Interested in embarking on a challenging and rewarding career in finance or international trade? With a bachelor's in economics, you can prepare for professional advisory or research roles in government, insurance, finance, investment banking, healthcare policy, real estate, or marketing. Economics graduates with strong statistical analysis skills have strong job prospects, especially with continued graduate education. Particularly lucrative opportunities await graduates who specialize in finance. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 6% job growth rate for economists, and a faster than average 11% growth rate for financial analysts through 2026.
Choosing a Program
Core courses in an online bachelor's degree in economics include econometrics, behavioral economics, economic development, economics of labor, economics of health, environmental economics, international trade, game theory, and global macroeconomics. If you are inclined toward more mathematically intensive careers, you can opt for challenging advanced courses in econometrics and formal mathematical modeling. Some schools also offer interdepartmental majors combining mathematics and economics. For career goals emphasizing public policy, empirical applications, and business advisory roles rather than academic research, you can opt for programs in applied economics, which usually do not require coursework in advanced mathematics.
If you intend to pursue a graduate degree, a bachelor's in economics also provides a strong foundation for programs in public policy or law, as well as master's or doctoral programs in economics or other social science disciplines. Typical flexible specialization tracks offered through many economics departments include behavioral economics, finance, international and development economics, policy, research, and strategy. Exceptional students who plan to pursue a master's or Ph.D degree in the field should also investigate schools that offer accelerated programs with coursework applicable to both bachelor's and master's requirements, as this may shorten the completion time for the master's degree.
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Online Bachelor's in Economics Degree Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.
The Best Online Bachelor's in Economics Programs
1Washington State University
Washington state's original land-grant university, WSU's Pullman campus drives research on crop health, maintains an innovative energy program, and impacts the state economy at the level of $3.4 billion. The school's Global Campus offers 12 online bachelor's degrees and access to the Global Connections extra-curricular activities program.
The bachelor of science in economic sciences of WSU's Global Campus focuses on business economics, through courses such as introduction to financial accounting, labor economics, and industrial organization. The program, which takes about about four years to complete, encompasses 83 credits, including 25 credits of economic core courses like fundamentals of microeconomics, 21 credits of business economic sciences courses, and 12 credits of upper-level economics electives. Students choose a concentration in commodity marketing or management to make up the final nine credits. They must also complete roughly 34 credits of general education courses, which can be satisfied by transfer. This bachelor of science degree in economics includes a capstone course and the option to complete an internship, or a study-abroad or supervised independent study experience.
WSU's Global Campus incorporates virtual mentors and a streaming media center to help students navigate their online coursework. Distance learners pay the same discounted tuition rates as in-state students, regardless of their place of residence. Students who have no prior college experience must submit ACT or SAT scores with their application.
Washington State University is regionally accredited from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
2 Pennsylvania State University
Serving 100,000 students over twenty campuses, Penn State's main location in University Park marks the geographical center of the state. The school boasts a designation among the Carnegie Foundation's highest research university ratings in the U.S.
As Penn State's second largest campus, its online system offers students access to support services like career counseling and academic advising. Its bachelor of science in economics prepares students for careers in evaluating market trends and using data analyzation to advise management. Students earn the BS after completing at least 120 credits, including 45 general education credits and 26 general electives. The core curriculum comprises 18 credits in topics like econometrics and statistics. Students must also complete 30 credits of more specialized economics coursework including labor economics, advanced international trade theory and policy, and economics of public expenditures.
Admission requires a high school diploma and prerequisite introductory economics courses with a minimum grade of C. Courses are delivered synchronously; some offered during the summer semester. Depending on how many courses a full-time student pursues beyond the minimum requirement of 12 credits, the bachelor's degree in economics takes between four and five years to complete. Students enrolled in Penn State's World Campus pay a lower tuition rate than students enrolled at Penn State's main campus; those taking less than 60 credits pay the lowest price overall.
Pennsylvania State University is regionally accredited from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
3Oregon State University
Located in the Willamette Valley in Corvallis, OSU sits just one county away from the Pacific Ocean. With $441 million in research funding for 2017, OSU claims the distinction of being the largest institution of public research in Oregon. OSU's Ecampus hosts over 1,100 online courses and serves over 21,000 students across the globe.
OSU offers both a bachelor of arts and bachelor of science in economics online. Students interested using their economic expertise in the field of business can pursue the managerial economics track in focused business courses. The law, economics, and policy concentration includes coursework in political science and philosophy, and can help students pursuing careers in public service or policy. The major requirements total 51 credits, the majority in core concepts including econometrics and economics of traditional and renewable energy. Students must also earn 48 credits of baccalaureate core courses, including an intensive writing course, in addition to 15 credits of core courses offered by the College of Liberal Arts.
OSU's Ecampus follows a quarter-term system, equating the 180 credits required for the bachelor's in economics to the 120 credits required of a typical full-semester system. Students enrolled in OSU's Ecampus pay discounted tuition rates, regardless of residency status or number of credits. Students must have completed at least 24 quarter credits (or 16 semester credits) to qualify as a transfer student. Non-transfer students must submit their high school diploma or GED transcripts with their application.
Oregon State University is regionally accredited from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
4 Colorado State University–Fort Collins
Fort Collins, Colorado
On its main campus an hour outside of Denver in Fort Collins, CSU boasts scenic views and over 300 days of sunshine each year. The land-grant university prides itself on sustainability initiatives, and programs in agricultural sciences and veterinary medicine.
The bachelor of arts in economics from CSU Online focuses on society, balancing quantitative skills and theoretical understanding of the influence of the economy on the environment and various types of communities. The degree encompasses 120 credits, including 21 required major courses and 12 credits of economics electives from courses like gender and the economy, economics of public finance, and issues in environmental economics. Beyond general core classes, the degree includes 22-35 credits of general electives. Students in the online bachelor's degree in economics pair their degree with one of six minors in diverse topics including media studies, sociology, and political science.
Students should note that this program requires credits from previous college experience. In addition, 30 of the program's total credits must come from upper-division courses at CSU. Distance learners pay a set rate, per credit, at a lower price than the cost of in-state tuition. They may also take advantage of services including academic advising and an online career exploration assessment tool tailored to student interests.
Colorado State University is regionally accredited from the Higher Learning Commision (HLC) of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.
5 Liberty University
Founded in 1971 to encourage students to become “Champions of Christ”, Liberty University encompasses a 7,000-acre campus in Lynchburg, Virginia. The school serves over 110,000 students—30,000 of them, military—as the country's largest private nonprofit university.
Liberty University's online offerings boast 121 bachelor's degrees and a 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Support services include an online library and writing center. The bachelor of science in business administration in economics comprises 120 credits and provides students with an understanding of general business topics like marketing and accounting. The major core courses encompass 39 credits and include topics such as micro and macroeconomics, business law, and organizational ethics. Twelve credits of cognate courses cover topics including modern political and economic ideas and money, and the financial system. Of the required 39-42 general education credits, 12 credits must be completed in the area of Christian life and thought.
Courses are delivered asynchronously and take eight weeks to complete. The bachelor of science degree in economics caters to transfer students, who may apply transfer credits to satisfy up to 75% of the credit requirement. Though part-time students pay a higher tuition rate than full-time students, all distance learners pay a discounted rate.
Liberty University is regionally accredited from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
6 Fort Hays State University
Founded in 1902 as an entrepreneurial institution, Fort Hays State University calls Hays, Kansas—a historic frontier town in the center of the state—its home. The university sits on 200 acres and maintains a 3,825-acre farm.
Fort Hays State University's online bachelor of business administration in international business and economics features two core groups of courses: business and international business and economics. The 27-credit business core consists of foundational courses in topics like accounting, finance, and production and operations management. Electives comprise 27 of the 39 credits required for the international business and economics major. Economics courses include quantitative methods and managerial economics. As part of the major, students can also explore coursework in leadership and team dynamics, comparative cultures and societies, or introduction to geographic information systems. General education classes make up 55 credits, and freshmen must take a three-credit seminar totaling 124 credits. Transfer students may substitute an elective in a topic of their choice for the seminar course.The online bachelor's in economics also offers the opportunity to complete an internship, worth three credits.
Fort Hays State University's Virtual College offers support services including free online tutoring and guaranteed access to instructors by email or phone. Most courses are delivered through the Blackboard platform in a synchronous format. Online students pay a lower tuition rate than on-campus non-residents.
Fort Hays State University is regionally accredited from the Higher Learning Commission.
7Utah State University
Located in Logan, USU has occupied the same scenic 400-acre campus for 130 years. The historic land-grant university leads national schools in its commitment to sustainability, running natural gas shuttles and reducing its energy consumption by 18% per square foot of floor area in the past ten years.
Earning a bachelor of science in economics online at USU requires 120 credits, encompassing core, major, and elective courses. Core major topics explore business statistics and the fundamentals of economic theory. Students can choose electives from coursework in law and economics, economics and the history of the U.S., and industrial organization game theory. USU encourages economics majors to take advantage of the program's flexible schedule and double major in finance or accounting.
Students must apply to the Huntsman School of Business before seeking acceptance into the economics program. They can submit an application in any semester. Unlike its on-campus counterpart, the online BS in economics does not require students to declare a concentration.
USU Online delivers courses through Canvas. The university offers 14-week sessions and two seven-week sessions per semester. Student support services include online advising and tutoring. For online exams, USU certifies local proctors for students living more than 20 miles from a USU campus.
Utah State University is regionally accredited from the Northwest Commision on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
Virginia Beach, Virginia
With the motto “Christian leadership to change the world,” Regent University serves over 10,000 students through programs that advocate the values of excellence, innovation, and integrity. The school's campus sits just 16 miles from the Atlantic Ocean in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Regent University's online division offers 128 undergraduate programs. The average class contains 17 students. Online students can access on-campus activities including guest speaker lectures and chapel events. Each distant course delivered through Blackboard lasts for eight weeks. All online students must take an orientation course before completing program coursework. Students pay the same tuition rate for on-campus and online programs.
The online bachelor of science in business in economics lays the foundation in business for careers in economic forecasting and analysis. The degree includes core business courses in business statistics and business driven technology, as well as business electives and credits specific to the economics concentration. Concentration topics include political economy and entrepreneurship, market processes, and economics growth. General education courses and general electives also comprise a significant component of the degree. The bachelor of science in economics also features a senior capstone, enabling students to integrate their understanding of business and economics into the creation of a functioning business plan.
Regent University is regionally accredited from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Online Bachelor's in Economics Careers
A bachelor's degree in economics prepares graduates for careers in public policy, insurance, finance, real estate, and management consulting. Strong math and statistical analysis skills can prepare you for work in market research analysis, financial or credit analysis, actuarial research, or public policy analysis.
Economist: Economists study the allocation and distribution of scarce resources by using data collection and analysis, models of market behavior, and statistical analysis to investigate and evaluate changes in public policy and market conditions. They analyze trade-offs made by individuals, organizations, and governments in response to resource limitations in global economic systems.
- Median Annual Salary: $101,050
- Projected Growth Rate: 6%
Financial analyst: Financial analysts collect, monitor, and interpret financial data and then provide recommendations to companies, investors, and individuals based on their findings. They help organizations make decisions about investment decisions and allocation of funds. They forecast trends, generate reports, analyze budgets, monitor changes in regulatory environments, and track performance of securities.
- Median Annual Salary: $81,760
- Projected Growth Rate: 11%
Budget analyst: Budget analysts gather and use financial data to prepare, develop, and implement budgets for organizations. They conduct cost-benefit research, review financial records, monitor income and expenditures, and prepare reports to ensure accuracy and compliance with regulations. They also provide advice to organizations and stakeholders on how to efficiently allocate funds.
- Median Annual Salary: $73,840
- Projected Growth Rate: 7%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics