Earning a Master’s in Economics Online

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

Should I Pursue a Master's in Economics Online?

Students who earn a master's in economics online gain access to many exciting job opportunities. The master's degree credentials can prepare you for work in the government, finance, marketing, and various types of careers in the private sector. Many graduates with an online master's in economics find employment as consultants, professors, market researchers, economists, and data scientists. Professionals in these roles, in addition to earning an advanced degree, hold strong analytical, math, writing, and communication skills. Successful individuals in this field need a detail-oriented mentality, with the ability to review data, discern nuanced mathematical patterns, and solve complex problems.

Prospective students can take advantage of the best accredited online master's in economics programs. Many online programs offer flexible and affordable degrees that fit even the busiest schedules. If you want to increase your earning potential and stand out in today's competitive job market, an economics master's degree online may help get you on the road to success.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Economics Graduates

Master's in Economics Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), annual mean wages for economists stand about four times greater than the average salary for all other occupations in the United States. New York; Washington, D.C.; and Virginia make up the top paying states for economists, with the Empire State offering the highest annual mean wage at $128,740. PayScale shows that economists' annual pay typically increases with experience. Professionals in entry-level positions make an average of $63,000 per year. Late-career professionals in the U.S. with 20 or more years of experience make an annual mean wage of $119,000.

Top Paying States for Economists

State Employment Annual Mean Wage
New York 700 $128,740
District of Columbia 7,680 $125,400
Virginia 1,350 $124,300
California 1,470 $122,960
Massachusetts N/A $117,600
United States 19,550 $112,650

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pay by Experience Level for Economists

  • Entry-Level (0-5 Years):
    $63,000
  • Mid-Career (5-10 Years):
    $89,000
  • Experienced (10-20 Years):
    $102,000
  • Late-Career (20+ Years):
    $119,000

Source: PayScale

Master's in Economics Careers

According to the BLS, economists held about 21,300 jobs in the U.S. during 2016. Approximately 22% of those jobs took place within the federal government. Scientific research and development roles, management and consulting services, and jobs in the state government consisted of 17%, 15%, and 9% of those positions, respectively. In most cases, these professionals must work on their own and in teams with other economists and statisticians. They also typically possess excellent analytical, speaking, and writing skills.

Economists

Annual Median Salary: $102,490

Projected Growth Rate: 6%

Economists collect and analyze data to formulate economic forecasts, often working in education, healthcare, business development, and business consulting. Many economists also work in the federal, state, and local governments. These professionals typically need a master's degree or Ph.D. for employment.

Financial Managers

Annual Median Salary: $125,080

Projected Growth Rate: 19%

Financial managers conduct data analysis to prepare financial activity reports and make educated economic forecasts. They often work directly with senior managers, advising them on maximizing profits for the business. Financial managers with master's degrees sometimes work under titles like risk managers, controllers, and finance officers. These positions offer growth opportunities and can lead to other positions, such as chief financial officer.

Financial Analysts

Annual Median Salary: $84,300

Projected Growth Rate: 11%

Analysts with master's degrees work for securities firms, insurance companies, banks, research firms, and other businesses. They often develop investment strategies for companies that work with investors, hedge funds, and large endowments. They may also provide financial council for sales agents who sell stocks, bonds, and investments. These professionals can hold titles, such as portfolio manager, fund manager, ratings analyst, and risk analyst.

Financial Examiners

Annual Median Salary: $81,690

Projected Growth Rate: 10%

Financial examiners monitor the financial health of banks and other financial institutions. They examine the risk level of loans, review financial documents, and establish procedures and policies that comply with state and federal regulations as needed. Senior examiners, who lead and direct financial examination teams, usually hold a master's degree.

Operations Research Analysts

Annual Median Salary: $81,390

Projected Growth Rate: 27%

These professionals use advanced mathematical and analytical methods to solve issues for businesses. They often work in healthcare, finance, insurance, and for companies that offer scientific or technical services. Operations research analysts advise business managers on how to use resources, create production schedules, manage supply chains, and set prices for goods and services.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statstics

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Economics Program?

Students who pursue an online master's in economics can access a variety of courses, depending on their school, program, and focus area. Course offerings and general curriculum depends on faculty members' research areas and specialties. Aside from the standard or introductory courses, a school's curriculum reflects its strengths and access to resources. As a result, some schools better prepare their students for certain careers, licenses, and certifications than others. When choosing an online master's program in economics, carefully review what each school offers and how well it meets your professional and academic goals. Below, you can find a sample curriculum for students pursuing a master's in economics online.

Curriculum for an Online Master’s Degree in Economics

Microeconomics

This course helps students learn about modern microeconomics and develop the essential skills to evaluate the current economy. Students learn about resource allocation, economic policy, and problem solving in different types of market structures. This course is especially useful for students interested in careers as financial managers, financial analysts, or financial examiners.

Global Economies and Macroeconomics

Students in this course explore national and global economic issues from both present day and historical perspectives. This macroeconomic perspective helps learners understand interest rates, exchange rates, fiscal policy, economic growth, and economic aggregates. This knowledge most benefits those interested in working for companies that function on an international scale or those pursuing careers in the state and federal government.

Modern Government and Business

For those interested in working in government, this course examines all the ways in which government and business intersects. Students learn the historical developments of governmental business relations, antitrust enforcement, consumer protection policies, regulated and unregulated markets, and forecasting government-business relations.

Economic Data Analysis

This introductory course on the basic concepts and tools used in data analysis generally occurs in most accredited economics programs. Students learn how to develop their own economic research strategies based on standard statistics and empirical research models. This class benefits students in any specialty area who wish to learn the latest statistical software in addition to standard, time-tested data analysis techniques.

Health Economics

This course targets students interested in careers related to the healthcare or insurance industries. Students examine the distribution of health services, and the development and role of related governmental programs. Learners develop analytical skills that help them understand medicine, healthcare, and medical care from an economics viewpoint.

Certifications and Licenses a Master’s in Economics Prepares For

  • Credit Risk Certification: The CRC is the only recognized professional designation for credit and lending professionals. Offered by the Risk Management Association, the certification gives those working in financial and economic fields credibility among colleagues and clients. Applicants must pass an exam for certification. Most professionals who seek this designation hold at least three years of financial and credit risk experience before taking the exam.
  • Mortgage Loan Officer License: Also known as a mortgage loan originator license, mortgage loan officers remain in high demand within the United States. This license benefits loan officers who work with residential or commercial loans. Most loan officers work for financial institutions and must be licensed in their state to practice. Each state includes its own licensure requirements and usually involves state-approved classes and training in federal laws and regulations.
  • Certified Financial Planner: Certified financial planners (CFP) develop budgets and savings plans to handle life's most challenging events. CFP's meet the CFP Board's standards of professional conduct and hold extensive training and experience. Candidates must take board-certified coursework and pass the examination. Applicants also need 6,000 hours of professional experience and 4,000 hours or apprenticeship experience for certification.
  • Chartered Financial Analyst: This certification requires applicants to hold a bachelor's degree or four years of professional work experience and pass three exams. Issued by the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute, this remains one of the highest distinctions in the investment management profession. Professionals working in buy-side trading, sell-side analysis, financial planning, and education can increase their earning potential with this prestigious credential.