Every thriving society relies on a healthy economy. If your undergraduate work was in economics, you have a solid understanding of economic theory, the analytical skills to interpret how policies will affect markets, and the quintessential ability to make managerial decisions. You may now be considering the move to increase your earnings while also attaining greater job satisfaction. A master’s degree in economics will help you achieve these goals.
A great incentive to go back to school is that the employment future for those who hold master’s degrees in economics is bright. Approximately 80% of advanced degree holders find work in banks, consulting firms, research institutes, and international organizations. The remainder is hired by government authorities and other agencies. Job growth is projected to be high for those with a master’s degree in economics.
As with any master’s coursework, the degree may be considered as terminal or as the required precursor for a doctoral degree. The time spent on achieving a master’s degree is typically eighteen to twenty-four months. For students not planning to proceed to doctoral work, a thesis is often a requirement.
Training to attain a master’s degree in economics covers the major fields of economic theory, applied economics, and econometrics. Within these three broad categories, students will study macroeconomics, microeconomics, applied fields, methodology, and other related subjects. Most programs currently emphasize mathematics as the most important element of study.
What does a master’s in economics do?
Because healthy societies depend on healthy economies, economists are influential people. They will always be necessary to assess how government and business policies impact life. Those who can analyze complexities in markets are especially essential.
An advanced degree in economics will provide you with the ability to work with numbers, large sets of data, and variables. You will be able to move into a variety of high-paying careers, such as financial management officer, quantitative analyst, data analyst, liability/claims adjuster, research officer, planning analyst, industry analyst, and performance research analyst.
Listed below are other specific careers you will be eligible for, along with job descriptions:
As an actuary, you will use statistics, financial theory, and mathematics to assess the economic dangers of monetary risk.
As an economist, you will assess information about the nation’s economy, which includes labor statistics, productivity, earnings, and prices. In addition, you will predict future spending outlays and keep government and policy bodies informed as to the economic effect of laws and regulations.
As a financial analyst, you will analyze a specific area of economics, such as a product or region, to understand how new factors will influence investments.
As a data scientist, you will use the skills and information of this relatively new field to bring order to the mass of information available to modern agencies and businesses.
As a statistician/econometrician, you will use statistical procedures to analyze data and help untangle knotty problems in the worlds of engineering, science, business, or other fields.
Do you need a specific kind of bachelor’s degree or background?
Applicants for a master’s degree in economics must have the following elements in their undergraduate background:
A bachelor’s degree awarded by an accredited college or university
A GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale)
These three economic courses passed with at least a B (although any of them can be substituted by a CLEP exam, with a grade of 65, scaled, or an AP exam, with at least a grade of 4):
Calculus, or the equivalent
What does the degree cover?
The online master’s degree in economics will emphasize the broad areas of economic development, financial economics, and regulatory issues. Academic programs provide a basis for creating economic models with quantitative procedures such as econometrics. They also offer ways to apply economic analysis in settings that may range from the Applied Economics/Business concentration to the Advanced Theory or option for a thesis.
Any optional or additional coursework is dependent upon the emphasis of the program. In degrees that emphasize theory, and in programs that prepare students to work on a doctoral degree, students will often study the usual main subjects, but at deeper levels. For those planning to earn only a master’s degree, coursework will delve into economic issues involving labor, industry, health, agriculture, development, or public finance. Students may also pursue a specialization in a particular area, such as agricultural economics, development economics, financial economics, international economics, or others.
What are entry requirements for a master’s program in economics?
Applicants must have achieved undergraduate work in calculus-based economics, at least at the intermediate level, and usually as a major. A necessary level of mathematical training may include courses in linear algebra, mathematical analysis, probability and statistics.
What degree program should I choose?
Your master’s degree focus will depend on your own interests. If you are intrigued by policymaking and like the idea of employment in a bank, international organization, or government agency, you should consider an online master’s degree in policy economics. If you dream of research and analysis with employment in a financial institution, you might pursue a graduate degree in quantitative economics online.
What jobs are available for degree holders?
A wide range of employment opportunities are available for those with a master’s degree in economics online, including the following: economist, policy analyst, professor, consultant, budget analyst, data scientist, statistician, and market researcher. A fuller and more current list can be found by searching JOE (Job Opportunities for Economists).
How do I find the online master’s program that is right for me?
Any online college can be assessed in the same ways as traditional academic institutions that one would physically attend. Legitimate colleges and universities provide an appealing faculty to student ratio, accreditation, essential and desired courses, and competitive tuition. Potential students may verify each of these elements electronically.
Students will need to measure other factors on a subjective basis: sufficiency and flexibility of course offerings; course materials; turnaround time for evaluation of assignments; technology support; and post-graduation career resources. Are a particular school’s tech support centers, for instance, within reach 24/7? Does the college offer assistance in finding employment after graduation?
Students interested in an online master’s degree in economics should make sure that a desired school’s particular online coursework fulfills their state’s requirements for licensure. Online master’s degree programs in economics may include an internship so that students will be able to put to use what they have acquired in their classroom learning and experiences. Also, many colleges and universities require a period of on-campus attendance, so it is in your interest to see if this requirement applies to the program for which you are applying.
What salaries can I expect?
Salaries vary from region to region but may range from $59,000 to $90,000 for those holding a master’s degree in economics. Listed below are a few sample average yearly salaries (payscale.com):
Senior data analyst–$80,000
Senior financial analyst–$83,000
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for actuaries will increase about 18% by 2024, and employment for financial analysts will grow 12% by 2024, which exceeds the average for all occupations. Between 2016 and 2026, overall employment of economists is predicted to grow 6 percent, in keeping with the average for all occupations. Job prospects should be greater for those holding a master’s degree or Ph.D., and who show strong analytical abilities and experience in using statistical analysis software.
Why should I study online instead of in a traditional brick-and-mortar college?
If you have already set out on a career, or you have personal responsibilities, working toward an online degree provides many advantages. While pursuing an online education, you have the opportunity to work at your own pace and to fulfill your daily duties. You will find that many colleges and universities charge a lower tuition for online classes. A not-so-small extra benefit is that you will incur no gas or parking fees, nor will you require travel time. Some online schools offer an accelerated course of study for those wishing to complete a degree more quickly.
Does getting an online degree result in a different diploma than those awarded by a brick-and-mortar college?
Online coursework is most often exactly comparable to courses offered in classes at the online institution, and your diploma will look no different from those obtained by students who physically attend the school. Programs are created so students may complete them wholly online. In certain segments of the courses, students will work together.
How will I pay for an online master’s degree in economics?
Some online schools may offer the same tuition rate to out-of-state students as to those who are in-state. A master’s degree typically requires a year and one-half to two years of full-time study, and the applicant usually must complete from 36 to 60-semester credits of study (or 60 to 90 quarter-credits). This equals 12 to 20 college courses. Most master’s degrees are awarded by public or state universities. Federal student aid and scholarships are available in the same manner as for traditional college students.
What kinds of skills does online college require?
Online studies call for a particular set of organizing skills and discipline toward responsibilities. Most colleges and universities have a short online test for assessing these skills. Much of what you learned in achieving your bachelor’s degree will still apply to online graduate school. Technical savvy is obviously important in online education, but your ability to search for and read this article without outside assistance probably demonstrates that you have the needed skills for pursuing an online master’s degree in economics.
Rating and Ranking Methodology
This ranking of the 10 best deals on online master’s in economics programs utilized several factors. Those factors are shown in the bullet points below. In cases where there is a tie in points, tuition cost will be the deciding factor. Other factors are a school’s student to faculty ratio and bonus points that may be given for tuition breaks for out of state online students. If a nationally-known entity (such as U.S. News and World Report) has ranked schools, those rankings will also be used.
Tuition figures for the year come from the out of state graduate tuition numbers that are reported to the National Center for Education Statistics, an information clearinghouse of the US government. Enrollment and student to faculty ratios are also derived from the NCES. Any per credit hour tuition rate included in the school review paragraph comes from that school’s website and may show a difference from the government-reported rate.
- Under $30,000—1 point
- Under $27,000—2 points
- Under $24,000—3 points
- Under $21,000—4 points
- Under $18,000—5 points
- Under $15,000—6 points
- Under $12,000—7 points
- Under $9,000—8 points
Student to Faculty Ratio Points
- Above 35-1 point
- Above 30-2 points
- Above 25-3 points
- Above 20-4 points
- Above 15-5 points
- Above 10-6 points
- Top 40-1 point
- Top 30-2 points
- Top 20-3 points
- Top 10-4 points
- Top 5-5points
Bonus for special tuition discount for online students
- Has special online discount for tuition-3 points
- Online students charged standard tuition-0 points
Top Offerings: Master’s in Economics Degrees Online
#10 – Johns Hopkins University
Online Master of Health Sciences in Health Economics and Outcomes Research
Johns Hopkins University is a private research university that was founded in 1876. The school mascot is the Blue Jay. Online technical support is available 24/7 by phone or email. Students with no previous online classroom experience will be automatically enrolled in an online orientation class at registration. With a student to faculty ratio of 10 to 1, the school offers an online master of health sciences in health economics and outcomes research that is a 70 quarter credit hour program which offers two tracks: economic evaluation and outcome research. Johns Hopkins University charges an online full-time tuition rate of $13,092 per quarter, regardless of residency. The school is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
#9 – American University
Washington, District of Columbia
Online MA Economics, Applied Economics Specialization
American University was founded in 1893, and the school mascot is Clawed Z. Eagle. It is a Methodist-affiliated school. At least 98% of graduates from American University’s master’s in economics degree program are working in the field, in graduate school, or in both. Graduates of this program from American University are employed by organizations that include the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US Department of Justice, AARP, JP Morgan Chase, and the Federal Reserve. With a student to faculty ratio of 12 to 1, the school offers an online master of arts in economics, applied economics specialization that is a 30 credit hour program which includes coursework in labor economics and public economics. American University charges an online graduate tuition rate of $1,572 per credit hour, regardless of residency. The school is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
#8 – Georgia Southern University
Online MS Applied Economics
Georgia Southern University was founded as a land-grant school in 1906. The institutional mascot is GUS, the eagle. In 2016, US News & World Report ranked Georgia Southern University’s online MBA program #36 among schools with such programs. With a student to faculty ratio of 22 to 1, the school offers an online master of science in applied economics that is a 30 credit hour program which includes coursework in the history of economic thought and international economics. Georgia Southern University charges an out of state graduate tuition rate of $1,105 per credit hour. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.
#7 – Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana
Master of Science in Economics Online
Purdue University was founded in 1869, and the school mascot is the Boilermaker Special, Purdue Pete. The online master’s degree in economics offered by Purdue was the first program of its kind that has been offered by a major research university, and it was created for students with a strong undergraduate major in STEM subjects. With a student to faculty ratio of 12 to 1, the school offers an online master of science in economics that is a 43 credit hour program which offers specializations in applied economics/business and advanced theory. Purdue University offers an out of state, online, graduate tuition rate of $1,075 per credit hour. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.
#6 – University of Detroit Mercy
Online Master of Arts in Economics
The University of Detroit Mercy was founded in 1977, and the school mascot is Tommy Titan. They are a Roman Catholic institution in the Jesuit and Mercy traditions. With a student to faculty ratio of 10 to 1, the school offers an online master of arts in economics that is a 30 credit hour program which includes coursework in financial economics and economics of the public sector. The University of Detroit Mercy offers an online, graduate tuition rate of $550 per credit hour, regardless of residency. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.
#5 – Ball State University
Online MBA in Health Economics, Policy, and Administration
Ball State University was founded in 1917, and the school mascot is Charlie the Cardinal. In 2016, US News & World Report ranked Ball State University’s online MBA program #12 among schools with such programs. With a student to faculty ratio of 14 to 1, they offer an online master of business administration with a concentration in health economics, policy, and administration that is a 30 credit hour program which includes coursework in information systems and managerial finance. Ball State University charges a non-resident, graduate tuition rate of $602 per credit hour. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.
#4 – University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, North Dakota
Online Master in Applied Economics
The University of North Dakota was established in 1883, and the school mascot is the Fighting Hawk. In 2016, US News & World Report ranked the University of North Dakota’s online MBA program #29 among schools with such programs. With a student to faculty ratio of 21 to 1, the school offers an online master in applied economics that is a 31-32 credit hour program which includes coursework in advanced price theory and advanced international economics. The University of North Dakota offers a graduate online tuition rate of $382.89 per credit hour, regardless of residency. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
#3 – Ohio University
Online Master of Financial Economics
Ohio University opened for students in 1809, and the school mascot is the Bobcat. It is a space-grant institution. No GRE or MAT is required, and all coursework is 100% online. With a student to faculty ratio of 18 to 1, the school offers an online master of financial economics that is a 50 credit hour program which includes coursework in economics, finance, and accounting. Ohio University offers an online, graduate tuition rate of $505 per credit hour for this program. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.
#2 – Youngstown State University
Online Master of Arts in Financial Economics
Youngstown State University was founded in 1908, and the school mascot is the Penguin. With a student to faculty ratio of 17 to 1, the school offers an online master of arts in financial economics that is a 30 credit hour program which includes coursework in econometrics and securities analysis. Youngstown State University offers an online, out of state, graduate tuition rate of $3,698.40 for 12-18 credit hours per semester. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.
#1 – West Texas A&M University
Online Master of Science in Finance and Economics
West Texas A&M University was founded in 1910, and the school mascot is the Buffaloes or “Buffs.” In 2016, US News & World Report ranked West Texas A&M University #26 as a best graduate business program. With a student to faculty ratio of 21 to 1, the school offers an online master of science in finance and economics that is a 36 credit hour program that includes coursework in asset valuation and corporate governance. West Texas A&M University offers an online, graduate, full-time rate of $3,627.69 per semester. The out of state fee is just $30 per credit hour. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.
By Jennifer W. Eisenberg