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.

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Top 10 Best Master’s in Economics Degrees

Rank School Location
1 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
2 Duke University Durham, NC
3 Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, MO
4 New York University New York, NY
5 Boston University Boston, MA
6 University of California San Diego La Jolla, CA
7 Tufts University Medford, MA
8 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
9 University of Maryland, College Park College Park, MD
10 Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA

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.


Best Master’s in Economics Degrees 2021

  1. Johns Hopkins University
    Location

    Baltimore, MD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Known as Americas first research university, Johns Hopkins University has served as a model for other educational institutions around the world for more than 140 years. JHU is a truly global university: Faculty and students conduct research on six different continents. The Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, together with the Carey Business School, offers an innovative program for graduate students seeking a world-class education in economics.

    Program Features

    The program at Johns Hopkins is a dual degree track, leading to a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Science in Applied Economics. Students who work full-time can complete this program in three years. A total of 31 courses are required, including the following:

    Microeconomic Theory MacroeconometricsAccounting and Financial ReportingBusiness Leadership and Human Values

    Notables

    Students in this program will have the opportunity to specialize in a specific area for their MBA degree. Concentrations are available in Entrepreneurship, Financial Businesses, Health Care Management, Management/Leading Organizations, Marketing, and Real Estate and Infrastructure. If students do not choose an established MBA concentration, they will be able to customize their degree path with 18 credit-hours in elective coursework. Students in certain concentration tracks will be able to take all of their MBA coursework online.

  2. Duke University
    Location

    Durham, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Duke University enrolls approximately 6,500 undergraduates and 8,600 graduate and professional students. Located in Durham, NC, Duke is home to nationally recognized programs in law, business, engineering, and the arts and sciences. Trinity College of Arts and Sciences awards almost 80 percent of Dukes undergraduate degrees and 40 percent of its graduate degrees. Top-ranked programs at Trinity College include graduate degrees in Sociology, Political Science, and Economics.

    Program Features

    Dukes 30-credit program leads to a Master of Arts in Economics. A minimum of 15 credit-hours must be earned in economics courses. In addition to this core coursework, students often enroll in masters- and doctoral-level classes in related departments, such as Political Science, Public Policy, Finance, Statistics, and Mathematics. Degree candidates may take classes such as: Game Theory with Applications of Economics and Other Social Sciences Advanced Microeconomic AnalysisIndustrial Organization Time Series Econometrics

    Notables

    All candidates for this degree must complete a capstone course. A number of choices are available for this capstone requirement, including courses such as Empirical Methods in Financial Econometrics, Applied Econometrics in Microeconomics, International Monetary Economics, and many more. An internship is optional, while a portfolio featuring at least one substantial research paper is required.

  3. Washington University in St. Louis
    Location

    St. Louis, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    With a student body of over 15,000, Washington University in St. Louis boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of just 8:1. The university was founded in 1853 and today offers outstanding undergraduate and graduate programs in art and architecture, business, medicine, law, social work, and more. The graduate program in Economics at WUSTL was named to twenty-seventh place in U.S. News World Reports 2018 rankings.

    Program Features

    Washington University in St. Louis allows students to earn a Master of Arts in Economics with 36 credit-hours of graduate-level coursework. However, this is not a terminal masters degree program. Students will earn the MA en route to a PhD in Economics. Requirements for the masters degree portion of the program include: Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, Quantitative Methods in Economics, Applied Econometrics

    Notables

    At least 18 credit-hours for the masters degree must be earned from the Department of Economics. The remaining credits may be earned from within the department or in a complementary academic field. Candidates must earn a GPA of at least 3.0 to continue onto the doctorate level. This program is competitive, and an individual students chance of acceptance varies from year to year based on the strength of the applicant pool.

  4. New York University
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    As a private nonprofit research institution, New York University operates degree-granting campuses in Abu Dhabi, Shanghai, and New York City. With over 50,000 students, NYU is one of the countrys largest private universities. NYUs acclaimed Department of Economics offers a masters degree program that is one of the most rigorous of its kind in the nation.

    Program Features

    The Master of Arts in Economics from NYU may be completed in as little as three semesters of full-time study. This program provides a strong foundation in advanced economic theory and is designed to help students elevate their skills in economic analysis and public policy. The curriculum features a minimum of 32 credit-hours, including a written special project report. Core requirements for the degree include the following classes: Mathematics for Economists, Microeconomic, Theory Macroeconomic, Theory Applied Statistics, and Econometrics

    Notables

    Both full-time and part-time students must complete all requirements for this degree within five years of enrolling. Graduates of this program have gone on to doctoral study at prestigious universities such as the University of Chicago, UCLA, University of Oxford, Georgetown, and other top institutions. After earning the masters degree, NYU students may choose to pursue an advanced certificate in Economic Development or in International Economics.

  5. Boston University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The 33,000 undergraduate and graduate students at Boston University represent more than 130 countries. These students are pursuing degrees and certificates across 250 fields of study in 17 renowned schools and colleges. BUs Department of Economics offers programs leading to an MA in Global Development Economics, an MA in Economic Policy, and an MA in Economics.

    Program Features

    The Master of Arts in Economics requires a minimum of 32 credit-hours, to be earned through eight courses. Four of these courses are core classes. The remaining four courses can be earned from a wide range of electives, which are designed to develop quantitative skills and specialized knowledge in specific areas of economics. Available electives at the graduate level include: Market Structure and Industrial OrganizationMoney and Financial Intermediation Race and the Development of the American Economy: A Global PerspectiveEnergy and Environmental Economics

    Notables

    Applicants should hold a bachelors degree in economics, mathematics, or a closely related field. This masters degree track features a written comprehensive examination as the culminating activity. The full program can be completed in one academic year. After earning this degree, graduates will be prepared to serve as an economic analyst in a major corporation, consulting firm, central bank, or governmental agency.

  6. University of California San Diego
    Location

    La Jolla, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The mission of the University of California San Diego is to transform California and the world through education, research, and public service. In 2018, Times Higher Education ranked UC San Diego the fifth best public university in the world. The universitys graduate program in Economics is versatile, intensive, and allows students to pursue concentrations in fields like Econometrics, Labor, International Trade, and more.

    Program Features

    UC San Diego offers a Master of Arts in Economics, which requires 36 credit-hours in upper-division undergraduate or PhD-level economics courses. At least 24 credit-hours must be earned in the core first-year PhD sequence. Students in this program have the opportunity to take electives such as: Models in Behavioral Economics Organizational Economics of Development Nonparametric and Semi-Parametric Methods Theory and Testing of Intertemporal Asset Pricing Model

    Notables

    To pursue an MA in Economics from UC San Diego, students must be admitted to the PhD program. However, students may earn the MA if they choose not to continue on to the PhD, if they are advised against continuing to the doctoral degree, or if they need the MA to secure a job while pursuing the doctorate. Otherwise, students in this program will typically earn the PhD without earning an MA.

  7. Tufts University
    Location

    Medford, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Established in 1852, Tufts University is a private institution with a main campus in Medford, MA. The community of Tufts includes 5,500 undergraduate students, 5,900 graduate and professional students, and over 1,500 distinguished faculty members. One of Tufts many renowned graduate programs is designed to prepare students with theoretical and empirical foundations in economics.

    Program Features

    The School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts offers a Master of Science in Economics. This degree requires six core courses and two elective courses. The core courses consist of three two-semester sequences in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics. Choices for the two elective courses may include the following: State and Local Public FinanceResource and Environmental Economics and PolicyIncome Inequality, Poverty, and Economic JusticeAdvertising and Imperfect Competition

    Notables

    The Economics program at Tufts is available through two distinct tracks. The course-based MS in Economics can be earned in one year of full-time study. The research-based MS in Economics, which requires a masters thesis, can be completed with a two-year residency. The Department of Economics also offers an interdisciplinary MS in Environmental Economics and Urban Planning. PhD programs are available in Human Developmental Economics and in Economics and Public Policy.

  8. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    U.S. News World Report ranks the University of Southern California twenty-first among all national universities. USCs main campus is located in Los Angeles, offering students all the opportunities and advantages of one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the world. The university offers an MA in Economic Development Programming, an MS in Spatial Economics and Data Analysis, and an MA in Economics.

    Program Features

    The Master of Arts in Economics is one of USCs most popular programs. The degree requires a minimum of 32 credit-hours. This program begins during the fall semester, and students will complete the course sequence by the end of the following summer term. Degree candidates may take courses such as: Mathematical Methods in Dynamic Economics Theory of Value: Classical Origins and Neoclassical CritiqueContracts, Organizations, and InstitutionsAntitrust Economics and Competition Policy

    Notables

    Applicants will be required to take the GRE, with a recommended minimum score of 150 on the verbal section and 151 on the quantitative section. Once accepted, students may be eligible for research assistant positions with the Los Angeles Behavioral Economics Laboratory. LABEL provides exceptional graduate students with the opportunity to work on NIH- and NSF-funded projects in Experimental Economics and Neuroeconomics.

  9. University of Maryland, College Park
    Location

    College Park, MD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Maryland earned the #15 slot on U.S. News World Reports Most Innovative Schools ranking. As the flagship institution of the University System of Maryland, UMD offers 92 undergraduate majors, 107 masters degree programs, and 83 doctoral programs. The Applied Economics program at UMD is taught entirely by PhD economists, many of whom work at government agencies, non-governmental organizations, or private consulting firms.

    Program Features

    The curriculum for the Master of Professional Studies in Applied Economics focuses on quantitative analysis, economic modeling, and econometrics. This program can be completed in as little as 15 months, although students are welcome to take a longer path toward graduation if they wish. The degree requires ten courses, including five core courses. Students may take classes such as: Economics of Health CareInformation, Game Theory, and Market DesignInternational Macroeconomics and FinanceApplied Time Series Analysis and Forecasting

    Notables

    Courses for this degree are offered in the evenings at both the Washington, DC and College Park, MD campuses. The average class size for this program is 16.4 students. For students who prefer not to complete the requirements for a masters degree, a Graduate Certificate of Economics Analysis is available by taking only the five core courses.

  10. Georgia Institute of Technology
    Location

    Atlanta, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The Georgia Institute of Technology offers highly ranked programs in engineering, computing, business, design, and liberal arts. Although Georgia Techs academic offerings are diverse, these programs are united by a common commitment to improve the human condition through advanced science and technology. The renowned Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts at Georgia Tech offers a 30-credit-hour Master of Science in Economics.

    Program Features

    All candidates for the MS in Economics will take core coursework in Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Probability and Statistical Methods, and Econometric Analysis. In addition to these required courses, students will take two economics electives and four economics or non-economics electives. Options for elective courses include: Management of Financial InstitutionsMoney and Capital MarketsInnovation and Entrepreneur BehaviorScience, Technology, and Public Policy

    Notables

    Full-time students can earn this degree in one calendar year, assuming they take classes in the fall, summer, and spring semesters. Part-time students can spread the required coursework out over several years. Highly qualified students from outside of Georgia may be eligible for out-of-state tuition waivers. Students receiving these waivers will only pay the in-state tuition rate. Classes for this degree are typically held during the day, in either a M-W-F format or a T-Th format.

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 an Economics Degree?

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.


Scholarships for Economics Students

Economics master’s students often qualify for scholarships based on financial need and academic merit. Some scholarship programs support members of underrepresented communities. The following list features three scholarships for students pursuing a master’s degree in economics.

Career Development Grant



Who Can Apply: The American Association of University Women offers this scholarship to support women pursuing a graduate degree in health, medicine, or social science. Applicants must demonstrate financial need. Candidates must be pursuing their first graduate degree and must have earned their bachelor’s degree before 2013. Women of color receive preference.

Amount: $2,000-$12,000

Hsiao Memorial Social Sciences Scholarship



Who Can Apply: The Asian Pacific Fund administers this scholarship to support graduate students pursuing a degree in the social sciences. Applicants must demonstrate interest in assisting underserved communities, have ethnic heritage, and boast a minimum 3.0 GPA. Candidates must also be a U.S. citizen, legal resident, or foreign national. Economics students and learners of Asian descent receive preference.

Amount: $1,000

John C. Murphy Scholarship



Who Can Apply: The National Association for County Community and Economic Development funds this scholarship for members with strong academic records and financial need. Applicants submit transcripts and a letter of support from a member of the association. Candidates also provide a 500-word personal statement detailing relevant activities, coursework, and career plans related to affordable housing or community development.

Amount: $1,500

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