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

Economics is a complex field studying how money, goods, services and wealth are produced. A master’s degree in economics is more than just financial study — sociology, history and the dynamic between wealth and human behavior often factor in. A master’s degree in economics can open doors to a variety of careers, including financial analysis, financial adviser and research analyst. It’s also the next step toward an academic career that culminates in a Ph.D. and university-level instruction.

Courses offered in an online master’s in economics program contain the same information as those taught on a traditional campus. Online degrees offer greater flexibility, ideal for those already working full-time or who have many obligations.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Economics

Accounting and Finance Focuses on advanced financial management and accounting studies. Courses include international accounting, tax laws and risk management. Certified Interal Auditor, Risk Manager
Statistics Include extensive quantitative economics study and application of statistical skills to social science. Applied economics, advanced mathematics and statistics classes are part of the curriculum. Statistical analyst for government agencies, quantitative analyst for consulting firms
Financial Analysis Examines leading-edge financial practices and analytical practices and procedures. Classes include analysis of financial data to predict patterns and common strategies to improve a company’s financial standing. Financial management, investment analysis and portfolio management are also part of the curriculum. Investment analyst, financial analyst, corporate treasury manager, funds manager
Risk Management Explore techniques to analyze and predict movements in the financial markets to achieve company growth. Courses include protecting investments in public and private sectors as well as mathematics, computing, actuarial science, project management and engineering. Broker, credit analyst, foreign exchange trader, risk manager, actuary, financial consultant
Microeconomics Inspect the process of how single decisions affect financial outcomes. Classes include the effects of changing markets on consumers, taxes and scarcity of resources. Other courses include cost/benefit analysis, strategic decision-making and money management. Director of finance, research analyst, consultant, financial writer

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Economics

Courses for a master’s in economics typically concentrate in one of three areas: economic theory, econometric or applied economics. Your area of focus will determine which upper-level courses you take, but all degrees include classes in mathematics such as statistics and probability, calculus and linear algebra. Other core classes include the study of worldwide economic practices, trade, money and banking, game theory, and law and ethics. Some concentrations may require practical applications, including work experience or internships. Examples of general economics courses include:

Foundations of Microeconomic Theory Examines positive and normative analysis in economic theory with emphasis on policy applications of the theory.
Money, Banking and Financial Markets Study the role of financial markets and institutions in resource allocation, focusing on real-world examples. Topics also the financial regulatory and policy infrastructure that influences financial activity and infrastructure to promote efficiency in asset valuation, risk management and economic growth.
Economics of Multinational Firm This course takes a company-level approach to international investment analysis. Topics include trends in multinational activity, reasons behind investment decisions in other countries, different types of foreign investment, the impact of multinational firms and how government policies impact foreign direct investment.
Monetary Policy Learn the effects of monetary policy on aggregate economic activity and distribution of resources and the effect various government policies have on this, as well as the optimal policy in light of various institutional restrictions that exist.
Behavioral Game Theory Focuses on the static and dynamic games of complete and incomplete information and other advanced topics in game theory.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s in Economics?

Many online master’s in economics degrees are designed to be completed in two years of full-time study. Some programs have a thesis requirement rather than an externship or work-study, which may change the amount of time your program will take. Most master’s in economics degrees consist of 30 to 40 credit hours, including the internship credit hours. Degrees are typically separated into an MBA with a focus on economics and a master’s of science in economics.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Economics Prepares For

Risk Management Associations Credit Risk Certification After five years of business experience, you may be eligible to sit for this examination proctored by the National Association of Credit Management. Upon passing, you’ll be a certified credit analyst.
Certified Loan Officer Many financial institutions require certification to become a loan officer. The American Bankers Association and the Mortgage Bankers Association both offer training and certification. Loan officers are required to renew their licenses annually.
Certified Financial Planner This credential requires an examination proctored by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, three years of relevant work experience and a bachelor’s degree and has certain professional ethical standards certificate holders are required to adhere to.
Certified Financial Analyst This certification is offered through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and requires both an exam and sponsorship by your employer.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Economics

Any university you consider should be accredited by a professional agency such as the Higher Learning Commission, Middle States Commission on Higher Education or the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. It’s crucial to research your online master’s in economics program, as many online programs do not receive programmatic accreditation. Business administration degree programs with a focus in economics are generally the exception; online degree programs typically receive accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). If you’re planning to pursue a Ph.D. in economics after your master’s, then you may not be accepted to the program unless your master’s degree is from an accredited institution.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Economics Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

Nearly every specialty career in economics requires a master’s degree; consideration for a position in both the public and private sectors usually requires a master’s degree at a minimum. While those with a bachelor’s degree and proper certification may find positions as financial analysts, market research analysts, statisticians or financial advisers, those with a master’s degree tend to be preferred candidates. The master’s degree in economics is also the next step toward a Ph.D. in the field for those seeking a career in academia.

Job prospects for those is an economics degree are mixed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average unemployment rate for someone holding a master’s in economics is 2.4 percent, compared to a bachelor’s degree rate of 2.8 percent and an associate’s degree at 3.8 percent. Job growth by the BLS is estimated at 6 percent through 2024.

Expected Salary

Increased job opportunities are one benefit of a master’s degree in economics. Advanced credentials in economics can increase a base salary and potential bonus significantly.

Geography can affect your learning potential. Below is a chart with the highest paying metropolitan areas for an Economist

Career Opportunities

Your degree may allow you to work in different aspects of the financial field or concentrate on a particular specialty. A master’s in economics gives you plenty of knowledge to obtain professional certification that will open paths to other careers in the field.

Economist Economists work in both the government and the private sector. Approximately 20 percent of economists work for the federal government and a further 18 percent as consultants to private companies. These jobs focus on the analysis of money market accounts worldwide to determine patterns and spot trends, allowing their government or company to make studied and thoughtful financial decisions. $99,180 per year 6%
Financial Manager Financial Managers work in a variety of industries, including private companies, colleges and universities, healthcare facilities and hospitals, and hospitality groups. These jobs include writing financial reports, reviewing expenses of the organization including payroll and accounting and working with the board or C-level directors to maximize profits and financial efficiency. $117,990 per year 17%
Financial Analyst Financial Analysts provide corporations, individuals and government agencies with investment advice. A strong background in economics is preferred, as are professional certifications. Duties include predicting how stocks, bonds and other investments will perform, both alone and as part of a managed portfolio. $80,310 per year 12%
Financial Examiner Financial Examiners are responsible for reviewing company records to ensure legal and ethical compliance. This includes reconciling bank statements, balance sheets, invoices/A&R, expense accounts and income statements. They also make recommendations for streamlining expenses or making changes to reduce extraneous spending. $78,010 per year 10%

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations for economics professionals are vital to making contacts within the industry. Some organizations are exclusively for those with certain certifications, while others are open to many in the economics field.

American Economic Association: The AEA has a history stretching back nearly 150 years and specializes in economic research and historical and statistical analysis. They publish academic journals, to which members can submit papers for publication, and host conferences throughout the years.

National Association of Business Economics: The NABE is one of the largest organizations in the country focusing on business-related aspects of micro- and macroeconomics. It offers continuing education programs for members as well as conferences, trade publications and periodic economic conferences.

National Economic Association: The NEA was founded in 1969 by the Caucus of Black Economists to provide a professional outlet for minorities working in the economics industry. While membership is open to all, this organization focuses on advancing minorities in the different fields of economics.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Economics

Many online programs may be less expensive than traditional on-campus degrees, but these expenses still may be out of reach for many potential students. The first step to seek financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This allows you to explore any grants, government assistance, loans and other financial aid options. These resources can help you finance your master’s degree.



Scholarships Details
FWSF Scholarship Award: $10,000

Deadline: Varies

Eligibility: Graduate and undergraduate scholarships for San Francisco Bay Area women pursuing careers in finance and financial services.

Hsiao Memorial Economics Scholarship Award: $1,000

Deadline: May

Eligibility: Applicants must be a graduate student attending an accredited U.S. college or university in the coming fall who is pursuing a graduate degree in economics.

Mercatus MA Fellowship Award: $80,000

Deadline: March

Eligibility: Two-year, competitive, full-time fellowship program for students pursuing a master’s degree in economics at George Mason University who are interested in pursuing an advanced degree in applied economics.

Interested in a degree instead?

Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.