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 (DEDP), which combines online coursework with a short residential campus stay.

The 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 Master’s program. The MicroMasters credential requires learners to pass five rigorous online courses, along with accompanying proctored exams for each course. The semester-long MicroMasters courses are open to learners around the world.

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Learners admitted to the 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 22 students graduated from the program in 2020.


Applications for the Spring 2022 cohort will open on December 2, 2020 and close on January 24, 2021.

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 and should be double spaced using 12pt font.


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 through MIT's International Students Office website, or reach out to us directly.

Finally, please note if you are admitted to the DEDP 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.

Approximate MIT costs for the in-person component of the degree (the spring and summer semester) are available below for the 2021 academic year. Please note that these costs are subject to change. To find the most up-to-date tuition costs by semester, please visit the Registrar’s Office website.

Learners who are admitted to the program will be eligible to apply for financial support through scholarships. Please see the funding opportunities page on the master's program website for more information.

Costs & Fees for Spring/Summer 2021

  • Spring 2021 Semester Tuition: $26,725
  • Summer 2021 Semester Tuition (Internship): $580
  • Student Life Fee: $184 (not collected for 2020-21 academic year)
  • Health insurance: $2,000
  • Estimated living Expenses: $20,000

Please note living expenses will vary during the summer semester based on internship placement. The above estimates are based on the MIT cost of living during the entire internship placement. Living expenses and health insurance costs will also vary if you are planning to attend the program with dependents/spouse.

The MIT Graduate Admissions website provides information on the cost of living. This will give a rough estimate of the cost of living for a student and will be helpful to look over if you are bringing a partner or dependents. You can also view the MIT Medical website to give you an idea of costs for student and partner health insurance.


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)

In addition to the courses above, students will attend a weekly lunch seminar exclusive to students in the DEDP Master's program. Students will also have the option to attend weekly departmental research seminars in development economics. The seminars 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.

Funding Opportunities

Learners who are admitted to the program will be eligible to apply for financial support through scholarships. The Student Financial Services website can also provide additional resources on funding your Master’s degree. We recommend exploring the fellowship and scholarship databases available through the Office of Graduate Education website.

Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program

The DEDP Master's program has been added to the list of preferred degree programs for the Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program. Scholarship benefits for recipients include the cost of tuition and medical insurance, a monthly stipend for living expenses, and round-trip airfare between their home country and MIT. For further details on eligibility criteria, scholarship benefits, how to apply, and other helpful information, please visit their website. Please note that only admitted students who meet the outlined criteria based on country of citizenship and professional experience are eligible to apply for this opportunity. 

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

To help meet growing demand in sub-Saharan Africa for training and capacity building, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation will sponsor seven students from sub-Saharan Africa over the first three years of the master’s program (beginning with the 2020 cohort). Sponsorship includes full coverage of tuition, housing, and healthcare costs, as well as a small living stipend. For more information on this, please visit J-PAL’s website to read this blog post.

For more information on the DEDP Master’s program, please visit the program page on the MIT Economics site or email with any questions about the program.

Future Courses Dates

Spring 2021: starts Feb. 9, 2021
Summer 2021: starts June 1, 2021

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