Wichita State University
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Wichita State University: An Enriching Economics Education for Bright-Minded Students

In the heart of the US sits Wichita, Kansas’s largest city. Having produced more aircraft than anywhere else in the country, the aptly-named “Air Capital of the World” is quite literally where dreams take flight. The jewel of the region is Wichita State University (WSU) –a place where anything is possible.

This translates to valuable learning experiences and a wealth of job opportunities for WSU students. Its Master’s in Economics and Quantitative Analysis program is a clear example. Here, economics is studied through a diverse set of approaches that emphasize interaction among quantitative economics and their analytical application. The program is classified as STEM – giving international students the option to apply for an extension for their optional practical training post-graduation.

Current students value the experience found within WSU’s STEM Economics & Quantitative Analysis program. One current student, Mehak, always dreamed of becoming an economist. “Since my childhood, I have always been fascinated about how we implement economic ideas in our everyday lives,” she says. “As I grew older, I started taking a great interest in the concepts of economics and realized it was something I wanted to pursue further.”

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Mehak, a current student, found a home away from home at WSU. Source: Wichita State University

Mehak found the perfect launchpad at WSU and a new home away from home in a safe Midwest city that welcomes everyone and celebrates all. WSU is a public research university with a long tradition of innovation and entrepreneurship. It is the most affordable research university in the region as well as one of the fastest-growing research universities in the US. Credit for this sustained spark goes to the university’s forward-thinking research initiatives — earning it a place among the top three research institutions in Kansas.

International students find WSU especially attractive because it is ranked as one of the safest universities of its size in the US, according to FBI crime statistics. In addition, the cost of living in Wichita is lower than in most American cities.

In addition to safety and affordability, Wichita offers a variety of cosmopolitan amenities with more than 1,000 restaurants, 8 shopping districts, and numerous attractions, museums, theaters and festivals. Finally, graduate students who meet the qualifications can receive financial assistance such as research assistantships, academic awards, scholarships, loans and more.

These advantages make it clear why WSU stands out for having the most racially and ethnically diverse university campus in all of Kansas, with students from over 110 countries worldwide.

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Student Kelsey Hayes wants to seize greater career opportunities with her W. Frank Barton School of Business degree. Source: Wichita State University

Not everyone has a childhood dream to study economics like Mehak. Others, like Kelsey Hayes, are drawn to the growing career opportunities the degree can afford. “Originally, I intended to study mathematics. When I realized that I wanted a more practical application of the things I was learning rather than theory, I turned to economics and fell in love,” Kelsey shares. “Simultaneously, economics opened more doors for me professionally.”

Both Mehak and Kelsey chose this program because it’s spearheaded by WSU’s W. Frank Barton School of Business. “The department of economics in the Barton School offers a variety of traditional and contemporary courses which gives us tools to be flexible in the workplace, open doors for lucrative salaries or academic research, and helps us understand how the world works,” Mehak says.

At WSU, students gain more confidence from being guided by a college that is fully accredited in business and accounting by AACSB International — placing it among only 20% of colleges of business in the world to have done so. Courses are designed for a learning outcome that helps students find future success in their careers. This includes introducing a general economics track and three specialized economics tracks to choose from: data analytics, financial economics, or international economics. “We provide a unique opportunity to bloom in a STEM designated program and learn with award-winning faculty who genuinely care about you and your future career,” explains Dr. Jenchi Cheng, the Chair of the Department of Economics.

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At WSU, many international students find a close-knit community of faculty and peer collaborators. Source: Wichita State University

“I loved the way that the program contextualizes what we see in the news every day. We integrated different events, articles and more with the material as we were learning,” shares Kelsey. “Professor Dr. Jodi Pelkowski does an excellent job at relating the material in a way that keeps it grounded in our everyday, rather than more ethereally theory-based only. “Here, faculty get to know students well, in order to better help them in their coursework and career planning. That means the learning doesn’t stop in the classroom, even though the facilities are world-class.

In Fall 2022, the Barton School of Business moved into the new state-of-the-art Woolsey Hall — located in the heart of WSU’s Innovation Campus.  In addition to brand new world-class facilities, at WSU students learn from a host of qualified educators in economics who are not only committed to providing them with a quality academic experience, but one that is supportive and nurturing, too. International students leaving home for the first time — such as Mehak and many others — have found solace in belonging to a close-knit community of faculty and peer collaborators. “My professors and advisors are always there to guide and support me,” she says. “It feels joyous studying here. I love the ambiance and beauty of the campus and the people here.”

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The Department of Economics faculty and staff at Wichita State University. Source: Wichita State University

In addition to real-world applied learning opportunities, WSU is home to Economists Anonymous, an active club guided by Dr. Pelkowski. The club frequently features guest speakers in the form of former students, who return to share their career outcomes and experiences since graduating.

These experiences prepare students in the program for rich and meaningful careers. “Most of our students get jobs that they are happy with,” shares Dr. Bill Miles, Professor of Economics. “Our students can really learn quantitative skills and find jobs that are related to data, economics and finance that they really like.”

All in all, these factors made choosing economics at WSU, a decision Kelsey says she has never once regretted. “I find myself constantly challenged mentally, while also being the recipient of continual support and genuine excitement for my path by everyone in the department – students and professors alike,” she says. “I’ve learned so much and know that I am set for a solid career moving forward. I have met friends and professors I can see myself keeping in touch with for the rest of my life and find myself grateful to be here every day.”

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