Where Are the Best Schools in Austrian Economics?

By Skousen, Mark | Ideas on Liberty, July 2001 | Go to article overview

Where Are the Best Schools in Austrian Economics?


Skousen, Mark, Ideas on Liberty


Frequently students or parents approach me at investment or economics conferences with the question, "Can you recommend an undergraduate or graduate program in free-market economics?" With the explosive interest in a degree in economics, it's imperative that students get a topnotch education.* In my experience, if students aren't exposed early to the principles of Adam Smith and Ludwig von Mises, it is often difficult for them to shed the philosophies of John Maynard Keynes, Karl Marx, and other interventionists later on.

Here in the United States most colleges and universities have a goodly number of "neoclassical" economists with a free-market bent. (There are a number of "free market" colleges and universities in Latin America, Europe, and Asia, a topic I shall pursue in a future column.) The American schools include the University of Virginia; the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); Florida State University; and the University of Chicago. However, anyone pursuing a degree in economics from these institutions will need to be well versed in advanced mathematics in order to understand the professional language. As New York University Professor Mario Rizzo wrote me, "Contemporary economics has become a branch of applied mathematics."

Graduate Schools in Austrian Economics

Fortunately, there's a growing number of schools that specialize in Austrian economics. The best-known program is located at New York University, ranked as one of the top 20 economics departments in the country. The Austrian Economics Program, under the tutelage of Israel Kirzner, David Harper, and Rizzo, has been fianctioning at NYU since the days of Mises. The Austrian course work attracts students from around the world.

NYU also offers a weekly Austrian Economics Colloquium and an annual summer course held at FEE. (Go to www.econ. nyu.edu/dept/austrian.) However, it should be noted that the NYU program is small, and most of the teachers there are non-Austrian.

George Mason University (in northern Virginia) is also attracting undergraduate and graduate students who want to specialize in Austrian economics, although Professor Peter Boettke, who also edits The Review of Austrian Economics, says that "what makes GMU particularly attractive are its affiliated fields of Public Choice, history of thought, and constitutional economics." Boettke and Karen Vaughn teach the Austrian theory of the market process; Richard Wagner offers a course in institutional economics; and Walter Williams serves as chairman of the department. (Go to www.gmu.edu/departments/ economics.) The Institute for Humane Studies is also located at GMU (www.theihs.org).

Another graduate Austrian program that is gaining prominence is at Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration in Troy, Michigan (near Detroit). Walsh College (www.walshcol.edu) specializes in business degrees-in marketing, management, finance, and economics. Under the direction of Harry Veryser, the school now offers a two-year bachelor's degree and a master's degree in economics. The entire faculty consists of freemarket economists, with a special emphasis on Austrian economics. Students are assigned books and readings by Mises, Hayek, Henry Hazlitt, Wilhelm Ropke, Paul Heyne, and me, among others. Walsh's program is impressive.

The Expanding Austrian Universe

With the Ludwig von Mises Institute (www. …

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