Best Online Master’s in Economics 2021

by TBS Staff
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Money may make the world go round, but the world needs economists to understand how to manage it.

Students in Master’s in Economics degree programs receive valuable analytical and quantitative training in the field of economics necessary to success in a variety of professional roles. Graduates have the opportunity to become a leader or analyst in banking, investment and wealth management, international finance and economics, corporate financial management, and in a variety of other sectors. Some graduates go on to acquire a Ph.D. in Economics to become a university professor or research economist.

A traditional Master’s in Economics program does not work for all students, however; online programs may better suit the needs of busy individuals with full–time jobs or familial obligations. This article ranks the 15 best online Master’s in Economics degrees available today.

The Best Online Master's in Economics Programs

Georgia Southern University true View School Profile $$$ Statesboro, GA 50% 53% 35% Georgia Southern University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

A public research university founded in 1906, Georgia Southern offers an online master of science in applied economics. Students complete the two-year degree entirely online with a fall and spring start date.

Required courses include math for applied economics, microeconomics, and macroeconomics. Students then choose from electives like the history of economic thought or regional economic development.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 to qualify for admission. Students must also submit GRE scores. The school allows students to transfer up to six credits toward their degree.

Purdue University true View School Profile $$ West Lafayette, IN 81% 29% 21% Purdue University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A public university founded in 1869, Purdue offers an online master of science in economics. Students may choose from four concentrations: business and data analytics, financial economics, public economics and policy, and advanced theory.

The 30-credit program includes courses such as principles of statistical analysis, mathematical economics, microeconomics, and macroeconomics. Students then take courses within their chosen concentration to satisfy degree requirements.

Students need a bachelor's degree in any discipline to qualify for admission. The school does not require students to submit standardized test scores.

University of North Dakota true View School Profile $$$ Grand Forks, ND 55% 48% 49% University of North Dakota is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A public research university founded in 1883, UND offers an online master of science in economics. Students complete 30 credits in an average of two years.

Learners take courses such as economic forecasting, demographic methods for economists, quantitative methods for impact evaluation and causal inference, and international money and finance. Students also receive training in modern economics methods such as data analysis.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree to qualify for admission. Students must also submit GRE scores to apply.

University of Missouri-Columbia true View School Profile $$$ Columbia, MO 69% 40% 31% University of Missouri is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A public university founded in 1839, Mizzou offers an online master of arts in economics. Students complete 30 credits in two years by taking just two courses per term.

Required courses include introductory economics, qualitative economics, microeconomic theory, or macroeconomic theory. Students then choose five electives to further specialize their knowledge in topics such as game theory, international trade, and banking.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 in the last 60 credits of undergraduate work to qualify for admission. The school does not require students to submit GRE scores.

American University true View School Profile Washington, DC 80% 45% 7% American University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

A private research university founded in 1893, AU offers an online master of arts in economics with a specialization in applied economics. Students can complete the program in just 20 months.

Core courses include an introduction to mathematical economics, microeconomic theory, applied econometrics, and macroeconomic theory. A capstone completes degree requirements and provides opportunities for deeper exploration. Students also receive training in data analysis for the economics field.

Applicants need an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution to qualify for admission.

Best Online Master's

Online Master's in Economics Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Featured Online Master's in Economics Programs

What is a Master’s in Economics Degree?

Master’s in Economics degrees come in a variety of forms, including a Master’s of Science, Master’s of Arts, and Master’s of Business Administration programs. While each comes with unique qualities and concerns, all provide a strong grounding in core principles of economics. The curricula for these programs typically include coursework in economic theories, econometrics, financial analysis, statistics, mathematics, and implementing economic research. Some programs may include field experience or capstone components.

An MA in Economics may place greater emphasis on the research and theoretical aspects of economics, preparing students for careers in research or academic roles. An MS in Economics typically utilizes a more technical and practical approach, focusing on the application of economic principles in real–time, and preparing students for active careers in the public or private sectors. An MBA program treats economics as a specialization on top of core MBA coursework. Students in MBA programs engage with fundamental business administration concepts, alongside specialized courses in economic principles and practices, to prepare for leading economic roles in corporations and financial institutions.

How Long Does it Take to Complete an Online Master’s in Economics Degree?

Like most master’s degree programs, a Master’s in Economics degree typically takes two years to complete. However, some schools offer accelerated programs that may be completed in as quickly as one year, and some offer part–time programs that may be completed in three to six years.

Master’s in Economics Degree Careers

Individuals holding a Master’s in Economics degree may pursue a variety of careers, including:

  • Actuary
  • Compensation and benefits manager
  • Credit analyst
  • Data scientist
  • Econometrician
  • Economic consultant
  • Economist
  • Financial analyst
  • Financial manager
  • Lawyer
  • Management consultant
  • Market researcher
  • Policy analyst
  • Professor
  • Statistician

Master’s in Economics Degree Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016 economists saw a median annual salary of $101,050. The following information portrays median annual salaries earned by economists in their top five industries for employment:

Master’s in Economics Degree Salary
Career Median Salary
Finance and insurance $124,660
Federal government, excluding postal service $111,310
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services $110,900
Scientific research and development services $102,000
State government, excluding education and hospitals $69,170

Master’s in Economics Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the job field for economists will grow from 2016–2026 at a rate of 6%, as fast as average for all other occupations

Economics Professional Organizations

Founded in 1885, the AEA has dedicated itself to the advancement of the field of economics for well over a century. Its membership, now greater than 20,000, includes individuals from all areas of involvement in economics. Membership comes with numerous benefits, including a large professional network, access to events and conventions, honors and awards, and access to resources and publications. The NABE connects economics professionals with the goal of encouraging development, discourse, and the spread of information. NABE formed in 1959. Membership includes access to professional resources and publications, networking opportunities, and events and conventions.

Header Image Credit: Thomas Barwick | Getty Images

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