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Economics is concerned with producing, consuming, and transferring wealth within and between countries. Economists study and provide valuable context for gender and income inequality, taxes, trade, and government spending. Individuals interested in pursuing careers in economics should consider obtaining their graduate credentials, as most professional opportunities prefer candidates with a master’s degree.

The tuition for an online master’s in economics ranges from $24,000 to $58,000. The cost varies dramatically based on your residency status and whether the institution is public or private. If attending as a full-time student (taking three classes each semester), you can complete the required coursework within one to two years.

Graduates of an online economics program qualify for economist, data scientist, and financial analyst roles. Government, private, and international sectors seek qualified candidates to fill these positions. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, economists and related professionals earn an annual salary of $100,000 or more.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Economics Program

Choose your area of study

Economics graduate degrees are available as either a Master of Arts or, more commonly, a Master of Science. The former’s curriculum is more theory-driven, whereas the latter focuses on mathematical and statistical elements.

Online master’s programs in economics follow a general curriculum, though schools offer different concentration or elective options. Specializations include applied economics, public economics and policy, global economics, and business economics. These options help you focus your studies around your interests and chosen career path.

Research schools and programs

Many economics programs fall under the purview of an institution’s business school. As such, look for economics degrees accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). The AACSB is a third-party agency that validates a business-related graduate program’s academic rigor and professional standards.

Once confirming the accreditation status, research the following factors:

  • What is the online delivery format? Most online economics programs are asynchronous, so you’ll complete coursework on your own time and at your own pace. Some programs integrate scheduled class discussions. Certain specializations include an in-person component. Determine which delivery method suits your learning style and schedule.
  • Is there a thesis requirement? Some programs provide an optional thesis track. Writing a thesis is advantageous for those interested in academic research or teaching careers. However, a thesis component can extend the length of your degree.
  • What is the faculty-to-student ratio? Look for programs with a low faculty-to-student ratio. This metric directly impacts the quality of online courses and the level of support you can expect to receive from faculty members.

You can find the answers to these questions and more through each program’s website, FAQ pages, and information sessions. For any specific accommodations or questions, connect with an admissions counselor.

Prepare for tests and applications

While not all do, many online master’s in economics programs request GRE or GMAT scores alongside your application. If you struggle with standardized tests, consider enrolling in a test prep course before taking the exam.

Test scores, recommendation letters, and transcripts can take several weeks to receive, so prepare your application materials well before their due date. If you miss the submission deadline, you may need to wait until the subsequent semester to apply.

Select your program

Once you narrow down the programs you’re interested in, submit your application packet by the deadline. If accepted to more than one of your top choices, consider which program best aligns with your professional goals, personal schedule, and financial commitment. To hold your spot, most programs require an enrollment fee by a specific deadline; this fee can be $1000 or more.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

An online master’s in economics can easily cost more than $40,000, though successful graduates are then qualified for high-paying positions. Still, prospective students must consider how they’ll pay the tuition. Many individuals choose to work full-time alongside their degrees. Asynchronous economics programs allow for this scheduling flexibility.

Master’s students should fill out the FAFSA form to determine whether they qualify for federal assistance. It would help if you also met with your school’s financial aid counselor to discuss your payment options. While uncommon, some programs offer scholarships or other funding opportunities for which you might be eligible. Students who served in the military or have family members who served might also qualify for veteran tuition benefits.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Economics Programs

Best Online Master's in Economics Degree Programs

Purdue University Krannert School of Management

Georgia Southern University

American University

University of North Dakota

University of Detroit Mercy

Youngstown State University

John Hopkins University

George Mason University

UNC Greensboro

University of Missouri

NMSU Global Campus

Colorado Christian University

Boston College

West Texas A&M University

Southern New Hampshire University

Murray State University

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

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How We Rank Schools

For this list, we compiled the best master’s programs in economics. A variety of degrees are available in this field, including a Master of Science (MS), Master of Business Administration (MBA), and Master of Arts (MA).

Our criteria included delivery method and accreditation. We sought programs delivered entirely or primarily online to ensure accessibility for the highest number of students. We also looked for schools with regional accreditation and programs with programmatic accreditation from agencies like the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). These accreditations confirm the programs’ commitment to quality.

After narrowing our list of master’s programs in economics, we reviewed them all based on cost, reputation, flexibility, outcomes, and faculty. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out our ranking methodology.

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Economics Program?

Candidates for an online master’s in economics engage in multidisciplinary coursework related to business, social science, and statistics. Students develop expertise in fiscal data collection and analysis relevant to work in government, nonprofits, higher education, and private finance.

Programs require between 30 and 36 credits to graduate, and most full-time students complete the coursework within two years. Usually, coursework is available online via an asynchronous format, though some specializations feature an in-person component. Core topics include banking, macroeconomics, microeconomics, econometrics, and international trade. Students will then select a series of electives to specialize their expertise.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s in economics program

  • Applied Macroeconomics. Participants study modern theory and economic policy focusing on inflation, unemployment, and interest rates.
  • Econometrics. Students learn how to apply statistical analysis to economic data. Participants will then discuss common errors when employing regression methods.
  • Economics of International Trade. This course studies international trade through the lens of microeconomics theory. Students discuss complex concepts, including facilitating trade with less developed countries.
  • Introduction to Game Theory. This course introduces students to basic game theory and its potential applications to economics, business, and political science.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Economics?

Career outlook

The career outlook for individuals holding an online master’s degree in economics is promising, as economics plays a crucial role in shaping global markets, policy decisions, and business strategies. Graduates with a master’s in economics are in high demand across various sectors due to their analytical skills and expertise in understanding complex economic dynamics.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for economists are projected to grow by six percent through 2031 due to the need for data-driven insights that inform business and policy decisions. Economists are well-positioned to contribute to economic research, forecasting, and strategic planning.

As of the most recent BLS data, the median annual wage for economists was $105,630. However, salaries can vary significantly based on factors such as specialization, industry, and location.

Career paths

Graduates with an online master’s in economics have a diverse range of career paths available, spanning various industries and sectors. Here are some potential career options for individuals with this degree:

  • Market research analyst — Analyze consumer behavior, market trends, and competitive landscapes to assist companies in making informed marketing and product development decisions
  • Data scientist — Use advanced data analytics and statistical techniques to extract insights from large datasets, informing business strategies, pricing models, and market segmentation
  • Business economist — Provide economic analysis and forecasts to support business planning, risk assessment, and competitive intelligence. Business economists help companies navigate economic challenges and opportunities
  • Trade specialist — Evaluate international trade policies, tariffs, and agreements to guide companies in expanding their global presence and optimizing supply chain strategies
  • Public relations specialist — Use economic data to craft compelling narratives and messages for businesses or organizations

Economic Analyst

Earning Potential: $60,000-$110,000 annually

Education Required: Online master’s in economics or related field

An economic analyst examines economic data, market trends, and financial indicators to offer insights and forecasts for businesses and organizations. They analyze factors such as supply and demand, inflation, and employment patterns to help their clients make strategic decisions, assess risks, and identify growth opportunities. Economic analysts create models, conduct research, and produce reports that help stakeholders understand the economic landscape and make informed choices. By interpreting complex data and trends, they play an important role in shaping business strategies, investment decisions, and policy formulation.

Financial Consultant

Earning Potential: $70,000-$130,000 annually

Education Required: Online master’s in economics or related field

A financial consultant offers advice and strategies to individuals, businesses, or organizations to improve their financial well-being. They assess financial goals, analyze income, expenses, and investments, and offer recommendations for optimizing financial resources. Financial consultants provide insights on budgeting, retirement planning, investment options, risk management, and tax strategies. They guide clients in making strategic financial decisions, helping them achieve financial security and growth. Financial consultants assist their clients in navigating complex financial landscapes, building wealth, and planning for a stable financial future.

Policy Analyst

Earning Potential: $50,000-$100,000 annually

Education Required: Online master’s in economics or related field

A policy analyst conducts research, evaluates data, and assesses the potential impact of policies and initiatives on government agencies, non-profit organizations, or businesses. They analyze social, economic, and political factors and offer recommendations that help in policy development and decision-making. Policy analysts help create solutions to societal challenges, influencing the legislative processes and advocating for policy changes when necessary. Their work involves synthesizing complex information, conducting cost-benefit analyses, and collaborating with stakeholders to shape policies that address critical issues, drive positive change, and promote the well-being of communities and organizations.

Online Master’s in Economics Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online master's in economics degree program?

Each institution will outline its application requirements on its program website. Contact an admissions counselor for specific questions not answered on the admissions page. A typical application for an online master’s in economics degree requires the following materials:

  • A graduate school admission application
  • Undergraduate transcripts
  • A resume
  • A personal statement
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Standardized test scores (GMAT or GRE), if applicable
  • An application fee

To be eligible for most programs, your undergraduate GPA must meet the school’s minimum requirement (typically 2.8 or better). Your undergraduate grades in prerequisite economics courses must also be a B or better.

How much does an online master's in economics degree cost?

The average tuition for an online master’s in economics is $41,000. Online programs tend to cost the same as their in-person counterparts, and many institutions implement a supplemental technology fee for remote classes. The main factor affecting sticker price is your residency status; in-state students save significantly on tuition versus out-of-state attendees.

How long does it take to earn an online master's in economics degree?

Online economics degrees require the same time commitment as a traditional in-person degree. For most programs, the coursework between the delivery formats is similar. However, for asynchronous self-guided programs, students could complete their requirements faster than an in-person model. All told, a full-time student attending an online economics program will need between 12 and 24 months to complete their course of study (including a capstone or thesis component). Part-time students may need between three and five years to graduate.

Is an online master's in economics worth it?

Pursuing an online master’s in economics offers a wide range of benefits for individuals seeking to make a meaningful impact in the realm of economics and beyond.

According to the BLS, economists with a master’s degree have a competitive edge in the job market. The median annual wage for economists is $105,630, with the top ten percent earning more than $193,690. This higher earning potential reflects the specialized skills and advanced knowledge gained through a master’s program, positioning graduates for rewarding careers in various sectors.

An online master’s in economics offers flexibility and convenience, allowing you to balance studies with professional and personal commitments. It equips you with analytical prowess, data interpretation skills, and economic insights that are applicable across industries, from finance and policy analysis to consulting and research.

Considering the robust demand for economists, favorable earning potential, and the opportunity to influence economic decisions, pursuing an online master’s in economics is a valuable investment that can lead to a fulfilling and impactful career.

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