35 Best Master’s Degrees in Economics in 2021

Staff picture
Updated June 24, 2021

GradSchoolHub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Discover a program that is right for you.

Are you good with numbers and fascinated with human behavior? Then an advanced degree in economics may be the right fit for you. Check out the 35 Best Master's Degrees in Economics! 

Economists interpret economic data in a variety of settings to help businesses, government agencies, non-governmental agencies, and non-profit organizations, among others, make informed decisions regarding policy and strategy. A master's level degree in the field, therefore, can open up numerous pathways to consider pursuing. Whether you are interested in going into the health care administration, financial management, higher education, business, or the public sector, a master's degree in economics will make your application that much stronger.

Though individuals who hold degrees in economics can be found across hundreds of industries, there are some more typical jobs, including working as a government economist, serving as a consultant, working as a market researcher, a statistician, or a budget analyst. A large number of economists work for either federal, state, or local governments offering analysis and insight to elected officials and the wider public as they debate budgetary issues and policy.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, traditional economist positions are expected to grow at about the average rate of all occupations – around 6 percent over the next decade. The median pay for such jobs, however, is well over the national average at about $104,000. Other potential positions, like Market Research Analysists and Financial Manager positions, are expected to outpace regular job growth, by as much as 17 percent. So, if you are thinking about entering the field or just enhancing your education, check out our list of the 35 Best Master's in Economics.

Explore these promoted online degree programs.

These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online graduate degree programs. Figuring out where to apply? Consider one of these online Master’s or PhD programs.

Best Masters in Economics

  1. Stanford University

    Stanford, CA



    A private research university, Stanford University is located in Stanford, CA, not far from San Francisco and Silicon Valley. The Department of Economics offers a Master of Arts in Economics. The program is only open to students who intend to pursue the Ph.D. at Stanford or students pursuing a law degree. SU operates on the quarter system, and the program is 45 credits, and students can pursue a thesis in the program. Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA, and all classes must be passed with at least a B- or above to count in the program.

    Students can take classes like Game Theory and Economic Applications, Simplicity, and Complexity in Economic Theory; and Contracts, Information, and Incentives. The DE holds various student workshops which graduate students and faculty participate on topics as varied as Theory Economics, Labor and Public, and Experimental/Behavioral Economics. The department also stresses the need for students to find placement after degree completion and offers a variety of services for professional development and networking.

  2. University of Texas at Austin

    Austin, TX



    The University of Texas at Austin is the flagship institution of the state's university system and is a large public research university with over 50,000 students annually enrolled. The Department of Economics at UTA offers a Master of Arts in Economics. UTA offers a highly ranked program with world-class faculty and a university context that is second to none. The degree is designed for students who want to complement their knowledge of another field, for professionals already working in business or industry, and for students who want to go on to further doctoral work. Placement in doctoral programs has been exceptionally high for graduates of the MAE at UTA.

    The program can be completed in 10-24 months and requires a total of ten courses. The program does not have a thesis component and is coursework focused only. Students take classes like Probability and Statistics, Mathematics for Economists, and Real Analysis for Economists. The program also allows for an optional internship, which can count for credit. The DE consistently holds seminars and lectures which students can attend, exposing them to some of the brightest minds in the field.

  3. Georgia Institute of Technology

    Atlanta, GA



    Originally founded to help rebuild Georgia after the Civil War, Georgia Institute of Technology is a public research university located in Atlanta. The School of Economics is lodged in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts and provides a Master of Science in Economics. The MSE program emphasizes applied theory and knowledge. The program is designed both for working professionals as well as students interested in further study and research in economics. The degree can be completed in one year, with students taking courses in the Fall, Spring, and Summer.

    Students take a total of ten courses which can include classes like Money & Capital Markets, Economics of Environment, and Discrete Choice Economics. There are courses available dealing with health care, energy, environment, and urban planning economics as well. Students can also choose to pursue an internship and will receive credit for it. Admission to the program requires a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA, as well as GRE scores, and three letters of recommendation.

  4. Duke University

    Durham, NC



    The degree is 30 credits and requires at least five courses in economics. Students can take classes like Game Theory with Applications of Economics and Other Social Sciences, General Equilibrium Theory and Financial Markets, and Empirical Methods in Financial Econometrics. Students also take a capstone course and can pursue an internship if they wish which can count for credit. The program requires students to create a portfolio of their work at the end of the program, which evidences their participation in the creation of new knowledge.

  5. Cornell University

    Ithaca, NY



    An Ivy League research university located in Ithaca, NY, Cornell University has over 23,000 students, including over 8,000 postgraduates. The Graduate School at CU offers a Master of Science in Applied Economics and Management. The program at CU is led by the internationally recognized faculty at the Dyson SC Johnson College of Business and is research-oriented requiring a thesis. The program includes five distinct concentrations that students can choose to pursue including Applied Behavioral Economics and Individual Choice, Environmental, Energy, and Resource Economics, Food and Agricultural Economics, International and Development Economics, and Management.

    Each of these concentrations shapes the course of study that students will follow and also may lead to taking classes in other schools at CU, including the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, among others. The thesis requirement ensures that students are well grounded in research and can defend their findings in the context of an oral examination. Admission to the program requires recommendations, transcripts, and GRE scores.

  6. University of California Los Angeles

    Los Angeles, CA



    A public research university in southern California, the University of California Los Angeles offers numerous graduate degree programs and regularly enrolls around 13,000 postgraduate students. Among the programs offered is the Master of Applied Economics. This is a full-time program that is meant to be completed in nine months. UCLA runs on a quarter system. Students are grounded in economics and quantitative methods in the first quarter and then application of these disciplines to various areas becomes the focus as the program progresses.

    Students take classes like Data Analytics and Big Data, Exchange Rate Forecasting, Big Data and Portfolio Design, and Asset Pricing and Portfolio Theory in Practice. The degree research capstone focuses on a final elective course while providing tremendous flexibility for choosing the research subject. UCLA regularly brings speakers to campus on topics relevant to the field, and students are strongly encouraged to attend as these experiences can enrich their education and provide opportunities for professional development and networking.

  7. New York University

    New York, NY



    New York University is based in Manhattan, though they currently have campuses around the world. The student body is annually over 50,000 students. The Department of Economics offers a Master of Arts in Economics. The program requires three semesters to complete if you enroll full-time but can be completed in five years at half-time. Students complete 32 credits and submit a writing project as well. The program is built both for working professionals who want further training in economics but is also a great degree for students who desire to pursue a Ph.D. Students from the program have entered prestigious Ph.D. programs in economics at schools like the University of Chicago, the University of Minnesota, and Oxford University.

    Students take five core courses in economics, statistics, and econometrics, as well as five additional electives. The electives can be taken in the economics program or mathematics for those who are especially interested in the quantitative sciences. The Special Project component is taken in the final semester and is meant to draw together coursework by asking students to apply what they have learned to an actual economic problem in the form of a research paper. Students can also take a course in Advanced Practical Training, which is an internship, though it is not required.

  8. North Carolina State University

    Raleigh, NC



    North Carolina State University is located in Raleigh, NC and is a large public research university which offers numerous graduate degree programs. NCSU offers both a Master of Economics and a Master of Science in Economics. The program allows students to take classes full-time or part-time and can be completed between one to two years. Students take ten courses, though there is a difference between the ME and MSE degrees. The MSE requires a thesis, while the ME does not, and the thesis requirement removes two courses from the degree.

    Students take six elective courses in addition to four core courses, and the electives are organized according to concentrations that include International Development and Trade, Natural Resources & Environmental Economics, Economic Policy, and Financial/Macro Econometrics. There are additional electives that students can also choose from, making this a remarkably flexible degree. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA, GRE scores, and sufficient work completed in economics and mathematics.

  9. Lehigh University

    Bethlehem, PA



    Located in Bethlehem in eastern Pennsylvania, Lehigh University is a private research university which regularly enrolls over 6,000 students each year. The College of Business and Economics offers a Master of Science in Applied Economics. This is a STEM-designated program and serves individuals already working in business and industry to give them a better handle on economic theory, econometric methods, and research, as well as serving students who may be interested in moving towards doctoral work.

    The program is 30 credits total and includes core courses, electives, and courses specific to the two tracks the program offers Competition and Market Analysis, and Policy Economics. Sessions in the tracks could include Consumer Insights through Data Analysis, Predictive Analytics in Business, or Business, Government, and Macroeconomic Policy. Students can also opt for a thesis component, which would replace the six elective credits. Applicants must have taken macro- and microeconomics, calculus, and algebra in their undergraduate career. Lehigh also works to make sure that Graduate Students have access to all of the requisite career center offerings that the university has to offer so that after the degree is completed a smooth transition into a career is possible.

  10. University of Wisconsin

    Madison, WI



    The University of Wisconsin is located in Madison, WI, the state's capital city. UW is a large public research university with almost 200 graduate-level degree programs. The Department of Economics offers a Master of Economics degree. The program consists of 30 credits and can be completed in four semesters. Students must complete at least 16 credits at UW. The program equips graduates with an understanding of core economic and financial principles and gives a solid grounding in econometric methods and empirical research.

    Elective courses include Game Theory & Economic Analysis, Issues-International Finance, and Economics of Health Care. The program at UW is full-time, and admissions require many of the reasonable expectations you will find in other programs including a bachelor's degree, GRE test scores, letters of recommendation, and a writing sample. Students must also complete a Math Preparation Form which demonstrates adequate preparation for the program, and students must have completed undergraduate coursework in macro- and microeconomics, calculus, and linear algebra.

Our Methodology, Explained

Grad School Hub compiles rankings based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics play a significant role in how we source our educational data. After collecting insight for each institution, we organize information into five weighted categories.
Metric Data Used Percentage
Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 30%
Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 10%
Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 30%
Program Offerings Number of program options 20%
Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 10%
A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible on our Ranking Methodology page.

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs.

Additional Resources

See All Posts

GradSchoolHub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Discover a program that is right for you.

Explore different options for you based on your degree interests.