MA Fellowship

For students pursuing a master's degree in economics at George Mason University who are interested in gaining an advanced degree in applied economics in preparation for a career in public policy.

Applications are currently closed. Applications for the 2025-2026 academic year will open in the Fall of 2024.

Details

The total award of up to $80,000 (over two years) includes: 

  • A monthly stipend
  • Full tuition support (nine credits per semester)
  • Practical experience conducting and disseminating research with Mercatus scholars and staff on pertinent policy issues

Qualifications

In order to be accepted into the MA Fellowship program, you must either be:

  • Enrolled in Mason's MA program in Economics 
  • Applying to Mason's MA program in Economics 

If you are not already enrolled in Mason's MA program in Economics, please complete the standard application for fall admission and indicate on the application that you would like to be considered for funding. 

About the Fellowship

The Mercatus MA Fellowship is a two-year, competitive, full-time fellowship program for students pursuing a master’s degree in economics at George Mason University who are interested in gaining an advanced degree in applied economics in preparation for a career in public policy. The Mercatus Center’s MA Fellowship program is targeted toward students with an interest in gaining advanced training in economics, but who do not anticipate a career in academia. Students who anticipate working in public policy jobs in research, communications or outreach are ideal candidates for this fellowship.

MA Fellows can pursue skills that prepare them for a career in public policy, including policy research, strategic communications, outreach, and project management. All fellows are required to take courses toward an MA in economics from George Mason University, and are encouraged to take electives in courses that further their expertise in conducting and communicating economic analysis of public policy issues. In addition, fellows attend readings groups and career development workshops and spend at least 20 hours a week working with Mercatus scholars and staff. Fellows will join a network of Mercatus students, alumni, and scholars who are conducting and engaging with cutting-edge research in contemporary political economy.

MA Fellows have the opportunity to work as research assistants and coauthors with Mercatus scholars on pertinent policy areas such as regulations, federal fiscal policy, financial markets, monetary policy, technology policy, state and local policy, trade and immigration, healthcare and the study of American capitalism. Fellows will work with established scholars that have the academic credentials as well as professional experience that makes them leading experts on public policy issues. By working alongside scholars, fellows will learn how to research complex policy issues and communicate sound economic analysis through academic articles, policy publications, congressional testimony, opinion pieces, and blog posts. MA Fellows will also have the opportunity to work with Mercatus scholars and staff to learn how to promote, disseminate, and translate economic analysis through written products, video production, media, and podcasts. Fellows have gone on to become policy analysts and researchers at federal and state agencies, in Congressional staff positions, at think tanks, and academic research centers.

MA About Photo

Additional Financial Support

Additional sources of funding are available to our MA Fellows, including:

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Have more questions?

    Yes. Fellows have a full course load each semester, are required to attend workshops and readings groups, and are required to spend approximately 20 hours a week working as research assistants for Mercatus Center scholars. For this reason, students who want to maintain a full-time job in addition to the fellowship duties are not eligible.

    Yes. Mercatus accepts and reviews all applications received before our deadlines. However you must ensure that all of your GMU paperwork has been correctly submitted and received by GMU before their deadlines in order to be accepted into the Mercatus Center Fellowship.

    To apply to the MA Fellowship, click the "Apply" button above or below, and complete the online application, including:

    • A 1-2 page cover letter explaining:

      • your research interests and current projects, 

      • your familiarity with Mason and Mercatus scholars and their research, and

      • what you hope to get out of the program.

    • A current resume/CV

    • A 500-1000 word essay on "Why do some societies prosper, while others remain stagnant and poor?"

    • A 10-page writing sample that demonstrates your writing and research skills

    • A few short answer questions

    We utilize the writing sample to examine each applicant’s writing style and ability, grasp of language, and clarity of thought. We are not particularly concerned with the specific content of the sample. Therefore you should choose whichever work you feel will give us the best impression of your skills as a writer.

    Yes. We encourage all interested applicants to apply again for the program the next year.

    MA Fellows are required to be enrolled full-time, maintain a 3.5 GPA, enroll in 9 credits each semester, maintain a good academic standing, including no unsatisfactory grades, spend approximately 20 hours each week working with Mercatus Center staff and faculty mentors throughout the year, attend and actively participate in all required program activities (e.g., workshops, courses, and events), arrive on time and prepared for all relevant activities having carefully read the assigned reading in advance, and be honest, responsible, fair, and civil in all activities of the MA Fellowship Program.

     

    In general, MA Fellows work and attend classes at GMU’s Arlington campus.

    Most MA Fellows take three classes a semester, which meet one day a week per class. Typically, MA Fellows are expected to work at the Mercatus Center for around 20 hours a week for a Mercatus scholar or department doing a variety of research-related tasks.

    MA Fellows are encouraged to seek off-site internships during the summer between their first and second years in the program. Because Mercatus recognizes the benefits of off-site internships to our fellows and hence the MA Fellowship program as a whole, we suspend our 20 hour per week work requirement for fellows working in approved internships. Additionally our policy with paid summer internships is to permit them and to guarantee our fellows their promised amount of summer funds as a minimum. For an unpaid internship a fellow receives their entire summer stipend from Mercatus. For an internship where a fellow earns more from the internship than they were promised from Mercatus that fellow earns and keeps their internship salary, but does not receive fellowship payments via Mercatus for the summer. Finally, fellows with paid internships which pay less than our promised summer funding receive payments from Mercatus to bring their total pay up to the promised amount.

    General questions about the Fellowship – email [email protected].

    Questions about your application status or application materials – email [email protected]

    Questions about the Mercatus Center in general or directions – contact Mercatus at (800) 815-5711.

    Questions about your application to GMU – Contact the Economics Department at (703) 993-1135

    Ready to get started?

    Confirm your qualifications

    In order to be accepted into the MA Fellowship program, you must either be:

    • Enrolled in Mason's MA program in Economics 
    • Applying to Mason's MA program in Economics