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Economics and Education

Department of Education Policy & Social Analysis

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Program Description

Why Economics & Education?

Economic concepts and analytic methods are increasingly influential in education policy and   administration, and graduates who can combine quantitative skills with substantive expertise are in high demand. Our program prepares students to apply the economic approach, as well as its methodological tools, to contemporary education policy issues both domestically and globally.

Why Teachers College, Columbia University?

If you want examples of how economic concepts and methods can be applied to real-world education research and policy, check out some of the work highlighted in our faculty profiles. Our faculty includes renowned scholars studying higher education, K-12  educational institutions, educational markets and privatization, and international education and economic development, among other areas. Our scholars play prominent roles in their respective areas of specialization and their work is featured regularly not only in academic publications but also in policy conversations around the world.

Our program is situated in a dynamic intellectual environment: a world-class institution in a world-class city. Students in the Economics & Education program benefit from the rich, multidisciplinary environment within TC's Department of Education Policy and Social Analysis (EPSA), which also includes programs in Education Policy, Politics and Education, and Sociology and Education. Students and faculty across the four programs interact around shared research and policy interests, and students in the Economics and Education program are encouraged to take advantage of the broader resources in EPSA. These broader resources include not just relevant course offerings, but also policy events, seminars, student-led "pop-up" conversations on current topics, job networking events, and social gatherings. And of course, the infinite social, cultural, and intellectual opportunities of New York City are all right outside your doorstep.

What will I do in the program?

Students in our M.A., Ed.M. and Ph.D. programs take courses in core areas including applied microeconomics, the economics of education, education and economic development, econometrics, statistical analysis, and benefit-cost analysis. Beyond required coursework, students in each degree program can choose from a range of elective courses to individualize their experience and satisfy their unique interests and career objectives. With the help of an academic advisor, students select courses from those offered within the program of economics and education and supplement these with courses outside the department, including courses offered in other schools of Columbia University.

What do graduates do with their degrees?

Our M.A. and Ed.M. graduates have gone on to work policy, administration, and data analysis roles within government agencies, schools, education research and advocacy organizations, foundations, and educational technology companies, as well as to pursue further study in related fields.

Our PhD graduates have gone on to research, leadership, and academic teaching positions in a range of settings. Recent PhD graduates are currently employed as tenure-track faculty members at both domestic and international postsecondary institutions, as research associates at leading policy research organizations, and as institutional researchers for large urban school districts and colleges and universities.

Please note that our program is a preferred partner program for the Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program. The program has several eligibility requirements, however. You can find more information about this scholarship program on the TC Financial Aid website, under Merit-Based Aid/External Scholarships, and on the Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship program website.


  • Master of Arts

    • Points/Credits: 33

      Entry Terms: Fall Only

      Degree Requirements

      The objective of the 33-point M.A. Program in Economics and Education is to equip education professionals and policy-makers with the skills required to interpret and synthesize education-related research, to design and implement effective educational policy, and to assess the consequences of education policy, both domestically and in international settings.

      The program begins in the Fall term and can be completed within one calendar year with enrollment during the summer and careful course planning, although many students choose to take longer (for example, by taking the summer to work in a related area and returning to complete coursework in the subsequent fall term). Some students are able to work full-time while pursuing their degree, although this requires a flexible schedule since many courses are only held in the afternoon.

      The curriculum of the program aims to build students’ technical competence in the basic tools of educational management and policy making; provide the academic and professional environment for students to apply these skills; and educate students about the global educational landscape, including current thinking on educational reform and the financing of education. Please click on the course planning worksheet link below for specific course offerings and requirements.

      In addition to completing required coursework, all M.A. students must complete an Integrative Project (I.P.) on a topic of their choice, under the guidance of a faculty advisor. The I.P. may take the form of original research and data analysis on a topic of interest or may entail a review and synthesis of the theory and evidence around a specific education-policy question. The goal of the I.P. is for the student to apply concepts and methodologies from the Economics and Education curriculum to a real-world issue in education.

      All applications to enter the program are evaluated on an individual and holistic basis. However, the curriculum of the program assumes that students have some previous coursework (at least at the undergraduate level) in economics and basic statistics, possess intellectual maturity, and demonstrate an interest in education policy and practice. Compelling applications for admission demonstrate the applicant’s capacity for success and also clearly explain how the Economics and Education curriculum fits with the applicant’s past experiences and future goals.

  • Master of Education

    • Points/Credits: 60

      Entry Terms: Fall Only

      Degree Requirements

      This 60-point program is intended for individuals who already have a graduate degree in a related field, who would like to build upon that foundation with additional training in Economics and Education. Required coursework mirrors the requirements for the M.A. degree but gives students room to take more advanced courses in the economics and education concentration and related programs (including the other programs in EPSA as well as relevant courses in other departments/programs). and-social-analysis/economics-and-education/degrees/master-of- education-in-economics-and-education-econ/

      All applications to enter the program are evaluated on an individual and holistic basis. However, the curriculum of the program assumes that students have some previous coursework (at least at the undergraduate level) in economics and basic statistics, possess intellectual maturity, and demonstrate an interest in education policy and practice. Compelling applications for admission demonstrate the applicant’s capacity for success and also clearly explain how the Economics and Education curriculum fits with the applicant’s past experiences and future goals.

  • Doctor of Philosophy

    • Points/Credits: 75

      Entry Terms: Fall Only

      Degree Requirements

      This 75-point program is intended for individuals who want to acquire advanced training in the theory, methods, and practices in the economics of education. It is a highly selective program to prepare individuals for leadership roles in teaching, research, or administrative settings.

      The coursework for this program consists of three parts: core courses, courses in research methods, and courses in a specialized area of study, such as higher education, early childhood education, field experimentation, or a regional focus. Students work on their dissertation under the guidance of faculty advisors within the program; additional members of the dissertation committee may be drawn from other TC departments, and at least one committee member must be from Columbia’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. All degrees are conferred by Columbia University. social-analysis/economics-and-education/degrees/doctor-of-philosophy- in-economics-and-education-econ/

      Admission to the Ph.D. program is highly selective. All applications to enter the program are evaluated on an individual and holistic basis. However, the curriculum of the program assumes that students have some previous coursework in economics and statistics, possess intellectual maturity, and demonstrate an interest in education policy and practice. Compelling applications for admission demonstrate the applicant’s capacity for success and also clearly explain how the Economics and Education curriculum fits with the applicant’s past experiences and future goals.


  • Faculty

    • Thomas R Bailey President; George and Abby O'Neill Professor of Economics and Education
    • Sarah R. Cohodes Associate Professor of Economics & Education
    • Alexander James Eble Assistant Professor of Economics and Education
    • Jordan Dmitri Matsudaira Associate Professor of Economics and Education
    • Amra Sabic-El-Rayess Associate Professor of Practice
    • Judith E. Scott-Clayton Professor of Economics and Education
  • Emeriti

    • Henry M. Levin William Heard Kilpatrick Professor Emeritus of Economics and Education
    • Mun Tsang Professor Emeritus of Economics and Education Policy
  • Lecturers

    • Aparna Anand Lecturer, Economics & Education
  • Adjunct Faculty

    • Samuel Eli Abrams Adjunct Assistant Professor
    • Viviana Rodriguez Andrade PT Instructor
    • Joydeep Roy Adjunct Professor
  • Instructors

    • Peter Leopold S Bergman
    • Theo Cordero Pippins Part Time Instructor


  • EDPE 4050 - Economics of Education
    Teaches the basic economic concepts and methods to be used for further study and analysis of educational finance, education and inequality, education and economic growth, the impact of educational policies on education; and outcomes, school reform, and school choice. Offered annually in the fall.
  • EDPE 4051 - Education and Economic Development
    This course teaches students key perspectives on development and economic growth; the theoretical and empirical arguments linking education to economic growth; the main economic issues behind persistently low education levels in the developing world; the progress in raising these education levels being made through deliberate intervention and market responses; how students can become professionally involved in this progress; and a core set of empirical and theoretical skills useful in parsing these topics. Offered annually in the spring.
  • EDPE 4055 - Resource Allocation in Education
    This course reviews the literature on school effectiveness with respect to the allocation of resources. It addresses and analyzes education production functions and cost-effectiveness analysis in educational decision-making. Offered occasionally.
  • EDPE 4056 - Microeconomic Theory Applications to Education
    The purpose of the course is to provide students with the main theoretical tools and concepts for microeconomic analysis in the field of education and elsewhere, and to make students conversant in their application to real world issues and in the debates surrounding their strengths and weaknesses. These are powerful, yet controversial, tools, and are at the heart of much of today’s education and social policy debate. Topics covered include supply, demand, consumer optimization, expected value, uncertainty, insurance, producer optimization, equilibrium, perfect competition, monopoly, imperfect competition, externalities, and public goods.
  • EDPE 4058 - Economics of Higher Education
    This course uses theoretical and empirical economic analysis to analyze the behavior of higher education students and institutions and to study private and public policy related to post-secondary education. Offered regularly, typically in the fall.
  • EDPE 4097 - International and Comparative Studies in Educational Finance
    Educational finance in international settings. Financing role of international development agencies. International and comparative studies in educational finance. Offered occasionally.
  • EDPE 4155 - Evaluating Educational Privatization and School Choice
    Educational privatization and school choice raise fundamental questions about the purposes of education, the nature of community, and the boundaries of the market. Through close reading of court decisions and legislative acts as well as works in economics, sociology, history, political science, pedagogy, and investigative journalism, students in this course address these questions. Requirements include four essays and one research paper. Offered regularly, typically in the spring.
  • EDPE 4500 - Research, Writing and Professional Seminar in Economics of Education
    This seminar is intended to develop students’ research and writing skills as applied to an in-depth independent project in the Economics of Education, to develop professional skills, and to promote a supportive scholarly and professional community among Econ & Ed students. The course will examine the stages of research development and provide structured guidance to students as they develop an independent project and prepare for their careers after graduation. Since the course will be run as a seminar, students are expected to contribute to class discussions as well as to provide critical and thoughtful feedback on their classmates’ work in progress. Priority will be given to master’s students in Economics & Education, but the course is open to EPSA students as well.
  • EDPE 5430 - Internship in Economics and Education
    Permission of advisor required. Supervised training in diverse settings designed to gain work experience and/or research skills related to economics of education.
  • EDPE 5550 - Workshop in Economics and Education
    For doctoral students and others with research projects or potential research projects in the field. Participation required for doctoral students writing their dissertation. Students who are beginning to think about their dissertation topic or working on proposals are also encouraged to participate. Faculty members may also be invited from within or outside the department to present their work.
  • EDPE 6000 - Advanced Analysis in Economics of Education
    The course focuses on the evaluation of state-of-the art research papers in the economics of education. The purpose is to provide critical readings and reviews of articles and papers across many different methods.
  • EDPE 6023 - Advanced Causal Methods: Use and Interpretation
    This doctoral course covers the design, implementation, and interpretation of econometric methods used for evaluating causal relationships in education research, reading and discussing applied methodological texts as well as journal articles using advanced causal methods. The course covers randomized experiments, natural experiments, differences-in-differences, instrumental variables, regression discontinuity, and propensity score matching.
  • EDPE 6025 - Conducting Field Experiments: Design and Implementation
    The purpose of this course is to introduce students familiar with causal methods to the design and implementation of field experiments in economics and education. In the first part of the course, students will study experimental design. In the second part of the course, students will focus on the practical aspects of running an experiment. The course assignments will lead up to a completed proposal outlining the theory, design, and implementation of a field experiment. In addition, students will complete an IRB application for human-subjects approval and present their proposals.
  • EDPE 6050 - Education and Economic Development: Advanced Topics
    This course provides an advanced discussion of the links between education and economic development, including both theoretical frameworks and a review of frontier empirical research, with a focus on how such studies are conceived and executed. Offered occasionally.
  • EDPE 6052 - Labor Economics
    This course covers important concepts in labor economics, with a focus on how those concepts can be applied and tested in practice. The course will provide an overview of labor market topics such as the returns to education and training, non-monetary forms of compensation, models of labor migration, and models of imperfect or asymmetric information about skills. For each topic, we will examine influential papers and the empirical methods they use. The course is intended for doctoral students and will count towards the Labor Economics requirement for the Economics of Education Ph.D. program. Typically offered every other year in the spring.
  • EDPE 6151 - Advanced Microeconomics with Applications to Education
    A doctoral-level survey of microeconomic theory with applications of relevance to the economics of education. Includes the theory of the firm and its implications regarding factor demands, educational production functions, and the demand for education. Consumer theory and the theory of labor supply, human capital externalities, inter-temporal decision-making, public finance and local public goods will also be covered. Offered annually in the fall.
  • EDPE 6590 - Doctoral Research Seminar on Economics of Education
    Through presentation and discussion of their research studies, students learn research skills and improve their understanding of various issues in the research process from the initial stage to dissemination.
  • EDPE 8900 - Dissertation Advisement in Economics and Education
    Individual advisement on doctoral dissertations. Fee to equal 3 points at current tuition rate for each term. For requirements, see section in catalog on Continuous Registration for Ed.D./ Ph.D. degrees.
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