A master's degree in economics caters to professionals looking to develop their skills and advance their careers. Earning a master's may also increase your salary potential and provide a competitive advantage over other candidates on the job market. Economics graduates can begin careers in many areas, including finance, healthcare, and education.

The process of choosing a master's program can feel daunting, and it is important to consider several factors. Fortunately, this guide can help ease your decision. This page provides a comprehensive overview of common degree components, such as program length, courses, concentration options, admission requirements, and tuition.

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What Is Economics?

Economics is a social science examining how society uses resources. Professionals in this field study the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.

The field includes two main branches: microeconomics and macroeconomics. Microeconomics focuses on the economic behavior of individuals or firms, while macroeconomics explores the overall economy on a regional, national, or international basis.

What Are the Best Online Master's in Economics Programs of 2020?

Rank School Location
1 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
2 Purdue University West Lafayette, IN
3 American University Washington, DC
4 University of Delaware Newark, DE
5 University of Missouri Columbia, MO
6 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND
7 West Texas A&M University Canyon, TX
8 Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA
9 University of Detroit Mercy Detroit, MI
10 Murray State University Murray, KY

Should I Get a Master's in Economics?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects positive job growth between 2018 and 2028 for several economics careers, including economists (8% projected growth), financial managers (16% projected growth), market research analysts (20% projected growth), and statisticians (31% projected growth).

Successful professionals in this field have strong analytical, mathematical, communication, and problem-solving skills. A master's program in economics covers topics like econometrics, economic theory, and research.

Many entry-level positions in economics only require a bachelor's degree. However, career advancement and earning potential may be limited without a master's. As such, pursuing a master's degree in economics is a worthwhile investment to consider.

What Will I Learn in an Economics Graduate Program?

A master's program in economics focuses on macroeconomics, microeconomics, and econometrics. The curriculum trains students to use current tools, models, and principles to analyze data to create forecasts, reports, and strategies. Many programs include a capstone experience, which often takes the form of a comprehensive research project addressing a current economics issue.

Courses vary by program, and some schools may offer concentrations that can allow you to align the program more closely with your career goals.

The lists below break down a few common courses and concentrations found in economics programs.

Courses

Econometrics

This course provides a comprehensive overview of current econometric theories, methods, and applications. Students learn about linear regression, least-squares estimation, inference, and hypothesis testing.

Game Theory

This course uses games to represent economic, political, and social interactions. Students implement strategies to address potential problems and analyze the outcomes.

International Trade

This course examines the movement of goods, people, capital, and ideas across countries. Topics include comparative advantage, the theory of commercial policy, economic integration, and the globalization of wages.

Macroeconomic Theory

Students taking this course learn about basic macroeconomic models and research techniques. This class may also explore the theories of income determination, inflation and unemployment, business cycles, and long-run growth.

Survey of Economic Development

This course examines the evolution of economics and key topics in economic development. Students learn to use common economic techniques to address possible development issues.

Concentrations

Data Analytics

In this concentration, participants learn to analyze data with popular models and principles of financial econometrics and microeconometrics. Students also learn about game theory and advanced programming.

Financial Economics

This concentration focuses on financial valuation and decision-making. Students learn to use the basic principles of econometrics, behavior economics, and international economics to analyze market trends and make strategic financial decisions.

Public Policy

Coursework in this concentration examines economic topics from the perspective of public policy. The curriculum typically emphasizes public, health, industrial, and personal economics to help students learn to shape effective public policy.

Spatial Economics

This concentration covers economic activity — locally and abroad. Students examine key topics such as labor markets, wealth disparities, and urban and regional economic principles and theories.

International Economics

Students pursuing a concentration in international economics focus on trade, exchange rates, politics, and international laws and regulations. The curriculum helps students develop a strong understanding of the risks, rewards, and challenges of globalization.

What Can I Do With a Master's in Economics?

Economics graduates can work in government, research and development, consulting, and finance roles. Economics positions typically require strong analytical, communication, critical thinking, and writing skills.

Below are a few common career paths in economics. Consult our guide for more in-depth information about careers and earning potential in this field.

Careers

Economist

Economists focus on researching economic issues, interpreting and forecasting market trends, analyzing survey data, and recommending solutions for economic problems. They typically work with businesses and government agencies.

Policy Analyst

Policy analysts review and monitor current public policies, laws, and regulations to recommend adjustments. They typically work with organizations who lobby for policy changes.

Statistician

Statisticians use data and mathematical techniques to solve problems. Other primary tasks include designing surveys, experiments, and opinion polls to collect data and make recommendations to improve business decisions.

Market Research Analyst

Market research analysts monitor and forecast marketing and sales trends. Job duties include collecting data on consumers, competitors, and market conditions to recommend effective marketing strategies to clients.

Financial Manager

Financial managers lead an organization's finance or accounting department by making strategic financial decisions. Job duties include preparing financial statements and ensuring a company's practices comply with all regulations.

How to Choose an Economics Master's Program

It is important to select an economics program that fits your schedule and budget. Selecting a program within your means increases your chances of success and limits your debt after graduation. You should also pay close attention to a program's admission requirements.

Read on for an overview of these program components. For more information, review our guide to find out where you can earn the best online master's degrees in economics.

How to Get Into an Economics Master's Program

Most master's programs in economics require a bachelor's degree with previous coursework in calculus, statistics, and economics for admission. Additionally, applicants are often asked to submit GRE or GMAT scores, a personal statement, a resume, and letters of recommendation. Exact requirements vary by program.

Some schools may offer conditional admission if you do not meet all of these requirements. Reach out to a program advisor for more information.

Read Our Guide to Graduate Admissions

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's in Economics?

It usually takes students about two years to earn a master's degree in economics. However, some programs may offer an accelerated format, using shorter sessions throughout the year; this can help you graduate sooner. Also, some programs may allow you to bypass coursework if you have qualifying work experience or certification.

It is not necessary to earn professional certification in economics, although these credentials may give you a competitive advantage when applying for a new job or promotion. Similarly, a doctorate is not required for most positions in this field, but earning a terminal degree may lead to new opportunities in leadership, university, or research roles. It can also increase your earning potential.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Master's in Economics?

The total cost of earning a master's degree in economics ranges widely, from roughly $30,000-$120,000. A few factors impacting costs include a school's location, your residency status as a student, and whether a school is private or public.

Additionally, individuals who earn an online degree in economics may be able to save money compared to their on-campus peers. For example, distance learners do not need to pay for transportation or on-campus housing.

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