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Online Courses

EC485 Economics 485:  Economics of Education

Did you know that economists study education?  Sure you may be aware that we look at how education affects growth or the wage returns to education but there is so much more.  So many questions in education policy are actually about economic policy.  How do we incentivize teachers to work more effectively? How does adding competition to the education system help or hurt? Why has the use of student loans increased so much and what should be done about it?  In this course you will learn the answers to these questions and more through recorded lectures that you can review at your pace along with selected readings and analytical writing assignments.

Topics covered include education as an externality and public good; human capital, signaling and the wage returns to education; education production functions; the role of teacher quality; peer effects and tracking; school accountability; school choice; financial incentives for teachers; postsecondary financial aid and student loans; measuring professor quality; college mismatch; and issues with for-profit colleges.

The course is a writing based course and hence satisfies the College of Social Science’s Tier II writing requirement.  Assignments and exams will be primarily essay based with a variety of short and long essay questions.

Exam Policy

All exams for this class are proctored.  Students may either take the exam on the MSU campus at dates and times specified by the instructor, or they may arrange to have their exam proctored at a certified testing center that is affiliated with the National College Testing Association Consortium of Distance Testing Centers.


Michigan State University Department of Economics