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EIU Master of Arts in Economics

Frequently Asked Questions about the M.A. Economics Program

1. What documents do I need to submit for admission?

Note the three important items below:

a. Application for admission: The application form for electronic submission is available here:

There, you will need to create an account with EIU first. That is an easy step.

If you had already opened an account with EIU in a previous session, and would like to complete your application now, go here instead:

Finally, if instead of web submission you want to mail a print version, go here:

b. Transcripts: Ask the schools you have attended (at the undergraduate level and, if any, at the graduate level), to send your transcripts directly to the Graduate School, Eastern Illinois University, 600 Lincoln Avenue, Charleston IL 61920. If you are going to be an international student, you may arrange to send transcripts (and other documents) to the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS).

c. Documents for the Department of Economics: There are two things that must be submitted to the Department while others will come through the Graduate School or OISS. If you are sending all the documents in one packet, the Graduate School or OISS will forward the following items to the Department. That’s not a problem.

i. Letters of recommendation from three of your professors. The letters should discuss your class performance, aptitude for learning/economics, and any other skills. If you worked for some time after or during your undergraduate or later studies, you may submit one of those letters from your supervisor. The letters should be printed on their institutional letterheads. You may collect them from your references in sealed envelopes and put together with other documents, such as your admission application, in one packet before mailing. Alternatively, you may ask your references to write their letter and attach it electronically to an email to the graduate advisor:

ii. Your Statement of Purpose (SOP). This is your personal essay that describes your academic background, your interests, and how an economics graduate degree will help you achieve your career goals. If you are also applying for a graduate assistantship, give a brief explanation for why you need one. The SOP can also be attached to an email to the graduate advisor.

d. Other things: If you are going to be an international applicant, the OISS may ask you to send a Financial Affidavit. You may contact that office at international@eiu.edufor any related questions.

2. What documents do I need to submit to apply for a Graduate Assistantship?

If you have completed the admission application process described above, the only additional document required is your application for a Graduate Assistantship (GA). You may access the application by going here: Currently, we do not require GRE scores for assistantship decisions. But we do encourage you to submit your score if you have taken it within the last few years. If you plan to take GRE soon, work hard for it since a high GRE score does indeed figure into the consideration of a GA award together with other things you have submitted. In addition, if you think you have had work experience that will enhance your economics education, or if you have acquired other relevant skills, highlight them in your Statement of Purpose and send the necessary documentation. Examples of such skills include mathematics or statistics beyond what your transcripts show.

3. What documents do I need to submit for International Scholarship?

For international students, there is another application available here. Much useful information of various kinds is available on the OISS page: including the application form you may want to fill and print. You may direct other inquiries about international scholarship to the OISS:

  1. If admitted, I will be an international student. The Department web pages do not provide information on “Financial Affidavit.” Where can I find it?

That information is available from the International Students and Scholars (ISS) office. You may send an email to

  1. Is it possible to get admission to the M.A. in Economics if my undergraduate major was not economics?

Yes. We recommend 18 hours of economics at the undergraduate level before you start the M.A. program. However, we can relax that requirement if you have strong preparation in mathematics or statistics, or if we find there is something significant in your background that will help you succeed in Economics. Without appropriate background, you may still gain a status of “admission with undergraduate deficiency,” or a “provisional admission.” In that case, you are expected to start graduate education with courses such as Intermediate Macroeconomics, Intermediate Microeconomics, a second statistics course that includes regression analysis, and possibly one or two other courses.

  1. What is the GPA requirement for full admission?

For full admission, we use the GPA cutoff of 2.75 on a 4.0 scale. If you fall slightly short, we can admit you on a provisional basis. Once enrolled, if you achieve a GPA of 3.0 in the first 12 semester hours of credit, your admission status will change to “full” upon request. For more, see Q.5.

  1. Do I need to take the GRE for admission or graduation?

No, GRE is not required. If you do not have enough econ/maths/stats background, a high GRE score on the quantitative portion of the test can also gain you full admission.

  1. What are the thesis and non-thesis options

The thesis option requires 30 credit hours − 27 hours from 9 courses and three hours from the thesis. The non-thesis option requires 34 credit hours including 33 hours from 11 courses and one hour from the Graduate Forum. Neither thesis nor graduate forum involves classroom learning. Both require an academic supervisor and a topic for research, but otherwise the two are very different. A thesis writer produces a written work with the help of the thesis adviser through regular consultations. A successful oral defense is required to pass the thesis. A thesis includes all aspects of research including a clear research question, a comprehensive review of the literature, formulation of an empirical model, data collection and refinement, model estimation, interpretation of results, and a conclusion that summarizes the project and gives suggestions for further research. A student who chooses the non-thesis option is given a topic and a Graduate Forum advisor. The student is normally teamed up with a fellow student to review literature on the topic, collect data, and do statistical analysis as directed by the supervisor. Toward the end of the semester, if and when the supervisor permits, the students make an oral presentation of research, and answer questions posed by the Forum faculty members

  1. How long does it take to complete the Master of Arts in Economics degree?

That depends mainly on the student’s academic preparation. With a good background in micro theory, macro theory, and a statistics course that includes the basics of regression analysis, students can complete the requirement in three semesters. Seven or eight courses in the first two semesters and one or two courses plus the thesis in the third may be optimal for some people. For students choosing the non-thesis Graduate Forum, a two year degree works the best. Some students have attempted to complete all the requirements in one calendar year with courses in the Fall, Spring and Summer. But that is not the best strategy for most students. Planning to take two years to finish the requirements and get a good grounding on research works the best for most people

  1. Could you elaborate on the type and amount of work GAs perform? I know a graduate assistantship covers full tuition. What is the monthly stipend that comes with it?

Graduate assistants (GAs) are expected to perform two principal duties. They stand ready to tutor our Principles students in the PC Lab or in the GA office. Part of the time they also help faculty with the collection or analysis of data or other types of academic work. A GAship covers full tuition plus currently $870 per month for nine months. Note that GAs must still pay student fees which are roughly around $1000 per semester. On the other hand, if you are staying on campus during summer, the assistantship also pays the tuition for summer classes.

11. When is the decision on Graduate Assistantships made?

In most cases by early April. But sometimes it can take longer.

12. Where can I find information on tuition and fees?

From here:

If you do not find information on rates for the current year, you may inquire with the Graduate School at:

13. I have taken some M.A. economics classes elsewhere. Can I have my credit hours from there transferred?

There is a Graduate School limit of 6 hours. But you will need to have a prior approval for such a transfer after admission and before enrollment on campus. This is generally not requested because of differences in curriculum. Check with the graduate advisor at if you want to pursue this option. Transfer credits can be approved by the Graduate School after the Department has given its own approval. The form to be filled is available here:

If you need a clarification of anything written here or have another question, send an email to

Related Pages

Contact Information

Department of Economics

Coleman Hall
Eastern Illinois University
600 Lincoln Avenue
Charleston, IL 61920
(217) 581-2719

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