There are campus-based schools in Iowa that offer master’s degrees in economics; however, working students pursing graduate studies often turn to more flexible online programs. In either case, all schools operating in the state, as well as out-of-state schools offering online programs to Iowa residents must operate under the governance of the Iowa Department of Education.
Some schools that offer master’s degrees design programs that are intended for students who plan to pursue PhDs in economics or agricultural economics, as they would benefit from additional, graduate-level coursework before beginning doctoral studies. Students of these types of programs are encouraged to apply for an “upgrade” to a PhD program after their first year of graduate work.
Students in master’s programs can opt for a research-based program, which allows for a reduction in the coursework load to make time for the completion of a master’s thesis. Students who are interested in testing the waters of thesis writing, or excel in research, can get a head start on their doctoral program by going this route.
Agricultural economics is important in forecasting consumer spending and economic stability in the state. In fact, an example of how economists employed in state agencies respond to market conditions surfaced in a recent Iowa agricultural economics report to consumers. The report reveals that an inevitable spike in food prices resulting from a reduction in food supply is always seen on the heels of a major drought. In response to the drought of 2012, agricultural economists are urging Iowa residents to freeze expensive food items now to ease the financial strain these items will put on household budgets in the coming months.
However, Iowa is already ahead of most of the U.S. when it comes to recovery in the troubled national economy. According to Businessweek News, Iowa and Nebraska are the nation’s leaders. The median household income in Iowa rose last year, even while incomes in all other states – besides Nebraska – dropped. Iowa economists note that the median household income grew .1% in 2011 while the per capita income rose 6.4% compared to the rest of the U.S., which dropped by an average of 1.3%.