Unit: Economics
Program: Economics (MA)
Degree: Master's
Date: Wed Oct 07, 2009 - 9:07:04 am

1) List your program's student learning outcomes (SLOs).

1. Students will demonstrate an understanding of economic theory and analytical and quantitative tools appropriate for applied analysis.  These quantitative tools include but are not limited to experience with programming in Stata and/or SAS as well as experience analyzing and interpreting programmed output.

2. Students will be able to understand, use, and analyze economic data.  

3. Students will demonstrate the ability to ask a well-formulated question, analyze the problem and draw reasoned policy conclusions.

4. Students will demonstrate the ability to write a professional report and present the results orally.

5. Students will be well prepared for a position in their field that directly uses their MA training or for admission to a professional program or Ph.D. program in their field.

2) Where are your program's SLOs published?

Department Website URL:
Student Handbook. URL, if available online:
Information Sheet, Flyer, or Brochure URL, if available online:
UHM Catalog. Page Number:
Course Syllabi. URL, if available online:
Other: On the Dept's intranet website accessible to our faculty only

3) Upload your program's current curriculum map(s) as a PDF.

No map submitted.

4) What percentage of courses have the course SLOs explicitly stated on the course syllabus, department website, or other publicly available document? (Check one)


5) State the SLO(s) that was Assessed, Targeted, or Studied

SLOs 1-5 as listed in Question 1 above.

6) State the Assessment Question(s) and/or Goal(s) of Assessment Activity

Our entire faculty meets at least once every semester to discuss issues regarding our graduate program and consider proposals for improvements.  Specific questions for assessment include: 

A. Curriculum assessment: 

A1. Is the program effective in attracting perspective  MA students of high quality?

A2. Adequacy  of program offerings in view of the changes in the discipline of Economics, to meet SLO's 1-5 more effectively. Do courses and program offerings adjust to reflect new knowledge and/or changes in the needs of society?

B Assessment of student performance and program success 

B1. Success in student performance in core and other courses

B2. Research output by MA students and graduates, such as participation in research projects with faculty, conference participation  and publications in scholarly outlets.  

B3. Placement of graduates.

7) State the Type(s) of Evidence Gathered

The graduate committee and the entire faculty regularly consider the following evidence (using data from the STAR system, and internal department data collection):

1. The size of MA program and the number of graduates per year.

2. Application and rates to MA program in Economics,  and quality of applicants.

3. For current MA students, how many of them meet performance standards in core courses and beyond?

4. MA student involvement in research activities.

5. Placement of the  MA graduates.

6. Evidence on how the program offerings and course contents reflect the changes in the field of economics, through consideration of courses offered and course syllabi.

8) State How the Evidence was Interpreted, Evaluated, or Analyzed

Our entire faculty meets at least once every semester to discuss issues regarding our graduate program and consider proposals for improvements. 

The graduate committee headed by the graduate chair follows on the progress of MA students and reports to the graduate committee and the whole faculty. The graduate committee regularly discusses the program contents and statistics and placement of each MA student and reports to the whole faculty.

 Important issues raised and being dicussed by entire faculty since September 2008 include: adequacy of the current program offerings to the changing demands in Economics MA education and developments in the discipline; quality of incoming graduate students; ways to increase graduate enrollment; shortening time to graduation.  

9) State How Many Pieces of Evidence Were Collected

The performance of each MA student is evaluated -- 100% of all MA students.

10) Summarize the Actual Results

Here are the findings: 

1. The graduate program continues to produce highly qualified MA recipients, but applications and enrollments have decreased in recent years.  This is due in part to the decline in real dollar value of UHM graduate assistantships which have been frozen in nominal terms for more than five years.  During the same time period, East-West Center Awards have also decreased in value.  The Department is taking steps to offer more competitive awards to the most qualified applicants and to increase our marketing efforts.

MA Degrees Awarded: Calendar Years 2004-2008

Source:  www.star.hawaii.edu


Our department is very satisfied with the quality of the graduate students who are in the top tier of our applicant pool but we strongly desire to be more competitive in attracting these students to enroll here.  We often lose the best applicants because our Graduate Assistantship (GA) awards have not kept pace with the costs of living in Hawaii and mainland universities offer more generous funding. The East-West Center fellowships also have been substantially reduced in recent years in terms of stipends so these awards are less attractive to top applicants.  The students who do enroll in our graduate program generally are well-qualified in terms of their economics backgrounds and most are well-qualified in terms of their mathematics background.  We strongly encourage those who have weaker backgrounds to take coursework over the summer and to arrive on campus early to take a “mathematics for economists” review course that we offer to incoming students in August of each year during the pre-semester weeks.

3.  Enrollment in the graduate program by economics majors is down slightly in recent years due in part to the above mentioned low compensation for graduate assistants— the rates have been frozen on UHM for more than five years— and less generous support for EWC grantees. Although the number of graduate majors is down slightly, total graduate course enrollments remain fairly stable  It should also be noted that the M.A. program in economics is nested within the Ph.D. course offering. Thus, the graduate program is executed with much efficiency.
4. In terms of curriculum assessment, to reflect the changes in the economics discipline in our MA curriculum, we have prompted changes in our core courses and in our field courses.  The content of the core coursework is evolving to cover the new empirical and theoretical methods. In the field courses, instructors typically add new readings every year to reflect the newest topics and methods in the field. 
5. Our Department has developed initiatives to get our graduate students involved in conducting research at an earlier stage in the program (i.e., in the field courses in their 2nd year) and in completing publishable-quality research. We also maintain an active Department seminar series with weekly seminars that include many visitors and have prompted the graduate students to run their own “brown bag seminar” series to encourage more research presentations by students.  University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization employs several graduate students each year for their research projects in health economics, environmental economics and Hawaii economic forecasting. 
6. Placement of our MA graduates include: continuation into PhD program at UH and other academic institutions, government and private sector economics jobs. The job placement archive is available at the Economics web site.

11) Briefly Describe the Distribution and Discussion of Results

The results have been discussed by the entire economics faculty at graduate committee meetings,  faculty meetings, and in ongoing discussion among faculty members.  

These results were also supplied as part of the College of Social Science External  Review, which took place in Spring 2009.

12) Describe Conclusions and Discoveries

Overall, the MA program is doing well and continues to produce high quality MA students and place them well;  see Question 10 above for the results.  Efforts should be taken to advertize the program better to increase student enrollment.

13) Use of Results/Program Modifications: State How the Program Used the Results --or-- Explain Planned Use of Results

The Economics MA program is maintaining it high quality MA program though continuous update of its curriculum, high research orientation and involvement of graduate students in research and outreach activities. 

The graduate economics programs need to improve their effort in effective recruiting of the most promising graduate students.

The following steps are being undertaken and are currently continuing to meet this objective:  

During AY 2008-2009, the Department’s Graduate Committee developed a new graduate program brochure and a colorful poster to use in our marketing efforts.  A copy of each was sent with a cover letter to the chairs at 124 economics departments in the US and 85 economics departments abroad, mainly in the Asia-Pacific Rim.  Several of our faculty who traveled to conferences this fall took along multiple copies of the brochure to hand out during their trips.  In addition, the Graduate Chair annually encourages all Department faculty to join in the marketing effort by emailing colleagues at other universities to let them know of our active recruitment efforts, our program’s strengths and our funding opportunities for prospective graduate students.  This effort continues currently into AY 2009-2010. Our Department’s website is also been extensively improved and updated so that prospective students can obtain a lot of relevant information—details on our program, funding opportunities for students, life in Honolulu, research interests of our faculty and the job placements of our recent graduates.

14) Reflect on the Assessment Process

Doing well. Need to maintain the effort. 

Possible improvements in assessment include increasing the feedback from program graduates and soliciting suggestions for imporvement from them.

15) Other Important Information

Visit http://www.economics.hawaii.edu/graduate/guide/maprogram.html for more information on Economics MA program.

16) FOR DISTANCE PROGRAMS ONLY: Explain how your program/department has adapted its assessment of student learning in the on-campus program to assess student learning in the distance education program.

Not applicable.

17) FOR DISTANCE PROGRAMS ONLY: Summarize the actual student learning assessment results that compare the achievement of students in the on-campus program to students in the distance education program.

Not applicable.