Developmental economics focuses on the economies of developing countries. Explore what you'd study in an undergraduate or graduate degree program related to this field, and get info on your job options with a background in developmental economics.
Is Developmental Economics for Me?
Developmental economics is the study of the events, policies and institutions that affect poverty within a country. Studies in developmental economics can lead to careers with the federal government, international agencies, nonprofit organizations and private companies. Some economists become teachers at colleges and universities. Economists may have many different responsibilities, such as compiling and analyzing research data, consulting with companies and federal officials, conducting surveys and predicting future economic conditions. Although you may work on a team at some points, much of your work is done alone unless you teach developmental economics at a college or university.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that economists and postsecondary economics teachers will experience average employment growth when compared to all other occupations, with both expected to see a 14% increase in the number of jobs from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that economists earned a median annual salary of $91,860, and postsecondary economics teachers earned $87,950 in 2012.
How Can I Work in Developmental Economics?
You need a bachelor's degree for entry-level economist jobs, although most advancement opportunities are only available to economists who have a master's degree or doctorate. Postsecondary economics teachers may find job opportunities at community colleges with a master's degree in economics, but you typically need a doctorate to become a full-time professor at a 4-year college or university.
A bachelor's degree program in economics can be a good option to begin your education in developmental economics. Although most undergraduate economics degree programs do not give you the option to concentrate in developmental economics, you can take courses such as economic development and international trade in addition to required basic economics courses such as micro- and macroeconomic theory, international finance and industrial organization. Some schools may offer a liberal arts option that is designed to prepare you for advanced degrees in business or economics.
A master's degree in international and developmental economics is a great choice for students who are pursuing a career as a developmental economist. In addition to core economics courses, you can choose elective courses in international finance, development macroeconomics and global political economy. Graduate students also pick an area of interest and work with a faculty member to embark on a research project and presentation about a topic of interest, in order to show an understanding of economic theory, statistics and research methods.
Although you may be able to enroll in a developmental economics graduate program with a bachelor's degree from any field, most schools prefer students to have an undergraduate degree in economics. Students who want to become teachers or researchers can obtain a doctorate in economics with a specialization in economic development. In addition to the required coursework, students in doctorate programs in economics are required to complete exams and an independently researched dissertation in their area of specialization. Some doctorate programs also require completion of an internship.