A Master of Science in Economics can help you study and answer key questions on scarcity, resource use, and decision-making. You can learn to identify in precise detail what makes some countries rich and others poor, or why recessions and booms occur. It can help you understand income and wealth distribution, how society is changing, and what effects this will have in the coming decades. This detailed background understanding of economics can be crucial for a career in finance, banking, or business.
Studying for a Master of Science in Economics adds a nuanced layer to the way you view and engage with the world. It enables you to spot and identify historical trends, recognize important factors in the news and topical information that will impact your work, and enable you to make predictions about upcoming events that can benefit whole industries, businesses, organizations, state and federal institutions, and individuals.
A master’s degree holds great value in the employment sector. In 2014, Forbes referred to it as “a key professional credential preferred by employers.”  According to job market analysts, more than 20% of open positions in the U.S. prefer a candidate to have graduate-level education. 
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the employment of economists to grow 6% between 2014 and 2024, with 12% growth for financial analysts and 18% growth for actuaries.    Having a master’s degree will give you a competitive edge when applying for these roles, particularly economist roles.
The financial markets are always changing, and insurance brokers, banks, and businesses need economists to keep them prepared. They can use their analytical skills to assess the situation, identify trends, and offer predictions for the future.
A career in economics can have global implications, and the training you gain with a master’s degree has value the world over. As the world grows more connected, it is becoming increasingly common to work in a number of states or countries. This increases the number of opportunities available.
Some of the jobs available with a master’s in economics degree include: 
In these roles, you can expect to work with international organizations and nonprofits, government authorities and agencies, private corporations and consulting firms, banking and financial services, and research and academic institutions.
Different programs have their own areas of specialization, certification, and you may need to complete a thesis. However, this isn’t always a requirement, especially if you are looking to continue in academia, and it is important to consider your overall goals, career ambitions, and interests.
You can find out more about the master’s in economics curriculum from the particular school you are interested in. Potential topics of study include:
A specialization can increase the length of your program, but this investment can pay off career-wise as the detailed level of knowledge you will gain will be specific and focused, not to mention in higher demand by businesses that need experts in their field. This can make you more desirable to employers and boost your pay.
Other areas of specialization include global economics and international business economics. Some programs focus on both micro and macroeconomics, while others just specialize in one. This depends on the institution and the program and is something to consider when doing your research.
The length of an online master’s degree program can depend on a number of variables, perhaps the most prominent of which is the pace at which you choose to study. You can finish a typical master’s degree program in about two to three years if you choose to study full-time, although some accelerated programs may be able to help you finish more quickly.
Online master’s degree programs tend to offer flexibility suitable for students who choose to study part-time. This option will likely extend your time to completion, but it can allow you to study while fulfilling your familial, social, and professional obligations.
You can find more information on this topic at our program length overview page.
While each program will set its admissions requirements based on its own criteria, many requirements are universal across all programs. No matter where you apply, you can expect to provide items like transcripts from previous degrees or coursework; standardized test scores; a personal statement or essay; letters of recommendation; and an overview of relevant work experience.
In certain cases, some of these requirements may be waived.
For more information about admissions, please visit our admissions requirements page.
If a master’s degree in economics is not the right choice for you, there are other options available to you, and understanding the differences and similarities can play a key part in how successful you are in your studies. If you are considering a Master of Science in Economics degree, you may also find yourself interested in some of the more common alternative programs such as:
Whichever alternative degree you are interested in, the same thought processes apply. It needs to relate to the sector you are interested in, as you will learn a very specific skill set and knowledge base that will be applicable in your work. It will have a key impact on your career options and what type of licensure you need.
A Master of Business Administration in Economics, for example, will combine contemporary business application, corporate decision-making, and traditional economic theories. It is particularly useful if you are interested in managerial economics. Career-wise, it is an ideal choice if you are considering heading into a role as a management consultant, economic forecaster, pricing analyst, or entrepreneur, or if you are interested in global management.
It is difficult to begin a career in economics without earning a degree from an accredited undergraduate or graduate program. Job prospects are best for those with postgraduate degrees, related work experience, and strong analytical skills. 
Some universities or programs have relationship with industry associations that could be beneficial to you. These include:
Regional accreditation is the most prestigious type of accreditation that an online or traditional college or university can receive. It is granted only after careful consideration by private, not-for-profit organizations tasked with evaluating educational quality.
Regional accreditation is particularly important if you anticipate that you might want to transfer credits from one online degree program to another or use those credits to pursue another degree. Most regionally accredited schools will only accept credits from other regionally accredited institutions of higher learning.
You can learn more on this topic at our regional accreditation page.
Licensure isn’t required for most positions requiring a master’s in economics. However, a Master of Science in Economics with a macroeconomic focus with a financial management concentration can help financial advising professionals in their preparation and qualification for the Series 6, 7, 63, or 65 licensure exams. State licenses vary by state, and it is important to check depending on where you are studying and planning to work. 
Financial analysts who have at least a bachelor’s degree and three or more years of experience can take three examinations to earn a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. Holding a Master of Economics can help in passing the CFA exam but is not necessary to become a CFA.  This is a worthwhile certification, as it is one of the most respected and best-recognized investment management designations worldwide. It can offer a serious career advantage that will show employers and clients that you are experienced in a broad range of practical portfolio management skills, alongside advanced investment analysis skills.
The Certified Financial Planner certification is likewise relevant. It helps you show clients and employers that you can work to a high standard of ethics, professionalism, and financial planning. 
The difference between licensure and certification is that licensure is awarded by a governmental licensing agency and gives you the legal authority to work within a specific occupation. However, certification is awarded by a professional organization and shows you have reached a particular set of standards or levels of competency. It is not legally required. 
There are a number of factors that can greatly affect how much your education will cost. These include whether you attend a public or private institution; whether you attend as an in-state or out-of-state student; and whether you qualify for financial aid like grants or scholarships.
For a more detailed breakdown of tuition, fees, and other financial issues, please visit our tuition and fees page.
Master of Economics degrees are designed to provide students the ability to apply economic principles and theories to real-world situations. This master’s degree is intended to focus on analytical skills to help graduates develop and create innovate solutions using econometric techniques and software.
A Master of Economics degree is designed for students looking to expand their knowledge of economic theory and its applications. Designed to provide a solid understanding of the fundamental tools of economic analysis, the program is ideal for anyone interested in specializing in advanced applied economic research. Most degrees achieve this through a technical and rigorous study approach, with options for students to take field electives and customize their program to meet their specific career goals.
Here are a few considerations to make when choosing a Master of Economics program:
Accreditation: Is the program accredited?
Flexibility: Is the program on campus or online? If online, does the institution require synchronous sessions? Or if online, is the program asynchronous?
Student support: What support systems are in place for your success?
Travel requirements: Will you need to pay for additional travel arrangements to meet degree requirements?
Interactive learning: What type of learning management system is used?
Faculty expertise: Do the faculty have a strong theoretical and practical knowledge base in the field?
Fees: Are there any additional fees outside of tuition?
Yes, most online Master of Economics programs are designed for working professionals who have full-time careers. Due to the flexibility of online learning, students can complete the required coursework when their work schedule allows.
Typically most online students spend between 10-20 hours of study time each week. However, this depends on the individual program’s course load.
Applied economics is the study of economics in relation to real-world situations, as opposed to academic theories. With this degree, students can gain a broader perspective on the practical application of economic theory and spend less time focused on core economic theory. 
It is recommended that students reach out to specific institutions to discuss transfer details, as this varies from program to program.
There are a number of degrees similar to a Master of Economics. Some popular choices include:
MBA in Economics
Master of Financial Economics
Master of Science in Applied Economics
Master of Science in Statistical Science
Master of Science in Statistics
Master of Mathematical Statistics
Master of Finance
While requirements vary by university, most economics degrees require a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher.
No, an undergraduate degree in economics is not required for admission into a master’s-level economics program. However, many programs do require that students at least took coursework in economics, and more related courses could strengthen an admission application. Economics is a highly quantitative discipline, with substantial coursework in mathematics, probability, statistics, and similar subjects.
Most economics degrees do not require prior work experience, but professional experience may help strengthen your application for admission.
Whether you will need to complete the GRE prior to applying for a program will largely depend on what school you have chosen to apply to. There are many programs that do not require a GRE for acceptance. Check the admissions requirements for your particular school before applying.
Yes, most universities will require you to pay a fee when submitting an application for their graduate program. These fees tend to be between $40 and $100 and are non-refundable.
Many institutions offer economics degrees online.
Yes, typically schools follow the same curriculum for their online programs as they do for their campus-based programs.
Most institutions do not indicate on the degree that it was earned online.
Common courses that students can expect to take include microeconomics analysis, macroeconomics analysis, mathematical methods for economists, econometrics, advanced microeconomics, advanced macroeconomics, data analysis, and advanced econometrics. Elective courses may consist of economic policy analysis, monetary theory and policy, health economics, environmental economics, labor economics, public economics, financial economics, and international economics.
To strengthen your application for admission, students are advised to have some prior coursework in economics. Some programs will require this coursework. Courses such as mathematics, probability and statistics, calculus, intermediate microeconomics, and intermediate macroeconomics are commonly required for admission to some programs.
This largely depends on the number of credits taken each term or semester. The time limit for most online Master of Economics programs is five years.
Asynchronous coursework can be completed on your own time — a big plus for many online graduate students who may be working around a busy work schedule or home life. Synchronous coursework has to be completed within a set timeframe. This is typically done for group projects, seminars, presentations, and other learning initiatives that require multiple attendees.
The elements of asynchronous and synchronous learning in your online program depend on the professor and the course. Once you enroll, reach out to teachers for specifics, but remember that the curriculum may be divided into these two subsets.
There are often ways to specialize your Master of Economics. These concentrations or specializations vary by program. For programs that do not offer specializations, students are able to select elective courses that align with their career path.
There are a wide variety of specializations available. The most common specializations include:
No, students are not required to choose a concentration prior to starting a Master of Economics program. Typically, students start with foundational core courses before moving into their concentration courses, which allows time for you to decide on the best direction to focus your degree.
Choosing an economics degree with a specialization or concentration allows you to customize your degree to align with your personal and professional goals. 
Accreditations are a strong indication of quality, but are also a requirement for students who plan to apply for federal financial aid. Accreditation ensures that your degree is recognized by employers, professional associations, and other accredited institutions of higher education.
SARA (State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement) applies only to distance education programs in the United States that cross state lines. This agreement is made between member states and establishes comparable postsecondary national standards for distance education courses. 
Not every state is a SARA member. Through SARA, member states only have to receive authorization in their home state. Without SARA, non-member states would have to receive authorization in their home state and the state of each of their online students. 
A Master of Economics degree prepares students with the skills and competencies to analyze and solve complex, real-world problems. A lot of careers in economics have the word “analyst” in their title. These careers include operations/data analyst, business analyst, pricing analyst, or market research analyst.  A Master of Economics may also lead to a career as an economist. Economists conduct research, collect and analyze data to predict economic trends, and develop forecasts. An economist’s research may focus on problems and solutions for energy costs, inflation, interest rates, farm prices, rents, imports, or employment. 
Research shows that individuals with a Master of Economics degree can increase their employment prospects and obtain higher salaries than bachelor’s degree holders.  Public and private organizations seek to hire professionals who can understand and apply economic theories and research. A Master of Economics degree focuses on applying economic principles to real-life challenges, allowing students to specialize in a particular subject, such as financial economics, development economics, international economics, or law and economics. 
There are a number of factors that influence graduate salaries, including prior work experience, desired occupation, and company size. According to Monster.com, the median pay for a professional holding an economics master’s degree is $114,000. Possible jobs include economist and senior financial analyst. 
Public and private organizations are increasingly seeking to hire professionals who can understand and apply economic research. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment of economists will grow 6% from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. 
Generally there are supplementary costs apart from tuition. The tuition does not usually include the cost of books or additional fees. These additional costs will vary from program to program.
The largest provider of student financial aid in the nation is the Federal Student Aid office in the U.S. Department of Education. It supplies college-level or career school students with loans, grants, and work-study funds as needed. You can apply for federal financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as FAFSA. 
There are numerous other scholarships available, but you will need to research which opportunities you’re qualified to pursue. Many states, associations, websites, and businesses award scholarships based on specific criteria. Be sure to do your research and apply for any scholarships you’re qualified to be awarded. 
Start with a cost-benefit analysis based on the price of the degree and the potential ROI. Weigh the full cost against the positive outcomes you expect as a graduate, which may include a boost in earning potential, upward mobility, or job satisfaction.