Technological and behavioral changes have caused enormous amounts of data to be made available in nearly all sectors of the economy; generating useful insights from this information requires skills in economic reasoning, data management, empirical analysis, and technical communication.
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 and managers. Students will be well prepared to enter the professional workforce in both the US and abroad in data-intensive and quantitatively focused jobs in economic consulting, businesses, agribusinesses, non-profit organizations focused on development, and governmental sectors. The MSPO is a STEM-designated program which allows graduates to apply for the Occupational Practical Training (OPT) STEM extension to work in the U.S. an additional 24 months following graduation (3 years total).
The program typically takes 2 years to complete but can be completed in as little as 15 months. Students that have full-time jobs or other responsibilities are also able to complete the degree on a flexible part-time basis, taking 1-2 classes per semester for up to five years.
Students that graduate with a bachelor’s degree from UW-Madison can transfer up to seven credits of approved electives towards the MSPO degree (e.g., 300+ level classes from AAE, Economics, Statistics or related departments). Motivated undergraduate students pursuing the AAE or ABM major also have the option of applying for the 4+1 Accelerated MSPO Program which provides AAE undergrads the option of completing a bachelor’s and master’s degree in just five years. Students that wish to pursue the 4+1 Accelerated MSPO option should complete AAE 636: Applied Econometric Analysis and AAE 637: Applied Econometrics II with a grade of “B” or better by the end of their senior year. For more information about this accelerated path and approved electives, contact the MSPO Coordinator, Jordan van Rijn, at email@example.com.
AAE MSPO also partners with the National Association of Business Economists, and the program allows students to become a Certified Business Economist (CBE).
The curriculum features three semesters and one summer term of core offerings in econometrics, economic theory, and professional development, along with a capstone practicum class leading to a professional report that functions as a thesis.
While the program focuses on key themes of data analysis, applied economic intuition, and professional development, it also allows students to pursue individual interests in our major fields of specialty, including International Development, Agricultural Business and Finance, Quantitative Methods, and Resource, Energy and Environmental Economics.
- AAE 635 Applied Microeconomic Theory (3 credits)
- AAE 636 Applied Econometric Analysis (3 credits)
- AAE 637 Applied Econometric Analysis II (4 credits)
- AAE 706 Applied Risk Analysis (3 credits) OR AAE 719: Applied Business Economics (3 credits)
- AAE 720 Seminar in Quantitative and Applied Economics (1 credit)
- AAE 721 Writing and Speaking for Applied Economists (1 credit)
- AAE 722 Machine Learning in Applied Economic Analysis (4 credits)
- AAE 723 Professional Development for Applied Economists (1 credit)
- AAE 724 Practicum for Applied Economists (4 credits)
- Elective course work (6+ credits)
Students can choose to organize their electives and practicum project around the following Career Tracks:
- Resource, Energy & Environmental Economics
- International Development
- Agricultural Business & Finance
- Quantitative Methods
See sample courses for details about AAE course offerings.
All applicants must provide:
- Official transcripts from an accredited U.S. institution or a comparable international institution
- Bachelor’s degree from an accredited U.S. institution or an international degree comparable to a regionally accredited U.S. bachelor’s degree
- TOEFL, IELTS scores, if applicable
- Statement of purpose essay/reasons for graduate study
- GRE scores (must be from within the previous 5 years)
- Two letters of recommendation
More information on Graduate Admissions
Visiting International Students Program
Career Outlook & Salary Expectations for Economists
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of economists is projected to grow 14% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations (4%). Moreover, the median economist in the U.S. earns $108,350 per year. Economists use data and statistical techniques to conduct research and analysis in a variety of fields, including education, health, development, agriculture and the environment. Typical jobs for graduates with a degree in economics include Economist, Data Scientist, Quantitative Analyst, Credit Analyst, Economic Consultant, Lecturer of Economics, Financial Analyst and Data Analyst. The biggest employers of economists are the federal government (23%); scientific, research and development services (18%); management, scientific and technical consulting services (17%); state government (9%); and finance and insurance companies (7%).
In the corporate sector, the National Association of Business Economists (NABE) reports that in 2020 the median base salary for business economists was $153,000 plus $50,000 in additional compensation. Moreover, economists with a master’s degree typically made $160,000 in base salary versus just $120,500 for economists with only a bachelor’s degree. Economists that graduated with a degree from one of fifteen “top-ranked schools” (including the University of Wisconsin-Madison) earned $175,000 in base salary at the median versus $149,500 from other universities. Finally, economists with NABE’s Certified Business Economist (CBE) designation earned $177,000 versus $153,5000 for business economists without such certification.
Cost of Study
The program costs $1,500 per credit. (More information on the full cost of study at the University of Wisconsin is available here.) Scholarships are available for eligible students, funds permitting. Currently, scholarships are available for Wisconsin residents, Peace Corps returnees and working professionals in relevant fields.
Wisconsin & Minnesota In-State Scholarships:
Criteria: Wisconsin and Minnesota residents with a four-year Bachelor’s degree and a GPA of 3.4 or better from an accredited institution of higher education.
Amount of scholarship: Tuition scholarship at the rate of $500 per credit compensation for Wisconsin residents and $400 per credit for Minnesota residents (up to $15,000 during the entire degree time).
Peace Corps Returnee Scholarship:
Criteria: Former Peace Corps volunteers that have completed a four-year Bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 3.4 or better from an accredited institution of higher education.
Amount of scholarship: Tuition scholarship at the rate of $500 per credit compensation up to $15,000 during the entire degree time.
Criteria: U.S. citizens or legal residents that are currently working professionals in a relevant field (e.g., economics, agribusiness, data analysis, finance, etc.). Eligible applicants must have completed a four-year Bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 3.4 or better from an accredited institution of higher education.
Amount of scholarship: Tuition scholarship at the rate of $500 per credit compensation up to $15,000 during the entire degree time. (Students may also be eligible for additional financial support from their employer, such as tuition reimbursement. Please check with your employer regarding this possibility).
For questions regarding the MSPO program, contact Jordan van Rijn, PhD at firstname.lastname@example.org.