Online Master’s in Economics Degree Program

Many students may shy away from economics thinking it’s overly complex and a bit drab, but in today’s economy, it’s anything but. Every time you read about a lockout by a sports league due to collective bargaining, a rowdy Occupy Wall Street protest over income inequality or a Central Bank’s decision to allow negative interest rates on its sovereign debt, you are witnessing real world economics.

Economics is the study of the production and distribution of goods and services in an economy by studying data. Economists attempt to understand the role of government in an economy and predict the outcomes of various policy changes when political interests are a factor. Some economists try and predict how consumers will react to a company’s products given different economic variables.

Many students that study economics find an interesting, prestigious and well-compensated profession. If you’re pursuing a career in finance, or want to progress with your current employer, it pays to consider a Master’s in Economics in degree.

What is an Online Masters of Economics Degree?

The online Masters in Economics is a graduate level program with curriculum studying the various types of economics and their impact on outside entities. Economics students study macroeconomics, which is a look at how broad economic conditions including inflation levels, unemployment rates and trade balances affect businesses and consumers alike. Students also explore micro-economics, which analyzes the way individuals and businesses interact. They also predict how public policies, including antitrust policies, subsidies and business regulations will affect the citizens and businesses a country.

Master in Economics with a Specialization in Applied Economics

American University has an online Masters in Economics with a specialization in Applied Economics. This program consists of ten, eight-week courses including Micro and Macro Economics, Applied Econometrics, Public and Labor Economics and a final Capstone course. The course begins with the statistical foundation necessary to utilize economics in forecasting, often using statistical software programs. Their Macroeconomics class delves into relevant topics including monetary and fiscal policy and financial crises.1

The online Master’s degree in economics involves a deeper level of course work than if in an MBA in Economics program for instance. The MBA program will have broader business classes outside the realm of economics such as leadership, marketing, management and business law. The Masters in Economics focuses exclusively on economics or the quantitative and mathematical tools necessary to conduct economic study.

What Kind of Jobs Can I Get with a Master’s in Economics?

Earning a Master’s in Economics can show a potential or current employer that you are serious about your study of economics, making you a more valuable employee with the potential for management positions. Many economists work for the public sector-government agencies, research institutes, non-profits and think tanks. Large, financial policy-making organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), The World Bank, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Fannie Mae and the Federal Reserve Banks are large employers of economists. Economists also go on to work in academia. Some states, including

Large, financial policy-making organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), The World Bank, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Fannie Mae and the Federal Reserve Banks are large employers of economists. Economists also go on to work in academia. Some states, including Virginia teach economics and personal finance as part of normal high school curriculum.2

But economists also work in the private sector. Banks and insurance companies welcome the analytical skills of an economist to help manage risk as well as forecast trends that will affect their bottom line. This ability to think proactively for your business often translates to a managerial position down the road. Economists can cross over into many different private industries.

Microeconomic concepts such as pricing and cost analysis and consumer behavior translate well into many corporate sectors including retail and even restaurant chains. Restaurants need to order food from their suppliers in advance so an accurate forecast of agricultural and commodity prices will help keep the business profitable.

Specific jobs in economics include financial analyst, market analyst, consultant, and of course, economist. To become employed as an economist, a Master’s degree in Economics is highly preferred. As a consequence, economists enjoy a median annual compensation of $91,860 according to the BLS.3

If the economist works in finance or insurance, the median annual compensation jumps to $110,580. Financial institutions such as banks need accurate economic forecasts when deciding how much risk they should take with their loans. If the bank forecasts an economic slowdown ahead they can be proactive and curtail lending and even call in some lines of credit. Outside of perhaps hedge fund or private equity professionals, economics is one of the highest paying fields in finance.

How Do I Choose the Right Online Master’s in Economics program?

Consider a Master’s program in economics that bridges the gap between economic theory and real world applications. Applied economics and bridges the gap between theory and predicting the actual outcomes of various policies. Programs should introduce students to statistical analysis software, such as Stata, which are becoming widely used in business.

Students should also be able to apply what they’ve learned in a Capstone project using a real-world economic issue. Capstone courses summarize the curriculum to date and apply it to a real world project, as they will for an employer upon graduation.

Given the fact that most economists work in government or government agencies it pays to have a ground campus near urban areas and government agencies. Also, an established brand is very important as the alumni base will be concentrated in that field.

Some online Master’s programs also offer the ability for students to finish some of their course work in an on ground campus setting, sometimes a residency. Having the option to complete at least a portion of your Master’s degree on campus provides a valuable opportunity to foster stronger relationships with colleagues as well as faculty. Meeting your colleagues allows for better networking while working with faculty, on a Capstone project for example, might help a student land an internship.

Time should also be a consideration since there will always be the opportunity cost when stopping work to go for a Master’s degree full-time. American University’s program, located in Washington D.C., has an online program which can be completed in as little as twenty months, while allowing two classes to be completed on campus.

Whichever program you decide on, a Masters in Economics will prepare the graduate for a variety of careers by showing strong analytical skills and a broader understanding of how variables affect their business.