About - Master of Science in Economic Development

Since 1979, The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) has continuously offered the Master's of Science in Economic Development (MSED) with the express purpose of producing quality economic development professionals. USM was the first masters program in economic development offered in the U.S., by that name. The program is widely recognized and respected today across the U.S. and internationally because of that distinction, the accomplishments of the faculty, and the number and quality of its alumni since that time. Although several other ED programs have emerged across the South and the U.S., the program remains notable for its interdisciplinary and highly applied focus on ED at the state, regional, and community levels.

The Executive Format Master's Program in Economic Development is an innovative form of professional development that enables busy professionals to continue higher education without compromising other commitments.


What Careers are There in Economic Development?

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and the Southern Economic Development Association maintain economic development job listings.   Our new graduates commonly start off in project manager positions working for local, state, or public/private partnership economic development organizations where they recruit new industries and businesses to the community, as well as assisting existing industries and businesses in their needs.



The executive/online format requires 39 contact hours which includes:

  • 15 hours in person (either Thursday 12:00 - 6:00 p.m. and Friday 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. or Saturday at 8am to Sunday at noon)
  • 16 hours synchronous classes using Blackboard Web Conferencing either Tuesday 7-9pm or Thursday 7-9pm for 8 weeks
  • 8 hours asynchronous class.  One hour per week for eight weeks

A 300 hour internship, and a capstone/thesis are part of the program. Most in-person classes are taught in the Trent Lott National Center for Excellence in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship Bldg. on the USM campus in Hattiesburg.





Graduate Assistantships & Scholarships

There are graduate assistantships & scholarship opportunities for Master of Science in Economic Development program students.

There are various sources for graduate student assistantships – the graduate school, grants, and external contracts.  The assistants require that a student be accepted into the program, enroll in 12 hours of course work in the fall and spring, and work 20 hours per week in the department.  The graduate assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis.

The Master of Science in Economic Development program has three specific scholarships established by the economic development community to assist worthy full-time students enrolled in the master's degree program in economic development. These include the Rhodes and Ingram Economic Development Scholarship Endowment, Munro Petroleum Scholarship Endowment, and the Joe Johnson Memorial Endowment in Economic Development. The Joe Johnson Memorial Endowment in Economic Development was established in 2003 by the Mississippi Economic Development Council and the University of Southern Mississippi Alumni Association. The purpose of the Endowment, which is held by the USM Foundation, is to provide financial assistance through a scholarship for a master's-level student in economic development enrolled at the University of Southern Mississippi. 

 If you are interested in donating to the program, please contact the University of Southern Mississippi Foundation.

In addition to providing graduate education in economic development through the Master of Science in Economic Development program (MSED) and the Graduate Certificate in Economic Development, the Department of Economic Development provides assistance to economic developers across the state through four main approaches:

  1. Graduate students can work on class projects involving research for a community (e.g., retail pull factor analysis).
  2. Each student is required to do a thesis or capstone project. The capstone project involves completing an actual economic development research study (e.g., feasibility study).
  3. Each student is required to do an internship in an economic development organization.
  4. Communities can do sponsored research projects and tap into the faculty expertise and university data sources (e.g., EMSI and REMI).

Examples of class projects involving research for communities:

  • Retail Analysis for the City of Greenwood
  • Feasibility of a Livability Court for the City of Hattiesburg
  • Economic Impacts of a Native American Casino in Jones County, Miss.
  • Ecotourism Development in Noxubee County
  • Strategic Plans for Stone County, Sunflower County, Bolivar County and Historic Downtown Development Association
  • Community Study for the Hattiesburg Mid-Town District
  • Entrepreneurial Development Plan for the Area Development Partnership

Request an MSED intern/capstone or faculty expertise by contacting Dr. Chad Miller at 601.266.6666 or chad.r.miller@usm.edu.