Best Master’s Degrees in Economics

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In broad terms, economists study how a society uses and allocates its resources to produce value for its members. Economists use a variety of quantitative and qualitative tools, including advanced software and mathematical models to forecast market trends, propose solutions to economic problems, and help formulate strategic economic plans and policies.

Leadership positions typically require at least a master's in economics, with many top-level positions requiring a doctorate in a specific economic arena. Master's degrees often take two years to complete. Some schools offer an accelerated master's in economics that adds only one year of additional study after the completion of a bachelor's degree.

U.S. colleges and universities are increasingly offering economics master's programs fully or partially online. Like many online programs, an online master's in economics may take a shorter time to complete, especially if the school offers multiple start dates and adheres to a liberal transfer credit policy. The work of economists impacts individuals, communities, and entire countries. Professionals who enter this field can make a real difference on a local and global scale.


1. Do you need a bachelor's degree in economics to get into a master's program for economics?
Few economics master's programs require a bachelor's in economics for admission. However, non-economics majors typically must have enrolled in key courses such as calculus, linear algebra, and statistics as undergraduates.

2. What is the difference between an MBA and a master's in economics?
A master's in economics includes courses focused on specialized areas such as applied econometrics and microeconomics. An MBA offers more general courses related to business management.

3. How long does a master's in economics take to complete?
Like many postgraduate programs, a master's in economics takes two years of continuous enrollment to complete. Part-time enrollment can extend this time frame, while online study can shorten it.

4. Is a master's in economics a master of arts or a master of science?
An economics master's program can be offered as either a master of arts or a master of science degree. An MA program typically requires more courses in humanities, while an MS curriculum includes more classes in science and technology.

How Much Do Economics Majors Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), economists earned a median annual salary of $105,020 in 2019. The BLS projects jobs for economists to grow 14% between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster than the projected 5% growth rate for all other occupations.PayScale reports that economists with only one year of experience earn $57,979, which is higher than the average median salary for all other workers as reported by the BLS ($39,810).

Professionals with a master's in economics can also work as actuaries, financial managers, and market research analysts. According to the BLS, actuaries, who assess and quantify financial risks, earned an annual median income of $108,320 in 2019. Financial managers earned more ($129,890) while market research analysts earned less ($63,790), but still higher than the median salary for all workers. The BLS projects robust growth in these sectors between 2019 and 2029.

Economists and other professionals with similar educational attainment and training can expect to enter a competitive but healthy job market with plenty of room for advancement.

  • Lowest 10%: Less than $59,450
  • Median Annual Salary: $105,020
  • Highest 10%: More than $185,020

Source: BLS

What Do Economists Do?

Many economists work for state and federal government agencies collecting and analyzing a range of data on the U.S. economy. They track productivity, consumer behavior patterns, employment and unemployment rates, salaries, and other indicators of economic health. Based on their research and analysis, economists make recommendations that address existing concerns and emerging trends in the economic sector.

Economists also work for corporations to help managers make marketing, budget, and production decisions based on macro and microeconomic factors. Some economists prefer to teach or concentrate on research where they add to the field's existing body of knowledge. Economists who pursue a career in academia (whether research or teaching) typically hold a doctorate or are working toward one.

Most economists work in an office. However, economists go out in the field when they need to gather primary data or observe situations first-hand. Many economists also attend professional conferences to present their research findings or network with their peers. Economists rely on their strong research and analytical abilities to draw conclusions and offer solutions to economic challenges.

Ranking Methodology

The researchers and writers at Best Master's Degrees do not make recommendations based upon preference. See below for a breakdown of how we organize ranking data:

  • Finances (40%)
  • Academic Rigor (35%)
  • Student Gratification (25%)

Nearly half of the data used to score each ranking involves finances from sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Education (ED), Glassdoor, and PayScale. Financial data encompasses the cost of tuition and fees, the average price of living, access to financial aid and social services, and the projected annual salary acquired from degree outcomes and income for loan repayment.

The second largest category of information involves the quality of education, how competitive degree applicants should be for consideration, and a program's overall exclusivity. The final 25 percent of collected data depends upon student and alumni reviews from sources such as PayScale, Rate My Professor, and Students Review.

Best Master's Degrees in Economics

1. Yale University

Yale's master of international and development economics started in 1955. This one-year cohort program enrolls just 30 students annually, which allows for close mentoring between students and professors.

All students enroll in five core courses: microeconomics, econometrics, growth and macroeconomics, development econometrics, and advanced economic development. To complete the degree's credit requirement, students must enroll in two additional electives. With their professor's approval, learners can choose electives offered by another Yale graduate school.

Degree-seekers can stay in this program or pursue a joint program with two other schools: the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies or the School of Public Health.

Learners must complete a research project toward the end of their studies, which serves as the program's culminating activity.

Yale University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

2. Columbia University in the City of New York

Columbia offers a free-standingmaster of arts in economics for students who wish to earn an MA without committing to a doctorate. The program considers applications only from full-time students.

The degree consists of seven core classes and three electives that learners can complete in three semesters. In addition to coursework, students must write a research paper based on one of their elective classes.

Students with a bachelor's in a non-economics field may apply, but they must have a strong background in subjects such as linear algebra, college-level calculus, and statistics. The program prefers applicants who have completed some undergraduate courses in economics, such as intermediate macroeconomics or principles of economics.

Columbia University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

3. Stanford University

Stanford offers amaster's in economics as part of a doctoral program. Students must complete at least 45 quarter credits beyond a bachelor's degree. Of these credits, 40 must be offered by the Department of Economics.

Learners must complete at least two term papers or a master's thesis on an advanced economics topic. Students can earn a maximum of five units of credit for their graduate-level thesis. In lieu of a master's thesis, degree-seekers can submit a term paper on a dissertation course. Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA for all their master's-level coursework.

Many first-year graduate students receive department fellowships that cover their tuition and fees and come with a stipend to cover basic living expenses. The university offers several research and teaching fellowships during each school year.

Stanford University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

4. Duke University

Duke's master's in economics comprises 30 credits that learners can complete in four semesters. The curriculum includes courses such as applied econometrics in microeconomics, international monetary economics, non-market valuation, and industrial organization. Students must enroll in at least three classes in computational methods, computer science, mathematics, or statistics. Learners must also complete a capstone course.

The program encourages, but does not require, students to complete an internship. Toward the end of their enrollment at Duke, students compile a portfolio of their academic work, which should include at least one major research paper. Degree-seekers can also include written presentations, research reports, and project summaries and descriptions.

Students' portfolios should contain a summary of their educational experience at Duke and future professional objectives. An examining committee recommends students for the master's degree based on the quality of work contained in their portfolios.

Duke University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

5. Rice University

The master of energy economics at Rice comprises 40 credits that full-time students can complete in 12 months. The university spreads the courses out during the fall and spring semesters and two seven-week back-to-back summer sessions.

The curriculum includes courses in applied econometrics for energy markets, transportation economics, microeconomics of the energy sector, and the economics of energy and the environment. Degree-seekers must complete an internship or practicum prior to receiving the degree. Students who work in the energy sector can fulfill the internship requirement by working on a special project with their employer in an area directly related to their program.

The program recommends, but does not require, the submission of GRE or GMAT scores taken no longer than five years prior to the application date. Applicants do not need an undergraduate degree in economics, although they should possess a strong background in college-level mathematics and calculus.

Rice University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

6. Vanderbilt University

The graduate program in economic development (GPED) at Vanderbilt requires students to complete 30 credits that include 12 credits of core coursework, six field credits, nine elective credits, and a three-credit research project. The curriculum includes required coursework in econometrics, statistical analysis, microeconomics, and macroeconomics. Students can enroll in elective classes in other Vanderbilt schools with their advisor's permission.

The GPED follows a cohort model of education. Each cohort includes 10-35 students, usually consisting of enrollees from at least 10 different countries. In the GPED international field seminar, students travel to a developing country for an immersive learning experience in economic policy development.

Advisors work closely with students to create an individualized learning plan that supports each student's educational goals and professional objectives. The program offers free tutoring assistance for all GPED courses.

Vanderbilt University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

7. Johns Hopkins University

The master of science in applied economics at Johns Hopkins consists of 10 courses or 30 credits. Students enroll in four core courses, one advanced econometrics class, and five electives. The university offers online and on-campus courses. Students can enroll full time or part time. Most students earn the degree in 12-24 months.

Degree-seekers can declare a formal concentration in financial economics, which requires them to follow a specific plan of study. The university notes this concentration on a student's official transcript.

Johns Hopkins allows students to earn two additional credentials on their way to the MS degree: a certificate in financial management and a certificate in investments. Learners enroll in eight applied economics courses and seven courses for the certificate. The university also offers a dual degree that allows students to graduate with an MS in applied economics and an MBA. For this option, students enroll in eight applied economic courses and 21 (two-credit) courses for the MBA.

Johns Hopkins University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

8. University of Southern California

USC offers a 32-credit master of science in applied economics and econometrics (MS AEE) consisting of eight, four-credit courses that most students complete in 12-18 months. The program only accepts learners who study full time. Students can choose from six tracks including economic policy and development, big data economics, economic consulting, and behavioral economics. Students must enroll in at least 12 units in their chosen track.

Applicants must have a strong background in mathematics, including multivariate calculus and at least one semester of an advanced statistics course. Applicants must also submit GRE scores. The MS AEE is a designated STEM program, which means international students can apply for a 24-month extension of their student visa for optional practical training.

Exceptional MS AEE students can apply for research assistantships at the Los Angeles Behavioral Economics Laboratory to work on projects in experimental economics.

University of Southern California is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

9. Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University offers a master's in economics only for students accepted to their doctoral program. Students complete 36 credits of master's-level coursework in micro and macroeconomics, quantitative methods in economics research, and applied econometrics. The department requires a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Degree-seekers must demonstrate mastery of the three core areas of study — microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics — to earn the master's degree and to proceed to the doctoral program. Mastery is evidenced by a grade of at least an A- in all three areas or passing the preliminary exam. Students who opt out of the doctoral program at this point can still receive their master's in economics provided they complete all other degree requirements.

Students who maintain good academic standing receive financial support from the department through five years of study. Economics graduate students can also apply for university-wide fellowships.

Washington University in St. Louis is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

10. University of Michigan Ann Arbor

The master's in applied economics at U-M comprises 38 credits and typically takes 18 months to complete. Students enroll in five core courses that are four credits each. Electives comprise the remaining required credits, enabling learners to take courses in areas that hold their professional interest.

Applicants must show proficiency in intermediate macroeconomic and microeconomic theories, calculus, and statistics. Applicants must also submit GRE scores no older than five years. In addition to transcripts, a resume, and recommendation letters, applicants must include a statement of purpose, which demonstrates how the program can help them achieve their career goals.

Learners who declare a major must complete at least six credits in that field (2-3 courses) and earn a grade of C- or higher. Students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA throughout the program to earn the degree.

The University of Michigan Ann Arbor is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

11. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Carolina offers a 30-credit master's in economics that most students can complete after two years of continuous enrollment. Students can pursue the master of science as a terminal degree or en route to a doctorate. Master's and doctoral students enroll in the same classes for their first year in the program. After completing core coursework requirements, degree-seekers choose a specialization area and enroll in classes in that field as well as in approved elective courses. The department offers specializations in several areas, including health economics, financial econometrics, industrial organization, and labor economics.

The master's program requires students to write a research paper and take a comprehensive exam to earn the degree. Learners work closely with their advisors to make sure their paper meets completion requirements.

Carolina offers several fellowships and scholarship programs to graduate students. Financial aid recipients assist faculty members in research and teaching. First-year students receiving aid cannot formally teach a class.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

12. Georgetown University

Georgetown offers a 30-credit master's in applied economics that full-time students can complete in one year. The program offers academic tracks in standard, computational, and financial economics. Learners enroll in four core courses (12 credits) in microeconomics, macroeconomics, data analysis, and econometrics. Approved electives comprise the remaining 18 credits.

Applicants must submit their latest GRE scores (no older than five years) with other application requirements. The program does not accept GMAT scores. Georgetown does not permit transfer credits, which means students must take all classes for the master's at the university. Degree-seekers begin the program by taking a two-week non-credit session that reviews the basic aspects of linear algebra, calculus, statistics, and probability.

In addition to an economic faculty made up of leading scholars in the field, the university's location in the nation's capital allows it to draw from the local community of experts to teach specialized economics classes.

Georgetown University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

13. University of California, Los Angeles

UCLA offers a master's in applied economics that full-time students can complete in just three quarters or nine months. Each quarter requires enrollment in four courses, starting with foundational classes on the principles of micro and macroeconomics, applied statistics, and econometrics in the fall quarter. The curriculum includes courses in data science for financial engineering, income inequality, fundamentals of big data, and money and banking.

Applicants should demonstrate a strong background in linear algebra, statistics, probability, and multivariate calculus. Applicants must submit GRE scores along with a statement of purpose that presents evidence-based qualifications for the program and how a master's in applied economics can help them achieve their long-term professional objectives.

Toward the end of the program, students prepare and present a final research paper based on a topic of professional interest to them. The topic should be related to one of the four elective classes students choose during the third quarter.

University of California, Los Angeles is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

14. University of Florida

Students pursuing a master's in economics at UF enroll in the same advanced economics courses as doctoral students. Note that UF accepts students for its economics master's programs only under special circumstances. The program prepares students for academia, offering coursework with a strong research focus, rather than courses in applied economics.

The program offers four specialization areas: industrial organization, international economics, econometrics, and public economics. Students must enroll in courses in at least three of these areas. At the end of their second year in the program, degree-seekers take a comprehensive exam based on the courses they took in at least two fields.

Learners who completed equivalent core courses in another accredited institution can request to be exempted from taking the class. The program grants exemptions only to students who pass a waiver exam. UF currently only provides financial assistance to doctoral students.

University of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

15. Boston University

BU offers the master's in economics as a terminal degree with a curriculum that is separate and distinct from the undergraduate and doctoral programs in economics. The program consists of eight courses or 32 credits. Four of the eight courses (16 credits) cover the fundamental principles in microeconomics, macroeconomics, statistics, and econometrics. Students can choose from a roster of approved electives for the remainder of the credit requirements.

Although BU prefers students to possess a bachelor's in economics or mathematics, learners with an undergraduate degree in a related field can apply. Applicants must show adequate undergraduate preparation in calculus, linear algebra, and statistics. Applicants must also submit their most recent GRE scores.

Students must take a comprehensive exam after completing the core coursework for the degree. The department offers this exam twice each year. BU's master's in economics is a STEM-designated program, which speaks to the quality and rigor of the training it provides. 

Boston University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

16. New York University

NYU's STEM-designated master's in economics requires at least three semesters of full-time enrollment to complete. The Department of Economics currently does not offer summer classes for this program. However, students can enroll in courses offered by other NYU schools during the summer term. The program accepts up to eight credits taken outside the department. Full-time and part-time students can take up to five years to earn the degree.

Students receiving at least $13,000 in aid from a recognized educational funding source outside of NYU can apply for the Tuition Incentive Program, which matches the amount. Students receiving less than $13,000 can also apply to the program to receive up to 50% of the external award. Recipients can only apply the awards toward tuition.

Applicants must submit their latest GRE scores. They cannot submit GMAT scores in lieu of the GRE. The program accepts up to eight graduate-level transfer credits from another accredited institution. Transfer credits must be relevant to a student's course of study. 

New York University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

17. Northeastern University

Northeastern offers a master's in economics that can serve as a terminal degree or as an academic foundation for doctoral studies. Learners begin the program by completing four core courses in micro and macroeconomics theory, econometrics, and math and statistics for economists.

Students can satisfy the remaining credit requirements by enrolling in general economics electives or pursuing a concentration in data science. The concentration requires degree-seekers to enroll in an introductory course in data management and processing and in a class on advanced algorithms.

Qualified learners can also satisfy some of the remaining credit requirements by participating in a paid co-op work experience for two consecutive semesters. The co-op program only considers students who have completed the four core courses, at least two semesters of enrollment, and who have a minimum 3.5 GPA. Students can choose to write a master's thesis as their program's culminating activity.

Northeastern University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

18. University of Wisconsin Madison

UW's master's in economics comprises 30 credits, 16 of which students must complete at the university. Degree-seekers enroll in seven core coursework classes (21 credits) and three electives (nine credits). Most students complete the program in four semesters.

With few exceptions, applicants must show completion of at least one semester each of introductory microeconomics and macroeconomics, intermediate microeconomics, and three semesters of linear algebra and calculus. Applicants must also submit their latest GRE scores.

A coursework-based program, the master's in economics does not require students to write a thesis to earn the degree. Students who wish to do so must first receive approval from the program advisor. Transfer credits, either from an undergraduate UW degree or another accredited graduate-level program, are subject to the review and discretion of the Department of Economics. The department does not accept coursework completed five years or more prior to admission.

University of Wisconsin Madison is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

19. Tulane University

Tulane's master's in policy economics comprises 36 credits, or 12 courses. The program considers both internal and external applicants. Internal applicants refer to students enrolled in the combined undergraduate/master's program in economics at the university. External applicants refer to students who have completed a bachelor's degree at another accredited institution.

The Department of Economics does not require internal applicants to submit GRE scores with their application. However, external applicants must submit their latest GRE scores and show satisfactory completion of introductory and intermediate courses in microeconomics and macroeconomics and in economic statistics. The department requires students to complete at least seven applied projects prior to graduating.

Degree-seekers with exceptional academic backgrounds can propose an independent study program to explore areas that the department's current curriculum does not cover and in which they have a professional interest. Students engaged in independent study work closely with a faculty advisor throughout the school year to ensure that they meet program standards and degree requirements.

Tulane is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

20. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at Rensselaer offers amaster's in economics that allows students to craft an individual course of study. Students can choose a specialization area by enrolling in cluster courses that focus on a specific economics arena such as behavioral economics, industrial organization and applied game theory, and the economics of technology and innovation.

The Department of Economics considers applications from Rensselaer students pursuing a combined BS and MS program at the institute or students with a bachelor's degree from another accredited college or university. The program welcomes applications from part-time and full-time enrollees. Full-time students typically earn the degree after two semesters.

The department encourages students to enroll in courses offered by other schools on campus to get a truly interdisciplinary education and develop a broad perspective into their own academic field of study. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

21. University of Texas at Austin

The master's in economics at UT Austin follows a cohort model of education and consists of 30 credits. Students can enroll in the accelerated program, which they can complete in just 10 months. Alternately, learners can pursue an 18-month or 24-month program. The degree requirements remain the same no matter which track a student pursues. The master's in economics does not offer a thesis option in any track.

The department does not require an undergraduate degree in economics. However, applicants must show completion of a full calculus sequence during their undergraduate study. An introductory course in economics and a class in linear algebra can further boost an application. Applicants must submit their most recent GRE scores.

The department does not currently offer full scholarships or fellowships to MA students. However, the department awards merit-based tuition-reduction assistance to students with an outstanding academic record.

University of Texas at Austin is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

22. University of Maryland, College Park

UMD offers identical master's in economics programs at the main campus and at the Washington, D.C., campus. The program consists of 30 credits and follows the same curriculum but different schedules. The College Park program follows a semester-based academic calendar and offers three-credit courses across a 15-week semester. The D.C. program follows a quarter-based academic calendar and offers three-credit courses across accelerated 12-week terms. Students can complete the D.C. program in 15 months, while the College Park program takes 24 months.

Students enroll in five fundamental courses emphasizing economic principles and another five field courses focusing on application. Learners can still earn a graduate certificate in economics analysis by completing the five core courses, should they opt out of the master's program at that point.

The master's in economics is a STEM-designated program, which reflects its emphasis on econometrics and quantitative analysis. International students enrolled in a STEM-designated program can extend their optional practical training by two additional years.

University of Maryland, College Park is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

23. Clemson University

Clemson offers a 30-credit master's in economics with thesis and non-thesis options. Students who write a thesis complete 24 credits of coursework with the remaining six credits accounted for by the thesis. The 24 credits include core courses (microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics), nine economics electives, and six non-economics electives. Most degree-seekers complete the coursework for the thesis option in two semesters.

Students who choose the non-thesis option must complete the core curriculum at the doctoral level, including a course in applied mathematical economics. Learners typically complete the coursework for the non-thesis option in three semesters. Both options require 30 credits and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Clemson also offers a BA-BS/MA plan for exceptional economics undergraduate students. The plan allows undergraduates to enroll in graduate economics courses while still working for their bachelor's, which reduces the amount of time it takes to earn the master's degree separately.

Clemson University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

24. University of Connecticut

UConn offers a calculus-based master of science in quantitative economics comprising 30 credits. The program requires students to complete 27 credits of core courses in economics, with the remaining three credits to come from an approved elective class. Students may enroll in additional electives to satisfy their professional and personal goals.

The curriculum includes coursework in mathematical economics, applied econometrics, machine learning for economists, and operations research. Most students complete the program in three semesters. The department offers optional internship opportunities during the summer months.

Applicants must exhibit strong mathematical and statistics knowledge evidenced by at least two semesters of calculus and basic coursework in economics. Students without this background must enroll in classes to gain sufficient proficiency before beginning the program. Degree-seekers must maintain a 3.0 average throughout their course of study.

The University of Connecticut is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

25. Colorado School of Mines

A two-year, 12-course program comprising 36 credits, themaster of science in mineral and energy economics at Mines offers a thesis and non-thesis option. Both programs require 15 credits (five classes) of core coursework: econometrics, mathematical economics, microeconomics, natural resource economics, and an advanced elective in econometrics. Students who choose a non-thesis option enroll in an additional 21 elective credits to earn the degree. Learners who opt to write a thesis enroll in an additional nine credits of electives. The remaining 12 credits consist of master's-level research and thesis development.

Applicants must show completion of at least one course each in microeconomics, probability and statistics, and calculus. The program focuses on topics related to applied energy, critical minerals, and the environment. Degree-seekers engage in in-depth research on global climate policies, environmental economics, international mineral markets, and asset valuation.

Colorado School of Mines is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Accreditation for a Master's in Economics

TheED recognizes six accreditation regions throughout the country. An accrediting agency is in charge of each region, with the exception of the western states, which has a separate accreditor for four-year institutions and two-year community colleges. Accreditation signifies the quality of a school's educational programs. However, since regional accreditors evaluate an entire institution, they examine several other factors, such as fiscal policies, administrative processes, and student services.

Accreditation matters for two main reasons. First, the ED channels financial aid only to students enrolled in accredited institutions or programs. Second, most regionally accredited colleges and universities accept transfer credits only from schools that hold the same level of accreditation.

To date, no accrediting body exists solely for the purpose of accrediting economics programs. However, theAssociation to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) oversees programmatic accreditation for business-related fields, including finance, accounting, and economics. Whenever possible, choose an AACSB-accredited master's in economics program offered by a regionally accredited institution.

Financial Aid for Master's in Economics Students

A master's in economics requires a significant investment of time and money. At the graduate level, students often apply for fellowships or research grants. Many universities also offer merit-based scholarships. A fellowship typically covers tuition and includes a living stipend. In return, fellows assume adjunct duties such as teaching a class or helping a tenured professor with research. On the other hand, most graduate scholarships are merit-based and usually do not require recipients to perform adjunct responsibilities.

The search for financial assistance, whether at the undergraduate or graduate level, often begins by completing theFAFSA. Colleges, universities, private donors, and trade associations use the financial information on the FAFSA to determine a student's eligibility for any scholarship or fellowship program under their administration.

Competition is often fierce for graduate fellowships and scholarships, and students may not always receive all the financial aid they need. When researching loans, learners should consider borrowing from the federal government first before private lenders. Federal student loan programs often charge lower interest rates and offer liberal deferred payment conditions.

Scholarships for Master's in Economics Students

Colleges and universities that offer a master's in economics program usually provide fellowships or scholarships. However, many private groups and professional organizations also offer financial aid to students pursuing a master's in economics. The list below includes five such programs.

  • AICP Scholarship Program
    Who Can Apply: Undergraduate and graduate students pursuing a degree in actuarial science, economics, finance, or a similar field can apply for this funding opportunity. Administered by the Association of Insurance Compliance Professionals, the program welcomes applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
    Amount: $1,500

  • AIERF Graduate Scholarship
    Who Can Apply: Funded by the Appraisal Institute Education & Relief Foundation, this program accepts applications from graduate students pursuing a program related to real estate appraisal, including economics. Learners who study part time and full time with a history of academic excellence may apply.
    Amount: $2,000

  • Career Development Grant
    Who Can Apply: Administered by the American Association of University Women, this program welcomes applications from women (especially women of color) pursuing their first graduate degree in the fields of health, medicine, and social sciences. Applicants must have financial need.
    Amount: $2,000-$12,000

  • Hsiao Memorial Social Sciences Scholarship
    Who Can Apply: Graduate students enrolled in an economics or social science program at an accredited U.S. college or university can apply. Applicants must have an excellent academic history (at least 3.0 GPA) and demonstrate financial need.
    Amount: $1,000

  • Public Company Accounting Oversight Board Research Fellowship
    Who Can Apply: Junior faculty members of an economics program in an accredited institution can apply for this fellowship opportunity. Applicants must be engaged in research on auditing controls, econometrics, or similar subjects.
    Amount: Varies

Specializations for Economics Students

A broad academic field, economics offers a variety of specialization areas. However, all economists need well-developed analytical and critical thinking skills, a familiarity with statistical software and tools, and financial and business acumen. See below for some possible specializations for modern economists.

Applied Economics

Economists who specialize in this field focus on the nexus of business and production activity with economic theories. Students can further concentrate on applied microeconomics or applied macroeconomics. The former typically covers subjects such as urban, labor market, and regional economics. Practitioners who specialize in applied macroeconomics study topics like international finance, monetary economics, and inflation. A specialization in applied economics often qualifies graduates to work as budget analysts, financial managers, or research directors.

Development Economics

Development economists typically work for government or international agencies where they study how to improve the fiscal and socioeconomic conditions impacting developing countries. They focus on health and working conditions, domestic and foreign policies, market forces, and similar topics that can hinder or accelerate the economic growth of developing nations. Development economists usually go out in the field to gather information, evaluate economic conditions, and implement projects and policies first-hand.

Financial Economics

This specialization enables students to focus on topics such as investment banking, fiscal regulatory policies, and corporate financial management. Financial economists analyze the most efficient use of resources to incentivize certain economic decisions. They examine a variety of factors such as risks, costs, market opportunities, and international financial conditions to craft a viable fiscal and investment plan for their clients. Financial economists often qualify to work as investment managers and financial advisors.

Quantitative Economics

The field of quantitative economics focuses on how societies and countries use available resources to produce and distribute goods and services. Practitioners analyze a myriad of socioeconomic factors to craft sound economic policies at local, federal, or international levels. They study issues such as labor policies, international taxation and trade, and environmental issues to develop budgets, perform cost analysis, and prepare financial reports. Quantitative economists can work as forecast analysts, internal auditors, and portfolio administrators.

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