Graduate Degrees in Economics

As of 2011, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) reported that among its 453 accredited U.S. business schools and 183 accredited non-U.S. business schools, 4.2 percent offered an MBA with a concentration in economics or managerial economics, 18.3 percent offered a specialized master’s degree in economics, and 21.3 percent offered a doctorate in economics.

MBA in Business or Managerial Economics

Getting an MBA with a concentration in business or managerial economics generally requires completing the core MBA curriculum plus three to six economics courses. An MBA provides a broad exposure to business topics, giving graduates the background to pursue a range of career options in business, industry, and government.

Economics Graduate Degrees By State

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Some MBA programs offer a limited number of economics courses to choose from, while others offer a wider range of classes, sometimes offering the option to focus in one of the economic specialties. Possible course topics might include:

  • Applied Economics Research Methods
  • Business & Economic Forecasting
  • Econometrics
  • Economics of Organization and Business Strategy
  • International Economics
  • International Trade and The Global Marketplace
  • Managerial Economics
  • Mathematics For Economists
  • Urban Economics
  • Economics in a specialized area, such as sports, technology and innovation, human resources, healthcare, or the environment.

Specialized Master’s Degrees in Economics

The most common graduate degree in economics is the Master of Arts (MA) in economics, although some schools grant a Master of Science (MS). Some schools even offer both degrees, with the MS being the more quantitatively oriented of the two. As of August 2012, the American Economic Association lists 160 U.S. schools that offer a terminal master’s degree in economics. Some schools only grant a master’s in conjunction with a PhD program.

The focus within graduate degree programs in economics varies considerably. For example, some programs may focus on the quantitative approach to economics while other programs focus on policy analysis.

Core topics covered in most programs include macroeconomics, microeconomics, statistics and econometrics, and economic development. Most programs then offer a choice of courses within economic specialties.

For example, a quantitatively focused program might include courses in advanced econometrics and statistical methods, quantitative global economics, and quantitative analysis in policy research.

A policy-focused program is more likely to offer courses in economic policy analysis in areas such as healthcare, the environment, defense, and international development.

For students considering an economics master’s degree program, the American Economic Association (AEA) recommends a thorough consideration of the program’s methodological approach, available fields of specialization, primary ideology, size, and culture (cooperative, competitive, etc.). Other factors to consider include the typical time required to get the degree, required examinations, available financial aid, emphasis on mathematics, job prospects, and location.

Students interested in an international economics focus can pursue degrees that include:

  • MA in International Economics and Policy
  • MA in International Economics and Finance
  • MA in Global Development Economics
  • MA in International and Development Economics

In addition to core economics courses, students of these programs might take courses in topics such as:

  • Development Microeconomics or Development Macroeconomics
  • Economic development related to a specific country or region
  • International finance (International Financial Markets, Financial Globalization, Global Fixed Income and Structured Finance, Global Investment Management, and so forth)
  • Politics in the international economy
  • International trade and monetary theory

Other available degree options include:

  • MA or MS in Applied Economics – These programs tend to focus on tools of economic analysis and the application of econometrics and other quantitative techniques to practical problems.
  • MA in Economic Policy or in Economic Policy Analysis or an MS in Economics and Policy Analysis – The programs generally focus on economic theory/analysis as it applies to policy formulation/analysis, often to prepare students for careers as policy analysts and decision-makers in government and other organizations.
  • Master’s in Statistical and Economic Modeling – This is a highly quantitative degree that focuses on statistical skills for economics, finance, and related areas.
  • AMA and Advanced Certificate: Economics of Law and Regulation – This certificate covers the economic foundations of public policy and legal issues, including economic consequences of regulation and the economic foundations and economic consequences of judicial decisions.

As for dual degrees, options include an MA in economics with an MBA, a law (JD) degree, or a Master of Public Policy.

Doctoral Degrees in Economics

A PhD in economics prepares students for teaching and research positions at colleges and universities and for research positions in public agencies or private organizations. Some PhD programs are combined master’s/PhD degrees, while others require that program applicants already have a master’s in economics or a closely related field.

Another option is a PhD in managerial economics & strategy, which focuses on using mathematical models and analytical reasoning to solve theoretical and practical problems in economics and management. Other options include:

  • PhD in Management with a managerial economics concentration
  • PhD in Agribusiness and Managerial Economics
  • PhD in Health Care Management and Economics
  • PhD in Business Economics

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