Christine Higgins

Current Role: Graduate Student, MA in Economics Program
Graduate Year: 2014

What made you decide to earn your degree at American University as opposed to another institution?
Location is key. A lot of the careers I’m interested in as an economics student are located in DC. Being here allowed me to work and go to school at the same time. Additionally, AU has a reputation for graduating people who go on to get jobs in their chosen field. I’m happy to report my expectations have been met!  

In your opinion, what do you think is your program’s biggest strength? Please explain why.
I would say the program’s biggest strength is the diversity both among the students and the staff. When you go to class at AU, you get perspectives from every walk of life. International students in particular often add very valuable information in SIS and Economics classes.

How was the coursework and curriculum relevant to your field today? How did the faculty keep the curriculum current?
I currently work in data and statistical analysis, and the coursework and curriculum have been very relevant to my field. AU insists that its economics graduate students become masters of econometric techniques and programs like SAS/STATA. This knowledge  has helped me to write codes and programs to increase efficiency and has helped me understand survey work with a depth of knowledge that I would not have had without AU.

The faculty kept the curriculum current by having us read papers that are recent! While it’s important to read more classic papers that may be the basis of some theories, every professor I had made an effort to include new and exciting research in the syllabus. This sort of relevancy is very useful when thinking of how you might expand on that research for papers or dissertations.

Is there a class, project or assignment that was particularly memorable? Why?
The most memorable ones are the ones you work on the most! Mine was an International Trade paper that applied one author’s methodology and data to another author’s hypothesis that the WTO does not increase bilateral trade. That project really advanced my knowledge of STATA, data methodology, and even how to read these academic papers most efficiently. Although I don’t think I discovered anything revolutionary, I learned a ton!

Briefly describe in what ways the program exceeded your expectations.
I think the professors are the ones who most exceeded my expectations. I did not expect them to be so helpful and available, but they were! I was really impressed by the care and attention they gave to all of the students.

What skills did you learn in the program? What were the major takeaways?
I learned way too much to enumerate here, but I will give a brief sample. I learned a lot about STATA and econometrics methods. I learned how to read and analyze academic papers, how to summarize them, and how to expand on them. I learned more about myself and what I’m capable of, what I like (analyzing data) and what I don’t like (development economics). I learned how to research an issue enough to make a stance one way or the other. I think the major takeaway of this program, for me, is a greater knowledge of the economics discipline as a whole and the skills to dig in to whatever part of it I want to!

How has earning your degree impacted your career?
Earning this degree has impacted my career is several ways, some of which I may not even know about yet! Learning about international trade and harmonized system codes allowed me to speak knowledgeably about them during an interview for a  trade based position. (Yes, I got that position!). Learning about econometrics and STATA has helped me write some programs and code for my office.  During the “fiscal cliff”, my macroeconomics class was writing a paper on the topic. Knowing so much about it made me the go to person in the office for questions. Having the degree alone speaks volumes about your dedication and perseverance, what economists call a “signaling effect”. I imagine my degree and what I learned at AU will continue to impact me far into the future.

To learn more about American University’s online MA in Economics, request more information or call us toll free at 855-725-7614.