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The study of economics is broad and far-reaching. This complex subject delves into every detail of local and national resource allocation, from personal financial decision-making to the federal government’s budget.
If you’re interested in diving into those details, a master’s degree in economics could be a good option for you. This degree provides the advanced knowledge and skills necessary for various economics careers in the financial and business sectors. A master’s in economics can sharpen your analytical abilities and teach you to make predictions based on economic and statistical models.
Read on to learn more about earning a master’s in economics.
What Is a Master’s in Economics?
A master’s in economics is a postgraduate degree dedicated to the study of economic theory and its applications. Some schools offer this master’s degree as a standalone program, while others design their curricula as a bridge to doctoral study. Graduates of master’s in economics programs can pursue a Ph.D. or seek jobs that require advanced degrees.
A master’s in economics explores advanced syllabus related to the core principles of economics, including microeconomics, macroeconomics, math and statistics. Most master’s programs also offer specialized fields of study, such as applied and financial economics. The coursework for these programs helps prepare students for careers with organizations like think tanks, governments and financial institutions.
Most master’s in economics programs consist of 30 to 36 credits. Master’s programs typically take two years of full-time study, but students can usually complete accelerated programs in 12 to 18 months. Typically, economics students complete a master’s thesis or a comprehensive exam.
Admission Requirements for a Master’s Degree in Economics
Each school has its own admissions requirements, but generally, admission to an economics master’s program requires a bachelor’s degree in economics or a related field. Many programs also have a minimum GPA requirement.
Applicants typically submit transcripts, statements of purpose and letters of recommendation. Though some schools are test-optional, others require standardized test scores from exams like the GRE or GMAT. Additionally, programs may require applicants to complete prerequisite courses like statistics, microeconomics and macroeconomics.
Specializations for a Master’s Degree in Economics
Economics is a broad field that encompasses many aspects of the economy. Many institutions offer specializations that allow students to focus on specific subfields. We explore several concentrations below.
An applied economics specialization explores the intersection between data analysis and economic policies. It teaches students to communicate their analyses, create models to predict changes in economic performance and use statistical software tools to analyze data.
Public Economics and Policy
This specialization studies economics through syllabus like wage discrimination, federal budgets, public policy and industrial economics.
Financial economics applies economic principles to financial markets. Courses in this concentration examine the decisions people, corporations and governments make regarding resource allocation. Financial economics also includes the study of the production, consumption and distribution of goods and services.
Common Courses in a Master’s in Economics
While individual courses vary depending on the institution, common classes students encounter in economics master’s programs include:
Econometrics uses statistics to describe real-world occurrences and create testable economic models. Econometrics courses provide quantitative training about methods for economic research and policy application. Heavy emphasis is placed on mathematical theory and hands-on practice using specialized statistics software.
Microeconomic theory covers the basics of microeconomics, including syllabus like markets and prices, economic efficiency and the economics of households and individual businesses.
Students learn the basics of expenditure and taxation. Public finance courses also cover syllabus like the economics of transfer payments, taxation for individuals and organizations and Social Security.
Statistics for Economists
Economics relies heavily on statistical modeling and analysis, and this course teaches students the fundamentals of statistical methods and quantitative training using specialized statistical software.
Master’s in Economics vs. Master’s in Finance: What’s the Difference?
If you aspire to advance your career in the business or financial sectors, you may be debating between a master’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in finance. The credentials are similar—both deal with the allocation and expenditure of financial resources. But while the two may intersect, they are disparate fields of study.
Master’s in Economics
A master’s in economics focuses on the broader implications of human behavior and how they shape the availability and allocation of resources. An economics degree is typically rooted in theory; learners study the concepts and principles of an economic system. Obtaining an economics degree is a good choice for people interested in economic theory and government policy.
Master’s in Finance
Finance, on the other hand, is concerned with the more granular aspects of spending, saving and budgeting on individual and corporate levels. Finance students learn the basics of economic theory but deal more extensively with issues like cash flow, budgeting, investing and saving. A finance master’s degree is a good option for people interested in the practical aspects of managing money.
What Can You Do With a Master’s Degree in Economics?
Some people pursue a Ph.D. after obtaining their master’s in economics; others enter the workforce. This section explores a few common jobs for graduates with a master’s in economics. The salary data below comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Median Annual Salary: $95,080
Minimum Required Education: Bachelor’s degree required, master’s degree preferred
Job Overview: Financial analysts help businesses and individuals make profitable financial decisions. They make recommendations for investments and analyze financial statements to determine companies’ value. Financial analysts keep up to date with financial and economic trends, assess the strength of organizations’ management teams and make decisions about buying or selling assets and investments in the face of rapidly changing markets.
Median Annual Salary: $113,940
Minimum Required Education: Master’s degree
Job Overview: Economists research and analyze monetary and fiscal policy. They conduct surveys and analyze data using specialized software that helps them create statistical models. They communicate their findings through graphs, charts and other media.
Median Annual Salary: $55,960
Minimum Required Education: Bachelor’s degree
Job Overview: Journalists report stories for newspapers, magazines, online venues, television and radio. They interview sources, pitch story ideas and work with editors to create informational content. Economics reporters cover stories about syllabus such as local and national economies, fiscal policy and the job market.
Market Research Analyst
Median Annual Salary: $68,230
Minimum Required Education: Bachelor’s degree required, master’s degree preferred
Job Overview: Market research analysts determine the viability of a product or service based on consumer needs, business conditions and other variables. They devise surveys, questionnaires and opinion polls to learn about consumer preferences and the competitive landscape. They analyze this data using statistics software.
Median Annual Salary: $103,930
Minimum Required Education: Master’s degree required, doctorate preferred
Job Overview: Economics professors teach at the college level. They create lesson plans, grade assignments and instruct students on various economic topics, including macroeconomics, microeconomics and statistics. They may also research economic theories or study the impacts of financial policy on the economy.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About a Master's in Economics
What jobs can I get with an economics degree?
Graduates with an economics degree find jobs in various industries, including businesses, governmental organizations, think tanks and nonprofits. Examples of jobs for professionals with this credential include financial analyst, market research analyst and economist.
What type of economics degree is best?
Understanding your career goals is crucial to figuring out which type of economics degree is best for you. Research available courses at each prospective institution to find degrees that help you achieve your professional aspirations. For example, pursuing a concentration within your economics master’s program can help you qualify for advanced roles in specialized subfields.