»Student Recommendations

Student with Laptop"It was a personal interest in economic systems that led me to ESI’s MSESD program. Specifically, I was interested in learning about the construction of economic institutions to achieve desired outcomes. Embarking on the Masters program two years ago, I was unsure what to expect because the program was still in its infancy.

After two years of course work and research I have become convinced that this program is truly one of a kind. All courses had very intimate settings and thus fostered collaborative environments. Moreover, these intimate settings allowed for students to tailor coursework with professors to their areas of interest. My time in the MSESD program has not only given me an excellent education in economic systems design, but also solid foundations in operations research, statistics, and computational economics.

In its development of the MSESD program, ESI has managed to attract a group of world-class academics with a wide range of research interests. Aside from the knowledge garnered from course work with these professors, all are extremely approachable outside class time and provide invaluable research support.

My time at Chapman University turned out to be much more than I had ever expected and the knowledge I gained from both coursework and independent research has prepared me well to continue my studies of economics at the PhD level."

-- David Munro, 2011 MSESD Graduate, Currently a Ph.D. student in the Economics Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz

"I cannot say enough about the Masters in Science of Economic Systems Design (MSESD) program at Chapman University. The program was highly educational, extremely hands-on, and provided some great experiences I could not have gotten anywhere else. From four person classes with highly respected professors to doing real research, this was a great way to advance my studies.

I was first exposed to the Economic Science Institute as sophomore. While at this point, I was already an economics major, I really didn’t have too much direction. Nothing I had taken had really caught my attention for too long, until I took this course. Not only did I find the subject matter interesting (auctions and pricing/allocation mechanisms are still fascinating to me, and the field is still developing), but the way it was taught was refreshing. Instead of sitting in lecture halls, that first class contained six people, and each of us interacted with the professor  on a daily basis. As the semester went on, I realized that this was something I wanted to pursue.

While at ESI, my tasks ranged from designing and administering economic experiments, completing a full thesis, and even working on an auction to sell permits for premium parking lots on campus. Additionally, the staff and faculty are extremely friendly and available. Whenever I had a problem or question, I knew that I could walk over to the offices and find at least two professors that were willing and able to help me with whatever I needed, whether it was a question in their expertise or not.

Another great part of this program is its versatility. The education you receive not only prepares you for Ph.D. programs, but also for life outside of academia. While the rest of my classmates have been offered admission to Ph.D. programs in the fall, this was never something I wanted to do, and I am happy to say that I will be joining a consulting firm in Chicago as an analyst. This program is a big part of why I got that job, both in that Chapman University and ESI’s reputations got me my first interview, and additionally in that this program taught me the relevant skills to impress my potential employers when they were evaluating my ability to perform.

I loved my time at ESI, and would absolutely recommend it to anyone who is interested in economics and considering a master's degree. It is useful for students looking to move into jobs and Ph.D. programs, and more than that, the experience is second to none."

-- Charlie Schaezlein, 2011 MSESD Graduate, Currently a Data Analyst with A.T. Kearney

"The Master’s program in Economic Systems Design gives students a solid understanding of two of the newest methodologies in economics: laboratory experiments and computational agent-based modeling.

Ideally, the interested student should have a solid quantitative background (mathematics, computer programming, statistics), although the department provides excellent support in terms of teaching (the faculty to student ratio is very high) and resources (computers, computer software, etc.), so that any deficiency will be quickly amended. One of the things I liked best about the program is the flexibility it gave us in terms of exploring our research interests. Students are free to propose research topics, and are encouraged to read the relevant literature and master the necessary techniques.

The interaction with the other students has also been a rewarding experience. Even though people are working on different individual projects, everyone learns a lot by explaining their ideas to their fellow students and asking for feedback.

Almost every Friday a lecturer from outside of Chapman is invited to give a presentation. The topics vary, so it is a good source of ideas for research. It also gives one a clear picture of what it means to do professional, scientific work. One learns a lot by listening to the questions that ESI faculty members pose to the lecturers.

The faculty is complemented by visiting professors from other universities, who come for a couple of weeks. One is allowed and even encouraged to interact with them.

I think the program will prepare people equally well for pursuing a career in academia or in the industry. The practical knowledge one learns (computer software for analyzing data, for example) is very valuable to many companies. And the intellectual environment one is constantly exposed to is a great practice for graduate school."
-- Joseph Cole, 2011 MSESD Graduate

"I came to Chapman for the film school, but switched to economics because of the incredible opportunities at ESI and because I find the work here equally challenging and creative as making movies.  I got to be part of the second class to graduate from the Master's program and I recommend it highly.  At ESI you will receive the hands-on training in the world's best experimental economics lab and personal attention from professional researchers.  You will have the freedom and support to pursue what interests you about economics and develop your own projects. 

I worked with Dr. Bart Wilson to design an environment in the lab where we could test the effects of intellectual property protection.  That project resulted in a paper that I have been able to present at a conference and at another university.  Very few programs would have the resources to realize an idea like that for a Masters student. 

My thesis project was an experimental study of an auction design question.  From the initial formulation of the theory to the data analysis, I received more guidance on my thesis project on auction theory than many Ph.D. students would have. 

I am proceeding on to a Ph.D. program in economics.  It was my experience at ESI and the professional relationships I formed there that made it possible."

-- Joy Buchanan, 2011 MSESD Graduate, Currently a Research Assistant and Ph.D. student in the Economics Department at George Mason University

"It was an honor to be a part of the first graduating class from the Economic Science Institute (ESI) at Chapman University. I originally received my Bachelor’s Degree from Chapman University in the spring of 2008.  Upon graduating, I knew that I was not finished with school; however, I did not know which graduate program I was going to pursue.  I contemplated applying to various programs but had reservations about their ability to hold my interest.  While trying to make a decision as to where my next educational step would be, I decided to take a class at the Economic Science Institute.  I found the first course, Introduction to Economic Systems Design, so interesting that I decided to enroll in the newly developed Master’s Degree program. 

The Economic Science Institute was founded in 2008 by the Nobel Prize winner Vernon Smith, and a team of esteemed economic professors. By enrolling in ESI’s degree program at Chapman University, I was fortunate enough to work with each of these revered professors in one way or another.  Many of the professors have their own area of expertise, and each is more than eager to find a place in their busy schedule to assist with any questions you may have along the way.

The most superb aspect of this program is that it is not a conventional degree program taught straight from coursework.  This type of teaching is not possible in this program because each student is given the opportunity to focus their studies on a question or observation that they find personally interesting. The student’s thesis will focus on their individual question and ultimately become the culmination of their education and hard work throughout the degree program.

Chapman has been so fortunate to be home to the  Economic Science Institute, and I highly urge those considering it to take advantage of their Master’s Degree program."

-- Ryan French, 2010 MSESD Graduate, Currently a Software Engineer with the Economic Science Institute

"Congratulations on taking the steps to begin your graduate career by considering Chapman University’s Master of Science in Economic Systems Design. I was in the first class of graduates from this program.

I started at Chapman as an undergraduate working towards a degree in mathematics. I enrolled in some of the Economic Science classes as an undergraduate, but had no intention of pursing a graduate degree. Ultimately, I decided to defer an offer from a mathematics Ph.D. program in order to pursue the Master of Science in Economic Systems Design at Chapman University. When it came down to it, I couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to earn my masters in a department with some of the best experimental economist in the world.

The professors in the department are not only highly regarded researchers, but passionate educators as well.  All of the coursework in the program is made up of small seminar style classes where you learn all the basics of experimental economics while working on class projects pertaining to current faculty research projects. For the thesis, students are assigned one or more faculty members to meet with on a regular basis. At this point students are given the opportunity to work on their own research project.  Throughout my coursework and thesis, faculty in the department were always willing and excited to discuss the projects I was working on.

I am beginning a Ph.D. program in the fall, and I feel that my experiences in the MSESD program will help me succeed. Working on my own thesis project taught me how to be self motivated about my own research. I think this experience will be invaluable as I begin my own mathematics research.

I would highly recommend this program to anyone who is interested in receiving an Economic Systems Design Master's Degree taught by the highest caliber of professors in the field."

-- Amy Buchman, 2010 MSESD Graduate, Currently a Ph.D. Student in the Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics Department at the University of Notre Dame

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