The common understanding of Economics is that it is something to do with money, jobs, the stock market, etc. Many people hear the phrase ‘state of the economy’ and automatically connect it with how much money people are making. The real meaning of Economics, however, is – knowledge about production and consumption of goods and services, wealth transfer, and affordability of goods and services in society. Economics is a social science, and it is mainly divided into two areas – Macroeconomics, which deals with production and consumption at a global, national, or regional level, and Microeconomics, which deals with the same, but for individuals, families, and groups. Having a master’s degree in Economics helps students understand economic development and economic health, through key focus areas such as applied economics, qualitative economics, labor economics, quantitative analysis, etc. Graduates of higher education in economics go on to pursue lucrative careers as economists, economic analysts, economic advisors, and more. Many public and private institutions, and most government agencies, only hire individuals that have a master’s for such roles. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of an Economist is $105,020.
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The team at OnlineMastersColleges has created a custom methodology to determine the best higher education programs in economics in the United States. Several factors such as – the quality of each program, graduation rates, program structure and curriculum, the quality and experience of the faculty, flexibility of online courses, etc., have been carefully considered. Based on this methodology and a thorough school search, here are the top 15 school rankings of an online economic degree:
When doing a school search for an economics degree, affordability becomes an important factor. Experts at OnlineMastersColleges used a custom methodology that included various aspects such as tuition fees (in and out-of-state), availability of courses, scholarships, and access to financial assistance, among others. Here are the school rankings of the 15 most affordable online masters in economics:
Understanding an Online Master’s in Economics Program
Students in an online masters in economics program will learn about various aspects of economics. There are several branches of economics at the degree level that students can choose from, and core courses will vary depending on the choice. Typically, an economics degree will include applied economics and quantitative economics in some flavor or other, and a capstone course as well.
Branches of Economics for Master’s Programs
Area of Focus
The Applied Economics specialization is a branch of Economics that teaches about applying economics theories and metrics to address the issues in a variety of fields and communicating the results. A graduate from an online master’s in Applied Economics program can expect to have careers working in both public and private institutions, solving real-world problems using economics theory. Here are some universities that offer an Online Masters in Applied Economics: The University of North DakotaGeorgia Southern University
Economic Researchers Economic Analysts Applied Economists Industry Economists
This is a branch of economics that deals with the study of psychological, emotional, social, and cultural factors that play a role in the process of the economic decision-making process by individuals and organizations. This program would educate students about the theory of rational choice, nudge theory, and overall reasoning of why and how entities make various economic choices. Here are some universities that offer behavioral economics master’s degree programs online: The Chicago School
Market Research Analysts Behavioral Economics Researchers Political Scientists
This branch of Economics is a relatively new subject that studies the theory of applied economics for the healthcare industry. Graduates from this master’s degree will learn how to analyze the behavior of healthcare providers, organizations within the healthcare industry, and individuals, to promote health for all. Here are a couple of universities that offer online health economics master’s degree: Xavier UniversityThomas Jefferson University
Healthcare Economists Healthcare Research Analysts Public Health Professionals Health Data Managers
Finance and Economics
Finance and Economics is a branch that deals with financial principles and economic theories for various industries. In this specialization, students will learn the correlation between changes in financial metrics and their economic impact, and how they both are knitted together. Graduates from a master’s in financial economics online will work across various bodies, like governmental agencies, law enforcement, policy groups, private organizations, etc. Here are some universities that offer the best master’s in economics and finance online: West Texas A&M UniversityThe University of Detroit, Mercy
This is a branch of economics that deals with studying the economic effects of environmental policies of national, regional, or local entities around the world. A graduate from this economics masters can expect to design appropriate environmental policies and measure their impact, along with advocating better policies. Here are some universities that offer environmental economics masters online programs: Georgia Institute of TechnologyThe University of Massachusetts -Boston
Difference between Master’s in Economics Programs and an MBA in Economics
Universities offer a Masters in Economics program in different formats. Some offer the program as a Master of Science (MS) Economics, while others offer the program as a Master of Arts (MA) Economics. It is also not uncommon to find universities that add economics as part of their MBA programs, with a focus on applied economics and economic analysis.
While all three formats prepare students to be economists, there are some differences between the formats. Typically, an MBA program is designed to focus on business aspects of an organization, such as leadership, managerial skills, the day-to-day running of an organization, etc. There would be some economic-related courses in the MBA program, but largely, the emphasis is more on business and leadership, rather than on economics. On the other hand, both the MS and MA in economics programs are designed to focus purely on courses and subjects in economics. While the MA in economics focuses on the study of economics, the MS focuses on the scientific principles of economics. Some universities may insist on a thesis to be submitted in an MS Economics program, whereas MA Economic programs typically do not have this requirement.
Curriculum for Online Master’s in Economics Programs
An economics degree involves the study of various economic models, theories, and practical implementation of them in the real world. Students will also learn about the history of economic theory and how it has evolved, along with learning about the economy of various countries, and the impact the economy has on their population. While each master’s program at the degree-level has its own courses that vary by school, here are some that are usually found in economic master’s programs:
Students are introduced to the economic policies of different countries around the world and changes in the economies of the countries after the cold war. Some schools also go through the impact of globalization on various economies, along with an analysis of global production and consumption of goods and services.
This course teaches students about various statistical methods and their application to economic data and analysis. Students can expect to go through linear regression models, understand economic theories, and how to measure and forecast.
Macroeconomic theory teaches students about market structures, failures, and microeconomic principles and their effects on markets and larger entities. Students are introduced to consumer behavior and the impact of economic policies on society.
This course introduces students to advanced microeconomic theories and their applications. Students will look into the decision-making process of individuals in various economic situations and highlight the difference between rational and irrational decision-making. Students can also expect to learn about economic-optimizations models.
Economic Development exposes students to fundamental problems in economic development across the world. This course also discusses how it could be rectified by changing the economic policies of the nations for better economic growth along with analysis.
Apart from these core courses, examples of some others include:
International Corporate Finance
Natural Resource Economics
Business and Data Analytics
Monetary and Fiscal Policy
Quantitative Data Analysis
Admission Requirements for Online Master’s in Economics
Applicants to online masters in economics programs must satisfy certain entrance requirements that are specific to the program-offering school. Although these requirements might vary from school to school, a significant majority of schools need the following from the applicants:
Applicants must have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. This bachelor’s degree may be in business, management, or fields related to economics.
Applicants must submit transcripts from their bachelor’s degree programs or related courses completed. Most schools typically want this submission in an unopened official transcript.
Depending on the school that is offering the master’s in economics program, an applicant may be required to have a minimum of one year of related experience and a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score as well.
Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation. Letters should be written by other professionals, past teachers, past mentors, seniors, etc., and they should attest to the applicant’s professional skills and character.
Online Master’s in Economics No GRE
Most economic programs require students to submit competitive GRE scores (or GMAT), along with the application. While some schools do not have a GRE or GMAT requirement, students should check to see if the programs on offer or the school are accredited. (For those who are applying to a school that requires GRE or GMAT, they will do well to read OMC’s GRE Prep Guide and GMAT Prep Guide.
Here are some programs that do not need a GRE/GMAT for Online Masters in Economics:
Southern New Hampshire University – SNHU is an accredited institution that offers online masters in applied economics programs that do not need GRE or GMAT for admission. The program can be finished within 15 months by signing up for two courses per 10-week term. Course materials are available 24/7, and there are no set class meeting times. The tuition fee is $627/credit and 36 credits are needed for graduation. The application fee is $40.
Purdue University is an accredited institution that offers a master’s in economics with 4 specializations – data analytics, financial economics, public policy, and advanced theory. Purdue does not need a GRE score for admission into this program. The program is very flexible with two start dates every year – January and August.
The University of Missouri offers a master of arts in economics that does not need a GRE test score for admission. The program is 100% online, with an estimated cost of $13,299.90. Online students do not pay an out-of-state fee. Students need to finish 30-credit hours for graduation.
Timeline for Online Master’s in Economics
When it comes to economics programs, one of the essential questions that a lot of prospective students have is, “how long does it take?”. An online masters in economics program, just like other graduate programs, takes between 12-24 months to complete, depending on the school, the background of the student, studying at one’s own pace, and the number of prerequisite courses. Students who have an undergraduate degree in economics can finish the graduate degree program faster.
Accreditation for Online Master’s in Economics
Accreditation is an important factor when choosing a university for a master’s program. Accreditation is a process where an independent body reviews the offered program and certifies it for quality. An online masters in economics is generally offered by business schools within a university, and most business schools are nationally or regionally accredited by independent bodies. It is always advisable for students to enroll in a program that is programmatically accredited, or at least in a regionally accredited school. Some of the accreditations available programmatically are:
Career and Salary Outlook for Online Master of Economics Graduates
Having a master’s in economics opens up a lot of senior roles for graduates. Corporations, research organizations, policymakers, government agencies, and consulting organizations prefer individuals that have master’s degrees in economics. According to labor statistics, for graduates of an economics degree program – be it the MS in Economics or MA in Economics, the job outlook is promising, with a good median annual salary, and scope for growth. The following section reviews the salaries, jobs, and outlook across various industries for graduates of economics master’s programs:
Median Annual Salary
Job Growth (2018-2028)
Economists analyze the current economic environment, and the production and distribution of goods, services, and resources. Economists find trends from data to figure out economic issues and come up with solutions.
Market Research Analyst
Market Research Analysts study markets and their conditions to examine the transaction of products and services. They analyze consumer behavior and help corporations produce products and services that consumers like.
Statisticians use quantitative data and apply mathematical and statistical models to solve real-world problems for businesses, corporations, countries, etc.
Financial Analysts guide businesses and individuals with investment decisions. They analyze economic policies and their impacts as well.
Political Scientists study the origin, development, and operation of political systems around the world. They analyze the policies of governments, and the impact they have on the economy at macroeconomic and macroeconomic levels.
Economic Researchers study and analyze the economic problems related to the production and distribution of products and services. They also research consumption, fiscal policies, and their impact on consumer behavior.
One of the most important factors when choosing economic programs in higher education is – how to pay for them. Many organizations offer various kinds of financial aid, scholarships, and assistance, for master’s students. Read the Best Financial Aid Guide to find out more about financial aid and how one can fund one’s advanced degree in economics.
Scholarships for Online Master’s in Economics
Several institutions offer scholarships, financial aid, and other forms of assistance to online economic master’s students. Here are some of those organizations:
Dr. Helen D. Snow Memorial Scholarship FundDr. Helen D. Snow Memorial Scholarship is administered by Phi Chi Theta Fraternity for masters or doctoral degree students who have enrolled in business or economics fields. Scholarship applicants must be a national member of the Phi Chi Theta. The scholarship is based on a student’s contributions to the chapter, community service involvement, and scholarly achievements. The award amount is $500, and the application deadline varies.
Hsiao Memorial Economics ScholarshipThe Hsiao Memorial scholarship is awarded to students who are pursuing a graduate degree in economics. Students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 and demonstrate a financial need. The award amount is $1,000, and the application deadline varies.
FWSF ScholarshipThe Financial Women of San Francisco (FWSF) provides a scholarship for women in the San Francisco Bay Area who are pursuing an undergraduate or a graduate degree in financial careers. Students must maintain a GPA of 3.4. The award amount is $15,000 for graduate students.
Government Finance Officers AssociationThe Government Finance Officers Association provides scholarships to part-time and full-time students interested in pursuing a career in state/provincial or local government, in the field of finance. Eligibility factors include past academic records, work experience, the strength of the course, career goals, etc. There are multiple awards with the award amount ranging from $5,000 to $16,000.
James Kindahl Award for Excellence in EconomicsThis award is created by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, for full-time undergraduate or graduate students pursuing a degree in economics. The Department of Economics at UMASS administers this award, and preference is given to students who exhibit a commitment to social issues, to public policy advocates, and to those who demonstrate excellent academic achievements. The award amount is $1,000. The application deadline is December 1.
Free Online Master’s Degree in Economics
While there are no accredited free master’s degree programs in economics, some universities provide various free courses that are part of typical master’s in economics programs. Here is a list of some free online courses in economics:
Yale University – Yale University provides several free and open access courses through the Open Yale Courses programs. For Economics, they provide teaching sessions from the past years for courses such as Financial Markets, Game Theory, and Financial Theory.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – MIT provides several free courses through the MIT OpenCourseWare Program. In the field of Economics, they provide several undergraduate and graduate-level courses such as Macroeconomic Theory, Microeconomic Theory, Game Theory, Econometrics, etc.
Marginal Revolution University (MR) – MR University provides many courses on economics for free. MR University was founded by economics professors from George Mason University to provide free online courses. MR provides free online courses that are of the same quality as courses in a typical on-campus or online masters in economics program. These courses include Mastering Economics, Principles of Microeconomics, Principle of Macroeconomics, Developmental Economics, Game Theory, etc.
Resources for Online Master’s in Economics Students
Students pursuing an economics degree will do well to register, participate, and network with associations that are in economics. Doing so will not only increase one’s knowledge about the field but also open up career opportunities for economics majors. Here are some organizations that will enhance economics careers.
International Economic Association (IEA) – The IEA is an economics organization that enables networking with other economists at a global level. IEA hosts several meetings and conferences, organizes economics research activities, and maintains a website that has the latest information about research papers, topics, etc.
National Association of Business Economics (NABE) – NABE is a premier association for economics professionals that provides leadership in the use and understanding of economics. NABE organizes conferences, educational and career development offerings, industry surveys, etc.
American Economic Association (AEA) – AEA has more than 130 years of track record in economic research and is a non-profit organization. AEA is composed of more than 20,000 members who are professionals dedicated to economic research and teaching.
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