A degree in Economics

Economics is the study of how resources are produced, allocated, and consumed by society in order to meet the needs of individuals or groups and satisfy human wants. A degree in Economics equips you with an array of specialized analytical skills that you can apply in various industries, according to your interests. The skills you will acquire during your degree program are highly sought-after and will set you up for an exciting career in business, finance, government, or academia.

Undergraduate Studies: B.A. verses B.S.

Your career in economics begins at university, where you will complete your undergraduate degree. Depending on where you attend school, you may have the option to choose whether you will pursue a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Economics. The two programs will differ in their admission and graduation requirements. Which one you choose depends on your personal interests, abilities, and ultimate career goals.

For students who are interested in using their qualitative analytical skills to explain social phenomena, or applying their understanding of economics to solve challenging public policy issues, then a B.A. program is a good fit. However, if developing strong quantitative mathematical skills is a more thrilling prospect, then you will be happier in a B.S. program that requires higher-level math and science courses.

It is also important to consider your long-term educational and career goals when deciding whether to pursue a B.A. or B.S. Economics degree. For most students, entering the workforce after completing a four-year degree is sufficient for achieving their goals. Others may use their undergraduate studies as a springboard into a graduate economics program or professional degree such as law (J.D.) or business administration (M.B.A.). If you intend to pursue additional education, it is advised that you earn a B.S. so that you will have completed any prerequisites required by your graduate program.

Graduate Studies: M.A. in Economics versus M.B.A.

Often, people are unfamiliar with the difference between a degree in economics and a degree in business. Aren’t they the same thing? Well, no. Economics studies the consumption of goods, while a business degree studies the efficiency of consumption; economics majors study the behavior of individuals in a market, while business majors study the behavior of businesses in a market. The two degrees are very complementary, and some of the skills and knowledge you learn in an undergraduate economics program will translate into an M.B.A. program quite nicely. Ultimately, though, the decision rests on your long-term career goals. If you wish to enter into the corporate world, an M.B.A. is the right choice. But, if you desire to be a professional economist - or a professor of economics - then you must complete a Master’s degree in preparation for doctoral studies (Ph.D.).

Advanced Studies: Doctor of Philosophy in Economics (Ph.D.)

For individuals who are passionate about furthering the field of economics, then the next step in their personal and professional development is to attend a doctoral program. If you are successful in completing your Ph.D., you will have access to unique opportunities for applying your depth of knowledge and skill. Many individuals, upon completing their Ph.D., stay in academia and continue to build their teaching and research portfolio. Others seek out highly specialized opportunities in government, finance, international relations, or public policy.

Career Options in Economics: At-a-Glance

Professional Economist
Education Required: Post-graduate degree
Median Annual Salary: $75,000

As a professional economist, you will be responsible for researching and analyzing economics data and trends on behalf of a corporation, government, or multi-national organization. These highly-specialized careers require that you have completed at least a Master’s degree. Other personal strengths and skills required for this career include strong communication skills, the ability to work well with a team, and the confidence to demonstrate leadership on issues concerning policy and/or business strategy.

Education Required: Undergraduate, plus non-degree certification
Median Annual Salary: $97,000

Actuaries are business professionals who study the financial impact of risk on behalf of an individual or business. They rely on their understanding of mathematics, statistics, historical data, and behavior to evaluate the likelihood of a particular event and the inherent risk. Most actuaries are employed by insurance companies. Others work with pension funds and investment firms, or work as consultants for various businesses. In addition to completing a four-year bachelor degree in economics, actuaries must be professionally certified by either the Society of Actuaries (SOA) or the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS), which requires applicants to take several exams and attend professional seminars. Completing professional certification takes four to six years to complete.

Investment Analyst
Education Required: Undergraduate is sufficient; Post-graduate recommended
Median Annual Salary: $80,000

Investment analysts provide stockbrokers, fund managers, and stock traders with financial information and recommendations based on data, trends, and quantitative models. While fund managers are responsible for making decisions about investments, it is the investment analyst who is responsible for synthesize information from multiple sources in order to equip the fund managers to make informed, reasonable decisions. Working as an investment analyst requires a high degree of personal responsibility and a willingness to work long, stressful hours. But reliable, well-respected analysts are rewarded with good promotion opportunities and impressive financial incentives.

A Career in Economics: Poised for Growth

Now is a fantastic time to prepare for a career in economics. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for economists was $102,490 in May 2017. It is expected that available jobs for economists will increase by 6% over the next decade - with most jobs requiring a master’s degree or Ph.D., strong analytical skills, and experience using statistical modeling software.

Top ranked Economics Programs

The study of Economics is divided into two parts - Macroeconomics and Microeconomics. Microeconomics include analyzing the economic decisions that are made at a micro level, like the effect on the purchase decision of a family by the increase or decrease in a product's price. Macroeconomics, on the other hand, includes the total decisions that are made by people in society, like, how does any change in the rate of interest influences the national savings?

Harvard University

Economics from Harvard
The Department of Economics at the famous Harvard University is one of the top schools/educational institutions in the country to pursue a degree in the subject. Harvard offers undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. Program course in Economics.

Student Qualification/Criteria for a Graduate Level Course
The student should have done a prior research or have a prior experience having worked as a research assistant. If it's the latter case, then a letter from a supervisor stating the capability to perform the research would be critical.

The minimum mathematical preparation level of to be taken into consideration includes linear algebra, calculus as well as proving your mathematics proficiency. Most of the successful applicants, in particular, take up real analysis now, although that isn't a big requirement. The average score of the GRE test taken among students that have been admitted to the University in the past few years has been 797.

Application Information
All those applicants whose first language isn't English, and all those who haven't gotten their bachelor's degree from an educational institution with English as their first language, ought to meet TOEFL's - Test of English as a Foreign Language, minimum score requirements.

Financial Aid
The Economic students at this University receive stipend support and full tuition while they are admitted and heading towards a satisfactory progress in getting their degree. The Economics Division here urges the applicants strongly to apply for financial support from the extramural agencies. Pupils, who get extramural fellowships, which are competitively funded, might be eligible to get an educational allowance.

In case you have already applied for external funding, then you are to mention that in the application. In case an applicant does not have to fund while apply but can source it later, then they ought to ensure that they communicate the same to the department.

Tuition Fee
The tuition fee for full-time students for the students of Economics at the University's Economics Department, for a year, is about $35,000 apart from other various expenditures.

Stanford University

Admission and financial aid decisions are made by the Admissions Committee of the Department in February of each year for the class which will enter the following September. The Department receives more than 700 applications per year, and about 50 are admitted. The entering class size usually consists of 25 students. The Department does not defer admission; applicants must begin their studies in September of the year in which they are accepted.

Princeton University

Each year the department receives over 800 hundred applications for admission. The program is very competitive, enrolling only twenty-five new students each year. Students are required to take the Graduate Record Exam. The average score on each section of the GRE is 780 - 800. The department is particularly interested in the Quantitative score. Students who are non-English speakers, and who have not attended a U.S. College or University, are required to take the TOEFL Exam. Working knowledge of multivariate calculus and matrix algebra required.

The University of Wisconsin, Madison

To qualify for a visa, all international students must submit a Financial Statement to the Graduate School, showing that they have sufficient funds available to support themselves for the duration of the program (four years). The amount required for the academic year 2003-04, exclusive of travel to Madison but inclusive of tuition and living expenses, is $35,000 (Age 25 and under) $35,188 (Age 26 and over).

University of California - Riverside

Master's Program Students should have first-year calculus, a course in statistics, and some background in economics before beginning course work. Students who do not meet these requirements may still be admitted but normally must take these courses as prerequisites to the required courses. Applicants to the M.A. program are expected to have the same academic potential as Ph.D. applicants, as reflected by GPA and GRE scores. Admission to the M.A. program does not guarantee later admission to the Ph.D. program.

Following is a list of Economics degree programs:

1Harvard University Department of Economics
2Massachusetts Inst of Technology Department of Economics
3Stanford University Department of Economics
4University of California-Berkeley Department of Economics
5Princeton University Department of Economics
6Yale University Department of Economics
7 Northwestern University Department of Economics
8University of Pennsylvania Department of Economics
9 Cornell University Department of Economics
10 University of Chicago Department of Economics
11 University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Economics
12University of Minnesota Department of Economics
13University of California-San Diego Department of Economics
14University of Michigan Department of Economics
15University of Rochester Department of Economics
16University of Iowa Department of Economics
17University of California-Los Angeles Department of Economics
18California Institute Technology Department of Economics
19Boston University Department of Economics
20U of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Department of Economics
21 North Carolina State University Department of Economics
22Arizona State University Department of Economics
23University of Maryland College Park Department of Economics
24Iowa State University Department of Economics
25Washington University Department of Economics
26Duke University Department of Economics
27Ohio State University Department of Economics
28University of Tennessee-Knoxville Department of Economics
29New York University Department of Economics
30University of Pittsburgh Department of Economics
31Indiana University Department of Economics
32University of California-Davis Department of Economics
33University of Florida Department of Economics
34 University of Georgia Department of Economics
35Texas A&M University Department of Economics
36Michigan State University Department of Economics
37University of California-Santa Barbara Department of Economics
38Louisiana State U & A&M College Department of Economics
39State U of New York-Stony Brook Department of Economics
40University of Washington Department of Economics
41 University of Virginia Department of Economics
42Southern Illinois University Department of Economics
43Auburn University Department of Economics
44Brown University Department of Economics
45U of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
46University of Oregon Department of Economics
47 Columbia University Department of Economics
48 University of Kentucky Department of Economics
49 University of Southern California Department of Economics
50 Vanderbilt University Department of Economics
51U of Massachusetts at Amherst Department of Economics
52Florida State University Department of Economics
53State University of New York-Buffalo Department of Economics
54 University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Economics
55 George Mason University Department of Economics
56 University of South Carolina Department of Economics
57 University of Arizona Department of Economics
58Pennsylvania State University Department of Economics
59 University of Colorado Department of Economics
60University of Texas at Austin Department of Economics
61 Purdue University Department of Economics
62Johns Hopkins University Department of Economics
63Rutgers State University-New Brunswick Department of Economics
64Southern Methodist University Department of Economics
65Boston College Department of Economics
66Syracuse University Department of Economics
67Utah State University Department of Economics
68 Rensselaer Polytechnic Inst Department of Economics
69University of Hawaii at Manoa Department of Economics
70University of Connecticut Department of Economics
71 Georgetown University Department of Economics
72 Colorado State University Department of Economics
73CUNY - Grad Sch & University Center Department of Economics
74Clemson University Department of Economics
75 University of Alabama Department of Economics
76University of Texas at Dallas
77 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Economics
78 Georgia State University Department of Economics
79University of California-Riverside Department of Economics
80 American University Department of Economics
81Northern Illinois University Department of Economics
82University of Kansas Department of Economics
83Oklahoma State University
84Tulane University Department of Economics Department of Economics
85University of Missouri-Columbia Department of Economics
86George Washington University Department of Economics
87State University of New York-Albany Department of Economics
88 University of Houston Department of Economics
89University of Notre Dame Department of Economics
90Rice University Department of Economics
91Washington State University Department of Economics
92Claremont Graduate School Department of Economics
93 State University of New York-Binghamton Department of Economics
94 Clark University Department of Economics
95West Virginia University Department of Economics
96University of Cincinnati ttp://Department of Economics
97 Howard University Department of Economics
98Lehigh University Department of Economics
99Temple University Department of Economics
100University of Missouri-Columbia Department of Economics
101 Northeastern University Department of Economics
102 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Department of Economics
103University of Utah Department of Economics
104Fordham University Department of Economics
105Colorado School of Mines
106University of New Hampshire Department of Economics

Best programs in Economics (outside USA)

  • London School of Economics
  • Oxford University
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Toronto
  • Barcelona Graduate School of Economics