

The general admission letter that you received from the UT Graduate School and GIAC erroneously states that classes begin in June- please disregard this message. The M.A. Economics program begins in July.

  • Wednesday, July 6, 2022 – M.A. Economics New Student Orientation program.
  • Friday, July 8, 2022 – New student registration (official transcripts must be submitted and registration bars must be cleared by this date).
  • Monday, July 11, 2022 – First class day.
  • Thursday, July 14, 2022- Summer semester payment deadline.

Electives and Research Opportunities

Is the MA program a STEM-designated program?

Yes, the MA Economics program is STEM-designated! International program graduates are eligible for an additional 2 years of STEM OPT (Optional Practical Training) beyond the standard 1-year OPT authorization already available. Detailed information about the 3-year STEM OPT designation, and STEM OPT eligibility requirements, is available on UT Austin’s International Student and Scholar Services website.

Can I take elective classes outside of the MA program?

MA students are permitted to take 2 classes (of the 10 required) outside of the MA Economics curriculum to fulfill MA degree requirements. These classes are subject to external program requirements and space constraints, and the ability to enroll is not guaranteed. However, in the past students have beenapproved to take Econ PhD classes, select advanced undergraduate Econ classes, and graduate classes offered in other academic units, such as the Business School, the Computer Science department, the LBJ School of Public Affairs, the College of Engineering, and the Statistics and Data Sciences department. Master’s students who perform well in our master’s-level Micro, Macro, and Econometrics courses are often granted permission enroll in Econ PhD Labor, Macro, Micro, and Econometrics classes, for example. 

What research opportunities are available to MA Economics students?

Though MA Economics students are ineligible for “academic employment” (including TA and GRA/RA positions), our students often conduct research with faculty on a voluntary basis OR for elective course credit that may be applied towards the degree. Students typically perform data collection and/or analysis in support of faculty research in these roles; while they are unpaid, the real value comes from the opportunity to engage in the research process. We’ve also had students work in paid internship positions at UT-affiliated institutions that involve working with researchers to collect and analyze data. 

Though we do not “place” students in such academic research partnerships (and they are not guaranteed), faculty sometimes advertise research opportunities via our student listserv, or through the MA Program Director.

Are internships available to MA students?

Rewarding internship opportunities abound for MA students and we offer an ECO 380D internship elective course that, with an approved internship, may be applied towards degree requirements. MA students obtain internships from a variety of sources, including departmental and campus-based employer recruiting events, University job and internship databases, and student listserv notifications. Additionally, our university Career Services partners work with MA students to prepare them for an internship search.

The CPT (Curricular Practical Training) program enables international students to pursue an internship after completing two long (fall/spring) semesters in residence in exchange for ECO 380D internship elective course credit. International students enrolling for the first time in July will be eligible to complete an internship the following summer, for example.

Students enrolled in the 18 and 24-month tracks typically intern in a full-time capacity in the second summer of enrollment (though it is possible to intern on a part-time basis in order to enroll in our Real Analysis class in the second summer). On occasion, 10-month students will intern on a part-time basis in the spring, their final semester in the program.

Students entering the job market after graduation benefit most from interning while enrolled. Absent research-focused internships that directly contribute to a future research agenda, PhD-bound students are generally better off focusing on PhD program preparation. A comprehensive list of MA student internship placements and information about the internship course registration process is available on our website.

Tuition and Financing My Degree

Does the MA Economics program award scholarships or fellowships?

The MA program awards merit-based tuition reduction assistance to exceptional applicants at the time of admission. All applicants are considered for merit-based tuition reduction awards, and no separate application is necessary. Applicants who receive merit-based tuition reduction awards are notified via the MA program Offer of Admission letter.

The MA admission letter I received did not include a merit-based tuition reduction award. Are any other scholarships or fellowships available?

Admission to the MA program is extremely competitive, and due to limited funding, we are unfortunately unable to offer every applicant a merit-based tuition reduction award. While there are no other UT-Austin fellowships or scholarships available to admitted MA Economics applicants, we encourage all admitted students to review the UT Graduate School’s list of extramural fellowship programs for additional options and eligibility criteria.

Domestic students (U.S. citizens and permanent residents) are strongly encouraged to complete and submit a FASFA (Free Application for Student Federal Aid) through UT’s Office of Financial Aid. Federal financial aid for graduate students is generally limited to low interest loans. A graduate degree is an investment, and students often rely on federal loans to fund all or part of their graduate education.

Pro tip: For FASFA purposes, MA students’ first (summer) semester in the program falls at the end of financial aid’s current academic year. When applying for financial aid, submit two FASFAs: one requesting aid for the summer semester in the current academic year and a second requesting aid during financial aid’s upcoming academic year, which begins in the fall semester.

Though federal financial aid (in the form of U.S. government loans) is not available to international students, private loans (from banks, family, etc.) provide alternative loan funding sources. 

One of the many advantages to enrolling in the MA Economics program is the comparatively inexpensive cost of attendance (relative to our peer programs) and lower cost of living in Austin compared to other top U.S. destinations.

Are campus jobs available to MA Economics students?

MA students are eligible for campus-based non-academic employment positions and we distribute these job notices to our student listserv as we receive them. MA students have previously worked as Student Techs for the LBJ School’s Data Initiatives Project and Child and Family Research Partnership units, for example; these positions involved working with researchers to collect and analyze data. Another of our former students worked for the UT library system on a part-time basis.

In addition to campus job notices distributed via our student listserv, enrolled students may also search for part-time, campus-based non-academic employment positions via the HireUTexas jobs database.

Lastly, our undergraduate academic advising team maintains a list of graduate students who are willing to tutor undergraduates in need of Economics tutoring services; MA students are invited to sign up for the list at the beginning of fall and spring semesters. Tutors set their own pay rates (pay is negotiated between the undergrad student and the graduate student tutor), and both domestic and international students may serve as tutors in such arrangements.

Are TA/RA/GRA positions available to MA Economics students?

MA Economics students are not eligible for “academic employment” positions, including TA and GRA or RA positions. Students often conduct research with faculty for elective course credit and/or on a voluntary basis, however.

Track Length

I selected one program track (10, 18, or 24-month) at the time I applied, but I’m not sure if it’s the right fit for me. Can I switch to another program track if I change my mind?

Yes, it is possible to move to a different program track, whether before or after enrolling in the program. To do so, simply notify the Program Director and Program Administrator of your decision to switch tracks.

Variables to consider in switching tracks:

  • Cost: the longer tracks cost more because the student is enrolled for a longer period of time. In addition to increased tuition costs, international students pay international student service and health insurance fees each semester enrolled; these fees should be factored into cost when considering a longer stay. 
  • Internship opportunities: per U.S. immigration rules, international students must complete two long (fall/spring) semesters in residence at UT before becoming eligible to pursue paid, off-campus internships under the CPT program. Though domestic students are eligible to purse internships immediately upon enrolling, due to the program’s curricular rigor, outside employment is not recommended for students enrolled in the 10-month track (at least, not until the spring, the final semester of the program). 
  • Pace: students enrolled in the 18 and 24-month tracks complete the program at a slower pace, taking fewer classes each semester than do 10-month track students. Completing the degree at a slower pace enables students to spend more time building a stronger profile for the job search or PhD applications, as well as to pursue internships or work part-time while enrolled. 
  • Your plans after graduation: consider your post-graduation plans, whether you’re entering the job market or applying to PhD programs (which typically begin in August). 
  • May Commencement Ceremony: commencement ceremonies take place once a year in May (UT-Austin and the Department of Economics do not hold a commencement ceremony in August or December). If you graduate in thefall/December, you will be eligible to participate in the subsequent May commencement ceremony.
I received a merit-based tuition reduction award when I was admitted to the program. If I switch tracks, does the tuition reduction award still apply?

Yes! Students who received a merit-based tuition reduction award at the time of admission will retain that award when switching tracks. Though students will incur additional costs by prolonging enrollment if switching from a shorter to a longer program track, we will apply the same reduced tuition formula to the new program track.

What is the latest date I can decide to switch tracks (how soon do I need to notify the Program Director and Program Administrator to initiate the process)?

So that we can properly advise you and ensure that your tuition bill is correct, please notify us of your intent to switch tracks before the start of your final semester in the program.

PhD and Career Advising Services

Does the MA Program feed into the UT Economics PhD program?

The MA Economics program is a terminal degree program- it is a stand-alone program that does not feed into our PhD program. MA program graduates interested in pursuing a PhD at UT Austin must apply to the PhD program anew. While admission to UT’s Economics PhD program is extremely competitive, several MA Economics program graduates have been admitted and enrolled over the years. Roughly 15-20 of our students apply to PhD programs annually; UT’s Econ PhD program usually accepts two to four of our master’s applicants each year (the size of the average entering PhD cohort is 10-20 students). 

Does the MA Program offer PhD program placement services?

A distinguishing feature of our program is the support we offer students in preparing them to pursue a PhD. In addition to the individualized advising provided by our program director, our Director of PhD Placement Services also provides specialized advising services. The PhD Placement Director hosts group workshops and meets with students individually to provide application feedback, help student refine research interests, and identify PhD programs that are a good fit (where applicants will be most competitive, where there is strength in each applicant’s field, etc.). She even maintains an on-demand advising video library!

Many MA courses are taught by research-active faculty who also teach in our PhD program. And in addition to coursework, we encourage students to attend weekly departmental seminars in which faculty, PhD students, and guest lecturers present their research (4-5 such seminars are offered weekly). Engaging with our community of scholars is a great way to learn about other economists’ research and reflect on how you might contribute to the literature. This exposure will also provide you with a strong reference point when applying to top tier PhD programs, particularly as many PhD admissions committees will be just as concerned with preparatory coursework as with research experience.

Does the MA Program offer job placement services?

While roughly 1/3 of our graduates pursue a PhD upon completing the MA degree, most students enter the job market after graduation. Our curriculum was designed to provide both career-bound and PhD-bound students with a broad-based foundation for achieving their academic and professional goals. 

The MA program works closely with the Liberal Arts Career Services (LACS) and Texas Career Engagement (TCE) offices to provide MA students with a wide variety of career services programming. Both offices offer career coaching and resume consulting and specialized career and internship services, including job and internship databases, for MA students. 

Specifically, at the start of the academic year, LACS provides several department-based workshops that are tailored to MA Economics students. LACS and TCE programming then continues throughout the year with workshops, career fairs, employer information sessions, and employer networking opportunities geared towards quantitatively-inclined students. The MA program recently partnered with TCE to produce UT’s first annual “Quant Night” employer networking event for quant-focused graduate students, for example.

We also host alumni panels, guest speakers, and employer recruiting events here in the Economics department, and we receive quite a few Econ-specific job and internship postings that we distribute to MA students. We’re frequently contacted by employers interested in recruiting MA students, and so each year we produce a resume book showcasing MA student skills, talents, and experience.

Many MA students have been hired as a result of participating in career services recruiting events and networking, both at the campus and departmental levels. The Placement page on our website offers a snapshot of the careers our alumni undertake upon completing the program.