Blended Master's Program in Data, Economics and Development Policy



Today, the international fight against poverty is more data driven than ever before. Increasingly, understanding and producing rigorous evidence is critical for those seeking to affect change globally, but opportunities to acquire these skills remain limited. To meet this rising demand and equip development professionals worldwide with the necessary tools to make effective decisions on some of the world’s most difficult questions, MIT’s Department of Economics is now offering a Master’s program in Data, Economics, and Development Policy, which combines online coursework with a short residential campus stay.

The blended Master’s in Data, Economics, and Development Policy is the first Master’s program to be offered by MIT’s Department of Economics. It is also the first program at MIT to exist exclusively in a blended (online/residential) form. All students must first successfully complete the online MITx MicroMasters® credential at their own pace before applying to MIT for the blended Master’s program. The MicroMasters credential requires learners to pass five rigorous online courses, along with accompanying in-person proctored exams for each course, offered at Pearson Vue testing centers around the world. The semester-long MicroMasters courses are open to learners around the world and offered three times per year.

MicroMasters program sequence

Learners admitted to the blended Master’s program will be credited 48 academic units for the coursework they completed remotely as part of the MicroMasters credential (90 units are necessary for graduation, with the remaining 42 units completed during the residential semester and an approved capstone project) and will be able to earn a Master of Applied Science in Data, Economics, and Development Policy degree within approximately half a year. The first cohort of 20 students is expected to arrive on campus in the academic year 2019 (i.e. the spring semester of 2020).


Applications for admission to the Blended Master's Program in Data, Economics, and Development Policy Spring 2020 cohort are now closed. Applications for the Spring 2021 cohort will open in on December 2, 2019 and be accepted through January 26, 2020. Learners will be required to submit the following:

  • Application fee of $75 USD
    • You may contact us directly should you require your application fee to be waived.
  • Resume/CV
  • Transcripts
    • Transcripts will only be required if you have earned a prior university degree and do not need to be official.
  • Letters of Recommendation (2)
    • These may be from either academic or professional references.
  • Personal Statement*
    • Please explain why you are a good candidate for graduate school. You should describe why you wish to attend graduate school, what you would like to study, and any research experience you have. Describe one or more accomplishments you are particularly proud of that suggest that you will succeed in your chosen area of research.
  • Research Statement*
    • Present a research topic that you would like to pursue during your summer capstone project. Describe the motivation, research question, your methodological approach, and the data you would use to answer the question. Describe how the study will contribute to the field of development economics. Note that you do not need to complete a full research study during your summer capstone project.
    • Please note we have created a brief guide on writing your research statement which can be found here.

*Please note that the personal and research statement should not exceed two pages each. These may be single or double spaced.


Because we consider our MicroMasters courses and proctored exams to be good predictors of students’ ability to succeed in graduate-level classes at MIT, students’ performance in the MicroMasters program will play an important role in admissions. In contrast, learners will not be required to sit other standardized tests such as the GRE or GMAT, nor will they be required to have any prior university-level training besides the successful completion of the MicroMasters in Data, Economics, and Development Policy. For questions on admissions, contact

International Applicants

Applicants whose first language is not English must present evidence of their English ability. Applicants must take either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). The IELTS exam is preferred at MIT. We require a minimum TOEFL Internet-based score of 100 or a minimum IELTS score of 7 for admission. The institute code for the TOEFL exam is 3514.

International non-native speakers of English who have spent four or more years studying in an accredited school or university where English is the language of instruction will be eligible to waive the TOEFL/IELTS requirement. If you fulfill this criteria, you will have the option to request to waive the TOEFL/IELTS test on the online application, under the section 'Test Scores'. TOEFL and IELTS scores are valid for two years. Scores that expire while an application is under review will be considered valid.

You can find additional information for international students directly through MIT's International Students Office website, or reach out to us directly.

Finally, please note if you are admitted to the blended Master's program you would not be eligible for OPT enrollment or a STEM extension.


To earn the Master of Applied Science in Data, Economics and Development Policy, students must first earn the MITx MicroMasters credential. The five online courses which make up the online credential cost between $100-$1000 per course, based on student’s ability to pay. This course fee also includes two attempts at the in-person proctored exams.

Approximate MIT costs for the in-person component of the degree (the spring and summer semester) are available here. Learners who are admitted to the program will be able to apply for financial support through scholarships.

You can also find more information on student finances through the Office of Graduate Education's Website.


The following courses are part of the curriculum of the Master of Applied Science in Data, Economics, and Development Policy:

1) Five online courses completed as part of the MITx MicroMasters in Data, Economics, and Development Policy (completed over flexible time period)

2) Four on-campus courses chosen from the the following concentration areas (spring semester)

  • Microeconomics (e.g. microeconomic theory, behavioral economics, game theory)
  • Development Economics (e.g. political economy of development, advanced development economics)
  • Data Analysis (e.g. econometrics, program evaluation)
  • Elective (to be taken in the department or elsewhere at MIT)

Students will also be required to attend the weekly departmental research seminars in development economics, as well as a weekly lunch seminar exclusive to students in the blended Master’s program, that will focus on the discussion of research topics and policy issues.

Immediately following the residential semester at MIT, learners will complete a summer capstone experience to apply the knowledge gained during the program. The capstone experience consists of an approved internship and a project report, which will be required for graduation in lieu of a Master’s thesis. The internship may involve the student’s current employer, if the student is returning to his or her job, or a placement with one of J-PAL’s many partners.

Please note that more information regarding the blended Master’s program (including information on the application, admissions, tuition, housing, etc.) will be provided as soon as it is available. In the meantime, please email with any questions about the program.

Future Courses Dates

Fall 2019: starts Sept. 3, 2019
Spring 2020: starts Feb. 4, 2020

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