I have been a professor at the University of Wisconsin – Madison (UW) since 1990, and the last 2 years working with REDA students have been the most rewarding of my professional career. After working part-time in the private sector as an energy consultant, I realized the need for well-trained quantitative analysts in the field. We launched REDA to satisfy this need.
I know you have an important decision to make about whether to enroll in REDA. I am excited about the program and want to tell you why I believe we have created an excellent learning opportunity for future analysts. Here are the points I want to make:
- The master's degree you earn is not a shortcut degree; it is not a "Master's lite". The name of the degree, and the number of credit hours required, is exactly the same as that for our standard master's degree. It is structured to cover the same amount of material as a standard master's degree in applied economics in a much shorter period of time. It is intensive and it is not easy. On the positive side, you will be free to pursue your professional career much sooner and with much less debt than would be the case in our standard master's program. REDA students graduate with top-notch training in applied economics and outstanding quantitative skills.
- The UW is a world-ranked research university: #29 here, #28 here. Why does this matter? During my time as a consultant, I was involved in the hiring of young professionals for economic analysis. It has been my experience that employers go into an interview with the presumption that graduates from stronger universities are stronger applicants.
- REDA's job placement record can't be beat. Out of the 14 US students who completed the REDA program in June 2016, 13 of them are currently working on energy/resource/environmental issues and policy. You can see a list of employers here. If you're applying to other master's programs, I encourage you to ask the program director how many of their master's students graduated in the past year, and where each of them is employed.
- We have world-renowned faculty teaching in REDA.. Here are a few highlights.
- Dan Phaneuf just published a new graduate text in environmental economics, and is editor-in-chief of the flagship journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (AERE). Recent papers are here and here.
- Nick Parker recently has done innovative research featured on BBC on the impact of U.S. legislation on conflict minerals. Recent papers are here and here.
- Corbett Grainger has interests in both climate change and fisheries, and has consulted for a number of governments and organizations around the globe: Chile, Iceland, Norway, India, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and others. Recent papers are here and here.
- Xiaodong (Sheldon) Du teaches graduate energy economics at UW, has done extensive research on biofuels, and is currently examining wind energy's impact on the wholesale market. Recent papers are here and here.
- Greg Nemet has a joint appointment at the UW Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and is a Research Fellow at the German Institute for Economic Research (DWI). Recent papers are here and here.
- You will not find a program focused on graduate training in resource/energy/environmental economics with better connections to the private sector. Both Bethany (REDA program coordinator) and I have developed contacts with many firms and individuals during our time working in the private sector. Our professional connections provide us with real-world datasets for class assignments, share their research via the REDA seminar series, mentor student research via the practicum projects, and recruit REDA graduates for job openings within their firms.
- All REDA graduates are skilled in the use of the R programming language for statistical analysis. All econometric work in the program is done in R, including data analysis for the practicum projects. In a recent (February 2017) analysis of job postings seeking expertise in data science software, R ranked 5th out of 25 software packages, the highest ranked of those typically used for statistical analysis (the others, such as SQL and Java, focus on database management or general computing). By comparison, the package used most often for teaching in statistics in economics departments, Stata, ranked 18th. We teach our students R because, even though it is harder to learn than Stata, we know that it is ascending as the software of choice for statistical analysis in the private sector. As a side benefit, it's free, so anyone can use it anywhere, anytime.
Thanks for taking the time to consider REDA. We are proud of our program and its potential to help students do good work. We like to say that we provide graduate training for a smart green world. I look forward to reviewing your application.