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.


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).


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. Learners will be required to submit a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and those who have earned prior university degrees must also submit official transcripts. Learners will also be required to demonstrate excellent command of the English language.  Finally, selected candidates will be invited to participate in an in-person or video interview. 


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.


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

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


- 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

Summer 2018: starts June 5, 2018
Fall 2018: starts Sept. 25, 2018
Spring 2019: starts Feb. 5, 2019

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