MACSS - Econ

Rooted in the conviction that economics is a powerful tool for understanding society, the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics is the center of the discipline across the University of Chicago and the home of the Chicago School of Economics. Faculty and alumni of the Griffin Department, renowned for their many and diverse achievements, have been recognized with numerous Nobel Prizes, Clark Medals, and other pre-eminent distinctions. Their innovations in applying economic analysis include the economics of education and other acquired skills (human capital), quantitative economic history, the economics of information, political economy, the economic theory of socialism, the economics of the household, the monetary approach to international finance, rational expectations in macroeconomics, and mechanism design, among others.

Pre-requisite Requirements

Economics students must have prior exposure to real analysis, econometric theory, and advanced coursework in multivariable calculus, linear algebra, probability, and statistics. A solid foundation in calculus-based micro and macroeconomics is required. Students who are seeking graduate work with less mathematical orientation may find alternatives in the Harris School of Public Policy, the Booth School of Business, Political Science, and occasionally in Sociology, Law, or History.

The Economics Concentration in MACSS

Students admitted for MACSS-Econ, the economics concentration in MACSS, will receive an additional letter of admission alongside their formal offer. Only those students are eligible to work with a member of the Economics faculty on the MA thesis.

Students will be supported in their course selection, choice of faculty advisor, and MA thesis by the staff of Instructional Professors in the Griffin Department of Economics. The group of Instructional Professors has expertise across the different fields within economics. They run reading groups by topic during the fall and winter quarters to support students in the development of the MA thesis proposal. Victor Lima, Senior Instructional Professor in Economics, Min Sok Lee, Assistant Senior Instructional Professor in Economics, will match students to potential instructional professor advisors and reading groups based on their respective fields of interest.

Students are expected to take MA level coursework in economics or other related disciplines. A dedicated set of MA level courses designed with the needs of MACSS-ECON students in mind has been developed. Students who believe they qualify for doctoral level coursework will be evaluated based on their prior background and, if it is adequate, they can register for doctoral level coursework in the department.

The Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics has a March 15 deadline for current MACSS-Econ year two students to apply for UChicago’s PhD Program in Economics. This allows students to submit application materials that include their performance in year one and the first two quarters of year two. If admitted, students begin their doctoral program in the subsequent academic year.


MACSS-Econ, the economics concentration in MACSS, seeks to produce University of Chicago-trained social scientists, well versed in the most recent literatures of their discipline, and ready to make important contributions by deploying computational research designs.

All MACSS-Econ students will complete the equivalent of 18 graduate courses, work closely with an Instructional Professor advisor, and write an MA thesis, modeled on a professional journal article.

Students take three – and no more than three – classes in each of the Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters, in each of their two years. Students who are unable to complete this course load during any given quarter will have to extend their stay in the program beyond the two years and pay for any additional courses out of pocket. The summer quarter offers very limited options for completing the 18 course graduation requirement.

In their first year, all MACSS-Econ students will complete:

  • The Computational Math camp or the Econ Math camp and the Computing Fundamentals Boot Camp, which run for three weeks in August / September.
  • A Computational Statistics placement exam and a Computing Fundamentals exam, offered at the end of the Boot Camps.
  • A two-course core in Perspectives on Computational Analysis and Computational Modeling, the first of which must be taken autumn quarter.
  • A three-course core in Foundations of Quantitative Analysis. (Up to 2 courses may be waived via statistics placement exam)
  • Weekly participation in the Computational Social Science Workshop.

In their second AND/OR first year, all MACSS-Econ students will complete:

  • Econ Math Camp (ECON 30400) which will run for two weeks in September.
  • A three-course core in Computer Science with Social Science Applications OR a three-course core in Principles of Computing. (Up to 2 courses may be waived via computer science placement exam.)
  • Two courses to satisfy the Foundations in Economic Theory requirement.
  • Two courses to satisfy the Foundations in Empirical Analysis/Computational Methods requirement.
  • Six graduate economics/computational method electives that will vary, depending on the student’s prior training and intended disciplinary path. (This number may increase if student earns placement on CS or stats exams)
  • Weekly participation in the Computational Social Science Workshop.
  • Students may take the MA Research Commitment once during the second year. This option allows students to allocate more time to their MA thesis. The course grade will be the one the faculty reader assigns on the final draft of the MA thesis, no matter when that paper is submitted. If students want additional course credit for working on their thesis project, they may register for an independent study with a faculty advisor. The faculty advisor and student will form an agreement at the beginning of the quarter outlining the requirements for the student and what work the student must produce in order to earn a letter grade for the independent study.

Additional information on course enrollment, thesis advising, placement, among other important features, can be found on our frequently asked questions page. Please contact Emma Rubenstein, student affairs administrator, with any questions.

More information about academic requirements is available in the curricular policy. 

Students with questions about program requirements and milestones should contact Emma Rubenstein ( MACSS-Econ Student Affairs Administrator. Students may also contact Brett Baker (, Associate Dean of Students in the Social Sciences, and Amanda Young (, Director, Graduate Student Affairs in UChicagoGRAD.