Best Online Master's in Economics Degree Programs

Economics is a broad field and there are diverse options for some of the best online master's degree programs in the field. Here we discuss some of the top programs and detailed program information, including admissions requirements. Schools offering Economics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Best Online Master's in Economics Degree Programs

Most online master's degree programs in economics can be completed 100% online and some of the best programs may offer additional areas of concentration. Other factors that make some of these online programs some of the best in their field include format flexibility, affordability, research opportunities, and/or other unique learning opportunities. Explore a few of the best online master's degree programs in economics in more detail here and see what makes them stand out.

1. Purdue University-Main Campus

LocationTuition & Fees (in-state)
West Lafayette, IN$9,992

Purdue University offers a fully online Master of Science (MS) in Economics that requires 30 credits. Students may choose to complete the program over 36 months or finish the program faster in as little as 20 months. The program offers concentrations in public economics and policy, business and data analytics, financial economics, and advanced theory, but the advanced theory concentration requires students to study on-campus for 1 year. Students can begin the program in August or January and are taught by full-time faculty members in the on-campus economics department.

2. University of Detroit Mercy

LocationTuition & Fees (in-state)
Detroit, MI$28,422

The University of Detroit Mercy has an online Master of Arts (MA) in Economics or an online MA in Financial Economics. Both degree programs require 30 credits and students in the economics program may choose a thesis option as a part of their elective courses. The MA in Economics program is flexible to allow students to choose an applied or theoretical concentration. The financial economics program focuses on the world economy, ethical issues in finance, and the economic concepts of the US and international financial systems.

3. University of Missouri-Columbia

LocationTuition & Fees (in-state)
Columbia, MO$10,017

The University of Missouri provides an online MA in Economics that is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and totals 30 credits. The program can be completed in 2 years and is fully online with no campus visits required. Online students typically take 1 or 2 courses per semester, one of which is a required research workshop. The school allows distance learning graduate students to pay in-state tuition no matter where they live.

4. Xavier University

LocationTuition & Fees (in-state)
Cincinnati, OH$11,716

Xavier University offers a unique online Master of Science in Health Economics and Clinical Outcomes Research. The program totals 39 credits, is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and can be completed in 2 years. Students complete the program in a part-time format completely online and pay a per-credit rate of $715. Students may begin the program in the fall or the spring and the program culminates in a capstone course.

5. Ohio University-Main Campus

LocationTuition & Fees (in-state)
Athens, OH$9,720

Ohio University has a hybrid Master of Financial Economics (MFE) that is part of the CFA Institute University Affiliation Program to help prepare students for their Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) credential. The program is also an Optional Practical Training Extension for STEM Students (STEM OPT)-designated program that totals 43 credits. The program concludes with a research project, financial report, or internship experience and is designed to be completed in 1 year.

Rank School Name Location Tuition & Fees (in-state)
6Southern New Hampshire UniversityManchester, NH$18,810
7University of North DakotaGrand Forks, ND$9,697
8Murray State UniversityMurray, KY$9,114
9Georgia Southern UniversityStatesboro, GA$8,728
10Green Mountain CollegePoultney, VT$15,225
11Youngstown State UniversityYoungstown, OH$9,384
12American UniversityWashington, DC$31,446
13Hope International UniversityFullerton, CA$14,424
14Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimore, MD$55,816
15The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Los AngelesLos Angeles, CA$22,601

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2018-2019 school year's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Overview of Online Master's Degrees in Economics

There are several different kinds of online master's degree programs in economics, including MS and MA degree programs in the field. Some of these master's programs may also focus on a specific area of economics, such as applied economics, health economics, or financial economics. These degree programs may range from about 30 to 43 credits and can typically be completed fully online.

Most online master's programs in economics are full-time programs, although there are some part-time programs available. Students can typically complete these master's programs in 2 years, but some programs may take as little as 12 to 20 months to complete, while others may allow students up to 3 years to complete the program. Read on to learn more about the curriculum for online master's degree programs in economics.

Concentration Areas

When choosing a concentration, students should be sure to check that the concentration is available in an online format and/or does not have any additional on-campus requirements. A few examples of available concentrations for online master's programs in economics include:

  • Financial economics
  • Spatial economics
  • Public economics and policy
  • Quantitative methods
  • Health economics
  • Business and data analytics
  • Environmental economics
  • International economics and development

Common Courses

Coursework for online master's degree programs in economics vary by institution and/or concentration area, but generally include some core courses and electives. Some programs may conclude with a capstone course, thesis option, or an internship. Coursework for online master's programs in economics may cover topics such as:

  • Econometrics
  • Microeconomic theory
  • Macroeconomic theory
  • Quantitative economics
  • Mathematics for economics
  • Game theory
  • International trade
  • Economic analysis


Students in online master's programs in economics may take one or more courses in econometrics. Some of these courses may be at the introductory and/or advanced levels and may explore topics in applied econometrics. Generally, these courses look at the models and math behind economic theories.


Most master's programs include a course examining advanced microeconomic theories. These courses may look at topics in consumer behavior, optimization models, resource markets, and more.


Courses in macroeconomics look at advanced topics in the field and may help prepare students for macroeconomic research. Typically, these courses look at the economics of growth.

Admissions and Prerequisites for Online Master's in Economics

Admissions requirements for online master's degree programs in economics generally vary by institution and students should be sure to follow their school's instructions for applying. In general, most online master's degree programs in economics require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree and many require a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Most programs do not have prerequisite coursework requirements, but some programs may require prerequisites in certain cases.

Most online master's programs in economics do not require applicants to have GRE test scores. However, most of these programs do require non-native English speakers to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) to demonstrate proficiency in the language.

Other application materials for these online programs usually include transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume, and/or a personal statement. Some schools may have additional optional or mandatory requirements, such as a video essay, diversity essay, and/or employment experience.

How to Choose an Online Master's Degree in Economics

Choosing an online master's degree in economics that is right for you can be a challenge. The first item a student may wish to consider is personal interests/career goals. Identifying these interests can help students determine if a broad degree in economics or a more specific degree in applied economics, health economics, etc. may be a better fit. This can also help students determine if they would like to pursue a particular program with a specific concentration or not.

Another factor to consider is the format of the online program. Some programs are part-time and may allow students to work more slowly if they need a more flexible schedule for work or family life. Other programs may allow students to work more quickly and finish in less than 1 year.

Students should also consider enrolling in an online master's program in economics that is accredited. Accreditation helps ensure that the program meets high academic standards and may be awarded by national, regional, and/or subject-specific organizations. For example, some online economics programs may have accreditation from national organizations that accredit the entire institution, such as the Higher Learning Commission or the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). Students may want to search for an accredited program that is also accredited by other business-related organizations, such as the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) or participates in programs like the CFA Institute University Affiliation Program.

Scholarships and Financial Aid Opportunities

The cost of an online master's degree program in economics is another huge consideration when choosing a program. The cost of these programs vary from school to school and/or in-state versus out-of-state tuition, but may cost in the range of around $445 to about $1,075 per credit hour. Students should also research if there are any additional fees, such as a technology or course fees, and if these fees are included in the tuition rate.

Students may wish to look for programs that accept financial aid and/or offer ways to help offset the cost of the program. Most online master's programs in economics allow online students to compete for financial aid. Financial aid may be awarded through scholarships, loans, or grants and some programs may require graduate students to indicate their desire to apply for aid. Some schools may offer special scholarships and/or tuition discounts for U.S. service members and/or spouses/dependents. Other schools may use a student's GPA as a decision factor for aid. Here is a sampling of scholarships or grants that might be available to graduate economics students:

  • Rhonda Williams Prize awards $1,000 to students who present a paper on inequality/sexism is economics.
  • NFRW Betty Rendel Scholarship offers up to $1,000 to Republican women who are studying economics, political science or government.
  • Hsiao Memorial Economics Scholarship is designed for students seeking teaching roles in economics. The award is $1,000.

Career Options for Graduates with a Master's in Economics

Graduates with their master's in economics can pursue a variety of economic and/or finance-related careers. Graduates may work in the government, real estate, data management, banking, insurance, research, or education. Some job titles for those with their master's in economics include:

  • Financial analyst
  • Data scientist
  • Economic development specialist
  • Modeling analyst
  • Health care analyst

The most common career for graduates of a master's degree program in economics is that of an economist. These professionals may work in an array of fields, including healthcare, international trade, labor, or agriculture. Typically, economists work full-time in an office setting and some may work additional part-time hours as consultants. Economists help research various economic factors, like the production of goods or distribution of resources, and analyze different economic issues by monitoring economic trends and applying their findings. Other job duties for these professionals may include:

  • Developing surveys for data collection
  • Analyzing market trends
  • Utilizing statistics, models, and software to analyze and interpret data
  • Instructing businesses and other organizations on economic issues
  • Suggesting possible solutions to economic problems
  • Presenting findings in articles or papers with tables and charts

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the job outlook for economists from 2018 to 2028 was 8%. This job outlook is faster than the national average and may be due in part to the growing need for economic analysis in business. The BLS noted that economists with a master's or doctoral degree in the field had the best job prospects, as well as those with analytical skills and experience using statistical software.

The BLS also reported that the average salary for these professionals was $116,020 in 2018. Economists who worked in legal services made the highest average salary of $228,620 the same year. However, the federal executive branch had the highest levels of employment for economists in 2018 and professionals in that industry made an average salary of $123,570. The top-paying states for economists in 2018 included New York (average salary of $127,520), Virginia ($126,080), and Ohio ($125,490).

Professional Organizations in Economics

There are many professional organizations that provide membership and/or resources for economists or those who work with economics in the workplace. These organizations offer news, job listings, and learning events in the field of economics. Explore a few of the available professional organizations in more detail below.

American Economic Association

The AEA is a non-profit organization that does not have partisan ties and offers scholarly resources to economists. Economists can become members of the organization and learn about AEA's best practices for economists. The organization's website also provides journal research, news articles, and job listings. The AEA hosts an annual meeting and consists of academics and economic professionals in the government, business, and consulting groups.

National Economic Association

The NEA offers membership and works to promote economic growth. The organization hosts annual meetings and the annual NEA-ASHE Summer Conference. Through the organization's website, economists can explore publications, search for economics-related scholarships and grants, and peruse the job bulletin.

National Association for Business Economics

The NABE is a prestigious group for business economists in business, economics, and academia. The organization aims to provide leadership in the field and offers membership and networking opportunities. The NABE also hosts a number of events and provides educational and career development opportunities and industry surveys.

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