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The Dual Master’s Degree Program in Applied Economics & Social and Economic Policy is suitable for those who wish to pursue further studies in economics and social policy and related disciplines or seek professional positions in private and public sectors that require solid knowledge in economics, social policy, and analytical skills.
# QS World University Rankings by Subject (Economics and Econometrics) 2023
^ U.S. News & World Report 2023 (Best Education Schools)
Modern economic and public-policy decisions demand mastery of quantitative methods and data-driven analysis. A pathbreaking dual-degree program—jointly designed by the Department of Economics at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University —opens the door to the study of economics and its application to real world policies in both Chinese and US contexts.
Students spend 10 months at CUHK, taking courses team-taught by CUHK and Northwestern faculty, then transition to Northwestern for 7 months of additional coursework. Upon completion of the program, students receive a master of science in applied economics from CUHK and a master of science in social and economic policy from Northwestern.
The CUHK Department of Economics is among Asia’s top-tier schools, known for its leading research on Chinese economic issues. Northwestern University, with a main campus just north of Chicago and fronting Lake Michigan, is ranked ninth-best in the US. Its School of Education and Social Policy, ranked eighth-best in the US, is world- renowned for the study of social, educational, and economic policy. Both universities have multicultural student bodies and alumni networks that span the globe.
The CUHK-Northwestern dual-degree program is expected to attract highly qualified students who will become leaders in their professions: as policy makers in civil service and nonprofit organizations and as economic analysts and thought leaders in public and private industry and academia.
The program is distinctive for its academic concentrations and rigor, the prestige of its institutions and faculty, its affordability, and its incomparable student experience.
with advanced knowledge in economic science, economics oriented policy making and various applied fields, so as to help students acquire a deep understanding of the complex interplay between theorization and data analyses in studying real world issues, and to lay a solid foundation for advanced studies and research work.
in quantitative analyses involving the application of econometric tools to analyze empirical datasets, derive estimates, test hypotheses and make forecasts; and making informed and insightful decisions in social and economic policy, commercial, managerial and personal contexts with the knowledge and skills in economics and public policy and econometrics.
with attributes to apply economic reasoning to explain the economic rationales for the public policies of China and the US; and develop sensitivity towards the changes in economic landscapes and shifts in economic regimes in the age of rapid globalization, so as to excel in professional positions in public and private sectors.
The program requires completing 15 courses, including 9 courses in applied economics, policy, and quantitative analysis, and 6 elective courses.
4 required CUHK courses
2 elective CUHK courses
3 required/elective Northwestern courses
3 required/elective Northwestern courses
3 required/elective Northwestern courses
This course provides an exposition of advanced microeconomic analysis. Topics include consumer theory, general equilibrium, game theory, information economics, and market design etc. The course is designed to emphasize the applications of microeconomic theory in real-world contexts.
This course covers modern developments in major macroeconomic theories related to long term growth and short term business cycle changes. Emphasis is given to the applications of modern macroeconomic methods in producing quantitative forecasts and predictions, as practiced in principal macroeconomic research organizations such as central banks and investment groups. Topics featured in the course include: (1) Dynamic Programming, (2) Computable General Equilibrium Models, (3) Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium Models, (4) Macroeconometrics and (5) Bayesian Methods.
This course introduces the essential mathematical methods for economic analysis. To underscore the relevance of mathematics to economics, this course motivates the study of mathematical methods with the analytical needs of economists, and illustrates the study with appropriate economic applications. The following topics will be covered: elementary real analysis, linear models and matrix algebra for static or equilibrium analysis, differential calculus and comparative static analysis for general function models, optimizations with constraints, differential and difference equations and dynamic optimization. Basic calculus and elementary linear algebra are prerequisites.
Econometrics combines economics, mathematics, statistics with its applications involving real data analysis and computer programming. This course is an introductory course on the applications of econometric analysis at the graduate level. Topics include: linear model, large sample theory, parameters estimation methods, hypotheses testing, panel data models, discrete choice and censored data, etc., with applications to many real world economic problems.
The main goal of this course is to help students develop skills to interpret, analyze, conduct and communicate about the causal methods used for evaluating policy. The course will provide students with a framework for understanding causal inference and a toolkit for making causal claims using quantitative data. The main topics will include experimental methods, difference-in-differences, instrumental variables, and regression discontinuity design. These will be explored through numerous applications such as the impact of class-size on academic achievement, the effect of home technology on child outcomes, the labor market returns to college, the effect of financial aid policy on college attendance and completion, and the impact of minimum wages on unemployment.
This course offers an introduction to fundamentals of economic analysis in the evaluation of education, health, and social policy, using economic reasoning to explain the economic rationales for policies as well as the potential consequences, expected and unexpected, of the policies.
This course focuses hands on analysis of the real time challenges facing a range of policy areas and industries across federal and state governments and the private sector. Learn the applied analytical methods and statistics used by policy makers and decision leaders to tackle challenges surrounding economic empowerment, energy and climate, finance and regulation, transportation and mobility, and a suite of other issues. Coursework includes qualitative critical analysis and quantitative statistical analysis as well as insights from practitioners in the field.
In this course, students will learn about the factors that influence policy making in the United States, what happens to policy as it makes its way through the system and gets played out on the ground, and the role of high-quality, mixed methods policy analysis in these processes. Students will engage these objectives by reading and participating in class discussions of theories of policy making and implementation, as well as by engaging in practical policy brief writing exercises.
This course provides a deep discussion of theoretical concepts and empirical tools to understand the design and effects of economic policy, including tax and transfer policy, social insurance, and the effects of macroeconomic factors on individuals, firms, and organizations. Students will also gain hands-on experiences through real-world case studies and develop analytical skills to assist with future decision-making.
This is a graduate level course in applied econometrics. Both microeconometric theory and empirical strategies for applied econometric research will be discussed. Modern causal inference including machine learning tools and big data analysis will be introduced. This course will discuss instrumental variable methods, treatment effect, matching, panel data models, differences-in-differences, regression discontinuity designs, binary response model, censored data, and modern causal inference topics including machine learning in causal inference, and so on. Students are advised to take ECON5120/ ECON5121/ ECON5122 before taking this course.
Large-scale data set has become increasingly available in many fields of economics. This presents challenges to statistical inference and even merely “understanding” the data. Meanwhile, it offers abundant opportunities for new inquiries and answers. In this course, we introduce the core statistical methods to work with big data (structured and unstructured) and show how these techniques can be combined with econometric tools in economics research. While we cover major machine learning tools, including supervised learning methods, unsupervised learning and dimensionality reduction, we will focus on their concrete applications in current empirical research. Examples will be drawn from various lines of research, including text as data, relevant prediction problems in economics, and causal inference.
Using the Chinese economy as a context, the course is designed to guide and train students to think courageously, creatively, and critically. Students are required to find "puzzles" in the contemporary Chinese economy, to develop economic issues of general relevance from these "puzzles", to frame these issues into theoretical or empirical questions, and finally to draft papers based on these questions. The course relies heavily on class discussion. Students are required to present at each stage of their thinking process. Students are advised to take ECON5010/5011/5012, 5020/5021/5022 and 5120/5121/5122 before taking this course.
This course provides the economic foundation of modern asset pricing theory. It serves as an introduction to the functioning of the financial market as an efficient venue for financing investment activities. Various issues on risk measurement, risk assessment, managing risk, investors' psychological attitudes towards risk, and its implications on consumption and portfolio decision making in an uncertain world will be introduced and discussed. In-depth treatment will be given to the classical Markowitz's mean-variance analysis, CAPM, multi-factor asset pricing theory and no-arbitrage asset pricing theory as cornerstones of modern finance.
This course offers theoretical, empirical and current topics in international trade. It covers studies of positive issues, such as: Why do countries trade? What goods do countries trade? How does openness to trade shape countries' industrial structure and global production sharing? The course also concerns the normative issues, such as: Is trade beneficial to everyone, or are there winners and losers? What is the impact of trade on economic growth, wage inequality and poverty? All these issues will be discussed both from theories and empirics, as well as at country, industry and firm level. In particular, we will also discuss the ongoing US-China trade war.
This is a graduate-level international finance course. It aims to provide students with a solid understanding of the modern theories and empirics of international finance. Topics covered in this course include: exchange rate determination theories, exchange rate regimes, capital flows, currency crises, international monetary policy spillovers and coordination, among others.
The goal of this course is to understand the economic problems of developing countries by using economic theories and their applications. The course will cover both macroeconomic and microeconomic approaches to development economics. We will first overview the theories of growth and discuss their potential in explaining income differences across countries, and then study the different facets of human development: market, institution, and culture.
The course provides a theoretical and empirical foundation for the analysis of labor market. Topics to be covered include: labor supply and demand, minimum wages, migration, human capital and education production, labor market incentives, efficiency wage, and skill investment. Students should preferably have finished graduate level ECON5012 and ECON5122 before taking this course.
This course provides an overview of the theory of industrial organization and its applications. Topics include theory of the firm, business integration, supply chain contracting, monopoly, price and non-price business strategies, and case studies.
This course addresses the economic theory and empirics of corporate finance and governance. The goal is to help students understand major research issues in the field and develop their skills to apply theory to corporate finance practices. It focuses on important topics such as capital structure, ownership structure, capital budgeting and corporate governance institutions. The course extensively uses the tools of game theory, information economics and microeconometrics. Students are recommended to take ECON 5012 and ECON 5122 before taking this course.
This course provides an introduction to the theory and empirics of behavioral economics and behavioral finance. In this course, classical assumptions on economic agents such as rationality and time consistency are relaxed, allowing students to analyze investors and financial markets from a non-traditional perspective. The course is therefore a good complement to the mainstream economic and financial theories built upon individual rationality.
This course is an introduction to rigorous and policy‐relevant impact evaluation strategies and techniques for postgraduate students in economics. The course's main emphasis is on empirical strategies to identify the causal effects of public policies and programs. The course has a strong focus on applications, although students will be expected to fully understand the conceptual underpinnings of each strategy. Topics include instrumental variables, fixed effects, differences-in-differences, experiments, and regression discontinuity design for policy evaluation.
This graduate course includes two parts. The first part provides elementary theories of monetary policy and fiscal policy, providing students a general framework for policy analysis. The second part mainly discusses the development of Chinese monetary policy and fiscal policy in the past three decades, the potential policy reform and its implications to the Chinese economy. In addition, how monetary policy and fiscal policy respond to financial crises or public health crises will be widely analyzed and discussed in this course.
This course provides an introduction to contemporary public policies in China. These include economic public policies such as labor, trade, tax and poverty alleviation, as well as social public policies such as environment, population, education, healthcare and social security. This course focuses on using economic concepts and theories to analyze and evaluate such policies.
This is a course on special topics in Economics. The topic may change from one year to another. Some recent topics are international trade, and monetary and financial economics.ECON5822 Special Topic in Economics I : Economic Policies in Aging Societies (Offered in 2023/24)ECON5831 Special Topics in Economics II : China Financial Markets (Offered in 2023/24)
This course introduces the process of using data and data science techniques to explore and examine problems or issues related to social policy. Data science is a new powerful approach or discipline that combines various aspects of statistics, programming, mathematics, computer science, and visualization techniques. In this course, we will learn the fundamentals of methods for harnessing and analyzing the vast quantities of new and heterogeneous data using the Python programming language.
This course provides the foundational tools for analyzing the economics of education. It will provide several different explanations for why people go to school, including both the signaling and human capital models. Methods for estimating the returns to schooling (i.e. income boosts that can be attributed to education) will be applied and covered in detail. These methods include regression, difference-in-difference, regression discontinuity, and instrumental variables. These tools will also be used to analyze other important questions within education, such as the impact of smaller classes and the importance of teachers. Finally, depending on time and student interest other topics will be explored, such as student debt, school accountability, and higher education finance.
This course explores individual, organizational, and social factors that influence how leadership is defined and enacted in organizations. This exploration highlights theories and models of effective leadership, providing opportunities to build knowledge, develop your own perspectives, and practice the leadership skills necessary to face the challenges of leading organizations for positive impact in complex environments. We will explore the concept of leadership as a set of organizational responsibilities that are socially conditioned and shaped by different cultural values, social contexts, and individual identities. Readings and activities will cover leadership issues such as: aligning and articulating connections among organization mission, strategy, and culture; recognizing and countering bias to support evidence-based decisions, inclusion, and equity; modeling emotional intelligence; and, developing and inspiring new, emerging leaders. *This course is jointly offered with the MS in Leadership and Organizational Change (MSLOC) program. MSLOC charges a $400 fee for staffing, technology, and during courses with an on-site component. MSLOC also might charge additional fees for assessments or simulations.
This course would introduce students to important basic ideas of ethnographic fieldwork, both from a historical perspective on how ethnographic field studies have been used to understand organizations in the past (and the concepts that have been developed in these studies) and from the perspective of newer, contemporary approaches (e.g., the use of video interaction analysis methods). The course would also locate policy as one among several social scientific conceptions of how organizations change. Finally, the class will consider the role of human learning in how policies are experienced and implemented. The culminating assignment for the class will be a small fieldwork study in which students investigate a context in which a policy has been implemented and seek to understand through ethnographic methods (e.g. interviews, observations) how the policy is experienced and understood by relevant organizational stakeholders.
This course explores economic, social, and environmental determinants of population health and wellbeing, and how health and wellbeing in turn impacts economic productivity and social disparities. In particular, students will learn about the fetal origins hypothesis, historical and recent developments in fertility, health disparities, the role of environmental pollution, trends in mortality, mental health, and subjective wellbeing. Each topic will be paired with the review of a empirical method, deepening the understanding of research techniques and their applications to real-life problems.
*The availability of elective courses varies from year to year. Subject to the approval of the Division Head of both universities.
If you have questions about the Northwestern portion of the program, please visit its website here or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition to the tuition fee for your study at CUHK, you also have to prepare your budget for other expenses related to your daily living in Hong Kong. Normal ranges of study-related expenses are as follows:
*Source: Education Bureau, The Government of HKSAR:
In addition to the tuition fee for your study at Northwestern University, you also have to prepare your budget for other expenses related to your daily living in the U.S. Normal ranges of study-related expenses are as follows:
*Source: Northwestern University:
The career prospects of our graduates are excellent. With their specialized understanding of economic science and quantitative skills, they are amongst the most desired employees in the job market, particularly as professionals in the banking and finance sector, and policy makers in civil service and nonprofit organizations and as economic analysts and thought leaders in public and private industry and academia. Both CUHK and Northwestern University have dedicated career units to foster excellence in career development, preparation, and professional opportunities for students by providing comprehensive services and programming and by promoting strong partnerships with employers, academic departments, and the university community.
CUHK is the lead university regarding career services and placement in the program. CUHK Department of Economics has set up a Career Unit to support students at every stage of the career development process. To prepare students for a competitive global economy, the Career Unit organizes various learning and development workshops, company visits and one-on-one counselling services, with the aim of enhancing students’ career readiness. Examples include workshops on writing impressive resumes, job interview skills, job market trend, Bloomberg training, professional business and dining etiquette and personal grooming. We offer up-to-date information and support on internships and graduate jobs. In the process, students learn how to clearly identify and articulate their career goals and develop a successful, targeted job search strategy.
Besides the department’s career unit, the Career Planning and Development Centre advocates all-round career preparation through a range of career-focused services and programs, to provide students with comprehensive job market information and insightful advice to help actualize their career aspirations. For more information, please visit https://cpdc.osa.cuhk.edu.hk/.
The mission of Northwestern Career Advancement (NCA) is to foster excellence in career development, preparation, and professional opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students and alumni by providing comprehensive services and programming and by promoting strong partnerships with employers, academic departments, and the university community.
The wide range of career services for students includes advising, job and internship search assistance, career assessments, access to employment databases, career fairs, and on-campus recruiting. For more information, please visit https://www.northwestern.edu/careers/.
A full tuition waiver scholarship may be offered to applicants who possess exceptional academic backgrounds and a genuine passion for making a difference in the world through their research and work.
Students who have exhibited distinguished academic performance and have demonstrated excellence in other areas are eligible to be received the Academic Excellence Award, the Distinguished Student Service Award and the Excellence in Professional Development Award upon completion of the program.
Various activities which support job hunting and facilitate student learning outside the classroom are recognised throughout the year.
Applicants should submit applications through the online admission system from 1 September 2023. All required documents must be received before the application deadlines, and applications will be processed on a rolling basis until all places are filled.
The tuition for the August 2024 – December 2025 academic year is HK$465,000 (Subject to University approval). Students are required to pay the tuition fee in three instalments. Additional costs—including fees for student visas, travel, housing, meals, and insurance— vary and are borne by the students.
Tuition fee and other fees (e.g. application fee) are NOT refundable or transferable once paid.
To be considered for admission, an applicant must hold a bachelor’s degree —ideally in economics, public policy, social policy, or a related field—from an accredited institution. Strong academic ability, including quantitative proficiency, is required.
Applicants will be assessed on the basis of past academic performance, work experience, references, language skills, and an in-person or virtual admissions interview. Although applicants are considered separately by CUHK and Northwestern, final admissions decisions are jointly made; only one application is required.
Please visit the Graduate School homepage here for further information on general qualifications for admission, application periods, application procedures et cetera.
Students must obtain the appropriate Hong Kong and US student visas as required by law. Successful applicants receive assistance with their visa applications, housing search, and general transition issues.
Note: If extraordinary circumstances temporarily render US travel impractical, the entire program could be delivered in Hong Kong.
i (a) Qualifications (Bachelor’s or higher degrees):
i (b) Other qualifications:
ii TOEFL and IELTS scores are valid for two years from the test date. Applicants must request the test organization of TOEFL/ IELTS to send their official score reports directly to the CUHK Graduate School. Student copy of score report will NOT be accepted.
iii Hard copy of Confidential Recommendations must reach our office directly from the referees, or in sealed envelopes and send by the applicant with other supporting documents to our office. The referees can also choose to submit the Confidential Recommendations via internet.
Please visit the CUHK Graduate School homepage for further information on general qualifications for admission, application periods, application procedures et cetera.