Online Master’s in Economics Programs 2021

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Economists analyze financial data, forecast economic trends, and research economic issues. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), economists earn a median annual salary of over $108,000 and enjoy much faster-than-average projected job growth between 2019-2029.

Our list ranks the top online master’s in economics degrees for 2021. This article also introduces common economics courses, scholarship opportunities for economics students, and potential careers for graduates.

Master's in Economics Degree Common Questions


  • Is a master's in economics degree worth it?

    A master’s degree in economics prepares graduates for lucrative, in-demand careers, such as economist, risk manager, and controller, making it a worthwhile investment for many students.


  • What can I do with a master's in economics?

    Graduates with a master’s in economics can pursue careers as economists, economic forecasters, risk managers, controllers, and financial managers.


  • Can I get an economics degree online?

    Yes. Many universities offer online economics degrees that prioritize flexibility and accessibility.


  • What is the difference between economics and finance?

    Economics analyzes human behavior and economic theories, while finance focuses on financial transactions and applied financial management. Both degrees lead to job opportunities in finance.


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Why Get a Degree in Economics?

Master’s in economics degrees cover topics like statistical models, forecasting software, and applied econometrics. Students gain the knowledge and skills needed for roles like economist, economic forecasting analyst, risk manager, and financial manager. Many of these career paths offer six-figure salaries and strong projected job growth.

The online learning format makes a master’s in economics degree more accessible to many students. For instance, online students can attend top programs nationwide without relocating. Additionally, many online programs often give students the flexibility to balance their studies with professional and personal responsibilities.

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How Much Does an Economics Degree Cost?



The cost of an online economics degree varies by factors like school, location, and delivery format. For example, public universities typically charge lower tuition rates than private universities. George Mason University, a public institution, charges $900 per credit for its online master’s in economics. The online master’s in applied economics at American University, a private school, costs $1,812 per credit.

Many public universities offer tuition discounts to in-state students. At Purdue University, for example, in-state students pay $968 per credit for the online master’s in economics program. Out-of-state students pay $1,075 per credit.

Attending a master’s in economics program online can often save students money. For instance, online students may save on many of the expenses that on-campus students incur, such as housing and commuting costs. Additionally, many schools offer tuition discounts to online students.

Calculating the Cost of a College Degree

The ACO affordability calculator factors in monthly income, expenses, and expected financial aid to help students determine how much they can afford to pay for an economics degree online.

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How Much Do Economics Majors Make?

Graduates with a master’s in economics degree can pursue roles like economist and financial manager. According to the BLS, economists make a median salary of $108,000 per year. However, salaries vary considerably by factors like location, experience, and industry. For instance, economists who work in finance or for the federal government make above-average salaries for the job title.

Financial managers also benefit from high earning potential. These professionals make a median annual salary of $134,000. A master’s in economics also meets the requirements for lucrative roles like personal financial advisor, financial analyst, and budget analyst.

Courses in Economics

A master’s in economics degree online builds strong research and analytical skills. Students learn how to forecast economic trends, test economic hypotheses, and analyze economic data. Courses cover topics like applied econometrics, mathematical economics, economic theory, and economic growth. Many programs also incorporate an internship that gives students hands-on experience in the field.

While each program sets its own curriculum and course descriptions, the following list outlines courses commonly found in online master’s in economics programs.

Econometrics applies statistical approaches to economics. In econometrics courses, degree-seekers learn how to test hypotheses and forecast future trends. Coursework introduces students to software programs, experimental design, and different statistical models.

Economists rely on mathematical skills to conduct statistical analyses and forecast economic changes. In mathematical economics courses, learners strengthen their calculus and algebra skills. The course also emphasizes logarithms, statistics, and economic applications of mathematical concepts.

The course examines the role of the U.S. banking and financial system in the national economy, including economic growth and financial stability. Topics include financial development, economic competition, and financial crises. Learners also examine regulatory issues, recent challenges to financial stability, and the relationship between the government and financial institutions.

Certifications and Licensure for Economics

Economics professionals work in fields like finance, business, and economics. In many of these fields, professional certifications help professionals move into specialized roles. Most certifications set educational requirements and incorporate an examination. The following list outlines several common economics certifications.

Chartered Financial Analyst


The CFA credential recognizes skilled financial analysts. Candidates must meet work experience requirements and pass a three-part exam. The exam covers investment tools, portfolio management, and wealth planning. Candidates who pass the exam can join the CFA Institute and pursue executive roles in investment management, asset management, and risk management.

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ChE Chartered Economist


The Global Academy of Finance and Management (GAFM) offers the chartered economist credential. Requirements include an economics degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA, two years of economics or related experience, and passing scores on master’s exams. GAFM also offers an economic policy analyst credential.

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Economic Development Finance Professional


The EDFP credential recognizes specialists in business credit, financial analysis, loan packaging, and other types of economic development. Candidates must pass exams on deal structuring techniques, real estate finance analysis, and negotiating.

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Scholarships and Fellowships for Economics

Master’s in economics students can pursue fellowships and scholarships to help pay for their degree. Professional associations, private foundations, and government agencies all offer scholarships for economics degree-seekers. In addition to the following opportunities, students can find scholarships based on factors like their school, state, or career goals.


  • Hsiao Memorial Social Sciences Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: The Asian Pacific Fund offers this scholarship in honor of economics professor Liang-Lin Hsiao. Graduate students in economics with a minimum 3.0 GPA qualify for the opportunity. Applicants must demonstrate financial need.

    Amount: $1,000

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  • NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

    Who Can Apply: The National Science Foundation offers graduate research fellowships for students in research-based master’s programs at accredited schools. Recipients receive tuition support plus an annual stipend.

    Amount: $12,000 in tuition plus a $34,000 stipend

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  • Byron Hanke Fellowship

    Who Can Apply: This fellowship supports graduate students working on research projects in the development or management of common interest communities. Applicants must enroll in a graduate program at an accredited institution.

    Amount: $3,000-$5,000

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Online Master’s in Economics Programs 2021

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  1. South Dakota State University
    Location

    Brookings, SD

    Tuition

    $7516

    The graduate degree in economics program at South Dakota State University offers tracks in economic theory or applied business-economics. The latter track is offered in a hybrid format. Students can choose to concentrate in business economics, agricultural business, agricultural and resource economics or general economics. Those currently earning their undergraduate degree can apply for the Accelerated Master's Program in economics. Graduates with a Master of Science in Economics degree can explore careers in business and government, or pursue advanced studies in finance and economics. SD State offers a range of financial aid options for students.

  2. University of Missouri
    Location

    Columbia, MO

    Tuition

    $8462

    The University of Missouri offers a 2-year online graduate degree program to students interested in pursuing their master's in economics. Courses are semester-based and can be taken in a completely online format. Graduates from UM's Master of Arts in Economics degree program can pursue careers as data scientists, quantitative modeling analysts, directors of institutional research or energy markets managers. Online students qualify for in-state tuition rates and can apply for financial aid such as loans and scholarships to help pay for their degree program.

  3. Purdue University-Main Campus
    Location

    West Lafayette, IN

    Tuition

    $9208

    Students who have earned undergraduate degrees in STEM fields can apply to earn their master's in economics online or through a hybrid format at Purdue University. The online Master of Science in Economics degree program offers an Applied Economics/Business concentration and an Advanced Theory thesis concentration. The program is designed to be completed in 2 years as a part-time online student, and current Purdue undergraduate students in STEM majors can enroll in a BS/MS combined degree that counts some of their undergraduate hours toward completing their master's degree in economics.

  4. University of North Dakota
    Location

    Grand Forks, ND

    Tuition

    $7185

    The University of North Dakota offers a 2-year online master's degree in economics with a thesis or non-thesis option. Students earning their Master of Science in Applied Economics through this program work with a faculty adviser and can attend classes on a set schedule or in an asynchronous format. Graduates can pursue careers in consulting, economic research and forecasting in private industry settings or in the government. Online students can access financial aid resources to see if they are eligible for financial or private aid to pay for their degree program at UND.

  5. Georgia Southern University
    Location

    Statesboro, GA

    Tuition

    $6636

    Georgia Southern University offers a master's degree in economics through an entirely online format. Students can pursue their Master of Science in Applied Economics to learn about a range of market, economic and financial topics. Graduates can pursue careers in financial institutions, federal and state regulatory agencies, government enterprises that focus on financial economic development and public utilities. Online students can speak with the college's financial aid office by phone or email to determine their financial aid eligibility.

  6. Golden Gate University
    Location

    San Francisco, CA

    Tuition

    $17550

    Golden Gate University offers an online graduate degree in business analytics for students interested in studying economics. GGU's Master of Science in Business Analytics connects data analytics with problems in the business field, addressing statistical and analytic theory, processes, tools and techniques to fix these problems. Graduates are prepared to apply data analytics as business managers, data scientists, subject matter experts and IT professionals, among other careers. The college offers a range of financial aid opportunities to students, including federal, state, institutional and private aid.

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