AAE Welcomes New Students into Professional Master’s Program (MSPO)

The Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics’ Professional Master’s (MSPO) program has continued to grow since its inception five years ago. This Fall 2023 semester, AAE welcomed 15 new MSPO students, up from 12 last Fall. In addition, there are five new Visiting International Student Program (VISP) students, most of whom are enrolled in 3+1+1 programs from partner universities and will enter MSPO after their first year taking core MSPO classes as VISP students. Including second year MSPO students, there are currently a total of 26 students enrolled in the MSPO program.

The M.S. Agricultural and Applied Economics Professional Option (MSPO) program is a full-time professional master’s program designed to meet the growing private sector demand for quantitatively-skilled analysts, economists and managers. MSPO students take core courses in microeconomic theory, econometrics, data science, communication, and professional development, and can choose electives in AAE’s various areas of specialization, including international development, agricultural business, resource and energy demand analysis, environmental economics, and quantitative methods. The program also partners with the National Association of Business Economists (NABE) to offer the Certified Business Economist (CBE) certification, the first partnership of its kind in Wisconsin.

Under the leadership of Department Chair and MSPO Director, Guanming Shi, the MSPO program began in 2018 with partnerships among top universities in China. After enrollment fell during the COVID-19 pandemic, recent efforts have focused on establishing new partnerships in Taiwan, Macau, Singapore, Indonesia and Japan. This academic year, MSPO Associate Director, Jordan van Rijn, and Assistant Professor, Priya Mukherjee, will travel to India to conduct outreach and establish additional 3+1+1 partnerships and other collaborations with high-ranking Indian universities.

In addition, last year AAE established the 4+1 Accelerated MSPO Pathway to make it easier for UW-Madison undergraduates to apply for and complete the MSPO program. 4+1 students are able to transfer 7 credits from their undergraduate studies and complete the MSPO degree in just 12 months (3 semesters) following graduation with their bachelor’s degree. Prospective students should complete an interest form by the end of their junior year. After review, approved students are given permission to enroll in the core MSPO graduate courses, AAE 636: Applied Econometric Analysis and AAE 637: Applied Econometrics II, during their senior year, and as long as they receive a “B” or better and have an overall GPA of at least a 3.0 they will be automatically recommended for admission into the MSPO degree program with a streamlined application process. Among the 2023 – 2024 incoming MSPO class was the first 4+1 Accelerated MSPO Pathway student, and another three AAE undergraduates have already expressed interest in starting the program within the next year.

Although still a relatively new master’s degree program, recent MSPO job placement is very strong, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that economist jobs are expected to grow twice as fast as other industries over the next ten years.[1] MSPO graduates have gone on to work as economists, data scientists, policy advisors, research analysts, consultants and data analysts for a wide variety of companies, including the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), Zoro, BHG Financial, World Vision International, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Scale AI, Acumen, RCF Consulting and KPMG. Moreover, high-achieving MSPO students interested in pursuing further education have received PhD offers from UC Riverside, UC Berkley, the University of Minnesota, Duke University, the University of Georgia, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

For more information about AAE’s MSPO or VISP program—or the 4+1 Accelerated MSPO Pathway—visit the website (https://aae.wisc.edu/grad/mspo/) or contact MSPO Coordinator, Jordan van Rijn (vanrijn@wisc.edu).

[1] Source: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/economists.htm