M.S. Program Requirements and Handbook

M.S. Class of 2018; Photograph taken prior to COVID-19. UCSC is following all CDC guidelines.

Program requirements for the M.S. may be found here. Students are required to read the program statement.

To complete the program, the students have to complete course requirements as well as comprehensive capstone exams or a master's thesis.

Course requirements

M.S. students are required to take the following classes

Fall: 186*, 200, 233, 216, 294A lab; 

*ECON 186, while classified as a "fall quarter" course, is offered in an accelerated format over the three-weeks leading up to the official start of the fall quarter. This math course is geared specifically to the material taught in the program. Students may test out of taking ECON 186 by passing an exam at any time after June 15 and by July 31.

Starting winter quarter M.S. students have the following options, depending on the capstone track they are aiming for.  The full list of approved electives can be found here (click on Requirements tab)

Applied Economics 

  • Winter:  202, 217, 259B or another Master's elective, 294A ("R") lab, 294B seminar; 
  • Spring: 201, 294B seminar, 294A (Python) lab (optional), two electives:
    • 236 + other Master's elective OR
    • two Master's electives
  • Winter: 202, 217 or 114, 234, 235 or another elective, 294A ("R") lab, 294B seminar
  • Spring: 236, two from 201, 231 or other electives, 294B seminar, 294A (Python) lab (optional) 


  • Winter: 202, 217 or 114, any elective, 294A ("R") lab, 294B seminar; 
  • Spring: 201, 236, any elective, 294B seminar, 294A (Python) lab (optional)  

Students may also take additional classes if they desire.

Optional classes:

Python Lab is highly recommended as programming language commonly used in the private and public sectors but is not required.

Instruction is in English.  All courses will be taught in person.

Grading Policy

Graduate students at UC Santa Cruz have the option of receiving a letter grade, A-F in most courses. The grades of A or B shall be awarded for satisfactory work, with the addition of +'s and -'s. Grades of C or D will not satisfy any course requirement for a graduate degree at UC Santa Cruz. Students not electing to receive a letter grade will be given a satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S/U).

Comprehensive Capstone Requirement

Students must pass a comprehensive capstone requirement to receive their degree. This capstone requirement consists of a comprehensive examination, which will take place within two weeks of spring graduation. Students who do not pass the June examination may take it again in August at a date scheduled by the department. Further attempts at passing the comprehensive examination will be approved by the master's committee on an appeal-only basis, with appeals only given for extraordinary or extenuating circumstances.

Students may choose an emphasis in their comprehensive exam requirement based on their academic and professional interests, as reflected in their choices.  Students must declare an intended emphasis for the capstone from the following three options prior to June 1 of their spring quarter.

Applied Economics

  • Complete 4 of 5 sections from : 200, 201, 216, 217, 259B
  • Must complete sections 233, 236 and 2 of 3 electives:  231, 234, 235  
  • Complete all 4: 200, 201, 233, 236

Thesis option

For those students who have specific research interests and have distinguished themselves in their coursework, a faculty-sponsored research project and thesis may replace the comprehensive examination requirement. This track requires approval of a faculty advisor and the master's degree committee prior to Feb. 1 of the student’s initial winter quarter.

Academic Standing Information

To receive a master's degree from UC Santa Cruz, a student must register as a full-time graduate student at the University of California for a minimum of three quarters. To receive a degree from UC Santa Cruz, a student must be registered at the Santa Cruz campus for at least two of the three quarters.

Academic Progress
Along with enrolling in the necessary number of units, students are expected to maintain satisfactory academic standing during their time at UC Santa Cruz. Students not making satisfactory progress will be placed on academic probation, and students will be dismissed from the program if they do not remove their probationary status within one quarter. For example, if a student is placed on probation starting in the winter quarter, they must improve to the extent that their probationary status is removed by the beginning of the spring quarter.

Specifically, a student will be placed on academic probation if they fail any of the core (i.e., non-elective), 5-credit courses in the program. Students will be dismissed from the program if they fail core courses in consecutive quarters. The core courses are:  ECON 200, ECON 202, ECON 216, ECON 233, and ECON 217 OR ECON 114.

Note that probation and dismissal can only be formally issued by the Graduate Division (under recommendation from the Economics Department). More details on these procedures, as well as student’s right to appeal such decisions, can be found in the Graduate Division Handbook:  http://graddiv.ucsc.edu/current-students/academic-regulations/index.html

By the end of the second week of instruction in the quarter you intend to graduate, you must file an "Application for Degree" form with the Division of Graduate Studies.