As colleges and universities navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we're continuing our efforts to provide you with useful student resources and the latest online program information. Check our coronavirus resources page to learn more.

Earning a master’s in economics can open the doors to a variety of private and public sector career opportunities. Graduates of these programs can find work as economists, policy and budget analysts, data scientists, consultants, and market researchers. Others move into academia, serving as professors at colleges and universities across the country.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), economists with a master’s degree earn a median annual salary of more than $105,000. Demand for these professionals remains high, as the BLS projects 14% job growth between 2019 and 2029. Individuals with advanced economics degrees provide value by analyzing data, trends, and economic issues across various contexts.

What Are the Best Online Master's in Economics Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top 10:

Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.

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
How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology here. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

2020 Best Accredited Online Master's in Economics Programs

Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle

Johns Hopkins University

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

Graduate students can complete a 10-course master of science in applied economics at Johns Hopkins in one or two years. Participants can take classes online and in the evening at the school's Dupont Circle location in Washington, D.C. Enrolled students learn to construct and analyze economic models.

Applied economics students take four core courses covering topics like economic theory, statistics, and econometrics; one advanced econometrics course; and five electives in an area of interest. Possible specializations include public policy, financial economics, international economics, and spatial economics.

This program accepts applications on a rolling basis and welcomes all undergraduate majors with a minimum 3.0 GPA to apply. Applicants should demonstrate completion of some undergraduate coursework in economics and calculus, submit a 250-word statement of purpose and a resume, and upload contact information for two recommenders.


Purdue University

West Lafayette, IN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 81%

Founded in 1869, Purdue now serves more than 40,000 students through several locations and online. Online degree offerings include a 30-credit master's in economics with specializations in data analytics, financial economics, public policy, and advanced theory. Students can start in August or January and finish in 20-36 months.

Purdue's online courses typically last eight weeks. All economics graduate students must take courses that cover economic theory and econometrics. Specialization class topics include big data, financial valuation, and game theory.

This program does not require undergraduate coursework in economics or GRE scores. Applicants must submit a statement of purpose, video essay, resume, and two recommendations. Video essay questions relate to business competencies such as motivation and leadership potential.


American University

Washington, DC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 80%

AU offers a master's in economics with five specializations, including an online track in applied economics. This 10-course degree emphasizes policy and data analysis and combines theory with practical applications. Students may complete the entire program online or take up to six credits on campus.

AU's online graduate economic courses last eight weeks. Core courses include economic theory, econometrics, and a concluding capstone course. Elective options include labor economics, public economics, and financial stability.

Applicants must complete calculus before starting the program. They should also submit a resume, a statement of purpose, and two recommendations. The program can be completed in 20 months. AU reports that 96% of program graduates find employment in the field and/or enroll in graduate school within six months.


University of Delaware

Newark, DE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 81%

UD has roots dating back to the 1700s. The university offers a hybrid master's in economics and entrepreneurship for educators. UD designed this program to prepare teachers to become leaders in teaching economics, personal finance, and entrepreneurship.

This 30-credit degree requires six transfer credits. Students complete introductory coursework and projects online during the school year and two four-week sessions on campus during the summer. Summer courses during the first summer include micro- and macroeconomics. During the second summer, students explore money, international trade, and economic education.

Educators with at least three credits in economics and a recommendation from their school, district, or another relevant organization may apply. Applicants must submit a resume, personal statement, and three letters of recommendation.


University of Missouri

Columbia, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 69%

Founded in 1839, Mizzou currently serves more than 30,000 students. The university offers a 30-credit master's in economics that students can complete entirely online. The program emphasizes globalization and big data.

The economics curriculum includes five core courses and five elective classes. Required courses include economic theory, econometrics, and a research workshop. Students may select from electives like international trade, game theory, and public budgeting. Interested students may take up to 12 credits before officially applying to the program.

Mizzou seeks applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA over their last 60 undergraduate credits. Applicants must submit transcripts, contact information for two recommenders, a resume, and a personal statement. However, students need not submit GRE scores. All distance learners qualify for in-state tuition.


University of North Dakota

Grand Forks, ND Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 55%

UND offers a master of science in applied economics and predictive analytics designed for individuals interested in a career in economic research and/or forecasting. Students may complete this 30-credit degree entirely online in two years.

Required core courses include economic theory and econometrics. Students must also take 12 credits in data analytics and complete a three-credit independent study course. Many of UND's classes require students to participate in synchronous, online discussions, which are usually held in the evenings.

Applicants must possess an undergraduate degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA (or a minimum 3.0 GPA during their junior and senior years) and have completed coursework in microeconomics, calculus, and statistics. Applicants who do not meet these requirements may qualify for provisional status. Online students can access UND's online tutoring services.


West Texas A&M University

Canyon, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 44%

WTAMU offers a 36-credit, two-year master of science in finance and economics that is well suited for professionals working in fields like finance, policy, economic consulting, and education. Students may complete all coursework online.

This degree emphasizes the application of economic theory. Students begin by demonstrating proficiency in economics, accounting, finance, and statistics through undergraduate or graduate coursework or by passing advanced standing exams. Degree requirements include core courses in economic theory and policy, corporate and international finance, asset valuation, and quantitative analysis.

Applicants with a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA may apply for a GMAT score waiver. All applicants must submit three recommendations, a resume, and a goals statement. Master's candidates must pass a comprehensive exam to graduate.


Georgia Southern University

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

Serving more than 25,000 students, Georgia Southern offers an online master of science in applied economics. This program is focused on giving graduates the skills needed to analyze financial markets, regulatory issues, and economic development. Learners can complete this fully online, asynchronous program in two years by taking two courses each semester.

The program requires five courses in math, economic theory, and applied econometrics. Students then select five courses in areas such as international economics, industrial organization, health economics, and behavioral economics. Additional course topics include regional economic development and financial economics.

Candidates should possess a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and competitive GRE scores. They should also have completed coursework in micro- and macroeconomics, calculus, and statistics. Graduate degree-holders may apply for a GRE waiver. Students who do not meet these requirements may receive provisional admission.


University of Detroit Mercy

Detroit, MI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 65%

Founded by Jesuits in 1877, UD Mercy oversees more than 100 programs, including eight online master's pathways. The university offers an online master's in economics that enables students to select a theoretical or applied concentration.

UD Mercy's graduate economics program requires 15 credits of core classes and 15 credits of electives. Core course topics include economic analysis, financial economics, and international trade theory. Elective offerings include labor economics, international monetary analysis, and economic modeling. Students may also opt to complete individual research or a master's thesis as part of their elective coursework.

UD Mercy prefers applicants who possess an undergraduate degree in business or economics with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The university may require additional prerequisites.


Murray State University

Murray, KY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 55%

Murray State offers 17 graduate programs online, including a master's in economic development. This fully online degree prepares students for careers in economic development. Participants can complete this program in a year by taking two eight-week classes each session.

Murray State's program emphasizes hands-on learning. Students receive training in current statistical tools and complete directed study in an area of interest, an internship, and a capstone project. Required course topics include economic development methods, finance, and data analysis.

Applicants must possess a minimum 2.75 GPA, a GMAT score of at least 450, or a GRE score of at least 289. Applicants with professional certifications or experience in economic development may qualify for credit, and applicants may transfer in up to 12 credits of relevant graduate work. Online tuition rates are the same for residents and nonresidents.

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

The typical master’s in economics program requires 30 credits and takes about two years to complete.

Students who do well in online master’s in economics programs possess strong analytical, critical thinking, problem-solving, and math skills. They must also write and communicate well and maintain a detail-oriented approach to their work.

The typical master’s in economics program requires 30 credits and takes about two years to complete. Some programs offer concentrations in areas like applied economics, economic statistics, public finance, and economic development and planning.

As they move through a master’s in economics program, students take courses on microeconomics and macroeconomics, industrial organization, applied econometrics, international finance, and economic growth. Learners maintain some flexibility in the courses they take based on their interests and career trajectory.

Few programs require internships or labs, although students often engage in these experiences, sometimes for credit toward their degree. Many programs require a capstone course, during which students apply what they have learned to a final project before graduation. They may also present this project to their professors and peers.

Colleges and universities may offer master of arts (MA) or master of science (MS) degrees in economics. MA programs usually focus less on the technical aspects of economics and more on principles and theories. MS programs place more emphasis on mathematics and statistics.

Admission Requirements for Online Master's in Economics Programs

Although admission requirements differ between programs, most schools require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree in economics or a related field from a regionally accredited school. These programs usually ask applicants to submit recommendation letters, GRE scores, and a personal essay or statement.

Some online master’s in economics programs require students to take and pass prerequisite courses, such as applied economics and statistics.

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Economics Program?

While no two online master’s in economics degrees feature the exact same curriculum, many programs offer similar core courses. Students learn key concepts in microeconomic theory, labor economics, international markets, and econometrics. The courses students take also vary based on their chosen concentration and whether they enroll in an MA or MS program.

Microeconomic Theory

Students explore how individuals, businesses, and organizations behave and interact in the marketplace. This course examines market structures, the economic role of government bodies, and the economic effects of supply and demand. Learners also discuss how consumers make decisions and how public policies affect economic efficiency.

Economic Statistics

This course explores the key concepts of descriptive statistics, frequency distribution, probability, hypothesis testing, and measures of association. Students then apply these concepts to conduct multivariate regression analyses, using statistical software and tools to interpret various types of econometric models.

Applied Econometrics

Students learn how to apply mathematical and statistical theories to economics to analyze current and forecast future trends. This process may involve using Stata or similar software. Learners conduct regression analysis and interpret the results through various specifications.

Labor Economics

Students learn about how individuals and families make decisions about their labor force participation and the number of hours they work on a weekly or monthly basis. This course examines the impact of taxes, social programs, the minimum wage, education, immigration, and various public policies on the labor market.

Economics of Information

This course examines situations in which certain players in a market possess private information that gives them key advantages over others. Students look at how this information affects individuals’ decision-making, incentives, and behaviors.

Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Economics Degree?

An online master’s in economics prepares graduates to move into a career field that comes with competitive salaries, job security, and solid growth opportunities. While the total number of economists remains fairly low, relatively few professionals possess the skills needed to thrive in the field. The BLS projects 14% job growth for economists between 2019 and 2029.

Find out what a master’s in economics degree can do for you. Learn more about careers in economics here.


These professionals collect and analyze data and look for trends using their expertise in both microeconomics and macroeconomics. They typically work for government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, or private businesses. Economists often work in offices and benefit from a high level of independence in their day-to-day activities.

Financial Analyst

Financial analysts use their expertise in economics to help individuals and businesses make wise short-term and long-term investments. They often possess knowledge of specific industries or regions and spend significant time analyzing current and historical financial data to identify trends, create projections, and determine the value of companies.

Budget Analyst

These professionals help businesses and organizations create budgets and plan for the future. They review budgets and requests for funds while ensuring financial allocations comply with applicable laws and regulations. Budget analysts usually work in offices.

Market Researcher

Market researchers analyze data and trends related to marketing, sales, consumer preferences, competitors, and overall business performance. They most often work for large companies and marketing agencies and spend significant time working with statistical and analytical software. Market researchers may present their findings to company leadership or clients.


Actuaries combine their knowledge of economics, statistics, mathematics, and finance to create reliable models and projections. These models allow them to estimate the costs of natural disasters, accidents, and illnesses for individuals and families. Actuaries typically work for insurance companies and large corporations, helping these organizations respond to events and effectively plan for the future.

Economics Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Economics Programs

Is a master's degree in economics worth it?

Yes. Graduates regularly earn over $100,000 per year and enjoy consistent growth opportunities. The BLS projects 14% job growth in this field between 2019 and 2029.

What can I do with a master's in economics?

Graduates may begin careers as economists, policy or budget analysts, college professors, economic consultants, market researchers, and data scientists.

How many economics majors get jobs?

Professionals with a master’s in economics can often find a job. Beyond serving as actual economists, graduates can fill a variety of additional roles within businesses, organizations, and government agencies. Economics master’s programs provide students with a variety of analytical and critical thinking skills that apply to numerous career paths.

How much money can I make with a master's in economics?

According to the BLS, economists earn a median annual salary of $105,020. Salaries vary between positions.

What are the highest paying jobs with a master's in economics?

Economists generally earn the highest salaries in the field. Financial analysts make a median annual salary of $81,590, while budget analysts earn $76,540 annually.