Economists analyze the latest data on consumer trends, community demographics, and international trade to advise companies and governments on how to make the best financial decisions possible. Successful economists have skills in critical analysis, problem solving, and predicting future trends.

Students with an online associate degree in economics are able to find careers in multiple fields, including policy analysis, government work, banking, and insurance. Furthermore, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals with an associate degree earned more than those with a high school degree or some college work but no degree.

What are the best economics programs of 2020? Here are our top 5:

Rank School Location
1 Foothill College Los Altos Hills, CA
2 Cochise College Douglas, AZ
3 Merced College Merced, CA
4 Blinn College District Brenham, TX
5 Tyler Junior College Tyler, TX

2020 Best Accredited Online Associate in Economics Programs

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Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

Foothill College

Los Altos Hills, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 63%

Located in Los Altos Hills, California, Foothill College offers an online associate in economics that requires 90 quarter credits and prepares learners for roles in the fields of finance, international trade, and government teaching.The curriculum includes a mixture of general education, core, and supporting courses that cover research methods and designs, political economy, and elementary statistics. Economics coursework is divided between macroeconomics and microeconomics topics and is designed to develop students' understanding of trade, economic growth, and the role the government plays in the economy.Students interested in pursuing a bachelor's degree in economics are strongly encouraged to take courses in statistics and calculus, though they are not required.

2

Cochise College

Douglas, AZ Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 26%

Established in 1964 as one of Arizona's first community colleges, Cochise College currently offers over 90 degrees and certificates, including an online associate in economics. This 64-credit AA prepares students to transfer into a university program or pursue entry-level roles in the field of economics.The school's general education curriculum covers a variety of disciplines, such as mathematics, English composition, and humanities. Core and elective classes — including statistics, principles of microeconomics and macroeconomics, and calculus for business — comprise the program's remaining courses.Cochise has special agreements with Arizona's four-year universities and many out-of-state universities, allowing for seamless transitions of transfer credits. The school received full accreditation in 2016 from the Higher Learning Commission.

3

Merced College

Merced, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 25%

Distance students can pursue an associate of arts in economics from California-based Merced College. With a focus on economic efficiency, this program provides foundations in macroeconomics, microeconomics, and mathematics. Students can complete degree requirements in two years.Students in this program can take at least half of their required classes online. The curriculum comprises 60 credits and includes core classes in financial accounting, statistics in psychology, and finite mathematics.

Upon successful completion of this program, learners have the option to transfer into a four-year program within the California State University system to pursue a bachelor's degree in economics or a similar field.

4

Blinn College District

Brenham, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 7%

As one of the largest community colleges in Texas, Blinn College District currently serves over 19,000 students. The school offers several programs for distance learners, including an online associate in economics.Designed for students wishing to pursue a baccalaureate degree, this curriculum spans 60 credits and represents the initial two years of a four-year university degree. Students explore a variety of general education courses, such as United States history, mathematics for business and social science, and general psychology.The program aims to develop students' critical thinking skills and their ability to understand economic concepts and principles. Participants also learn to analyze practical issues using economic theories. Full-time students can complete degree requirements entirely online in two years.

5

Tyler Junior College

Tyler, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 19%

Based in Texas, Tyler Junior College offers a fully online associate of arts in economics to learners who plan to continue their education at a four-year university. The 60-credit curriculum includes 16 credits that are dedicated to the economics major.Students pursuing an online associate degree in economics explore courses like introduction to ethics, principles of microeconomics, and introduction to mass communication. In addition to major coursework, the general education curriculum includes classes in mathematics, life and physical sciences, and American history. The college maintains a transfer center and special articulation agreements with the University of Texas at Tyler, Stephen F. Austin State University, and Baylor University. These agreements help facilitate students' transitions to four-year universities.

What Else can I Expect from an Online Associate in Economics Program?

An economics degree online teaches students the skills necessary to gather, analyze, and report on financial and societal trends. Economists combine mathematics and the study of human nature to predict the activity of consumers, corporations, and constituents. The following section describes the typical curriculum and program requirements necessary to achieve an online associate degree in economics.

Curriculum For an Online Associate in Economics

Though courses differ between programs, the core curriculum of an online economics degree is fairly standard. Classes cover data collection, how to anticipate trends, and the mathematic skills necessary for analysis. The following list details typical courses required for an online economics degree and their practical uses in the field.

  • Principles of Macroeconomics: Students learn about large-scale economies in this course. Topics include government, corporate, and institutional policy decisions and their effects. Students will learn algebraic formulas used to calculate GDP, unemployment, and inflation.
  • Principles of Microeconomics: This course covers the economic consequences of small-scale, individualized decision-making. This course focuses on skills in algebra, statistics, and probability. Students learn how to set prices and find market equilibrium.
  • Global Economy: This class explains the history of international trade and the global economy. Students learn about the social and political issues underpinning shifts in the global economy and the effects of these international trends on local populations.
  • Business Calculus: This course covers formulas in calculus relevant to business analytics, including limits and continuity, derivatives and antiderivatives, and graphing. These skills are necessary to understand and interpret economic data. Students learn valuable tools to communicate data to a company, collaborator, or employer.

How Long Does it Take to Get an Online Associate in Economics?

On average, students complete an online associate degree in economics in two years. Of course, progress is dependent on how many courses you take at one time. Those with a full time job or a family might choose to take fewer classes, extending the length of their degree.

Some economics programs allow individually paced learning. An individually paced class has a start date, but a flexible end date, allowing you to take as much time as you need to complete coursework. By contrast, courses based on the cohort learning model begin and end on a set schedule, usually coinciding with the quarter or semester system of a traditional college campus. As you look at prospective online programs, be sure to check whether courses are individually paced or cohort based to ensure that the program best suits your lifestyle.

What Can I Do With an Associate in Economics Degree?

Career Paths for Economics Associate Degree Graduates

Overall, online associate degrees in economics lead to bachelor's degrees in the same field or related fields such as business, accounting, and political science. There are several career paths available for those who complete an economics degree online, including economist, actuary, and mathematician. Economists have strong analytical skills, a drive for mathematical precision, and an ability to present research. Most positions in this field are full time. Economists often work collaboratively with specialists across multiple fields to produce data for research firms, think tanks, and corporations. The following list details some careers possible with an online degree in economics.

Operations Research Analyst

Operations research analysts work with business managers to improve operations within an organization. These analysts weigh the potential benefits of an innovation against its costs. This position requires a bachelor's or master's degree.

Median Annual Salary: $79,200

Projected Growth Rate: 30%

Actuary

Actuaries assess financial risk. Actuaries create future projections that directly influence insurance policies, investments, pension plans, and business strategies. This career requires a bachelor's degree in economics, mathematics, or another related field.

Median Annual Salary: $100,610

Projected Growth Rate: 18%

Political Scientist

Political scientists study societal relationships, political issues, and governmental processes. These professionals use economic data to predict future political issues. Most opportunities in political science require a master's degree.

Median Annual Salary: $114,290

Projected Growth Rate: -2%

Mathematician

Mathematicians use algorithms, mathematical theory, and statistical models to interpret, prove, or project results. Mathematicians can work in the public or private sector. Mathematicians often collaborate with professionals in other fields such as engineers, businesspeople, and chemists. This profession usually requires a master's or PhD.

Median Annual Salary: $105,810

Projected Growth Rate: 21%

Economist

Economists research issues, present findings, and project future market directions. Economists work across multiple fields, including commerce, healthcare, education, and government. Often, practitioners focus on a particular area of interest such as behavioral, financial, industrial, labor, or community economics. This profession requires a master's degree.

Median Annual Salary: $101,050

Projected Growth Rate: 6%

Educational Paths for Graduates of Economics Associate Degrees

Since most jobs in economics require at least a bachelor's degree, those with an associate degree usually pursue further education. Many schools that offer economics degrees online describe their transfer options, often with specific agreements between schools. Earning a higher degree in economics or another related field opens up more job opportunities.

  • Bachelor's in Economics: This program expands on the skills taught in the associate in economics. The degree teaches students qualitative and quantitative research methods. Topics include economic impacts in companies, communities, and the global market.
  • Bachelor's in Political Science: Students study American politics, global affairs, and political theory with this degree. Graduates can find a career in local or national government, law, business, and international relations. The versatile skills honed in this program include clear communication, sharp analysis, and leadership.
  • Bachelor's in Mathematics: Mathematicians apply theory and analytical methods to new problems across multiple fields. Graduates can work in the fields of computer programing, finance, technology, and engineering.
  • Bachelor's in Statistics: Students gain fundamental mathematical and analytical skills with a degree in statistics. Statisticians solve real world problems through analysis of the latest statistical data. Graduates can work for the federal government, development organizations, and scientific corporations.
  • Bachelor's in Informatics: Students learn how to find practical applications for the latest technologies in order to improve the quality of life of people across the world. Graduates create new uses for technology and analyze how humans interact with that technology.

Financing Your Online Associate in Economics Program

Once you have selected a program that best suits your needs, it is important to consider funding options for your online associate degree in economics. FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is an excellent place to start: this application tells you which federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans, grants, and work study opportunities are available to you. Be sure to also check the financial options offered through your chosen institution. Some schools offer assistance in the form of merit or need based scholarships.


AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

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UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.