Economics is a branch of social science focused on how money, goods, and services are produced, consumed, and distributed. The term 'economics' has been used since the 19th century, but this discipline has been studied since ancient times. Modern economics is rooted in finance, sociology, history, political science, mathematics, and statistics. The field is divided into two primary schools: microeconomics, or the way individuals and organizations handle wealth; and macroeconomics, which deals with national, regional, and global economic markets. Additionally, economists today distinguish between positive economics, which reflects current realities, and normative economics, which focuses on ideal conditions.

While economics is a popular field of undergraduate study in the U.S., many students choose to advance beyond their bachelor's by earning a master's degree in economics. The curriculum of a master's in economics degree program is largely grounded in microeconomic and macroeconomic theory, as well as econometrics, or the statistical analysis tools and metrics used to measure and evaluate economic activities. A large number of economics master's degree programs culminate in a capstone experience, which requires students to compose a comprehensive research paper that addresses a contemporary issue in economics. Internships are also widely available, but rarely required as part of the master's curriculum.

Many of today's students are choosing to earn their master's degree in economics online, rather than in a classroom. Web-based students follow the same rigorous curricula as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, leading to similar job opportunities after the degree requirements have been completed. The asynchronous (or self-paced) format of most online master's in economics programs is also ideal for students with other commitments that may interfere with campus-based education, such as part-time employment or family obligations.

Learn more about what you can do with an online master's in economics and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.

Choosing a Program

WILL AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN ECONOMICS PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

The master's in economics degree is designed to build on the foundational knowledge and skills of undergraduate-level study while introducing more advanced theories and approaches to the field of economics. A large number of colleges and universities allow students to follow concentrated study tracks; these degree specializations will help them pursue careers in niche areas of the economics profession. Capstone experiences and internships can also build their career standing by exposing them to real-world working conditions and enabling them to glean insights from experienced professionals.

WILL AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN ECONOMICS PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?

Master's in economics online programs offer a flexible, user-friendly alternative to traditional higher learning. Students can to download course lectures and readings, participate in virtual discussions with other students, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors -- all from the comfort of their home computer. Current technology also allows them to study on the go using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other portable devices with Wi-Fi capabilities.

WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY MASTER'S IN ECONOMICS?

A master's degree is considered the minimum educational attainment level for most economist positions in the private and public sectors. Additionally, those with a master's in economics will be well-positioned to compete for other jobs that are attainable with a bachelor's degree; these roles include finance analysts, market research analysts, statisticians, and financial advisors. The master's in economics can also serve as a stepping-stone for those who wish to proceed into a doctoral or Ph.D. program, though this study track is typically reserved for aspiring college professors and academic researchers.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE MASTER'S IN ECONOMICS PROGRAMS?

Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school's strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online master's in economics programs in the United States. Our ranking is based on the courses schools offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you are considering an online master's degree in economics, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific requirements and offerings.

Accredited Online Master's in Economics Programs

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 93%

A private research university located in Baltimore, Maryland, Johns Hopkins University was founded in 1876 and named after its first benefactor. Johns Hopkins was an abolitionist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur whose $7 million bequest financed half of the establishment of Johns Hopkins Hospital, making it the largest philanthropic gift in the history of the country up to that time. Over several decades, the university has been a leader for U.S. universities in research and development. Johns Hopkins offers several online program options for students including an online master's in economics.

Students can begin their online economics program in the fall, spring, or summer semester. The master of science in applied economics program allows students to develop their skills in constructing and estimating economic models by using econometrics and other quantitative techniques. They also focus on economic reasoning. Following a rigorous, demanding curriculum, students learn from a team of dedicated and talented instructors. To graduate, students must complete ten courses at a part-time or full-time pace. Applicants from all undergraduate backgrounds are welcome to apply.

During their program, economics students must complete four core courses covering statistics, econometrics, microeconomic theory, and macroeconomic theory. They must also complete an advanced econometrics course and five electives, choosing from 31 options across subfields of economics. Students can follow their own course of study, picking and choosing which areas of economics they want to focus on.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Applied Economics
Available Concentrations: Financial economics
Tuition: $4,499/course
Credit Requirements: 30
Program Length: 3-4 semesters

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous or asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: CLEP

Contact
Phone: (410) 234-9220
Email: carey.admissions@jhu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

2

American University

Washington, DC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 79%

Located in Washington, D.C., American University is a private research institution with a main campus that spans 90 acres. AU was chartered in 1893 by the Methodist bishop John Fletcher Hurst, who wanted to create an institution to promote internationalism, public service, and pragmatic idealism. AU opened in 1914 and admitted its first round of undergraduate students in 1925. Though it features an affiliation with the United Methodist Church, AU does not require a specific religious affiliation for admission. Students can explore a variety of online opportunities at AU including an online master's in economics.

In the online economics graduate program, students gain an understanding of economic theory and the analytical skills they need to interpret how certain policies can affect markets. They develop the ability to translate the complexities of the field to a wide audience. The online master of economics program features a specialization in applied economics, giving students the credentials, knowledge, and communication and analytical skills they need to thrive in their career after graduation.The program highlights a policy-oriented curriculum and hands-on, statistical guidance. The curriculum is heavily influenced by its location in the nation's capital, connecting students to the organizations and people currently impacting the global economy.

Throughout the curriculum, students learn to analyze data and apply their analysis to economic policy. Coursework focuses on practical application and theory, urging students to interpret complex mathematical concepts to solve unique challenges.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Economics
Available Concentrations: Applied economics
Tuition: $1,759/credit
Credit Requirements: 30
Program Length: 1.5-2 years

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (202) 885-3620
Email: casgrad@american.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

3

Purdue University

West Lafayette, IN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 78%

A public research university located in West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue University was founded in 1869 after a Lafayette businessman named John Purdue donated money and land to establish a college of technology, agriculture, and science. In 1874, the university held its first classes with 39 students and six instructors. Today, Purdue offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs including several online opportunities, such as the university's online master's in economics.

Online economics graduate students at Purdue benefit from a program that consistently ranks among the best in the country. Throughout their rigorous curriculum, students learn about the quantitative and analytical methods they need to master in order to optimize, evaluate, and forecast crucial business and economic outcomes. Topics include product prices, production, stock markets, employment, inflation, and welfare. Coursework has focuses like econometrics, modern computational and programming skills, and statistical software applications. Students can complete the program completely online in 20-36 months or choose a hybrid format that combines online and on-campus experiences.

The economics program offers study tracks for students interested in applied economics and data analytics as well as a track for students interested in pursuing Ph.D. studies in management, economics, or political science. Students must complete 30 credits of coursework and can specialize in advanced theory, public economics and policy, financial economics, or business and data analytics.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Economics
Available Concentrations: Business and data analytics; financial economics; public economics and policy; advanced theory
Tuition: $1,075/credit
Credit Requirements: 30
Program Length: 1.5-3 years

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous or asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.7 minimum

Contact
Phone: (765) 494-7570
Email: askbursar@purdue.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

4

University of Delaware

Newark, DE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 82%

UD is the largest university in the state of Delaware, offering more than 135 undergraduate programs, 142 master's programs, and 67 doctoral degrees. A public research institution in Newark, UD offers 12 online opportunities including an online economics master's degree.

The master of arts in economics and entrepreneurship for educators program at UD was specifically created for educators with leadership potential who can use what they learn in their program in their own classrooms. Students gain a solid foundation in economic theory along with a set of methods and strategies for teaching entrepreneurship, economics, and personal finance. There are opportunities for students to connect with a network of educators and benefit from ongoing support and inspiration.

Students complete 30 credits of graduate work, 15 of which must be completed on campus. Up to 6 preapproved credits can be transferred in entrepreneurship, economics, or education. The curriculum focuses on topics including macroeconomics for economic educators, curriculum strategy for economic educators, and contemporary issues for economic educators.

Per the Office of Graduate and Professional Education, applicants must complete a minimum of three semester hours in economics and hold a referral from the school district, their school principal, or another organization dedicated to improving the understanding of entrepreneurship, economics, and financial education.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Economics and Entrepreneurship for Educators
Tuition: $850/credit in-state; $1,350/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 30
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0

Contact
Phone: (302) 831-6824
Email: gradadmissions@udel.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

5

University of Detroit Mercy

Detroit, MI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 62%

UD Mercy is a private, coeducational university sponsored by the Religious Sisters of Mercy and the Society of Jesus. Founded in 1877, UD Mercy is the largest Roman Catholic university in Michigan with three campuses. Students can choose from more than 100 academic degrees and programs, including one of the best online master's in economics programs.

Students pursuing an online economics master's degree focus on developing critical thinking and analytical problem-solving skills. Courses are offered online to provide students with an added layer of flexibility and the opportunity to finish their degree within one academic year. Graduates leave the program prepared to pursue careers in business, finance, law, and government.

Students also have the option to pursue a master of arts in economics or a master of arts in financial economics. The master of arts in economics program allows students to focus on applied research and the application of financial principles and economics to both U.S. and international financial systems. The 30-credit program includes structured lectures with discussion boards, timed exams, and weekly self assessments. The master of arts in financial economics also requires students to complete 30 credits of coursework and focuses on providing students with a deeply rooted knowledge of institutions, history, and world economy.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Economics; MA in Financial Economics
Tuition: $851/credit
Credit Requirements: 30
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous or asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact
Phone: 1-800-635-5020
Email: admissions@udmercy.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

6

University of North Dakota

Grand Forks, ND Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

A public research university, UND was established in 1883, six years before North Dakota became a state. A staggering 93% of graduates are either employed or continuing their education. Offering over 225 programs, the university features a strong foundation in liberal arts and has expanded to include scientific research. Offering a variety of specialized and professional programs, UND boasts one of the only schools of law and medicine in the state. Students can also explore various online programs including a master's in applied economics online.

UND economics students gain the data analytics skills they need to become grounded in economic perspectives. The program is ideal for students seeking careers in consulting and forecasting, economic research, and private industries and government. Taking about two years to complete, the online program requires students to complete 30 credits of coursework in the non-thesis option or 34 credits in the thesis option. Students can attend classes online as they happen, or they can stream videos of class sessions at a later date.

Undergraduate students interested in the applied economics master's program can participate in the accelerated economics BA/MSAE degree, allowing them to earn both their bachelor's and master's degrees in as little as five years. The program allows current students and recent graduates to earn department grants that the costs of research materials and conferences.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Applied Economics
Tuition: $425/credit
Credit Requirements: 30-34
Program Length: 1-2 years

Delivery
Format: Online, hybrid, or on-campus
Instruction Style: Synchronous or asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.75 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE or GMAT

Contact
Phone: (701) 777-2784
Email: recruitment@gradschool.UND.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

7

University of Missouri - Columbia

Columbia, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 68%

Founded in 1839 as the first public higher learning institution west of the Mississippi River, the University of Missouri is a public, land-grant research university in Columbia, Missouri. Holding the spot as the state's largest university, MU boasts more than 300 academic programs across 21 academic divisions and features several online program opportunities, including an online master's in economics.

Students within the College of Arts and Science at MU can pursue their online master of arts in economics. The 30-credit program delves into the phenomenon of big data and globalization, and students develop hands-on skills in analyzing data sets in international trade and finance as well as economic developments and public sectors. The rigorous curriculum covers topics such as economic development, international trade and monetary systems, banking, econometrics, and quantitative economics.

Students usually take one or two classes a semester and can finish the program in about two years. Total program cost sits around $12,700, but this can fluctuate depending on transfer courses or course selections as well as academic progress. Online students qualify for in-state tuition rates regardless of their residency. Graduates may find work as economic development incentive specialists, lecturers in economics, energy markets managers, data scientists, and directors of institutional research.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Economics
Tuition: $422/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 1-2 years

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact
Phone: (573) 882-6312
Email: gradadmin@missouri.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

8

West Texas A&M University

Canyon, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 41%

Formerly West Texas State, WTAMU was established in 1910 and began as one of the seven state-funded teachers' colleges in Texas. WTAMU offers three undergraduate programs, two master's programs, and some individual classes completely online, including an online master's in economics.

The master of science in finance and economics consistently ranks among the best programs of its kind. Designed for students who want to expand their understanding of finance and economics, the program caters specifically to those working in teaching, financial institutions, economic and financial consulting, and law. The 36-credit curriculum generally takes two years to complete, although some students can earn their degree sooner based on their individual needs. Online students can also consider hybrid program formats to take advantage of online flexibility and on-campus courses.

To receive their individualized plan of study, students must send in their current resume and unofficial transcripts. If transcripts come from a foreign university, students must also send official evaluated transcripts from an approved list. A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 and GMAT scores are also required, but students who meet the minimum GPA can apply for a GMAT waiver. Other required documents include three letters of recommendation and a statement of goals. Applicants should also be able to demonstrate proficiency in foundational business courses.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Finance and Economics
Tuition: $50/credit in-state; $80/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 36
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online, on-campus, or hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous or asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GMAT

Contact
Phone: (806) 651-2020
Email: admissions@wtamu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

9

Eastern University

Saint Davids, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 63%

Located in St. Davids, Pennsylvania, Eastern University is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA and identifies as a coeducational Christian university comprising an interdenominational Christian faculty, administration, and student body. Boasting accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Eastern offers an array of online opportunities including an online master's in economics, or MBA in social impact.

Eastern's online MBA in social impact equips students with the skills they need to confront complex societal challenges using business innovation tools. Students receive instruction from leaders in the social impact sector and carry out real-world practice while promoting social transformation through entrepreneurship, inclusive leadership, and systems design. The online program mandates one four-day residency each semester. Students must complete 36 credits of coursework and typically take two years to complete the program. Those who earned their undergraduate degree from Eastern enjoy a 20% alumni discount on their tuition.

The MBA in social impact features a variety of useful learning tools including rigorous coursework, integrated learning opportunities, residencies, and thematic blocks to promote comprehensive learning experiences. The program is rooted in economic development and features cohort-based residencies that promote collaboration. Graduates can go on to pursue careers in social entrepreneurship, community relations, impact investment direction, and a variety of other mission-driven ventures.


Program Overview
Program Name: MBA in Social Impact
Tuition: $707/credit
Credit Requirements: 36
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 minimum

Contact
Phone: 1-800-732-7669
Email: gpsadmissions@eastern.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

10

Georgia Southern University

Statesboro, GA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 50%

A public research university in Statesboro, Georgia, Georgia Southern University was founded in 1906 as a land grant college and a part of the University System of Georgia. As the largest center of higher education in southern Georgia, the university offers more than 140 academic programs and serves students from all 50 states and around 85 countries. Students enjoy a variety of online opportunities at the university including an online master's in economics.

Students pursuing their master of science in applied economics online at Georgia Southern develop their analytical capabilities with economic development, regulatory issues, and financial economics. They focus on building their skills in quantitative analysis, market analysis, financial economics, regulatory industry analysis, and economic development. Graduates can pursue employment in financial institutions, utilities, federal and state regulatory agencies, and government enterprises. The fully online program provides students with the skills they need to conduct meaningful analysis of financial markets, government regulation, health care, international trade, and consumer choice.

Courses follow an asynchronous format that allows students to complete work on their own schedule and typically graduate within two years. Students can take two courses each semester to accommodate their busy schedules and are able to pursue stackable credentials that will transition into master's programs.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Applied Economics
Tuition: $358/credit
Credit Requirements: 30
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (912) 478-5384
Email: gradadmissions@georgiasouthern.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

11

Ohio University

Athens, OH Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 64%

OU was the first university to be chartered in the state of Ohio and holds the spot as the eighth-oldest public university in the United States. Today, OU boasts a $0 increase in cost of tuition for the past four years and offers over 250 programs on campus and online, including an online master's in economics.

The online master of financial economics (MFE) program at OU participates in the CFA Institute University Affiliation Program, which awards the Chartered Financial Analyst® credential. Being an affiliated university means the program's curriculum is closely tied to the practice of investment management and helps students better prepare for exams. The rigorous curriculum covers topics including portfolio theory, corporate finance, macro and microeconomics, equity analysis, and financial statement analysis.

The MFE program maintains a theory focus with some application emphasis, preparing students for Ph.D. programs and employment opportunities at government agencies, such as the Department of Commerce, the Department of Labor, and the Federal Reserve Banks. Graduates of the program are able to understand how an economy functions in general and in particular financial markets as well as how to manage portfolios for investors according to their goals and constraints.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Financial Economics
Tuition: $583/credit in-state; $1,079/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 36
Program Length: 2-3 years

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact
Phone: (740) 593-2040
Email: economics@ohio.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

12

Youngstown State University

Youngstown, OH Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 34%

YSU was founded in 1908 as an American research university. Today, it functions primarily as a commuter school, so most students live at home or off-campus residencies. YSU comprises seven specific colleges including a variety of online program options. Students interested in advanced economics careers can pursue an online master's degree in economics.

The online financial economics MA program prepares students to make financial decisions for organizations. Students learn to analyze microeconomic and macroeconomic models, manage financial capital, and decipher stock valuations. They also gain an understanding of financial management on a corporate spectrum, improving their skills in finance and accounting simultaneously. The program can be completed in as few as six semesters, and the flexibility of the program allows students to continue working as they earn their degrees.

Students must complete 33 credits of coursework that focuses on topics such as financial statement analysis, econometrics, microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory, and securities analysis. Students can also pursue a thesis option that entails writing a thesis expanding on their senior research seminar project; this would take the place of one of the 3-credit elective requirements.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Financial Economics
Tuition: $260/credit
Credit Requirements: 33
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous or synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.7 minimum

Contact
Phone: (330) 941-3091
Email: gradcollege@ysu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

13

Southern New Hampshire University

Manchester, NH Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 49%

Boasting accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education, SNHU is one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Offering a variety of online opportunities, SNHU gives students the chance to earn a master's degree in applied economics online.

The master's degree in applied economics online at SNHU allows students to develop their skills in building advanced economic models, data processing, formulating problem statements and hypotheses, communicating and presenting their findings, and collecting data. Students also learn to incorporate precision and accuracy with ethical decision making. The rigorous curriculum inspires students to integrate the appropriate economic principles and theories into a real-world analysis of political, social, and organizational issues. The fully online program offers access to courses 24/7, so students can complete coursework at their own pace over five, ten-week terms each year.

Applicants to the program can work with admissions counselors to ensure they provide all of the necessary materials before they submit their application. After submission, applicants can receive a decision within days. Graduates with their master's degree in applied economics can go on to careers in real estate, marketing, banking, and data management.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Applied Economics
Available Concentrations: General economics
Tuition: $627/credit; $470/credit for service members or their families
Credit Requirements: 36
Program Length: 1-2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.75 minimum; 2.0 for provisional status

Contact
Phone: 1-888-327-7648
Email: enroll@snhu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

13

SUNY Empire State College

Saratoga Springs, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 14%

One of only 13 arts and science colleges of the State University of New York, Empire State College is a multisite institution that offers associate, bachelor's, and master's programs. Boasting a variety of distance education programs, the university offers a prestigious online master's degree in economics.

ESC offers students the unique opportunity to pursue a combined master of arts in community and economic development. The combined program allows students to earn their bachelor's and master's degrees at an accelerated pace. Up to 12 credits of the designated master's courses are integrated into the bachelor's program, counting toward both degrees. The combined program requires 148 credits total, 36 of which are master's credits.

At the beginning of their first term, students will meet with a mentor to strategically plan their program path and ensure they ultimately meet all requirements for both degrees. Applicants to the program must have already completed 60 credits with a minimum 3.2 GPA and will be required to submit two letters of recommendation as well as two application essays. Additionally, they must complete all prerequisite courses in statistics and macroeconomics.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Community and Economic Development
Available Concentrations: Community advocacy, financial management and analysis, social entrepreneurship, nonprofit management, project management, workforce development
Tuition: $462/credit in-state; $555/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 36
Program Length: 2-3 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: 1-800-847-3000
Email: admissions@esc.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Economics Program?

How Long is an Online MBA Program? 18 months to 2 years
Program costs (when available) $25,000 to $50,000
Concentrations Accounting and Finance, Statistics, Sociology, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Financial Analysis, Fundraising, Risk Management

WHAT TO EXPECT AS A STUDENT IN AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN ECONOMICS PROGRAM

The curriculum of a master's in economics degree program will usually focus on three core areas: economic theory; econometrics; and applied economics, or the use of theory and econometrics to address issues and trends in specific settings. Coursework will also delve into the economic practices of particular regions of the world, such as Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East. Most programs include a handful of math courses, largely concentrated in fields like statistics and probability, calculus, and linear algebra. Other areas of study may include trade, money and banking, economic development, game theory, empirical asset pricing, and law and ethics.

Due to the extensive reach of the economics field, degree specializations are quite common. Some common concentrations for master's in economics students include international finance, experimental economics, public finance, monetary economics, marketing research, and real estate. The nature of a student's capstone research project will largely depend on their area of specialization; the best online master's in economics programs provide each student with a faculty advisor to assist him or her during the different stages of the capstone experience.

It's crucial to research the accreditation status of an MBA program before fully committing to it. In the U.S., most online master's programs in economics do not receive programmatic accreditation; exceptions are usually business administration degree programs with an economics focus, which may receive accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). However, students should make sure that their college or university has received regional or national accreditation before committing to it.

JOB PLACEMENT: MASTER'S IN ECONOMICS

Currently, the job outlook for professional economists with a master's degree is somewhat mixed. On one hand, master's degree recipients tend to enjoy lower unemployment rates than their colleagues with lesser credentials. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average master's degree-holder faces an unemployment rate of 2.4%; comparatively, those with a bachelor's or associate degree face unemployment rates of 2.8% and 3.8%, respectively. On the other hand, minimal growth has been projected for the economist profession. The BLS predicts that jobs in this industry will rise 6% between 2014 and 2024, resulting in only 1,200 new jobs during that time.

Thankfully, those who graduate with a master's in economics may also be qualified for other professional roles related to financial analysis and management. Using data from U.S. News & World Report, the following table looks at some of these occupations and their corresponding unemployment rates.

Occupation Unemployment Rate (2017)
Statistician 0.8%
Mathematician 0.8%
Financial Advisor 2.0%
Financial Manager 2.0%
Accountant 2.5%
Financial Analyst 2.1%
Market Research Analyst 3.1%

Source: U.S. News & World Report

The average unemployment rate of the seven positions listed is 1.9% -- much lower than the average unemployment rate for all occupations nationwide, which is currently set at 4.5%.

EARNING A LIVING

According to the 2016-17 PayScale College Salary Report, students who graduate with a master's in economics earn median annual salaries of $64,900 during the first five years of their careers and $115,000 after 10 years in the workforce. However, the salary potential for someone with a master's in economics will often depend on their specific job title. Other factors to consider include experience level, employer size, and city/state of employment. The next table looks at 20-year earnings growth estimates for five of the most common careers for economics master's degree recipients.

Occupation Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years) Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
Economist $62,222 $88,169 $99,833 $118,434
Senior Economist $74,228 $100,040 $118,055 $135,238
Market Analyst $51,067 $61,109 $67,334 $67,558
Data Analyst $55,275 $64,619 $66,420 $69,131
Economic Development Specialist $46,236 $48,230 $55,000 $84,670

Source: PayScale

All five occupations experience salary growth of at least 25% after 20 years on the job. Economists reported the highest growth rate: a staggering 90.3% increase in earnings between the entry-level and late-career stages. Economic development specialists ranked second with 83.1% salary growth, followed closely by senior economists with 82.2% growth.

Career Opportunities

Those leave school with a master's in economics will be qualified for dozens of top-level jobs, although individual eligibility may depend on their field of degree specialization. Four popular career pathways in economics are outlined below.

Economists: Economists analyze activities in money markets around the world in order to determine patterns and trends that may impact the way goods and services are valued and distributed. More than 20% of working economists are employed through the federal government, while another 18% work for consulting services.

Financial Managers: Financial managers oversee the finance departments at private companies, firms, postsecondary institutions, healthcare facilities, and other profit-generating organizations. Their regular duties include writing financial reports, reviewing organizational expenses and activities, and working with executives to create strategies that maximize profits and overall efficiency.

Financial Analysts: Financial analysts provide investment advice to individuals and organizations. They must have a strong background in economics and market activities, and be able to accurately predict how stocks, bonds, and other investments will perform.

Financial Examiners: Financial examiners review the financial records of companies and organizations to ensure that all activities and transactions are ethical and legally compliant. They typically spend their days reviewing balance sheets, bank statements, income and expense accounts, invoices, and other types of financial documentation.

Occupation Median Annual Salary Projected Industry Growth (2014-24)
Economists $99,180 6% (+1,200 jobs)
Financial Managers $117,990 7% (+37,700 jobs)
Financial Analysts $80,310 12% (+32,300 jobs)
Financial Examiners $78,010 10% (+3,700 jobs)

Source: Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to economics is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you'll find three of the country's most prominent organizations established for economics professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates. Resources like these often prove invaluable as you complete your degree requirements and prepare to enter the job market.

  • American Economic Association: Established in 1885, the AEA is a not-for-profit organization that specializes in economic research, particularly in the fields of historical and statistical analysis. The association publishes seven academic online journals, and hosts conferences and gathering throughout the year.
  • National Association of Business Economics: NABE is one of the largest organizations in the country dedicated to business-related micro- and macroeconomics. Membership benefits include complimentary magazines and newsletters, invitations to economics conferences, and discounts on certificate and continuing education programs.
  • National Economic Association: The NEA was founded in 1969 by the Caucus of Black Economists to provide a professional outlet for minorities working in the economics industry. Professional and student membership rates are available.

Financing Your Online Master's in Economics

Despite the relative affordability of online master's programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

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.

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 COLLEGE 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 WOMEN

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We've curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.

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.

SCHOLARSHIPS AND FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Students who pursue online degrees will be eligible for scholarships, grants and other financial aid that is unavailable to their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Learn more about these financial opportunities for web-based learners.

MASTER'S IN FINANCE

Finance -- the study of money and asset management -- is one of the most popular degree concentrations for MBA students. Learn about the best schools for this area of study with our comprehensive degree guide.

MASTER'S IN HUMAN RESOURCES

Another popular specialization field for MBA students, human resources (or HR) focuses on hiring, new employee orientation and other administrative needs. Visit our guide to master's degrees in HR for more information.

BUSINESS RESOURCE

Our page dedicated to resources for business students includes links to professional organizations, open courseware, industry publications, books and business-minded users to follow on Twitter.

BUSINESS CAREERS

Our career page for business degree graduates includes a state-by-state breakdown of business careers and academic options for business students, as well as popular job sites, professional organizations and continuing education opportunities for established professionals.

Rankings Archive

Best Online Master's in Economics Programs of 2018
Ranking School Location
1 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
2 Purdue University West Lafayette, IN
3 American University Washington, DC
4 University of Oklahoma - Norman Campus Norman, OK
5 University of Delaware Newark, DE
6 University of Missouri - Columbia Columbia, MO
7 The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Chicago Chicago, IL
8 West Texas A & M University Canyon, TX
9 University of Detroit Mercy Detroit, MI
10 Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA
11 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND
12 Eastern University Saint Davids, PA
13 SUNY Empire State College Saratoga Springs, NY
14 Ohio University-Main Campus Athens, OH
15 Regent University Virginia Beach, VA
Best Online Master's in Economics Programs of 2017
Rank School Location
1 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
2 Purdue University West Lafayette, IN
3 American University Washington, DC
4 University of Detroit Mercy Detroit, MI
5 Youngstown State University Youngstown, OH