and data science
MQE graduates are equipped with the economic insights, strategic thinking, and innovation needed to be at the forefront of diverse industries’ analytics, data science, strategy, and client relations.
Now accepting applications for Fall 2023
Join our Livable City and Campus
The Department of Economics
The Department of Economics at the University of Pittsburgh ranks among the top 40 economics departments in the United States and houses an innovative and successful faculty.
The Department of Economics offers one of the largest majors at the University of Pittsburgh and has a vibrant research community with more than 60 graduate students working towards their Ph.D. in economics. Faculty and graduate students explore fields in all areas of economics: applied microeconomics, economic theory, macroeconomics, econometrics, international economics and experimental economics. Our department is excited to welcome a new group of MQE students into our robust community.
- Department of Economics Seminar Series
- Department of Economics News
- Department of Economics Newsletter
The University of Pittsburgh
The University of Pittsburgh is the top public university in the Northeastern U.S. according to the Wall Street Journal. Pitt is among the top research universities in the United States and it has been listed as a “best value” in higher education by several publications. Pitt faculty and alumni have won the Nobel Prize (in Peace and Medicine), the Pulitzer, the Academy Award, the MacArthur “Genius” Grant, the National Medal of Science, the Super Bowl, and more.
The City of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh is an exciting place for economics. Faculty and graduate student collaborate with researchers from other Pitt units as well as from Carnegie Mellon University and RAND. Pittsburgh, also known as the “City of Champions” for its athletic teams; “Steel City” for its more than 300 steel-related businesses; and the “City of Bridges” for its 446 bridges.
Today, Google, AppleInc., Bosch, Facebook, Uber, Nokia, Autodesk, Microsoft, and IBM are among 1,600 technology firms generating $20.7 billion in annual Pittsburgh payrolls. The area has served as the long-time federal agency headquarters for cyber defense, software engineering, robotics, energy research, and the nuclear navy. New regional investments, including in autonomous vehicles, additive manufacturing, robotics and the ethane cracker, have the potential to add substantial new job demand, particularly for STEM workers.
Check out Pitt’s Cool Pittsburgh resource about where to live, eat, play, shop, and go in Pittsburgh.
Why a Masters in Quantitative Economics?
- economic modeling and intuition
- data science and econometrics
- analytic storytelling, communications, and professionalism
Economic positions are in strong demand with high starting salaries
With a Master's degree in Economics you will:
- Meet the employer’s demand for well-rounded individuals who can bring economic insights and strategic thinking to data science.
- Attain employment as financial analysts, data scientists, economic analysts, investment analysts, policy analysts, and quantitative traders. You will work with companies such as Booz, Allen, Hamilton, FedEx, Lincoln Financial Group, Moody’s Analytics, and with investment banks, consulting companies, and government agencies.
According to the 2022 Bureau of Labor Statistics, economist job prospects are projected to grow 13% to 2030, faster than average for all occupations. About 1,600 openings for economists are projected each year, on average, for over a decade. The median annual wage for economists was $105,630 in May 2021.
Through the MQE Program, you will connect with industry leaders.
The MQE Program has 50+ Board Members and Mentors, comprised of industry leaders in economics and data science, who serve as consultants for the original coursework and partner with the Capstone Course. Visit our Career Services to see how we provide MQE students with Mentoring & Networking, Workplace Readiness skills, Advising & Resources.
$105,630 is the median annual wage for economists.
13% job growth for economists
from 2020 to 2030, faster than average for all occupations.
Comprehensive career development in 8-months
Economics, Data Science & Communication Courses
A Masters in Economics will equip you with skills in:
- Economic Modeling and Intuition
- Data Science and Econometrics
- Communications and Analytic Storytelling
8-Month Course Schedule
- Individuals, Firms, and Markets
- Quantitative Methods
- Incentives and Information
- Economic Inference from Data
Communicating Economic Insights
- Global Economics and Finance
- Applications of Economic Analysis Techniques
- Evidence-Based Analysis in Labor, Public and Health Economies
- Big Data and Forecasting in Economics
Data Design for Economic Applications (Capstone)
MQE Course Descriptions
INDIVIDUALS, FIRMS, AND MARKETS
Individuals, Firms, and Markets provide a rigorous introduction to contemporary microeconomic theory, with a focus on optimization techniques, the development of modeling skills, and critical thinking strategies needed to understand and evaluate a wide variety of economic contexts. Topics covered include consumer and producer theory, decision-making under uncertainty, choice over time, welfare analysis, competitive markets, monopoly, externalities, and public goods. The course stresses the application of theory to economics and business problems, and a substantial amount of classwork is devoted to examining scenarios based on such problems.
Quantitative Methods present a framework for data-driven decision-making under conditions of uncertainty and partial information, and it covers data analysis methods and techniques used in economic applications. The class will use R throughout; among the topics covered are graphical and descriptive data analysis, conditional probability, random variables, distribution functions, sampling, estimation, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, and an introduction to regression methods.
Incentives and Information are central to modern economics, and this course studies the question of how individuals and firms respond to incentives. These incentives are shaped, in large part, by the information possessed by each relevant party. In this course, we study how such informational issues can lead to market inefficiencies, and what can be done to exploit or combat them. How should a seller design an auction, or the products available, to extract as much revenue as possible from buyers? How can firms design compensation schemes to get efficient effort from employees? What are the limits of what can be achieved through regulation? Students will learn how to address these and other similar questions using rigorous economic tools.
Communicating Economic Insights helps students develop written and oral communication and presentation skills essential for career success. Students practice writing documents for a variety of professional audiences, collaborative writing as well as multi-author revising skills. Students also learn presentation skills to enhance clear communication of ideas. Written and oral skills will emphasize the importance of one’s audience as it determines style, tone, organization, and depth of concepts.
Economic Inference from Data provides hands-on experience with applied econometric methods, allowing the student to establish empirical relationships of cause and effect. The course will cover advanced methods in regression analysis as well as a full toolkit of quasi-experimental methods that will allow the study of causal relationships even in the absence of a randomized control trial. The course includes hands-on empirical applications to solidify the concepts, with many examples from business and public policy settings. It will also focus on learning the basic tools of programming and coding in R.
Global Economics and Finance presents the main topics in modern macroeconomics and touches on important questions in international economics and finance. Among the first set of topics, the course covers economic growth and business cycles, unemployment and labor market frictions, inequality, nominal frictions and monetary policy, and fiscal policy. The course also studies international linkages, including global imbalances, capital account sustainability, international capital market integration, international trade, nominal and real exchange rate determination, external debt, and the relationship between inequality and international trade.
Applications of Economic Analysis Techniques move beyond ordinary regression to look at more specialized models and data that are important to economists. The course expands students’ knowledge of econometric methods to account for qualitative and selected dependent variables via maximum likelihood and presents more structured estimation models. Throughout, the focus is on building students’ experience with more advanced techniques, both for estimation and inferences; their understanding of the methods’ pros and cons of these methods; and, importantly, how best to extract insights from them to aid in decision making.
Evidence-Based Analysis in Labor, Public, and Health Economics allows students to further develop their MQE toolkits through exposure to both seminal and frontier applied research on a diverse set of topics such as education, environmental sustainability, the non-profit sector, and employment compensation. In addition to reviewing extant applied research, students will hone their own analytical approach working both individually and in groups to apply economic thinking and analysis to a broad set of business and policy problems.
Big Data and Forecasting in Economics covers cutting-edge methods typically used in statistical learning and is designed to help students learn how to apply the econometric techniques learned in the previous courses in big data environments. The course introduces students to machine learning, text learning analysis, as well as scraping and data mining techniques using R. Some methods encountered in this course are classification, resampling, regularization, tree-based methods, supporting vector machines, deep learning, and unsupervised learning.
Data Design for Economic Applications (Capstone) helps students formulate questions that are critical for an organization and then, guided by economic theory, deliver informative answers using data. The first portion of the course rounds out the data science toolbox of students by training them in techniques for data creation, including survey design and the design and implementation of randomized control trials. The second portion of the course provides students with examples of problems facing real organizations to apply what they have learned in the MQE program, working in groups to identify questions, analyze data, and present results. Check out the 2021 Capstone Projects!
MQE Students Solve Real-World Client Challenges
According to MQE students they accomplished:
- “building a working text scraper that can potentially generate a large data frame”
- “working on a linear model”
- “being adaptable to create a final deliverable that filled all of the needs of our client”
- “utilizing machine learning and ways of thinking about the problem. The exposure to matching learning models will allow me to have more tools at my disposal to solve problems”
- “how to quickly adjust to subject matter and see the process of tackling large projects”
- “always explaining the big picture”
World-class faculty forging economics research forward
Marily Nixon, J.D.
Professor of Practice at Pitt Law and one of MQE’s many faculty members
Marily Nixon, a Professor of the Practice at Pitt Law, teaches Communicating Economic Insights in the MQE Program. Her driving goal is to equip students with professional-level communication skills and experience. She believes that good communication practices can translate to all backgrounds, especially in economics. Her course focuses on efficient communication of data analysis in the real world, while emphasizing the importance of writing, speaking, and presenting.
“Good communication requires clarity, conciseness, accuracy, and structure. MQE students learn to communicate highly technical information in a polished way to audiences. In my class, students learn best practices for presentation design. It’s important to make data-based presentations that are lively and compelling, and I can see their confidence and presentation skills develop throughout the course, from day one when they get on their feet to do a spontaneous 60-second talk- to the last day of class when they introduce a sophisticated data-based group presentation to their peers.”
“I challenge my students to use simple, clear, and compelling language, and to learn to explain even basic concepts clearly and thoroughly. As famous economist John Kenneth Galbraith wrote, ‘In the case of economics there are no important propositions that cannot be stated in plain language.’ When the students use concise language, they come to a better understanding of the information they are conveying.”
As academic economist Deirdre McCloskey writes, “Good communication is not inherent to the individual; it is learned, and it requires practice.” Marily Nixon aims to provide her students with the skills necessary to achieve good, professional communication, ultimately teaching them invaluable skills that they need in accomplishing their dream career.
Students & Alumni
Our students are changing the world
As an incoming graduate student, Kofi Mensah is excited to further his education with Pitt’s MQE graduate program. Kofi studied economics at the University of Ghana, where he excelled in working as a Teaching Assistant. Recently, Kofi worked as a Professional Accountant with the Assurance Department of Ernst and Young.
“Pitt’s MQE program was my number one choice in graduate programs because of its importance in career-orientation. The MQE program emphasizes current, real-world situations with data analytics, which will in turn prepare me for finding a career. One unique aspect of Pitt’s MQE program is its personability. I was happy that the class sizes are smaller. It makes an intimate environment where you can really get to know your professors and make valuable connections.”
Kofi writes, “I have learned the enduring values of being a person of integrity, having the courage to lead, and working with a team. Employers cherish these values.” Kofi plans to put these skills to work in his MQE program education, where he looks forward to improving his critical thinking and analyzation skills.
MQE Alumni Spotlight
on Gayatri Pai
Data Scientist, Booz Allen Hamilton; MQE Alumni 2021
Gayatri graduated from Pitt in 2020 studying economics with a minor in computer science. She has worked as a teaching assistant for macroeconomic theory and later did an internship in marketing. Her past projects involve web design and development, hackathons, and a research challenge.
“The MQE Program gave me the opportunity to apply my technical skills to a real-world problem- the housing affordability situation in the United States. It’s been an incredibly valuable experience in terms of teamwork and exploring new areas of data visualization. The program gave me the tools I needed to become more resourceful, which I need to constantly build on in my field.”
“My favorite part about this program was the machine learning course. This class allowed us to put all of our skills together- including coding, data visualization, and summarizing our results all while exploring outside the boundaries of economics.”
Gayatri looks forward to how much she will be learning in the coming years, using the valuable skillsets that the MQE program taught her to achieve her dream career.
Prior to completing the MQE degree, Natalee Morris received her undergradfuate degree in Applied Science, Mathematics and Economics at the University of Pittsburgh and worked as an account analyst at BNY Mellon. She is currently an Assistant Data Scientist at Moody’s Analytics. Learn more about Natalee’s MQE experience here.
Meet Charles Tyler, a 2021 MQE program Alumni. Charles graduated Pitt with a bachelor’s in economics, and continued his education with a Masters in Quantitative Economics. Charles explored research during his first year in college and became interested in pursuing a career in the financial industry. Currently, Charles Tyler works as a Pittsburgh I&P Intern, where he works with Data Governance in our very own City of Pittsburgh. Learn more about Charles’ experience with the MQE program here.
MQE is always innovating – see what we’re doing
Interested in learning more? Connect with MQE staff.
Randall Walsh, Ph.D., Director and Professor of Economics
Professor Walsh, is a Professor of Economics at the University of Pittsburgh, and a Research Associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research. His research is focused in the areas of urban and environmental economics. In more recent work he has been particularly interested in looking at these issues through the lenses of economic history and political economy. Professor Walsh teaches in the MQE Program, advises students, and develops relationships with professional partners.
Anastasia “Stasia” Lopez, Career Faculty Instructor
Stasia provides career advising and services, develops relationships with professional partners and employers, recruits new MQE students, puts on career workshops, and coordinates career chats with advisory board members and alumni. She is passionate about providing excellence in student services and ensuring students are well-equipped to reach their academic and professional goals. Stasia is a NACE-Certified Career Coach, MBTI Facilitator and AAUW Salary Negotiation Facilitator. She has worked in career development since 2011 serving in multiple leadership roles and even used to work at Pitt once before in Career Services. She serves on the Career Counseling Consortium Board of Directors, writes and publishes articles on Wandering Educators, and teaches professional development courses to college students.
Brian Deutsch, Program Manager
Brian worked in the Department of Economics since 2016 and is committed to student success and administrative efficiency. As Program Manager, he oversees aspects of the student experience, from application questions and arrival in Pittsburgh through course registration and graduation. Prior to joining Pitt in 2011 he lived and worked in South Korea for five years, building experience in international education and cross-cultural communication.