An online bachelor's degree in economics puts you at the forefront of today's global economy. As a student, you will learn advanced principles of supply and demand and how they function in a complex marketplace. This knowledge, in turn, helps businesses understand consumer choices and improve their bottom line. Because graduates from online bachelor of economics programs study the nuances behind company and consumer decision making, they acquire skills that are essential to any organization or business enterprise. Graduates can go on to become economists, financial analysts, personal financial advisors, and statisticians — professions that are all projected to grow over the next six years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The National Association of Colleges and Employers also shows that professionals with bachelor's degrees in economics exceeded the average starting salary for most professions.
What are the best economics programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:
|1||Florida International University||Miami, FL|
|2||University of Utah||Salt Lake City, UT|
|3||Oregon State University||Corvallis, OR|
|4||Utah State University||Logan, UT|
|5||Pennsylvania State University||University Park, PA|
|6||Colorado State University||Fort Collins, CO|
|7||Washington State University||Pullman, WA|
|8||University of West Georgia||Carrollton, GA|
|9||North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University||Greensboro, NC|
|10||University of Hawai'i at Mānoa||Honolulu, HI|
Choosing a Program
Choosing the right program will depend on a student's unique interests and circumstances. In the first place, it is important to distinguish between a bachelor of arts in economics and a bachelor of science, and which programs offer one or both degrees. A bachelor of science degree in economics has a heavy quantitative emphasis, digging deeply into the math and statistics that underpin economic behavior. A bachelor of arts will focus more on qualitative analysis of broader economic, behavioral, and social phenomena.
On top of general education courses, programs usually require students to take a sequence of core economics courses in subjects such as microeconomics, macroeconomics, statistics, and finance. Students can also customize their degree through a choice of subfields like accounting, business, or public affairs, and by selecting any number of upper-division and elective courses including econometrics, political economy, and economic history.
Much will depend, though, on the unique requirements of each online program. Students may need to strike the right balance between core classes and program-specific classes. Some programs are also more generous with transfer credits than others, and program cost is always a cardinal consideration for prospective students. In addition, many colleges charge different tuition rates for residents and nonresidents for both online and on-campus classes.
2020 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Economics Programs
Florida International University
|Miami, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 58%||
FIU's online bachelor's in economics program awards a BA and features courses in intermediate macroeconomics, measurement and analysis of economic activity, and calculus. The program concludes with an undergraduate seminar. Candidates can go on to pursue graduate programs in economics or entry-level employment in business and finance.
Major companies such as Citibank and General Electric recruit FIU's economics students. Degree-seekers can use FIU's resume critiques, networking tips, and virtual career events to prepare for a successful job hunt.
Admission requirements include high school transcripts and standardized test scores. FIU waives these requirements for transfer applicants with at least 60 undergraduate credits. FIU maintains a list of current scholarship opportunities that students can search by academic department.
University of Utah
|Salt Lake City, UT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 70%||
The U's online bachelor's degree in economics features a required major curriculum and optional focus areas in areas like econometrics, the history of economic thought, and economic history. Degree-seekers personalize their program by completing four upper-division courses outside of the economics department.
The university's career advisors provide degree-seekers with personalized advising sessions and a detailed career guide. These services help over 90% of economics students achieve a positive career or educational outcome within one year of earning their degree.
The U admits online degree-seekers at three points throughout the year and charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all distance learners. Admission requirements include ACT or SAT scores.
Oregon State University
|Corvallis, OR||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 67%||
OSU's online bachelor's in economics program requires 180 quarter credits in topics such as public policy analysis, advanced macroeconomic theory, and introduction to economic research. The program also features two optional specializations: managerial economics and law, economics, and policy. The flexible curriculum allows degree-seekers to complete a minor.
Alumni enjoy a 90% job-placement rate within two years of graduation. In addition to maintaining a job board, OSU's career center offers degree-seekers networking opportunities and cover letter guidance.
OSU prefers applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA, and the program accepts up to 135 transfer credits. OSU awards merit-based scholarships to in-state and out-of-state students.
Utah State University
|Logan, UT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 50%||
Aspiring market researchers and financial analysts can pursue USU's online bachelor's degree in economics. Students can choose between a BA and a BS. Courses in both tracks include introduction to microeconomics, statistical methods, and college algebra. Additionally, the program offers four emphasis areas: pre-law economics, economic theory, managerial economics, and international economics and trade.
Over 90% of USU's School of Business undergraduate alumni start an entry-level career or enroll in a master's program soon after earning a degree. USU's career services office provides resources through Handshake, including a job board and alumni mentors.
USU uses high school GPA and GED score cutoffs. Transfer students must have a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA. Outstanding incoming learners may qualify for full-tuition scholarships.
Pennsylvania State University
|University Park, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Penn State offers a bachelor's in economics through its Global Campus. This online program features a 120-credit curriculum with required courses in statistical foundations, intermediate microeconomic analysis, and macroeconomic analysis and policy. Students can personalize the program through multiple economics electives. Learners must maintain a 2.0 GPA to graduate.
Nearly 75% of Penn State alumni find a full-time job within months of graduation. The university provides distance learners with resources like advising appointments, career fairs, guides, and webinars.
Penn State accepts applications for the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Applicants to this program do not need to submit standardized test scores or recommendation letters. Full-time students receive a significant tuition discount compared to part-time learners.
Colorado State University
|Fort Collins, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 71%||
CSU's online bachelor's degree in economics uses a 120-credit curriculum, which includes 52 major credits. Required coursework covers topics like calculus for physical scientists, professional and technical communication, and intermediate microeconomics. CSU's economics alumni often find work in the fields of education and consulting.
CSU's career center helps nearly 90% of undergraduates receive at least one job offer before graduation day. Each year, the center hosts a virtual conference to teach financial skills and job hunting strategies.
Prospective students with a high school diploma or GED certificate can apply. CSU uses a 2.5 undergraduate GPA cutoff for transfer applicants. All distance students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. The university awards merit-based scholarships to Colorado residents and out-of-state students.
Washington State University
|Pullman, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
WSU's online bachelor's in economics program awards a BS and requires students to take courses in linear algebra, financial accounting, and labor economics. Degree-seekers can specialize in commodity marketing or management. Learners can also customize the degree by choosing four economics electives.
WSU's career center allows online learners to set up virtual counseling appointments through Handshake and develop their resume on Resume Worded. Students can gain professional experience by signing up for micro-internships.
Prospective students under the age of 25 must submit ACT or SAT scores, while adult learners should provide an essay and a resume. Degree-seekers who live outside of Washington pay a slightly higher tuition rate than in-state distance learners. WSU offers two scholarship opportunities to online students.
University of West Georgia
|Carrollton, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 42%||
A hybrid program that may appeal to degree-seekers living in and around Carrollton, UWG's bachelor's in economics emphasizes management, finance, and marketing fundamentals. The curriculum includes required courses in accounting and economics. Approximiatley 60% of this program's requirements can be completed online.
UWG's career services office provides learners with resources like career exploration guides, resume critiques, and internships. Additional services include social media tips, interest assessments, and an externship program.
Prospective students can apply to enroll in the spring, summer, or fall. First-year applicants must submit standardized test scores. UWG uses a 2.0 undergraduate GPA cutoff for transfer credit. Financial aid options include institutional scholarships, each of which requires a separate application. This economics program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
|Greensboro, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 53%||
N.C. A&T's bachelor's in economics program can be completed online. It features a flexible curriculum that allows students to design a custom economics specialization or pursue a minor in another field. Unique graduation requirements include a course in African American history. Learners must maintain a 2.0 GPA to graduate.
On the university's career services website, online degree-seekers can research job postings and search for internship opportunities. They can also hone essential interviewing skills through InterviewStream.
Prospective students must have a high school diploma. North Carolina residents receive a significant tuition discount. The university awards the National Alumni Scholarship — which covers all tuition costs — to outstanding learners.
University of Hawai'i at Mānoa
|Honolulu, HI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
UH Mānoa's online bachelor's degree in economics features a 30-credit major curriculum that allows learners to select five economics electives. The program also features an optional specialization in quantitative economics; participants take additional courses in upper-division mathematics.
UH Mānoa's career center helps students find lucrative and fulfilling jobs by providing virtual information sessions. The center's website also provides informational videos that cover typical interview questions.
Admission requirements include high school transcripts or GED scores and English and math placement tests. All incoming learners also complete an orientation and meet with an advisor before registering for courses.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Economics Program?
Every economics program is unique, though most share a few common characteristics. The field of economics is broad and intersects with a number of interrelated disciplines. Some economics programs emphasize the business dimension of the field, while others treat economics as a social science. Prospective students will need to carefully evaluate these differences when selecting a program.
CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN ECONOMICS
Course names, objectives, and learning outcomes may differ by school, but in general, schools offer a common set of courses that introduce students to economics in its many facets. Below, we've highlighted a few courses you'll see in most economics programs.
- Introduction to Econometrics: Econometrics is a discipline that uses statistics and mathematics to illustrate economic principles. This class will help students extract simple relationships between different datasets while also using this data to solve common economic dilemmas. Distance learners who plan to pursue careers as financial advisors and examiners will benefit greatly from this course.
- Principles of Macroeconomics: Macroeconomics is a branch of economics that seeks to define the structure and behavior of economies as a whole, rather than individual behaviors within these economies. Among other areas, students explore fiscal policy and how it affects national unemployment and inflation rates. They will also develop theory-based tools to help them explain GDP, national income, and price indices.
- Labor Economics: In this class, online bachelor's degree in economics students learn how labor relations, wages, and government policies affect the workforce. In addition to studying present and future employment and wage trends, students learn about the influence of labor unions and the reasons behind their creation. This course would be ideal for those seeking careers as market research analysts.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN ECONOMICS?
A student's enrollment status and a school's credit hour requirements will directly affect the length of an online bachelor's degree in economics. Enrollment status is up to individual students, but full-time enrollment will enable you to complete your degree in less time. Most programs expect you to be enrolled in at least two to three courses per semester to be considered part-time. Another factor affecting program length is that some students have the option to take courses asynchronously — at their own pace — while others take online classes as a cohort, synchronizing their schedules with prescribed class times. In order to graduate, schools require students to complete around 120 credit hours taken over the course of four years, but transfer credits may reduce the time it takes to get the degree.
Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Economics Degrees
Regional accreditation is the most popular and widely-recognized form of accreditation among the many public and private higher learning institutions in the United States. Regional accreditation agencies exist throughout the country and are tasked with monitoring the academic standards of individual programs. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) oversees the six U.S. regional accreditation agencies. An example of a regional accreditation agency is the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools which oversees institutions in the midwest.
The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) works with CHEA to ensure the accreditation process runs smoothly between agencies and academic institutions. National accreditation is handled by CHEA-supervised agencies. Specialized accreditation also exists and is reserved for programs in a particular field. An example is the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, which grants accreditation to business schools that provide an excellent standard of education in traditional business subjects like economics.
Overall, accreditation is an important consideration in determining the quality of online economics programs, and prospective students should ensure the programs they are considering are either nationally or regionally accredited. A list of regionally and nationally accredited schools can be found on the DOE and CHEA websites.
Employment Outlook for Bachelor's in Economics Graduates
A bachelor's degree in economics is a prerequisite for many professions in business, economics, and financial analysis. Graduates of economics programs might forecast market trends or analyze consumer behaviors to optimize a company's strategic decision making. They must also be capable of evaluating and communicating the results of economic analyses to stakeholders, which is why a well-rounded baccalaureate education is a must for most employers. Salaries vary, but many economics graduates go on to take high-paying positions in the public and private sectors.
BACHELOR'S IN ECONOMICS SALARY
Once you earn an online bachelor's of science degree in economics, your salary is determined largely by the type of job and level of experience. Entry-level employees with economics degrees can make in the range of $50,000 to $66,000 a year, and experienced professionals can earn upwards of $69,000 to $132,000 a year. Below is a list of common career paths for economics graduates. The overall median salaries are calculated along with typical salaries as individuals progress through their careers.
Economist Careers by Experience
|Job Title||Overall Median Salary||Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years)||Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years)||Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20 years)|
|Market Research Analyst||$51,439||$50,000||$66,000||$69,000|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
BACHELOR'S IN ECONOMICS CAREERS
A bachelor's of economics degree prepares graduates for a wide range of job opportunities. Graduates can work in the public sector or private sector, while some go on to pursue more specialized research roles in academia. In the business sphere, economics graduates will be able to predict and assess the financial performance of companies. Economists and financial analysts can also forecast patterns such as recessions and rates of inflation, and are integral to the understanding of job markets, job growth, and productivity.
- Financial Examiner
Examiners oversee company tax records, loan documents, and other materials to ensure businesses are adhering to federal rules and regulations. They also assist companies with corrective actions when they find violations.
Median Annual Salary - $60,000
Projected Growth Rate - 10%
Statisticians utilize theories of applied science to analyze data and use these results to give advice to their clients. They also manage and execute surveys to ensure data accurately reflects the current business climate.
Median Annual Salary - $71,000
Projected Growth Rate - 34%
- Financial Analyst
A financial analyst oversees company investments, stocks, and bonds. They also help companies understand their investment portfolio and its viability in the current marketplace.
Median Annual Salary - $59,000
Projected Growth Rate - 12%
- Financial Advisor
A financial advisor works at banks, investment firms, and insurance companies to help clients plan and navigate their financial future. They explain tax laws, help clients identify good investment opportunities, and assist with insurance issues.
Median Annual Salary - $58,000
Projected Growth Rate - 30%
- Market Research Analyst
Analysts review data gathered through interviews and surveys to improve company profit margins. They also collect data on competitors to determine the best prices and methods for product distribution.
Median Annual Salary - $51,000
Projected Growth Rate - 19%
Professional organizations provide a network for working professionals to connect with thought-leaders all over the world who work in their field. Organizations schedule conferences that give members the opportunity to meet peers and sharpen their skills. They also provide resources like exclusive job listings and educational materials. Economics majors can join these professional organizations while they are still students, or after college. These organizations also make great additions to resumes and social media profiles.
- American Economic Association (AEA)
Founded in 1885, AEA is dedicated to the publication and discussion of economic research. AEA hosts an annual meeting, provides career resources, and publishes scholarly journals and articles written by members.
- National Association for Business Economics (NABE)
NABE was created for professionals who use economics in the workplace. The organization also holds events, conducts exclusive courses for members, and has a number of chapters and roundtables that are hosted around the country.
- The Association for Social Economics (ASE)
The ASE was created in 1941 to conduct research in social economics. They publish papers, host several regional conferences, and provide awards and grants for researchers in the area of social economics.
Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Economics Program
Before you decide to pursue a bachelor's degree of economics, you should be aware of the many resources that can help finance your education, including the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) that schools require prior to enrollment. The FAFSA looks at a student's financial status to determine if they qualify for federal loans, grants, and scholarships. There are also exclusive private scholarships available for economic majors such as the Enid Hall Griswold Memorial Scholarship, the Daniel M. Bylander Economics Scholarship, the Dr. Harvey Paul Scholarship for Economics, and the Barbara Miller Memorial Scholarships.
Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.
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 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.
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.
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