Program Activities
Waiver Exams
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.

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 sets us apart from other graduate programs in international affairs. Thus, in partial fulfillment of the MA in International Relations, 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.

This required concentration is designed to provide students with a solid understanding of economic theories and concepts as well as the important role economic processes play in international affairs. Whether you are interested in pursuing a career in international finance, public policy, business, or economic development, our program will provide you with the knowledge, skills, and analytical capacity required for success in the public, private, and non-profit sectors.

To view the current course offerings, please see our class map here [2].
To view our course offerings for the spring semester, please see our class map here [3].

Jeff Raider (S'04) speaks with Professor Leeds on his journey from SAIS to entrepreneurial success.
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 Thursday afternoons, 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 [25].

If you would like to be added to our distribution list, please fill out the form here [26].


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 [27]

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 [28] 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 [29]
Entering Class 2015-2016 [30]
Entering Class 2014-2015 [31]
Entering Class 2013-2014 [32]
Entering Class 2012-2013 [33]
Entering Class 2011-2012 [34]
Entering Class 2010-2011 [35]
Entering Class 2009-2010 (same as 2010-2011)


For students graduating in December of 2017, specialization forms are due NO LATER than Friday, December 8, 2017.
Applications for the December graduating class will be audited and reviewed October 9-13 and applications of students graduating in May will be audited and reviewed March 7-11. 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 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/electivecourses 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 [36] to submit your application.

Specialization in International Finance

Click here [37] to submit your application.

Specialization in Infrastructure Finance and Policy

Click here [38] to submit your application.

Specialization in Development Economics

Click here [39] to submit your application.

Specialization in Economic Policy

Click here [40] 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 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 econwaiver@jhu.edu [41]. Please submit your application no later than two weeks before the scheduled exam date.

Upcoming Exams

  • May 16-18, 2017 (SAIS DC and HNC)
  • June 20-21, 2017 (SAIS Europe)
  • August 8-9, 2017 (SAIS Europe)
  • August 22-24, 2017 (SAIS DC and HNC)
  • September 5-6, 2017 (SAIS Europe)
  • November 28-29, 2017 (SAIS Europe)
  • January 23-25, 2018 (SAIS DC and HNC)
  • January 30-31, 2018 (SAIS Europe)

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.


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 [54] to access the current list of tutors.

International Economic and Financial Institutions

The International Monetary Fund - IMF [55]
The World Bank - World Bank [56]
Bank of International Settlements - BIS [57]
Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development - OECD [58]

Johns Hopkins SAIS Library International Economics and Business Research Guide [59]

US Economic and Financial Institutions

The Federal Reserve -  Federal Reserve [60]
US Department of Commerce - Commerce Department [61]
USDC Bureau of Economic Analysis - Bureau of Economic Analysis [62]
US International Trade Commission - International Trade Commission [63]
US Securities and Exchange Commission - SEC [64]

Data Sources

Stock Prices - Stockprices.com [65]
Exchange Rates - Exchangerates.com [66]

Interesting Links

Rational Expectations.com [67]

Contact Us

Gordon Bodnar
Morris W. Offit Professor of International Finance, Director of the International Economics Program
bodnar@jhu.edu [68]
Bernstein-Offit 704

Savannah Altvater
Program Coordinator
saltvater@jhu.edu [69]
Bernstein-Offit 705

Address & Phone

International Economics
Bernstein-Offit Building
1717 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
7th Floor
Washington, D.C.