Welcoming our first class of blended master’s students

Posted on:
Lindsay Shanahan
map of blended master's learners

Twenty-one new students are due to arrive on MIT’s campus in January 2020. They are the first cohort of the new Master’s in Data, Economics, and Development Policy, the first master’s degree to be offered by MIT’s Department of Economics.

These impressive students come from 16 countries (more than half of which are middle- and low-income) and a diversity of backgrounds, from ages 16 to 34. They are the realization of J-PAL and MIT’s efforts to make higher education more accessible to students across the globe.

The MicroMasters in Data, Economics, and Development Policy

The fight against poverty is more data-driven than ever before. Increasingly, understanding and producing rigorous evidence is critical for those seeking to affect change. But opportunities to acquire these skills remain extremely limited.

In order to meet rising demand and equip professionals worldwide with the necessary tools to make effective decisions on some of the world’s most difficult questions, J-PAL worked with MIT to launch the MicroMasters credential and blended master’s program in 2016.

The credential combines five online courses and in-person proctored exams to provide learners with the opportunity to gain a strong foundation in microeconomics, development economics, probability and statistics, and engage with cutting-edge research in the field. 

The online MicroMasters courses are priced according to learners’ ability to pay, to minimize the financial constraints many learners face. To date 217 learners from 60 countries have earned the full credential. 

Learners who have earned the credential can apply to MIT’s new blended Master’s in Data, Economics, and Development Policy. Applicants to the master’s program are not required to have any prior university-level training, nor submit GRE/GMAT scores. This offers all students, no matter their background or where they live, an equal opportunity to prove their ability and motivation through their performance in MicroMasters courses. 

Accepted students in the blended master’s program have already earned nearly half of their academic credit before arriving on campus through the MicroMasters program, so they are able to earn a master’s degree from MIT in about eight months.

The first cohort

The first application period for our blended master’s program closed in January 2019. We were thrilled to see 86 eligible students apply - nearly half of credential holders at that time. Thanks to generous support from foundations and individuals, we were able to extend funding to nearly 30% of the incoming class. (Interested in sponsoring one of our dedicated students? Contact us at [email protected].) 

During their time here at MIT, students will complete four courses in data analysis and development economics, as well as electives like energy economics. They will participate in weekly department research seminars, and a weekly lunch seminar exclusive to the blended master’s cohort. 

Following their spring semester on campus students will also complete a summer internship and capstone project.

Program staff and professors will work with students to identify opportunities that not only allow them to apply what they've learned in the program, but also that align with their interests and help expand their professional network. Students will have the opportunity to work at J-PAL’s partner organizations around the world, or return to their previous employer to put their new skills into practice. 

Join us!

We’re excited to meet the new cohort in January and welcome them to our MIT community. Interested in joining the program? The next application cycle opens in December 2019. In the meantime, interested applicants should start completing the MITx MicroMasters in Data, Economics, and Development Policy - our upcoming semester begins September 3. Enroll today!

Authored By

  • J-PAL logo

    Lindsay Shanahan

    Senior Education Associate, J-PAL Global