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Our innovative curriculum provides rigorous training in applied economic science while developing strong public policy and data analysis skills. Students will:

  • Build a foundation in economic and social policy theory and its application in core classes.
  • Cultivate expertise in specialized policy areas in elective courses.
  • Gain hands-on experiences through real-world case studies.

Students maximize the flexible thinking, networking, communication, and leadership skills needed to succeed at the highest levels by practicing them in an international setting, studying first in Sha Tin, Hong Kong, then in Evanston, Illinois.

Upon completing the program curriculum, students have the option to further their professional experience through working with a faculty or a professional advisor on a research or research-to-practice project.

Please note, this program has been designated as a STEM program, which qualifies international students for the OPT extension. In order to qualify for the OPT extension, students must complete the optional Winter Quarter. For more information on STEM OPT extensions, please visit the  Office of International Student and Scholar Services website.

Disclaimer: the course schedule is subject to change.

CUHK Campus

Operates on a semester system

  • First Semester

    4 Required Courses

    • ECON 5102: Mathematics for Economic Analysis
    • ECON 5012: Microeconomic Analysis and Applications
    • ECON 5022: Macroeconomic Analysis and Applications
    • ECON 5122: Econometric Analysis and Applications

  • Second Semester

    3 Required Northwestern Courses

    • SE_POL 400: Causal Methods for Evaluating Policy
    • SE_POL 401: Economics of Public Policy
    • SE_POL 403: Policy Analysis using Advanced Methods

  • September-April

    2 CUHK Electives

Northwestern Campus

Operates on a quarter system

  • Summer Quarter

    1 Required Northwestern Course, 2 Electives

    • SE_POL 407: Social Policy in the United States

  • Fall Quarter

    1 Required Northwestern Course, 2 Electives

    • SE_POL 409: Economic Policy in Action

  • Winter Quarter


    • Students also have an option to elect into a winter quarter of research or research-to-practice project.

CUHK Required Courses

ECON 5102: Mathematics for Economic Analysis

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.

ECON 5012: Microeconomic Analysis and Applications

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.

ECON 5022: Macroeconomic Analysis and Applications

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.

ECON 5122: Econometric Analysis and Applications

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.

Northwestern Required Courses

SE_POL 403: Policy Analysis using Advanced Methods

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.

SE_POL 401: Economics of Public Policy

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.

SE_POL 400: Causal Methods for Evaluating Policy

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.

SE_POL 409: Economic Policy in Action

An economic policy is a course of action that is intended to influence or control the behavior of the economy. Economic policies are typically implemented and administered by the government (federal, state, and local). They are the end results of economic planning: the decisions governments make to influence the production, consumption, and redistribution of wealth. This course provides a deep discussion of theoretical concepts and empirical tools to understand the design and effects of economic policy from the local to the international level in a variety of areas that are organized into two sections. Section I explores micro-level policy issues such as social safety net, workforce development, and topics in regional and global economic development, while Section II investigates how contemporary macroeconomic policy and institutional design explain dramatic events in the international economy. In Section II, we will focus on specific macro policy issues like the exchange rate crises in Argentina and, more recently, in Russia, the 2012 labor market reform in Spain and the Covid-19 pandemic and the global economy. The course is intended to develop a framework for linking policy design and economic outcomes of agents in the economy. As part of the course assessment, students will be organized into teams and cast into different roles to advise stakeholders on policy and program design and evaluation in a simulated professional setting. 

SE_POL 409: Social Policy in the United States

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. 

Sample Northwestern Elective Courses

The availability of elective courses varies from year to year, subject to the approval of the Division Head of both universities.

SE_POL 408: Applied Data Science and Applications in social policy

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. 

SE_POL 410: Economics of Education

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. 

SE_POL 411: Policies in Practice

The premise of this class is that along with traditional approaches to policy analysis, it also is important to have tools and concepts to understand policies “on the ground”—how they directly affect people and organizational practices. How are policies implemented, understood, adapted, augmented, worked around, or resisted in particular organizational contexts? 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. 

SE_POL 412: Economics of Health + Wellbeing

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. 

SE_POL 415: Leadership in Organizations

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. 

Optional Winter Quarter: Enhanced Experiential Learning Opportunities

The optional winter quarter (January-March) creates an opportunity for active engagement in research or professional settings. Students will apply economic theories and empirical tools, acquired during the training, in solving real-life problems. Students will also develop and practice critical-thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills. Working in small groups, students will collaborate with their fellow classmates and develop strong, lasting relationships with one another.

Guided Experiential Capstone Project

Teams of 3-5 students participate in a structured research-to-practice experience to solve a policy or business problem that a government agency or business faces. Supervised by a professional advisor, participating students have the chance to work with actual data from the selected fields, develop data-driven policy options or business strategies, and deliver an on-site presentation of recommendations to government officials or business executives. Choose from a wide range of projects from 4 content areas, receive a blend of lectures, guest speakers, discussions, and complete with an intensive site visit of an organization located in the U.S. for an exceptional learning experience. Typically, this experience includes a 3-day travel component and an associated program fee.

Education Capstone: From early childhood to postsecondary education, from school choice to higher education finance, students have the opportunity to work with senior leadership from consulting firms, federal/state/local education agencies, or international organizations to identify burning issues, define a scope of work, develop analytical approaches, and conduct research with the aim to improve education access, equity, or quality. Students will meet regularly with their professional advisor, work with team members on project deliverables, and travel to the client to present findings and policy options to the organization executives on-site. 

Health Strategy Capstone: Teams of 4-6 students will work collaboratively to solve a real-world problem raised by a client. Students will work directly with a professional advisor from the client organization, likely including hospitals, healthcare providers, government agencies, and public health communication companies. They will develop a research plan, analytical approach, and a report or business brief. Students will travel to the client to deliver a final presentation with policy options and recommendations. 

Workforce Development Capstone: Workforce development programs and policies promote access to employment opportunities and the mastery of job-related knowledge and skills. Effective workforce development programs support education and employment-related needs of the targeted population and help economic growth. Students will work in teams of 4-6 to evaluate the effectiveness and return on investment of a workforce development program or policy for a federal/state/local government agency. Students will develop a policy brief and present findings and policy implications to the client on-site.

Management Consulting Capstone: In this 10-week capstone experience, students are organized into teams of 4-6 and cast into the role of management consultants to advise businesses executives on issues ranging from talent acquisition and retention, regulation compliance, marketing, and strategic planning. Students will simulate a consulting engagement by developing a statement of work and analytical approach, facilitating meetings with different stakeholders, managing client expectations, and presenting final business recommendations to the client on-site. 

Guided Research Project

Students enroll in a research-intensive experience in which they will develop and implement a self-directed research project. Students will develop a research proposal, conduct empirical research, and write a journal-quality paper at the end of the quarter. Students will meet regularly with a faculty advisor with knowledge or experience in the relevant field of study and receive advice and support from the advisor. The guided research project is a perfect research experience for students who wish to pursue a doctoral degree or work in academia upon graduation.

Global Impact Initiative

As future global leaders, students must understand and be able to manage cultural differences, develop and adapt technical solutions to country context, and acquire soft skills to be effective communicators in a global market. In this one-quarter global engagement, students gain knowledge about a country’s social and economic environment, local culture, and the many aspects of developing programs and policies in the country’s context. Students work with international organizations, interact with representatives from government agencies and business, and solve a policy or business challenge for a partner client. This experience consists of on-campus meetings, group discussions, guest speakers, and one intensive, immersive week in-country travel component where students participate in cultural exchange activities, networking events, and present business or policy recommendations to the client or international events. This experience includes a week-long international travel component and an associated program fee. Travel expenses are not included in the tuition.