Graduate Degree Options
A major in Economics provides an excellent foundation for many graduate programs. Students can pursue advanced degrees in Economics, however, these require a rather extensive background in mathematics. If you are interested in pursuing economics, but prefer to avoid the rigorous math associated with graduate programs in the field, consider a related program instead. Graduate programs in business, public policy, public administration, law, and industrial relations often allow you to continue your economic interests with fewer mathematical demands.
Types of Graduate Degree Opportunities:
Choosing a Graduate School
You should discuss your objectives with members of the faculty. Different faculty members are familiar with different programs and graduate schools. A broad spectrum of opinion can help you formulate soundly based objectives that are in accordance with your interest.
The Internet places a world of information at your fingertips. Use it. Start with a general reference such as Peterson's Guide to get an idea of what programs are available. Go to university websites to learn more details about the specific programs they offer. What background do they expect of entering students? What does their program require? Does the program specialize in particular fields? What are they? How many years does it take for a typical student to complete a degree? What schools and organizations have hired recent graduates of the program?
Consider Fellowship/Funding Opportunities
Most Ph.D. graduate students qualify for fellowships or assistantships that cover tuition expenses and pay a stipend. Because they carry no extra work requirements, students typically prefer fellowships if available. However, teaching and research assistantships are more common. A new teaching assistant typically begins by grading papers and leading discussion groups for a class taught by a professor. Advanced teaching assistants might teach entire sections of a class by themselves. Research assistants are assigned to help a senior professor with research. Typical duties may involve gathering and processing data and tracking down articles and references. Funding is less common for students pursuing MBA and law degrees, but fellowships and/or assistantships are still often available for particularly strong students.
Aim for the best program to which you can be admitted. Being a graduate of one of the more prestigious programs can open doors and may in itself be an important credential for your future employment. Academic mobility is usually horizontal or downward, not upward. Although ratings of programs are controversial and subject to change, your advisor will be able to direct you to one.
Calendar for Graduate School Applicants
Students considering graduate school should prepare early. The following timetable is a useful guideline:
- Sophomore and junior years:
Discuss your goals with your academic advisor. Start preparing for possible graduate school admission by looking at potential programs and their requirements. Choose your elective courses at Winthrop accordingly.
- Early senior year:
Review your goals and begin serious talks with department faculty. Look at more possible programs and send for more information from schools that interest you. Register for and take the required standardized exams. Applicants for Ph.D. programs must typically take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). MBA applicants will be expected to take the Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT), and law school applicants must take the Law School Aptitude Test (LSAT).
- December, January, February of senior year:
Apply to several schools. It is advisable to apply to a range of schools including at least one program that you believe will definitely admit you.