I am going to receive a Bachelor's of Science in Applied Mathematics soon. I found out facilitating medical environments is what I found interesting after volunteering at a hospital for two years and getting to meet an administrator and a medical actuary.

I have ZERO background in Economics, minus basic Macro and Microeconomics AP credit that I still remember. I can program really well, and I'm a very, very strong mathematician. I have 4 total undergraduate publications in Numerical Solutions to PDEs (1), Set theory (1), and Mathematical Models in Ecology (2) using differential equations. Although none are economics per se, friends who I have talked to say that economics is highly mathematical and involves rigorous programming, so these tools will serve me well.

I have a 3.98 GPA in Mathematics, have relevant tutoring experience on a campus math help center, etc. Is a graduate degree in healthcare economics or even an MPH with a focus in healthcare economics viable with an undergradaute degree in mathematics?

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    Side note: One of my Computer science professors did a B.A. in Tourism, then went into a PhD in Computer Science straight after. If that can happen, anything is possible!
    – user22748
    Oct 10 '14 at 2:39
  • Seriously? Of course you can! In fact you are overqualified. Have you considered mathematical finance?
    – BCLC
    Oct 10 '14 at 10:22
  • Economics in general is NOT highly mathematical unless it is of course mathematical economics/mathematical finance. The math they use is up to basic differential equations, linear algebra and statistics. I've seen economics texts that use real analysis and partial differential equations, but I;m pretty sure they are advanced for most economists. The average STEM undergrad degree only person will find the math in economics basic. Well at least for math, physics, chemistry, computer science I think. Another suggestion: Mathematical biology/Biostatistics?
    – BCLC
    Oct 10 '14 at 10:28

Mathematics is a good undergraduate major for a prospective economics grad student. And I suspect that you could gain admission to (and succeed in) a master's program somewhere with the background you already have. But graduate programs in economics do generally expect that you've taken at least some upper-division economics courses, so you would be a much stronger candidate for a master's program (or even a PhD program) with a bit more preparation.

For example, here's what UConn (where I earned my MA) has to say about application to graduate programs in economics http://econ.uconn.edu/grad/apply/faqs/:

Do I need to be an economics major to apply? No, though some economics background is preferred. Students with little or no economics training, however, will usually only be considered for admission to the master’s program and, if admitted, will generally be required to take some undergraduate economics courses before beginning graduate study.

So, I think the answer to your question is "yes" for at least some values of "master's in economics". Completing intermediate level microeconomics and macroeconomics (or, if you can only take one, micro) would probably improve your chances of acceptance, though, not to mention giving you a better idea whether this is something you want to spend a year or two on.

From your description of your interests, though, it sounds to me as though a MPH is a better fit for you.

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    Do eco grad programs really expect such eco background? I've seen some that begin at basic macro and micro. I mean it's not like a Math grad couldn't handle learning such after going through PDEs, numerical analysis and set theory.
    – BCLC
    Oct 10 '14 at 10:31
  • There wouldn't be any concern about handling the math, which for a master's program might be nothing beyond calculus and linear algebra. But one does also need to understand the economics. I would think that a motivated math major could get caught up in a month by working through intermediate micro and macro texts on their own, but at least at UConn that background is assumed at the start of the first class. More to the point, I think an admissions committee would wonder about an applicant's fit with the program. Why are they suddenly interested in econ after ignoring it for four years?
    – szarka
    Oct 10 '14 at 11:53
  • Hmmm...I see. Also szarka, you said "Mathematics is a good undergraduate major for a prospective economics grad student." What would you say are better undergrad majors for such?
    – BCLC
    Oct 11 '14 at 21:32
  • For a PhD program, at least, there's no better preparation than an econ+math double major, unless perhaps it's some combination of econ+math+stats. IMHO. You'll find tons more opinions here: <urch.com/forums/phd-economics>.
    – szarka
    Oct 17 '14 at 0:04
  • In fact, I think many economics programs will place a very high value on superior mathematical knowledge. Some econ MSc programs find uses for real analysis, stochastic analysis, group theory, &c. Cf. files.nyu.edu/ts43/public/math_courses.html Dec 9 '14 at 12:18

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