Best Master’s in Economics Degrees 2021

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Economics degree programs help learners cultivate an interdisciplinary understanding of resource distribution and usage. Degree-seekers explore concepts such as incentives and scarcity, and they develop skills in economic analysis and forecasting. While earning a master’s degree in economics, students often complete core courses in sociology, history, and math. Applicants to economics master’s programs usually need a minimum 3.0 GPA and a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school.

Economics graduates often work for governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations, and companies in finance-related industries. Potential job titles include budget analyst, market research analyst, and regional planner. Some master’s degree-holders pursue doctoral studies to qualify for careers as economics professors and researchers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), economists earn a median salary of $105,020 per year. The BLS projects a 14% growth rate in economist jobs from 2019-2029.

FAQ


  • What kind of jobs can you get with a degree in economics?

    Graduates of economics master’s programs often pursue careers as market analysts, researchers, economics professors, and urban planners.


  • Is there a lot of math in economics?

    Economics degree programs help learners develop quantitative skills. Coursework typically covers math topics such as linear algebra and multivariate calculus.


  • Do economists get paid well?

    According to BLS data, economists earn a median annual salary of $105,020. The BLS reports that the median annual salary for all occupations is $39,810.


  • How long does a master's program in economics take?

    Full-time students typically complete their master’s program in about two years. However, many accelerated programs feature six academic terms per year and usually require less time to complete.


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What Are the Goals of an Economics Degree?

Students can choose from several types of economics master’s degrees. Learners planning to pursue a doctoral degree often earn a master of arts in economics or international economics. However, economics students more commonly pursue an MS degree in economics, applied economics, finance and economics, or agricultural economics and business. Some schools offer an economics concentration within an MBA or master’s in finance program.

Students earning a master’s degree in economics typically complete core courses in econometrics, microeconomics, macroeconomics, and quantitative research methods. Many economics master’s programs allow learners to further specialize in a field such as quantitative economics, applied economics, development economics, or financial economics.

Why Get an Economics Degree?

Obtaining a master’s degree in economics can lead to many professional and personal benefits. Graduates often qualify for career advancement and salary increases. Additionally, master’s students can access networking opportunities and improve their analytical skills. The following list details a few common reasons to pursue an economics degree.

Career Advancement
Many working professionals pursue a master’s degree to advance their current career or transition to a new field. Economics master’s programs prepare individuals to secure competitive, specialized positions.
Salary Increase
According to PayScale data from February of 2021, economics master’s degree-holders earn an average salary of $90,000 per year, while individuals with an economics bachelor’s degree earn an average annual salary of $70,990.
Professional Networking
Master’s programs often attract high-performing students and professionals who may serve as valuable collaborators and references after graduation.
Advanced Analytical Skills
Economics programs help learners develop advanced skills in data collection and analysis. Degree-seekers analyze markets and global dynamics to inform data-driven decisions, policies, and recommendations.
Increased Understanding
Economics students explore various political, economic, social, and environmental phenomena. Graduates typically possess an advanced understanding of ways in which various systems influence events.

What Are the Requirements for a Master’s Degree in Economics?

Many economics degree programs require applicants to have a minimum 3.0 GPA, a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited school, and above-average GMAT or GRE scores. Application materials often include official transcripts, writing samples, and a resume.

Master’s in economics degree programs usually require about 33 credits. Students without a background in economics may need to complete prerequisite coursework. Economics master’s programs typically require a thesis or capstone project, which allows learners to showcase advanced skills in econometrics data collection and analysis.

What is Accreditation and Why Does it Matter?

Professional Organizations for Economics Students

Economics students and professionals can join professional organizations to access diverse resources. Members may receive access to continuing education opportunities, networking platforms, career development resources, and political advocacy.

Many professional organizations also deliver publications and host conferences to help economists stay current on emerging trends in the field. Some organizations support economics degree-seekers through scholarships, local chapters, and discounted memberships.


  • American Economic Association This scholarly nonprofit organization connects economics professionals and produces research in the field. The AEA holds an annual meeting and publishes nine academic journals and conference collections. The association also delivers online seminars, research funding, and student resources.
  • National Economic Association Originally called the Caucus of Black Economists, the NEA creates and disseminates research related to economic development among communities of color. This organization offers research grants and fellowships and publishes the Review of Black Political Economy journal. The NEA also organizes an annual meeting in partnership with the American Society of Hispanic Economists.
  • World Economics Association The WEA connects and educates an international network of professionals in economics-related fields. This global association values inclusivity and pluralism. The WEA offers conferences, networking opportunities, online journals, and national chapters.


Top 5 Best Master’s in Economics Degrees

  1. The University of Texas at Austin
    Location

    Austin, TX

    Tuition

    $14156

    The University of Texas at Austin, founded in 1883, enrolls 51,000 students through its 18 colleges and schools.

    UT Austin features a master of arts in economics with a STEM designation and curriculum of quantitative training. The program, initially created in 2013, offers an 18-month, 24-month, and accelerated 10-month option. All students begin courses together in a cohort model during July, regardless of track.

    The curriculum covers econometrics, microeconomics, probability and statistics, and macroeconomics. UT Austin students do not complete a thesis as part of the program, and both real analysis and an internship are optional.

    Although applicants need not hold a bachelor's degree in economics, the admissions office expects a strong quantitative background and some prior exposure to economics coursework. UT Austin holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  2. The Ohio State University
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $11313

    Founded in 1870 and based in Columbus, Ohio, Ohio State enrolls over 60,000 students annually.

    Ohio State's Department of Economics and Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics partner to feature a master of applied economics degree program. The two-semester program focuses on facilitating practical skills and the application of advanced economic theory and data analysis. Students explore advanced microeconomic theory and empirical methodology and pursue careers in business, policy, performance assessment, finance, consulting, and risk management.

    Graduates know how to use Stata, SAS, Matlab, and R software programs. The curriculum includes classes such as the survey of mathematical methods in economics, applied quantitative methods, benefit-cost analysis, and a survey of macroeconomics.

    Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA in undergraduate work and submit GRE scores, transcripts, a statement of purpose, a resume, and three letters of recommendation.

    The Ohio State University holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

  3. University of California, Los Angeles
    Location

    Columbus, OH

    Tuition

    $18694

    The public UCLA offers more than 125 majors, 150 graduate degrees, and 1,000 clubs to its students. One of those programs is a STEM-designated master of quantitative economics degree. The program emphasizes the demands from students and industry for jobs in the financial sector, state and federal governments, and private businesses.

    Students explore sophisticated models and methods related to economic and statistical analysis. Cohorts involve nearly 180 students, and tenured faculty teach most of the classes. The curriculum seeks to advance the knowledge of economic issues and policies. Graduates obtain the theoretical and empirical foundations needed to solve important economic issues.

    The intensive program integrates theory and applications, and students may complete the curriculum in nine to 18 months. The first quarter focuses on microeconomics, quantitative methods, and basic tools and models utilized in economics, while the second quarter further emphasizes the application of tools and models. In the third quarter, students study in electives and economic subfields. UCLA's program features professional development, data analytics, and finance skill seminars each quarter.

    The University of California, Los Angeles, holds regional accreditation under the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

  4. Johns Hopkins University
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $15002

    Founded in 1876 and based in Baltimore, the private Johns Hopkins enrolls more than 27,000 students annually, and 20,000 of those students pursue graduate-level degrees or higher.

    Johns Hopkins offers a master of science in applied economics with fall, spring, and summer entry points. The 10-course program allows students to finish in anywhere from 12-24 months with online or on-site classes. It features a robust selection of electives including classes in environmental, financial, health, quantitative methods, and spatial economics, as well as international economics and development, public policy, and computable general equilibrium modeling. Additional workshop offerings include forecasting in organizations and a practicum in applied economics.

    Students may opt for a concentration in financial economics. Applicants must hold a calculus prerequisite or complete the math methods for economists course.

    Johns Hopkins University holds regional accreditation under the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  5. Vanderbilt University
    Location

    Baltimore, MD

    Tuition

    Unconfirmed

    Based in Nashville, Tennessee, and founded in 1873, Vanderbilt enrolls more than 13,000 students in its 10 schools.

    The College of Arts and Science's Department of Economics features a master of arts in economics degree program, also known as the Graduate Program in Economic Development (GPED). The curriculum allows flexibility in different disciplines, and students enroll as part of a 25-30 student cohort.

    The program boasts an alumni network of more than 1,700 graduates and a GPED Forum with seminars where students network with experts in the field. The 30-credit course of study requires a substantive research project and includes classes such as microeconomic and macroeconomic theory, statistical analysis, and econometrics. Students also complete six credits of field courses, three credits of research, and nine credits of electives.

    Vanderbilt University holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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