Economics General

Economics is a social science whose subject is the prevailing market-based system of production, distribution, and consumption. A key distinction in the field is between macroeconomics, the study of whole markets and economies, and microeconomics, the science of individual economic behavior.

Economic scientists analyze and forecast market data for a living. These professionals know how market macro- and microeconomies work. They study and interpret distributions of wealth, resource allocation, consumer decision-making, transnational markets, the business cycle, and more.

Professional economists work in academia and government, as well as in finance, marketing, think tank research, and business consulting. But not everyone who earns an economics degree becomes a professional economist. The discipline suits careers in sectors across the board, from law and government to healthcare and international relations.

The economics skill set is among the most marketable, so the number of possible careers with an economics degree is high. Moreover, economists' salaries are above-average—close to $90,000 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). From the undergraduate to the doctoral level, the best economics programs are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Degrees in Economics

Bachelor Degrees

The versatility of a postsecondary degree in economics lends itself to a wide diversity of career pathways, beginning at the bachelor level. Relatively few professional economists, however, have earned only a bachelor's degree. For this group, an undergraduate degree is a necessary credential en route to a graduate economics degree.

Keep in mind that some graduate school admissions will accept a bachelor's in any subject, but others want incoming applicants to have exposure to economics. Schools recommend students minor in math as undergraduates if they intend to ultimately earn a Ph.D. In fact, the top economics programs prefer a strong background in math over an economics major per se.

What does an economics major study? Academic work in this area revolves around mathematics, including but not limited to advanced calculus and statistics. The best undergraduate economics programs challenge students to master the myriad permutations of applied mathematics. Bachelor-level classes in Economics typically include:

  • Introduction to Microeconomics
  • Introduction to Macroeconomics
  • Differential Calculus

Having a bachelor's degree qualifies one to work as an economist for the federal government, provided the undergraduate curriculum consisted of at least 21 semester hours of economics and 3 hours of accounting, advanced calculus, or statistical data analysis.

What can you do with a terminal bachelor's degree in Economics? Graduates may become a:

  • Purchasing Manager
  • Insurance Sales Agent
  • Financial Manager

Master Degrees

Many students considering graduate school wonder whether to pursue a master's degree in Economics (M.A., M.S., M.Econ., or M.A.E.) or a Master of Business Administration (MBA). What's the difference?

The M.A. has a more theoretical, academic disposition, geared toward econometric research and policy analysis. It is designed for those who want to become professional economic analysts or researchers, as opposed to business managers. Conversely the MBA is generally considered a terminal professional degree, conferring the skills necessary to run a business. It is a program in management, frequently offered by business schools rather than economics departments.

The M.A. has a heavier mathematics orientation compared to the MBA and more often acts as a stepping stone to advanced doctoral study. Some doctoral students focus on the business management side of things, but even these candidates tend to be Masters of Economics or Applied Economics rather than MBAs.

Master economics students study advanced micro- and macroeconomics and learn the ropes of sophisticated econometrics. Many master's programs in Economics support a degree of specialization through elective study in, for example, international finance, labor economics, or energy economics. Most students need to complete a thesis before graduation, and doing so is strongly recommended to be competitive in doctoral admissions.

Coursework could include:

  • Public Expenditures Evaluation
  • International Trade
  • Time Series Econometrics

What jobs can you get with a master's degree in Economics?

  • Enterprise Risk Management Associate
  • Urban Planner
  • Senior Loan Officer

Doctoral Studies

Doctoral studies represent the terminal degree in economics. Having a doctorate can lead to the highest pay grade opportunities. To become a professional economist, it is recommended that students see their education through to this level. About two-thirds of professional economists have a doctorate, so they are qualified to do independent economics research and work in academia.

In economics, the most common doctoral degree is a research Ph.D. Doctoral candidates choose a very specific area of specialization on which to focus their dissertation research. The best economics schools require a master's with thesis for admission; others accept bachelors with no intervening master's degree at all.

A doctoral dissertation in Economics might highlight:

  • Healthcare Policy Economics
  • International Development Economics
  • Agricultural Economics

With a Ph.D. in Economics, graduates of top economics schools can become:

  • Professor of Macroeconomics
  • Senior Health Economics Director
  • Senior Digital Strategist

We found 775 schools offering economics degree programs in the U.S.

>> See all 775 Economics General Colleges in the U.S.

Economics Schools Ranked By US News and World Report

Harvard University
Cambridge, MA  |  Total Enrollment: 24279

Degrees Offered: Associate's, Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree, First-professional certificate
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA  |  Total Enrollment: 10090

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctor's, First-professional degree
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ  |  Total Enrollment: 6547

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctor's
University of Chicago
Chicago, IL  |  Total Enrollment: 12531

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctor's, First-professional degree
University of California - Berkeley
Berkeley, CA  |  Total Enrollment: 31277

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree, First-professional certificate
Stanford University
Stanford, CA  |  Total Enrollment: 18549

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
Northwestern University
Evanston, IL  |  Total Enrollment: 16952

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Bachelor's, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
Yale University
New Haven, CT  |  Total Enrollment: 11099

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA  |  Total Enrollment: 21853

Degrees Offered: Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree, First-professional certificate
Columbia University in the City of New York
New York, NY  |  Total Enrollment: 19639

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree, First-professional certificate

Browse All 775 Colleges With Economics Programs

Title City State Enrollment
Adelphi University Garden City NY 5908
Agnes Scott College Decatur GA 901
Albertson College of Idaho Caldwell ID 774
Albion College Albion MI 1525
Albright College Reading PA 1728
Alcorn State University Alcorn State MS 2936
Alfred University Alfred NY 1607
Allegheny College Meadville PA 1904
Alma College Alma MI 1409
American University Washington DC 10776
Amherst College Amherst MA 1695
Antioch College Yellow Springs OH 652
Appalachian State University Boone NC 13227
Aquinas College Grand Rapids MI 2605
Arizona State University at the Tempe Campus Tempe AZ 44126
Arkansas State University - Main Campus State University AR 10429
Arkansas Tech University Russellville AR 4970
Armstrong Atlantic State University Savannah GA 5444
Ashland University Ashland OH 6055
Assumption College Worcester MA 2754
Auburn University Main Campus Auburn University AL 21860
Augsburg College Minneapolis MN 3040
Augustana College Rock Island IL 2230
Augustana College Sioux Falls SD 1783
Austin College Sherman TX 1234
Austin Community College Austin TX 25735
Baker University College of Arts and Sciences Baldwin City KS 828
Bakersfield College Bakersfield CA 14466
Baldwin - Wallace College Berea OH 4831
Ball State University Muncie IN 19004
Barat College Lake Forest IL 799
Barnard College New York NY 2285
Barry University Miami FL 8650
Bates College Lewiston ME 1694
Baylor University Waco TX 13719
Bellarmine University Louisville KY 2848
Belmont Abbey College Belmont NC 886
Beloit College Beloit WI 1262
Bemidji State University Bemidji MN 4118
Benedict College Columbia SC 2966
Benedictine College Atchison KS 1369
Benedictine University Lisle IL 2842
Berea College Berea KY 1590
Berry College Mount Berry GA 2033
Bethany College Bethany WV 750
Bethel University Saint Paul MN 2953
Birmingham Southern College Birmingham AL 1477
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania Bloomsburg PA 7548
Bluffton University Bluffton OH 1059
Boise State University Boise ID 16287
Boston College Chestnut Hill MA 15240
Boston University Boston MA 28318
Bowdoin College Brunswick ME 1609
Bowling Green State University - Main Campus Bowling Green OH 18096
Bradley University Peoria IL 5951
Brandeis University Waltham MA 4774
Bridgewater State College Bridgewater MA 8839
Brigham Young University Provo UT 32554
Brigham Young University - Idaho Rexburg ID 8949
Brown University Providence RI 7723
Bryant University Smithfield RI 3373
Bryn Mawr College Bryn Mawr PA 1784
Bucknell University Lewisburg PA 3592
Butler University Indianapolis IN 4168
Cabrillo College Aptos CA 12807
California Institute of Technology Pasadena CA 1968
California Lutheran University Thousand Oaks CA 2766
California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo CA 16877
California State Polytechnic University - Pomona Pomona CA 18424
California State University - Bakersfield Bakersfield CA 6397
California State University - Chico Chico CA 15912
California State University - Dominguez Hills Carson CA 12848
California State University - East Bay Hayward CA 12705
California State University - Fresno Fresno CA 19056
California State University - Fullerton Fullerton CA 28381
California State University - Long Beach Long Beach CA 30918
California State University - Los Angeles Los Angeles CA 19593
California State University - Northridge Northridge CA 29066
California State University - Sacramento Sacramento CA 25714
California State University - San Bernardino San Bernardino CA 14909
California State University - San Marcos San Marcos CA 6256
California State University - Stanislaus Turlock CA 7062
California University of Pennsylvania California PA 5899
Calvin College Grand Rapids MI 4309
Campbell University Inc Buies Creek NC 5880
Campbellsville University Campbellsville KY 1601
Canada College Redwood City CA 5273
Canisius College Buffalo NY 4814
Capital University Columbus OH 3899
Carleton College Northfield MN 1936
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh PA 8514
Case Western Reserve University Cleveland OH 9304
Casper College Casper WY 3972
Catholic University of America Washington DC 5493
Centenary College of Louisiana Shreveport LA 1035
Central College Pella IA 1336
Central Connecticut State University New Britain CT 12252
Central Michigan University Mount Pleasant MI 26845
Central Missouri State University Warrensburg MO 10936
Central State University Wilberforce OH 1103
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