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The Graduate Program in Economics (PPECO) at UFRN was created in 2002. Initially, as an academic master's course in the Regional Economics concentration area, the Program underwent profound restructuring and is currently part of the Economics and Development concentration area, approved by the decision-making bodies internally at UFRN and with a request for a change of name to Capes in process. PPECO/UFRN has been recommended by CAPES since 2005.

The purpose of PPECO is to train Masters in Economics, providing them with the appropriate theoretical and investigative training, aiming to:

1) Train Masters in Economics so that, in their respective institutions, they can act based on technical competence, critical knowledge, and ethical-political commitment to economic and social development;

2) Meet the need to raise the qualification level of professionals in economics and related areas in the region, expanding their capacity to provide consultancy and advisory services to governmental, private, and non-state public institutions.

The professional to be formed by this program, with a degree in Economics or similar areas, must be motivated by the pursuit of socially fair and environmentally responsible development, as well as by concern for the universalization of citizenship rights.

In this sense, the Master's Course in Economics at UFRN contributes to the debate about the phenomena that define the insertion of peripheral regions at the national and international levels, enabling the production of knowledge. Dealing with these issues provides professors and master's students with the ability to investigate, analyze and position themselves in relation to the socioeconomic problems that are part of their realities.

In the Capes Quadrennial Evaluation of 2017, PPECO obtained concept 4 due to the expansion of academic productivity and the quantitative and qualitative improvement of its scientific production.

Throughout this process, important transformations occurred, moving the Program away from its origin, namely, a graduate program in the area of Regional Economics. Firstly, the faculty of the Department of Economics has expanded in number and qualifications, substantially increasing the number of professors involved in teaching, research, and extension in topics of interest that are diversified and with increasing complexities beyond the original scope of the Program. Currently, the faculty of PPECO has ten permanent professors and three collaborating professors.

At the same time, new research groups reinforced and enriched the scope of studies developed within the scope of the Program. This recent expansion of the faculty made it essential to change areas, leaving the Regional Economy and migrating to a broader area. Thus, PPECO began to operate in 2023 in the Economics and Development area of concentration.

This area encompasses a wide range of studies and topics in Economics, involving the application of quantitative methods for the analysis, description, and interpretation of empirical data, as well as research of a more qualitative and theoretical nature, with emphasis on aspects involving the main issues that characterize the theme of development as well as its manifestation in the local, regional, national and international dimensions.

PPECO students have access to libraries with an up-to-date bibliographic collection (Zila Mamede Central Library and CCSA Sector Library), auditoriums, in addition to exclusive research, study, and meeting rooms (located in the NEPSA II block). Students can also be integrated into research groups at the Department of Economics at UFRN, which are: (i) Study and Research Group on Space, Work, Innovation, and Sustainability - GEPETIS; (ii) Interdisciplinary Group for the Evaluation of Public Policies - GIAPP; (iii) Study Group on Political Economy of Development - GEPD; (iv) Applied Economics Study Group - GEEP; (v) Center for Applied Economics and Conjuncture - NEAC; (vi) Center for Multisectoral, Strategic, and Conjunctural Economic Analysis - NEMEC.