International Economics

International Economics Program

Provides students with a firm grasp of the theory and tools of economics and finance and the functioning of the international economic system.

Program Activities
Waiver Exams
Faculty Seminars
Academic Year 17/18
Academic Year 16/17
Events Calendar
External Resources

The International Economics Program provides students with a firm grasp of the theory and tools of economics, finance, and the functioning of the international economic system. These skills are an important component of modern training in international affairs. In addition, the advanced courses in the program can be used to prepare interested students for a variety of careers in international economic and financial analysis as well as in business or the non-profit sector.

The study of economics is an integral part of the academic program at Johns Hopkins SAIS. The strong emphasis placed on economics in the curriculum is one of the unique characteristics that set us apart from other graduate programs in international affairs. Thus, in partial fulfillment of the Master of Arts, all students must complete a concentration in International Economics by passing a minimum of four (4) economics courses formally taken at Johns Hopkins SAIS, over and above any economics courses that might be waived.

Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Professor Pravin Krishna at the "Global Governance: An Assessment" talk on April 20, 2016.
Liu Mingkang and Professor Roger Leeds discussing "China's New Economic Plans: Implications for China, Asia and the Global Economy," March 29, 2016.
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Program Activities


Learning Beyond the Classroom

The International Economics Program offers students the opportunity to gain knowledge outside of the classroom through weekly faculty seminars and regularly scheduled brown bag discussions.


Faculty Seminars

The International Economics Program holds regular seminars on Thursdays, where invited professors present and receive feedback on research papers.  These seminars are open to the school's community. You may find a copy of the Seminar Series schedule here.

If you would like to be added to our distribution list, please fill out the form here.


Brown Bag Events

The International Economics Program holds regular brown bag lunches on Wednesdays, where professors and invited guests discuss and receive feedback on preliminary research ideas.



International Economics | MA Academic Requirements

International Economics Learning Goals and Objectives

Entering Class 2017-2018 (prior entering class requirements are archived below)

Every MA student is required to complete a concentration in International Economics. Students must successfully complete four economics courses. At a minimum, these four course include:

  • Microeconomics (intermediate)
  • Macroeconomics (intermediate)
  • International Trade Theory
  • International Monetary Theory

Students may also choose to pursue a specialization (4 elective courses) in the following areas:

  • Quantitative Methods and Economic Theory
  • International Finance
  • Development Economics
  • Economic Policy
  • Infrastructure Finance and Policy

International Economics Concentration Requirements

Concentration Course Requirement

Students must take and successfully complete a minimum of four credit-bearing courses (16 credits) from the International Economics program and maintain a GPA of at least 2.67 in these four courses. Students who pass Microeconomics in Pre-Term must successfully complete a minimum of three credit-bearing courses (12 credits) and must maintain at least a 2.67 in these three courses.

Fundamental Course Requirements:

Must demonstrate proficiency in intermediate-level courses in Microeconomics and Macroeconomics by either passing these courses (or the Accelerated version) as part of the minimum economics course requirement, passing Microeconomics in Pre-Term or passing the respective waiver exam.*

Core Economics Course Requirements:

Must demonstrate proficiency in intermediate-level courses in International Trade Theory and International Monetary Theory by either passing these courses (or the Accelerated version) as part of the minimum economics course requirement, or passing the respective waiver exam.*

*If proficiency in any of the above courses is achieved by passing waiver exams or through any approved arrangements, the student must take International Economics program elective courses to replace the waived courses in order to meet the four International Economics course requirements (16 credits) above. Students who pass Microeconomics in Pre-Term will only be required to take three additional economics courses (12 credits) to meet the overall requirement. The Pre-Term Microeconomics course is not for credit and is not factored into the GPA.

Concentration GPA Requirement
Students must achieve an average GPA of 2.67 or higher in the four (or three if Micro is passed in Pre-Term) International Economics program courses used to meet the concentration course requirements or they must retake a required course(s) until a 2.67 average is obtained. In the standard case, this GPA will be the average of the grades of Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, International Trade Theory and International Monetary Theory taken during the regular terms. When one or more of these four courses has been waived, the school will use the highest International Economics program elective course grade(s) on the student's transcript as a substitute for the waived course(s) in computing this four-course GPA average.

See here for a guideline on course grading in large International Economics program courses at the school.


Economics Specializations Course Requirements (Optional)

Economics Specializations:

For students with sufficient interest and room in their two-year program of study, we allow specialization in any of the following areas of International Economics:

  • Quantitative Methods and Economic Theory
  • International Finance
  • Development Economics
  • Economic Policy
  • Infrastructure Finance and Policy

Each of these generally require a set of four additional electives in the specialization area, with some specializations having other additional requirements. Students who achieve a specialization will have this appropriately denoted on their transcript. Completing an economics specialization is NOT required for fulfilling the MA, however, students with superior economics preparation or aptitude are encouraged to attempt one.


MA Oral Exam to Compete for Honors

The MA oral exam tests students’ knowledge of international economics and their chosen functional or regional concentration. Exams are held in August, December and May and are scheduled by the Registrar’s Office. Only the top 30 percent of the student body are eligible to compete for honors. The 30 percent cutoff is determined by students’ grade point average after their third semester (after the second semester for students who have advanced standing of one semester). Students with conferral dates of August or December will be selected to compete for honors based on the previous May’s GPA cutoff.

Two examiners administer the oral exam: a full- or part-time professor from the student’s functional or regional program, and an international economist from the faculty or from the local academic, government or policy community. If a student is pursuing a third concentration, three examiners will administer the oral exam.



Entering Class 2016-2017
Entering Class 2015-2016
Entering Class 2014-2015
Entering Class 2013-2014
Entering Class 2012-2013
Entering Class 2011-2012
Entering Class 2010-2011
Entering Class 2009-2010 (same as 2010-2011)


For students graduating in May of 2019, specialization forms are due NO LATER than Friday, May 17, 2019.
Applications for the December graduating class will be audited and reviewed in mid-October and applications of students graduating in May will be audited and reviewed in mid-March. You will receive a confirmation email of receipt of your application as well as any issues which may be present in your application following these audits. We recommend submitting an application prior to the start of your final semester at Johns Hopkins SAIS; the application is not binding and can be altered after being submitted to allow for a change in coursework to meet the requirements of the specialization. To view the classes required for the specialization, please click through to the application.

The International Economics Program offers specializations within economics for those students with a strong background or interest in economics who wish to pursue a set of elective courses in one particular area. Specializations are offered in five areas of economics.

These specializations include:

  • Quantitative Methods and Economic Theory    
  • International Finance
  • Infrastructure Finance and Policy
  • Development Economics
  • Economic Policy

Requirements for Specializations

The International Economics Program offers specializations within economics for those students with a strong background or interest in economics who wish to pursue a set of elective courses in one particular area. All of the specializations involve completion of the basic and core required International Economics courses:

300.700 Microeconomics or 300.699 Accelerated Microeconomics
300.701 Macroeconomics or 300.706 Accelerated Macroeconomics
300.707 International Trade Theory or 300.851 Accelerated International Trade Theory
300.708 International Monetary Theory or 300.852 Accelerated International Monetary Theory

In addition, students must complete a combination of required/elective courses from area-specific lists found below.

Specializations are offered in five areas of economics. The links below define the requirements for each specialization above the basic and core required courses for the International Economics concentration:

  • Specialization in Quantitative Methods and Economic Theory – focuses both the technical (quantitative) skills of economics and the analytical (theoretical) aspects of the disciplines.
  • Specialization in International Finance – focuses on financial markets and financial decision making in the area of international economics.
  • Specialization in Infrastructure Finance and Policy – focuses on financial modeling, economics, and policy issues associated with infrastructure investments and other public-private partnerships.  
  • Specialization in Development Economics – focuses on a range of issues of transitioning countries with an emphasis on economic growth and development.
  • Specialization in Economic Policy – focuses on market, regulatory and institutional aspects of policy problems of either the micro or macro variety, and practical applications of economic thought to policy problems in any of the trade, monetary/finance or growth/development arenas.

Completion of the requirements in a specialization will result in a formal indication of the specialization on the student's transcript. Completion of the requirements for any of the specializations satisfies the international economics concentration requirement for the MA degree.

These specializations do not change the requirement of a concentration in an examination field outside of international economics. They are simply an option for students wishing to indicate a focus of study within the field of international economics.

It should be recognized that these specializations are significantly more demanding in terms of economic knowledge and workload than the general International Economics requirement. Students with no prior background in economics and students who do not fulfill the basic requirements (Microeconomics and Macroeconomics) before starting their first full semester are discouraged from considering a specialization.

Double Counting Courses for Specializations
Courses that appear in multiple specialization lists may be counted toward only ONE specialization. However, courses applied to an international economics specialization may also be applied to a regional or functional concentration's requirements otherwise specified by that concentration.

Note on Cross-Listed Courses
Be aware that the International Economics Program reviews the elective courses listed in each specialization yearly and that non-International Economics Program courses may be added or deleted. Any changes will be announced at the beginning of each academic year.

Note on SAIS Europe Courses
Students at SAIS Europe should check the curriculum listings for each semester to determine the economics courses offered.

Specialization in Quantitative Methods and Economic Theory

Click here to submit your application.

Specialization in International Finance

Click here to submit your application.

Specialization in Infrastructure Finance and Policy

Click here to submit your application.

Specialization in Development Economics

Click here to submit your application.

Specialization in Economic Policy

Click here to submit your application.





Waiver Exams

Basic Rules of the Waiver Exam
Waiver exams are available for microeconomics, macroeconomics, international trade theory, international monetary theory, and statistics. These exams are administered online, so students should apply to the exam cycle(s) which correspond with the campus at which they will be/are currently attending. To qualify for the waiver exams, students must show transcript records from his or her prior academic institution indicating completion of the equivalent economics or statistics course with a "B-" grade or better. All waiver exams, except statistics, must be taken before the start of the student's third full-time semester at SAIS. Students who have received a letter or pass/fail grade for the corresponding course (SA.300.699/SA.300.700 for Microeconomics, SA.300.701/SA.300.706 for Macroeconomics, SA.300.707/SA.300.851 for International Trade Theory, SA.300.708/SA.300.852 for International Monetary Theory, and SA.340.709 for Statistics) naturally become ineligible for that course's waiver exam. Students may only attempt a waiver exam once, and only passing results will be recorded on their transcript. Waiver exams are administered online during fixed cycles (listed below). Students may request an out of cycle exam at the cost of a non-negotiable, non-refundable administrative fee. Students are ultimately responsible for reviewing and observing the full statement of rules, policies, and procedures below. Any departure from or violation of these rules may render a student's exam invalid and, in the case of honor code violations, may result in further academic penalties.

How to Apply
For regular cycle applications, please email a copy of your unofficial transcript(s) along with a message detailing during which cycle you would like to take the exam, for which exams you are applying to sit, and an indication of which courses on your transcript(s) you are using as proof of eligibility to waive out of to Please submit your application no later than two weeks before the scheduled exam date.

Washington, DC and Hopkins-Nanjing Center

  • May 19-21, 2019 (Registration deadline: May 5th)
  • August 26-28, 2019 (Registration deadline: August 12th) 
  • January 21-23, 2020 (Registration deadline: January 7th)

SAIS Europe

  • June 25-26, 2019 (Registration deadline: June 11th)
  • August 13-14, 2019 (Registration deadline: July 30th)
  • September 10-11, 2019 (Registration deadline: August 27th)
  • December 4-5, 2019 (Registration deadline: November 20th)
  • January 28-29, 2020 (Registration deadline: January 14th)

The International Economics Program offers students with prior equivalent coursework in microeconomics, macroeconomics, international trade, international monetary theory, or statistics the option to take waiver examinations in each subject in order to facilitate the attainment of the economics requirements of the MA Degree. Click on each link below and read thoroughly as there are specific rules that apply to the economics waiver process.

Faculty Seminars

Fall 2018 Seminars*

September 6th, 2018, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM, BOB 714
Pamela Medina Quispe - University of Toronto
Import Competition, Quality Upgrading and Exporting: Evidence from the Peruvian Apparel Company

September 20th, 2018, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM, BOB 714
Atif Mian - Princeton University
Low Interest Rates, Market Power, and Productivity Growth

September 27th, 2018, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM, BOB 714
Amit Khandelwal - Columbia Business School
Communication Friction and Knowledge Transfers: Evidence from Myanmar's FDI

October 4th, 2018, 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM, BOB 714
Hale Utar - Bielefeld University
Firms and Labor in Times of War: Evidence from the Mexican Drug War

October 18th, 2018, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM, BOB 736
Lin Tian - INSEAD
Division of Labor and Productivity Advantage of Cities: Theory and Evidence from Brazil

October 25th, 2018, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM, BOB 736
Miguel Faria-e-Castro - Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Fiscal Multipliers and Financial Crises

November 1st, 2018, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM, BOB 736
Gabriel Kreindler - University of Chicago
The Welfare Effect of Road Congestion Pricing: Experimental Evidence and Equilibrium Implications

December 6th, 2018, 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM, BOB 714
Samuel Bazzi - Boston University
The Institutional Foundations of Religious Politics: Evidence from Indonesia


Spring 2019 Seminars*

January 31st, 2019, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM, BOB 736
Alan Spearot - University of California, Santa Cruz
Market Access, Trade Costs, and Technology Adoption: Evidence from Northern Tanzania

February 7th, 20192:00 PM - 3:30 PM, BOB 736
Eduardo Morales - Princeton University
Shift-Share Designs: Theory and Inference

February 21st, 20192:00 PM - 3:30 PM, BOB 736
Dmitry Mukhin - Yale University
An Equilibrium Model of the International Price System

February 28th, 2019, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM, BOB 736
Jonathan Vogel - University of California, Los Angeles
Trade and Inequality Across Local Labor Markets: The Margins of Adjustment

March 28th, 2019, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM, BOB 736
Jie Bai - Harvard Kennedy School
Quid Pro Quo, Knowledge Spillovers, and Industrial Quality Upgrading

April 4th, 2019, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM, BOB 736
Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan - University of Maryland
International Spillovers and Local Credit Cycles

April 18th, 2019, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM, BOB 736
Christopher Woodruff - Oxford University
Information and Bargaining Through Agents: Experimental Evidence from Mexico’s Labor Courts

April 25th, 2019, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM, BOB 736
Marco Tabellini - Harvard University Business School
From Immigrants to Americans: Race and Assimilation During the Great Migration

May 2nd, 2019, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM, BOB 736
Nobuhiro Kiyotaki - Princeton University
Intangibles, Inequality, and Stagnation

If you would like to be added to our distribution list for future seminars, please fill out the form here.

*This schedule will be updated with more confirmed guests and presentation titles as they become available

Academic Year 17/18

Fall 2017 Seminars

September 21st, 2017
Ariell Reshef - Paris School of Economics
Techies, Trade, and Skill-Based Productivity: Firm-Level Evidence from France

September 28th, 2017
Sophie Osotimehin - University of Virginia
Misallocation and Intersectoral Linkages

October 5th, 2017
Shang-Jin Wei - Columbia University
Re-Examining the Impact of US-China Trade on Local US Labor Markets:
A Supply Chain Perspective

October 19th, 2017
Victor Shih - University of California, San Diego
Coalitions of the Weak: Mao's Power Strategy and Implications for the Present

October 26th, 2017
Michael Devereux - University of British Columbia
Capital Controls and Monetary Policy in a Sudden Stop Economy

November 2nd, 2017
Teresa Fort - Tuck School of Business
Offshoring and Reorganization

November 15th, 2017
Cheng Chen - University of Hong Kong
Imperfect Information and Learning in the International Market

November 16th, 2017
Ritam Chaurey - Binghamton University
Creditor Rights, Threat of Liquidation, and Labor-Capital Choice of Firms

November 30th, 2017
Benjamin Faber - University of California, Berkeley
E-Commerce Integration and Economic Development: Evidence from China

December 6th, 2017
Federico Rossi - Johns Hopkins University SAIS
The Relative Efficiency of Skilled Labor across Countries: Measurement and Interpretation


Spring 2018 Seminars*

March 1st, 2018
Kei-Mu Yi - University of Houston
Global Value Chains and Inequality with Endogenous Labor Supply

March 7th, 2018
Tamon Asonuma - International Monetary Fund
Trade Costs of Sovereign Debt Restructurings: Does a Market-Friendly Approach Improve the Outcome?

March 15th, 2018
Natalia Ramondo - University of California, San Diego

April 5th, 2018
Brent Bundick - Kansas City Federal Reserve

April 18th, 2018
François de Soyres - The World Bank

April 19th, 2018
David Weinstein - Columbia University
Aggregating From Micro to Macro Patterns of Trade

April 26th, 2018
Tommaso Porzio - University of California, San Diego

May 3rd, 2018
Kerem Cosar - University of Virginia

Academic Year 16/17

Fall 2016 Seminars

September 15th, 2016
Pablo Ottonello - University of Michigan
The Currency Composition of Sovereign Debt

September 29th, 2016
Xiaodong Zhu - University of Toronto
Trade, Migration, and Productivity: A Quantitative Analysis of China

October 6th, 2016
Javier Bianchi - Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Exchange Rates Policies at the Zero Lower Bound

October 12th, 2016
Hiau Looi Kee - The World Bank
Trade Fraud, Trade Elasticities, and Non-Tariff Measures

October 20th, 2016
Ayhan Kose - The World Bank
How Important are Spillovers from Major Emerging Markets

October 27th, 2016
Anh Tran - University of Indiana
One Mandarin Benefits the Whole Clan: Hometown Favoritism in an Authoritarian Regime

November 10th, 2016
Anton Korinek - Johns Hopkins University
Currency Wars or Efficient Spillovers?

November 17th, 2016
Lee Branstetter - Carnegie Mellon University
If It Can’t Bend, It Breaks: The China Shock and Portuguese Manufacturing

December 1st, 2016
William Maloney - The World Bank
Specialization Dynamics, Convergence, and Idea Flows


Spring 2017 Seminars

February 9th, 2017
Taryn Dinkelman - Dartmouth College
Labor Migration, Capital Accumulation, and the Structure of Rural Labor Markets

February 14th, 2017
Rodney Andrews - University of Texas, Dallas
Michael Lovenheim - Cornell University
William Rodgers III - Rutgers University
Race, Education and the Labor Market: Where Do We Go From Here?

March 2nd, 2017
German Cubas - University of Houston
Progressive Taxation and Efficient Occupational Mobility

March 8th, 2017
Ernest Liu - MIT
Industrial Policies and Economic Development

March 9th, 2017
Sharun Mukand - University of Warwick
Propaganda and Nation Building: Evidence from Kagame’s Rwanda

March 16th, 2017
Daniel Xu - Duke University
Two-Sided Search in International Markets

April 6th, 2017
Jonathan Dingel - University of Chicago
The Spatial Structure of Endowments, Trade, and Inequality: Evidence from the Global Climate

April 12th, 2017
Filipe Campante - Harvard University
Long Range Growth: Economic Development in the Global Network of Air Links

April 20th, 2017
Thierry Mayer - Sciences Po
Brands in Motion: How Frictions Shape Multinational Production

April 27th, 2017
Matilde Bombardini - University of British Columbia
Trade, Pollution and Mortality in China

May 4th, 2017
Cecile Gaubert - University of California, Berkeley
Tourism and Economic Development: Evidence from Mexico’s Coastline


External Resources


Economics Resources

International Economic Tutor List
Please note that the international economics department only organizes the list of tutors. You must contact the tutor directly to work out the logistics.

Click here to access the current list of tutors.

International Economic and Financial Institutions

The International Monetary Fund - IMF
The World Bank - World Bank
Bank of International Settlements - BIS
Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development - OECD

Johns Hopkins SAIS Library International Economics and Business Research Guide

US Economic and Financial Institutions

The Federal Reserve -  Federal Reserve
US Department of Commerce - Commerce Department
USDC Bureau of Economic Analysis - Bureau of Economic Analysis
US International Trade Commission - International Trade Commission
US Securities and Exchange Commission - SEC

Data Sources

Stock Quotes - Nasdaq
Exchange Rates -


Contact Us

Gordon Bodnar
Morris W. Offit Professor of International Finance, Director of the International Economics Program
Bernstein-Offit 704

Savannah Altvater
Program Manager
Bernstein-Offit 705

Address & Phone

International Economics
Bernstein-Offit Building
1717 Massachusetts Ave., NW
7th Floor
Washington, DC