ATLANTA –The Georgia Board of Regents recently approved the reclassification of Georgia State University’s M.A. and Ph.D. in economics from a social sciences program – general economics – to one under the banner of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
The new designation puts the university’s economics programs on par with other STEM fields. It recognizes the rigorous instruction all students receive. It also benefits international students who can, upon graduation, apply for a STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) visa extension that allows them to work in the United States for up to 29 months rather than one year.
“STEM is not simply a designation in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, it is an important part of the vision for policymaking now and in the future,” said Dean Sally Wallace. “Infusing our teaching, experiential learning and outreach with rigorous analytical methods and tools provides our students a leg up in terms of employment that will pass the test of time.”
Georgia State’s STEM economics program, housed in the Andrew Young School, is one of only two such programs in the University System of Georgia. Fewer than two dozen economics programs across the country have achieved this designation.
In the last two decades, Georgia State’s economics curriculum has become substantially more reflective of the new designation, according to Shiferaw Gurmu, chair of the school’s economics department. Students take foundational classes in economic theory, econometrics and quantitative economics to analyze economic issues and problems.
“This new designation recognizes our rigorous program that combines the latest in various fields – economic theory, and analytic and quantitative techniques – to deal with complex economic challenges at all levels of society and business. Our students study various applied fields in economics, then they apply what they’ve learned to understand and try to solve big issues in the economic and public policy arena,” he said.
“Our use of information technologies and introduction of a data analytics course strengthens the programs. We have faculty teaching programming language – R – and so on, as a part of the econometrics and data analytics courses in our PhD and MA programs. These are all important for our curriculum and the direction we take our students as they prepare for careers in the digital landscape.”
The programs also introduce the students to the growing field of public interest technology.
“Our STEM classification will be a great tool for us in recruiting both domestic and international students to our programs,” said Gurmu. “We are at the cutting edge of this designation, but over time everyone will push in this direction. We are among the few, now, which puts us in league with the top economics programs in the nation.”
For more information on the economics programs at Georgia State, go to https://aysps.gsu.edu/economics/.