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Economic Development - Master's

Availability: Hattiesburg Hybrid Options

Earn Your Master's Degree in Economic Development

Economic Development is the management of public-private investment collaborations to facilitate sustainable growth in the economy, typically measured by job creation, increased citizen wealth, a greater tax base, and improved quality-of-life. The program educates US-based local/regional economic development practitioners to raise the standard of living for their communities through business development, talent management, and quality-of-place creation. The program, known as the best in the nation is unique due to its outreach focus using data analytics

The College of Business and Economic Development is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

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120% increase ED field since 2003
300+graduates since inception in 1979
100%placement of Economic Development graduates
40+years educating successful economic developers

What Will I Learn?

Students learn data driven Economic Development including:

  • How to retain and expand businesses,
  • How to market a community to attract business and talent,
  • How to conduct strategic planning,
  • How to manage an economic development organization in a political environment,
  • How communities can reduce the time, costs, and risks for real estate development,
  • How to manage entrepreneurial and small business development programs, Ethical behavior in economic development, and more.
  • GPA: Have a 3.0 (4.0 scale) grade point average over the last two years of the student's undergraduate studies.
  • Letters of recommendation: Provide three letters of recommendation from persons qualified to assess the applicant's readiness for graduate study.
  • Statement of purpose: The University of Southern Mississippi Master of Science in Economic Development Program is focused on improving communities through business attraction, retention, and entrepreneurship development in the context of localities and states in the US. It is different from economics and international development programs which prepare students for doctoral programs.  Explain your purpose in seeking a Master of Science in Economic Development and wanting to start a career in the economic development profession. 
  • International Students whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency through a TOEFL (560 or more), IELTS, or PTE exam.

More details on the admissions requirements can be found here.

The MSED program is located with the Trent Lott National Center for Excellence in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship, which gives the MSED students hands-on experience doing actual projects that help communities. Examples of these projects include economic fiscal impact studies, strategic plans, feasibility studies, highest & best use studies, and marketing studies. Additionally, the students work on significant sponsored research projects for the US Department of Defense, US Department of Transportation, US Department of Energy and numerous other national and international organizations. To do these projects, the students will learn the most advanced data analytics and mapping tools.

Graduate Assistantship positions, available to Master of Science in Economic Development (MSED) students on a competitive basis, can waive up to the full cost of tuition and provide a monthly stipend for qualifying students. In addition, the MSED program has specific scholarships established by the economic development community to assist worthy full-time students enrolled in the economic development program. These include the Rhodes and Ingram Economic Development Scholarship Endowment, Munro Petroleum Scholarship Endowment, C. Caruthers Sullivan, Jr. Memorial Scholarship, and the Joe Johnson Memorial Endowment in Economic Development.

The Student Economic Development Association (SEDA) is a student organization made up of both graduate and undergraduate students pursuing careers that promote economic development from a local to an international level. The SEDA fosters a community of networking, learning, and leadership, hosting events throughout the year to connect students with scholars and practicing economic developers, many of whom are alumni of our master’s program. Each semester, SEDA members visit economic development organizations in the state, host a football/baseball tailgate, volunteer in the community, and more. The SEDA also sponsors its members to attend Mississippi Economic Development Council events.

International students typically make up 10-15% of each cohort. The MSED differs from Development Economic programs. Our program is designed for students to learn about development in a developed country and does not have a heavy emphasis on mathematics or academic theory while Development Economics prepares students who ultimately seek a Ph.D.

All Immigration and language requirements questions should be directed to International Scholar Services. International applications are approved by the International Scholar Services and the Graduate School before being released to the program for final review and acceptance.

Expert Faculty Who Are There to Help

Our Faculty has extensive "real world" experience and work closely with the economic development profession. They are engaged in the community-solving problems and improving the quality-of-life of communities. They challenge students to work with actual communities as part of the educational experience. The faculty is not just educating students, they are developing future economic development colleagues.


Degree Plan Availability
Economic Development MSHattiesburg Hybrid
Economic Development Graduate CertificateHattiesburg Hybrid
  • Economic Development Specialist
  • Project Manager
  • Economic and Community Development Manager
  • Chamber of Commerce Director
  • Business Operations Manager
  • Main Street Director
  • Garrett Wright/ 2012
    Vice President/ Bay Economic Development Alliance
  • Ashley Cangelosi Llewellyn/ 2011/ 
    Deputy Director of Economic Development/ St. Tammany Corporation
  • Larkin Simpson/ 2008
    Vice President – Major Employers Division/ Central Louisiana Economic Development
  • Tiffany A. Goodwin/ 2016
    Business Development Manager/ Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission
  • Shane Hooper/ 2018
    President/ Mississippi State Institutions of Higher Learning