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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 2021? Here Are Our Top 5:

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Rank School Location
1 Purdue University-Main Campus West Lafayette, IN
2 American University Washington, DC
3 Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA
4 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND
5 University of Missouri-Columbia Columbia, MO
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.

2021 Best Accredited Online Master's in Economics Programs

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Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

Purdue University-Main Campus

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

A public university in West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue University offers an online master's in economics through its Krannert School of Management. Well-suited for business professionals, the 30-credit program provides scheduling flexibility and can be completed in two years.

Students select from four concentrations: financial economics, business and data analytics, public economics and policy, and advanced theory. Except for the advanced theory specialization, which requires a fall and spring semester on campus, the school offers all coursework online.

Purdue is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and the Krannert School of Management is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Economics
School Status: Public
Tuition: $970 per credit (in-state); $1,080 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 20-36 months
Format: Hybrid for advanced theory; 100% online for other specializations
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum requirement
Standardized Tests: Not required

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

2

American University

Washington, DC Graduation Rate: 80%

American University, a private institution in Washington, D.C., was founded in 1893. The university offers an acceleratedonline master's in economics with an applied economics specialization. The school's location plays a role in the program's curriculum, providing connections to leaders and influencers in today's global economy.

Students can complete the entire program in 20 months. Classes are delivered through eight-week sessions, and online learners have the option to fulfill up to six credits on campus. Throughout the program, students develop a thorough understanding of economic models and indicators.

American University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Arts in Economics, Applied Economics Specialization
School Status: Private
Tuition: $1,800 per credit (fall and spring); $1,580 per credit (summer)
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 20 months
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum requirement
Standardized Tests: Not required

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

3

Georgia Southern University

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

Statesboro-based Georgia Southern University offers students an online master of science in applied economics. Throughout this program, students take two courses per semester. The curriculum accommodates busy professionals committed to advancing their careers.

Core competencies in the all-online program include micro and macroeconomics, math for applied economics, and applied econometrics. Focused electives cover topics like international, health, and behavioral economics, which faculty present through simulations, multimedia presentations, and discussions. Online students participating in the five-semester curriculum pay the same tuition rates as in-state residents. Enrollees have the option to start in the spring or fall.

Georgia Southern University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Applied Economics
School Status: Public
Tuition: $360 per credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 20 months
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

4

University of North Dakota

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

Based in Grand Forks, the University of North Dakota offers an applied economics and predictive analytics master's degree online. Students can establish or advance careers related to areas like data analytics, data consulting, and forecasting.

Open-schedule online classes combine with evening discussions to accommodate students balancing work and studies. The program features a three-part curriculum, including an economics core, data analytics coursework, and an independent study capstone. Regardless of their location, all online students pay in-state tuition and can take advantage of tutoring, library access, and career assistance.

The Higher Learning Commission provides regional accreditation to UND, and its applied economics program holds specialized accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Applied Economics and Predictive Analytics
School Status: Public
Tuition: $540 per credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 20 months
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Primarily asynchronous with scheduled evening discussions

Admission Requirements

GPA: Minimum 2.75 cumulative or minimum 3.0 over the last 60 credits of coursework
Standardized Tests: GRE or GMAT

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

5

University of Missouri-Columbia

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

The University of Missouri, a public research institution based in St. Louis, offers a master's in economics online. This program was launched in 2017. The curriculum prepares participants for careers related to data and financial analysis, institutional research, energy markets, and economic development.

Students learn largely at their own pace and participate in hands-on research. Learners complete 15 credits of required classes and 15 elective credits. Coursework covers topics like banking, economic development, macroeconomic and microeconomic theory, econometrics, international trade and monetary systems, and quantitative economics. In-state tuition rates extend to online students, regardless of their location.

The Higher Learning Commission provides regional accreditation to Mizzou.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Arts in Economics
School Status: Public
Tuition: $450 per credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum over the last 60 credits of coursework
Standardized Tests: Not required

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

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.

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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.

Economist

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.

Actuary

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.