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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 total tuition for an online master’s in economics program typically ranges from $15,000 to $50,000. This cost varies depending on your residency status and whether the institution is public or private. If attending as a full-time student, 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 earn an average salary of over $110,000 per year.

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. Common concentration options include applied economics, public economics and policy, global economics, and business economics. These options will help you focus your studies around your interests and chosen career path. Be sure to consider which programs best match your career goals when deciding on where you will attend.

Research schools and programs

You should only consider institutions that have been approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. These organizations evaluate schools to ensure they provide students with a high-quality education. Those who attend a school that isn’t regionally accredited may be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed.

Ideally, your master’s in economics program will also be accredited by a respected industry group like the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). These programmatic accrediting organizations have particularly high standards for business education.

After confirming the accreditation status, research the following factors:

  • 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.

To learn more about any schools that you’re interested in, you can visit their website, contact an admissions counselor, follow the school on social media, or attend an in-person or virtual open house.

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, personal statements, and transcripts are often required and 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.

Before submitting an application, always contact an admissions counselor to ensure you have the most accurate information regarding requirements and deadlines.

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 $1,000 or more.

Before making your final decision, review your needs and goals again. Do you plan to attend school full-time or part-time? Are you only interested in 100% online programs, or are you fine with a hybrid program that has a few in-person requirements? Some programs offer asynchronous courses, which can be completed at your own pace, while others only offer synchronous courses, which involve remotely attending lectures and completing assignments at the same time as other students — which of these two online learning formats do you prefer? Your school should accommodate your scheduling needs and learning preferences.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

An online master’s in economics can sometimes cost even more than $50,000, 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. Those who already work in the field should see if their employer offers tuition assistance benefits as well.

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 to 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. Students study modern economic theories and policies, 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. Many of the occupations related to this field are growing at a fast rate and offer particularly high salaries.

Indeed, 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. Here are some potential career options for individuals with this degree:

  • Economist — Conduct research on economic issues and provide expert advice to government agencies and other organizations.
    • Median annual salary: $113,940
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 6%
    • New job openings projected: 1,200 annually
  • Financial analyst — Study economic trends and recommend investments to organizations and individuals.
    • Median annual salary: $96,220
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 8%
    • New job openings projected: 27,400 annually
  • Management analyst — Advise organizations on how to increase revenue and reduce expenses.
    • Median annual salary: $95,290
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 10%
    • New job openings projected: 92,900 annually

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?

Online master’s in economics programs tend to cost somewhere between $15,000 to $50,000. Private schools usually charge much more than public schools. At public schools, the main factor affecting sticker price is your residency status, as out-of-state students are typically charged higher tuition rates than in-state students.

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 master’s in economics program will need between 12 to 24 months to complete their course of study (including a capstone or thesis component). Part-time students may need between three to 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.

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 multiple 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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