An economist studies trends and predicts future ones, through analyzing data.
This is just one career for a graduate of an economics program at the master’s level. Others include economist, statistician, business analyst, economic loss specialist and many others.
If you’re considering other master’s programs online, take a look at our ranking of the top online schools.
The five factors that define the ranking system for the 10 best online master’s degrees in economics programs are as follows:
- Payscale early career grad salary – average yearly salary for graduates of a master’s program at a given college.
- In-state tuition — covers program “affordability.”
- All distance education ratio — shows adaptation of grad students to distance programs, including online degrees.
- Some distance education ratio — shows what ratio of grad students not in distance/ online education programs are at least taking distance courses (including online courses).
- Grad student to student ratio — loosely covers the commitment the college has to grad students overall.
The ranking is weighted most heavily towards the Payscale salary value (50% of a scaled range of available salary figures), with the in-state tuition being the second strongest ranking factor.
In-state tuition: $9,208
Out-of-state tuition: $28,010
Students have long praised Purdue University for its commitment to online education. It has continued this tradition by offering the Master of Arts in Economics. This school holds regional accreditation by the NCACS THLC.
Online colleges have begun requiring that all of their faculty undergo the necessary training in order to be certified to teach online. Purdue has been at the forefront of that change, which has resulted in the online school being staffed by full-time faculty that teaches the exact same courses on the campus.
Purdue has always offered two ways to get their degrees; students can either choose to pursue their program online or in a hybrid format. This works well for economics students, especially those who have decided to take on a dual degree or who want to spend time at the school’s campus.
The Master of Arts in Economics is made up of 30 credit hours and generally takes about two years to complete with part-time study. Students can finish the degree in as little as 18 months or up to five years and can choose between full-time and part-time study. Sample courses include Economics and Accounting, International Economics, and Financial Econometrics.
#grads: 9912 (16% take all online courses; 3% take some online courses)
Payscale early career grad salary: $69,900
University of North Dakota
In-state tuition: $7,044
Out-of-state tuition: $18,807
The University of North Dakota has a long-standing tradition of online and distance education, one that has been around for over 20 years. This school confers the Master of Science in Applied Economics, a professional degree. The university is regionally accredited by the NCACS THLC.
The Master of Science in Applied Economics is a degree meant for students who are interested in becoming an economic researcher. It is generally considered to be an academic degree that leads to further study at the doctorate level. For this reason, working students who wish to pursue a career as a professional in an industry may find that this degree does not fit their requirements.
The online learning experience at UND is strong. Students are treated to a 100 percent online program that is taught in a synchronous format and on the semester term. This is a great way for students to structure their time, as classes are oftentimes held in the evenings for the convenience of the students. and as one of the leading cheap online grad schools in the country,
This degree program requires 31 credit hours in order for a student to graduate. This also includes a thesis, which is mandatory for all students, as well as a research project. Sample courses include Labor Economics and Labor Relations, International Money and Finance, and Advanced Macroeconomic Theory.
#grads: 3,374 (44% take all online courses; 7% take some online courses)
Payscale early career grad salary: $56,400
In-state tuition: $9,510
Out-of-state tuition: $17,502
Ohio University’s main campus is home to the school’s Internet portal, known as eCampus to students. This school offers students the opportunity to get the rare Master of Financial Economics. This school, which is regionally accredited by the NCACS THLC, and is also independently accredited by the AACSB. The online business school is also endorsed by the Chartered Financial Analyst exams.
The Master of Financial Economics is a program that is recognized to be based on the CFA Body of Knowledge. It is also endorsed by this institution, meaning that students who successfully complete this degree will be eligible to sit for the exam that will see them become certified chartered financial analysts.
This is a flexible and convenient program that can take as little as one year to complete. It is also taught in an asynchronous format, allowing students to study when it’s best for them. With a renown faculty and a strong curriculum, Ohio University is the perfect institution for students want to get a degree from one of the leading cheap online grad schools.
This is a 10-course, 30-credit hour degree. This includes a research project that is mandatory for all students. Sample courses include International Trade and Financial Economics, Quantitative Analysis for Financial Markets, and Financial Statement Analysis.
#grads: 5,644 (38% take all online courses; 2% take some online courses)
Payscale early career grad salary: $55,300
Ball State University
In-state tuition: $8,242
Out-of-state tuition: $20,356
Ball State University has a unique online economics degree available to students. This school confers the Master of Business Administration with a Graduate Certificate in Health Economics, Policy and Administration, a wholly online program that offers working professionals the ability to have a specialized degree. This university holds regional accreditation by the NCACS THLC and further independent accreditation by the AACSB.
As mentioned above, BSU is different from any other school on this list in that it confers a Graduate Certificate in Health Economics, Policy and Administration as a bridge into the school’s online MBA program. Students must first complete this certificate and then move into the MBA program in order to receive the certificate.
While it is possible to earn the graduate certificate as a stand-alone program, most economic students choose to go on to pursue the online MBA. This is because they can use the credits from the certificate as credits towards the graduate degree, making it a convenient way to both get an educational specialty in health care economics and to go on towards receiving a graduate degree.
This degree requires a total of 30 credit hours in order for a student to apply for graduation. This includes a capstone project. Sample courses include Global Strategic Management, Economic Analysis for Managers, and Statistics and Quantitative Methods.
#grads: 4,594 (61% take all online courses; 8% take some online courses)
Payscale early career grad salary: $49,400
Southern New Hampshire University
In-state tuition: $18,810
Out-of-state tuition: $18,810
Southern New Hampshire University has a reputation for providing students with an exceptional online education. The Master of Science of Applied Economics is conferred 100 percent online to students. This university holds regional accreditation by the NEASC.
This program can either be a general degree or have an added concentration in Environmental and Natural Resources Economics. SNHU is one of only a handful of programs that offers this specialization that works to understand the economics behind environmental policies. It is a great concentration for anyone who is seeking to advance their degree in the environmental and sustainable fields.
Courses at SNHU are taught in an asynchronous format, which allows students from all over the country to log into classes when they have free time. Courses are also taught in 10-week terms, with five start dates a year. This lends itself to more flexibility, as a student is able to take a term off for work and personal commitments.
The M.S. in Applied Economics requires 36 total credit hours in order to earn this degree. There are no thesis or research projects required for this program. Sample courses include Mathematics and Statistics for Economics, Game Theory and Industrial Organization, and Investment Analysis and Portfolio Management.
type: private nonprofit
#grads: 17,454 (88% take all online courses; 4% take some online courses)
Payscale early career grad salary: $52,600
Johns Hopkins University
In-state tuition: $48,710
Out-of-state tuition: $48,710
John Hopkins University is an institution that prides itself on its online programs. It is, therefore, no surprise that this school now confers an online economics degree, the Master of Science in Applied Economics. This university is regionally accredited by the MSCHE.
The M.S. in Applied Economics comes with its own variety of concentrations, most of which can be found online. These include Spatial Economics, Environmental Economics and Financial Economics and the Macroeconomy, among others. These are specialized tracks that will enhance any graduate student’s resume and give them expertise in fields that are growing in demand.
Like with other online colleges, John Hopkins believes that this economics degree is perfect for online students because of its flexibility. There are three start dates and students can enroll as full-time or part-time candidates, allowing them the ability to choose when and how they study. Additionally, students who live near the school’s campus in Washington, D.C., can opt to take some evening courses.
This degree is comprised of 30 credit hours, or ten courses, and can be completed in as little as 16 months. There are no capstone projects or internships required. Sample courses include Environmental and Resource Economics, Financial Intermediation and Financial Markets, and Computable General Equilibrium Modeling.
type: private nonprofit
#grads: 16,259 (32% take all online courses; 14% take some online courses)
Payscale early career grad salary: $65,000
University of Detroit at Mercy
In-state tuition: $26,802
Out-of-state tuition: $26,802
The University of Detroit at Mercy is no stranger to understanding the need for more online programs. This is why the school confers the Master of Arts in Economics, a liberal online degree, through its internet portal. The university, which is part of the University of Detroit System, holds regional accreditation by the NCACS THLC.
The Master of Arts in Economics comes with a concentration in Financial Economics. This is an incredibly useful concentration that lends itself well to students who are interested in becoming forensic accountants or financial planners and advisors. While the concentration is not required for this degree, it is nearly always pursued by students who take on this degree.
UD-Mercy makes the online education life easier. This school offers synchronous courses that are taught by full-time faculty, never graduate assistants, who teach the same subjects on campus. A GRE or GMAT is never needed for the application process and students from all educational backgrounds can apply.
The M.A. in Economics is a 10-course, 30-credit-hour program that can be completed in as little as one year. There are no final projects or internships associated with this degree. Sample courses include Theories of International Trade, Financial Economics, and Quantitative Foundations.
type: private nonprofit
#grads: 2,248 (3% take all online courses; 10% take some online courses)
Payscale early career grad salary: $53,300
Georgia Southern University
In-state tuition: $6,636
Out-of-state tuition: $26,518
Georgia Southern University is the best school for graduate economics students. This school offers the Master of Science in Applied Economics 100 percent online, making it a perfect program for busy students. The university holds regional accreditation by the SACS COC and has independent accreditation by the AACSB.
The Master of Science in Applied Economics is growing in popularity with students. This is a good degree for students who are interested in the analytical nature of economics and who want to work in government, nonprofit agencies, and businesses to explore that industry within the context of applied economics.
This degree requires 30 total credit hours for completion and can be completed in as little as two years with part-time instruction. There are no campus residency requirements, and students are always taught by full-time faculty. Sample courses include Regional Economic Development, International Economics, and Financial Economics and Risk.
#grads: 2,496 (45% take all online courses; 13% take some online courses)
Payscale early career grad salary: $39,500
In-state tuition: $27,468
Out-of-state tuition: $27,468
As one of the top institutions in America for online education, American University is known for outstanding curriculum and an award-winning faculty. This institution offers a professional economics degree, the Master of Arts in Economics. This school is regionally accredited by the MSACSS.
Getting an economics degree from AU is a great choice for students who are interested in working the applied economics field within think tanks, government agencies, and multilateral organizations. Because this degree was created with the idea that the analytical side of economics needed to be further investigated, students who choose this educational course are oftentimes the researchers who bring about change within the industry.
AU is positioned in the hotbed of economic policy, Washington, D.C., and has been the top choice for nearly every student who wishes to pursue applied economics. The online program is no different; current faculty members teach their subjects online as well as on campus and have been trained in the art of online learning. Students are also treated to an online suite of support services that will take care of their every need.
The Master of Arts in Economics at AU requires 30 credit hours, or ten courses, for graduation. This includes a capstone seminar that will pull together all of the knowledge a student has learned in their time at the school. Sample courses include Survey of Economic Development, Introduction to Mathematical Economics, and Finance, Stability and Growth.
type: private nonprofit
#grads: 5,289 (10% take all online courses; 4% take some online courses)
Payscale early career grad salary: $51,100
Youngstown State University
In-state tuition: $8,280
Out-of-state tuition: $12,780
As an urban research university, it will come as no surprise to any student that this school provides a great online education for students interested in pursuing a research degree. The university confers the Master of Arts in Financial Economics, one of only two schools to provide this degree online. This university is regionally accredited by the NCACS THLC.
This is the only other online business school in the country, apart from Ohio University, to provide the M.A. in Financial Economics. This is a professional degree that is designed to prepare students for becoming financial planners and analysts, providing them a strong foundation in the skills required in these professions. It is a great degree for any student who wishes to become certified as a CFP or a CFA.
This degree requires 30 semester hours of coursework in order to graduate. While there are no capstone projects required, a research seminar is mandatory. Sample courses include The Economics of Financial Markets and Institutions, Corporate Financial Management, and Econometrics.
#grads: 1312 (6% take all online courses; 8% take some online courses)
Payscale early career grad salary: $33,600