About the 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 master's program in economic development offered in the U.S., by that name. There are over 15,000 economic development organizations in the US and a recent study[1] found job postings seeking a graduate degree in economic development have increased 20% nationally so opportunities for our graduates are plentiful.

Economic development (ED) is the management of public-private investment collaborations to facilitate sustainable growth in the economy as typically measured by job creation, increased citizen wealth, a greater tax base, and improved quality-of-life. The three legs of ED are business attraction, business retention & expansion, and entrepreneurship development that start from a base of community development.  

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. It is noted for its applied focus on local, regional, and state-based economic development and producing graduates who become successful economic developers.


Our Mission

Trent Lott CenterThe mission of the University of Southern Mississippi Master of Science in Economic Development Program is to be the leading graduate program in the nation for educating US-based local/regional economic development practitioners who can wisely manage public-private investment collaborations to facilitate sustainable growth in the economy. Students should be prepared on the first day of work to add value to an economic development organization.

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.



For questions and further details about the program, MSED program contact Dr. Chad Miller at 601.266.6666 or chad.r.miller@usm.edu. Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator, College of Business and Economic Development.

The MSED program is a specialized type of development economics and international development program (CIP 45.0604) and the overall field has increased 120% since 2003 (See Figure Below). These are programs focus on the systematic study of the economic development process and its application to the problems of specific countries and regions. Includes instruction in economic development theory, industrialization, land reform, infrastructural development, investment policy, the role of governments and business in development, international development organizations, and the study of social, health, and environmental influences on economic development.  Overall these type of programs have significantly more job openings than degree completions.


Table 2. Development Economics and International Development Program (CIP 45.0604) Source: EMSI

Development Economics Programs in the US

Degree Institutions

Program Completions (2015)

Annual Openings (2015)







2003 Completions

2015 Completions

% Change






Figure 1. Growth of Development Programs Source; EMSI

[1]  Strnad, C. and N. Diaz (2015) Market Demand for an Online Master’s in Community and Economic Development. EAB Strategic Research, Washington, DC.