Economics Graduate Programs explore the theories, methods, and principles of economic and statistical data in areas such as finance, labor, and agriculture.
As a social science, economics is the branch of knowledge that studies the production and distribution of resources, goods, and services. Graduate economics programs typically stress the application of economics theory to modern economic problems.
Students who work to earn a graduate degree in economics might develop original research skills and the ability to think critically as they evaluate economic issues and trends with an eye to problem-solve.
written by Rana Waxman
|Economics||California State University, Fullerton||MSE|
|Economics||San Diego State University||MSE|
|International Agricultural Development||University of California - Davis||MS|
|Economics||San Francisco State University||MSE|
|Economics||University of California - San Diego||PhD|
|PHD: Public Policy: Economic Policy||Liberty University Online||N/A|
Economics Graduate Programs could offer programs of study that lead a Masters and or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in economics. For those who want to pursue graduate studies in economics, a graduate certificate may be an option.
Applicants typically need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Other required material could include GRE scores, letters, personal statement, and prerequisite courses. Although economics graduate programs have diverse admissions requirements, graduate studies in economics is often highly mathematical. Sometimes, a university might offer preparatory courses in mathematics and statistics for students who do not have a strong foundation and come from a non-math background. For those who want to
prepare, it may be wise to take courses such as calculus, linear algebra, or mathematical statistics prior to their program.
To be sure, Economics Graduate Programs cover a dynamic field that might discuss scarcity, gender pay inequality, and topics like wealth and finance. As a broad discipline, economics could put into perspective historical patterns and use this information to interpret modern economic problems. Economics is therefore useful as it could provide the means for decision-makers to make informed forecasts and use mathematics to address matters both small and large.
Two of the main areas on this scale of decisions pertain to: (1) microeconomics and (2) macroeconomics. The study of individual decisions (e.g. family medical debt) is called microeconomics. The study of the (entire) economy is called macroeconomics (e.g. national deficit).
To address the variety of theories and their uses, graduate degrees in economics are more theory-focused (prepare students for research as part of a PhD) or applied/career-focused (prioritize professional skills and practical analysis). Thus, where your interests lie, and what career pursuits you have in sight could help determine the type of graduate economics program that you select.
A Masters degree in economics could be either a terminal degree or a platform for more advanced (doctoral-level) study. Most Masters in Economics programs could involve two years of post-baccalaureate study. Students who complete a Master's degree are often expected to have a solid grasp of microeconomics and macroeconomics, quantitative analysis (e.g. comparative statistics), and econometrics.
Terminal Master's degree requirements generally include completion of a Master's thesis. A thesis could spotlight a student’s ability to conceive and conduct independent research under the guidance of a thesis committee.
A Master of Arts (MA) in Economics program covers how to analyze data, apply analysis to economic policy, and translate this information to a wide audience. In some universities, students may be required to take 30 credit hours or more and to complete a capstone project.
Curriculums often meld coursework in functional economics theory with practical application. For instance, students might start out with courses in mathematical economics, micro and macroeconomics theories, and applied econometrics. These courses could enable students to further interpret complex mathematical concepts and use them to solve real-time challenges. To tailor their studies to specific interests, students might also take elective courses in variety of topics. Several examples are highlighted below.
Furthermore, economics students might learn to use Stata, which is a statistical software tool that analyzes data. The strong emphasis on quantitative methods might prepare students to pursue a PhD in Economics. To this point, in some schools, a Master of Arts (MA) in Economics is awarded after a completion of a designated phase of a broader PhD program.
DID YOU KNOW?
According to BLS, Most economists need a master’s degree or Ph.D.
Master of Science (MS) in Economics programs could be highly technical and focused on theory and applied research. Curriculums may start students out with short basic courses in Mathematics, Statistics and Econometrics. These courses could help MS students review material in topics such as matrix algebra and optimization. From there, students might take core courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics.
Macroeconomics courses generally speak to economic growth, business cycles and monetary policy. Students might also study topics such as consumption, investment theory and unemployment. These courses analyze the different theoretical approaches and how they relate to macroeconomics policy. Microeconomics courses might cover a range of topics from consumer and producer theory to game theory and mechanism design. Econometric methods such as panel data likelihood and testing might enable students to critically assess applied work.
Optional courses in some MS in Economics programs could draw from the examples below.
To cap their program, MS students may form small teams to work on a practical econometric project. The project could provide hands-on experience as they identify and test a hypothesis, read current literature, and work with data sets and econometrics software to analyze their findings. Usually, the results are written up in a report.
Concentration options may provide a framework by which graduate students might structure their program to achieve individual goals. Each economics graduate school might offer distinct areas of emphasis. Some students might also collaborate with a graduate advisor to design a general economics degree plan.
Behavioral Economics: A Master of Arts in Behavioral Economics could provide a foundation in advanced psychology with a focus on business applications. Students might therefore study negotiation, marketing, consumer behavior and the ways humans make decisions.
International and Development Economics: A Master of Science in International and Development Economics (IDEC) may equip students with the knowledge and skills to understand how market forces could be harnessed to empower developing countries to break from cycles of poverty. Coursework could address environmental and economic development issues, policies, and strategies.
Financial Economics: A Master of Science in Financial Economics might explore domestic and international financial markets. Coursework might also cover the principles of financial decision-making in the banking, investment management, and corporate financial management professions. Students may also enroll in MBA courses and work to complete a research project in the field of financial economics.
Both the Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS, MSc) in Economics are postgraduate degrees that could require about the same time to complete. That said, the MA in Economics often focuses on the study of economics as a discipline. Applicants might have a Bachelor's degree in any major. By contrast, a Master of Science (MS) in Economics focuses more on the study or scientific principles in the field of economics, and applicants may need a Bachelor of Science as a prerequisite. It is important to note that each school may define their programs differently, so it is a good practice to refer to individual economics graduate schools.
A PhD in Economics is the most advanced degree in the field of economics, and is generally thought of as a research degree. Those who work towards their PhD typically need several years of post-baccalaureate study.
Successful doctoral students may need to meet the same expectations as Master's students. However, they usually must also demonstrate a depth of knowledge in at least two focused fields of study. In addition, candidates need to be able to do independent research that informs theory and/or policy with possible publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
Curriculums could include advanced courses in the following topics.
Most Economics PhD programs require students to pass one or more examinations (often called preliminary, qualifying, or core examinations) before they may continue their Ph.D. studies with targeted emphasis courses. Once this part is completed, candidates might develop a research plan for their doctoral dissertation.
In many Ph.D. programs the proposed research path is the subject of an oral examination before it is approved. The PhD is awarded after successful defense of the doctoral dissertation, usually during a final oral examination. That said, PhD students may need to teach one economics course at either the graduate or undergraduate level as part of their program requirements.
The JEL classification system was developed for use in the Journal of Economic Literature (JEL). It is a standard method used to classify scholarly literature in the field of economics. The system is used to organize articles, dissertations, books, book reviews, and working papers in EconLit, and in many other applications. Several areas are listed below.
PhD in economics faculty may be able to supervise dissertations in specific areas. Therefore, interested students might factor in the type of research they want to conduct then search for a school where they might propel their research forward through faculty mentorship.
An economics graduate certificate may provide students with a series of courses that may expand or update current knowledge.
Post-masters certificates are usually intended for those who hold a Master's in Economics or Statistics. These programs might require students to take about four courses that target a single theme. Students may have the flexibility to choose the courses they want to study from an approved list. For instance, students who enroll in a Post-Master’s Certificate in Quantitative Methods in Applied Economics might study real risk, cost-benefit analysis, machine learning in statistics, and financial econometrics.
Micro Masters certificates are a bit different. These programs typically require students to have a Bachelors degree. Students must satisfactorily complete a series of courses that focus on industry-specific skills to earn their certificate. Then, they might apply to schools where the earned credits could be transferred into a Masters program. For instance, those who enroll in an edX Professional Certificate in Project Finance and Public Private Partnerships might learn about the accounting and economic drivers that motivate the use of Project Finance.
Economics graduate programs may be offered in several formats. On-campus programs might suit those who want a more interactive and residential course of study. Online programs might suit at-work students who want to further their education but need a flexible way to do this. Whatever your preference, use it to filter results for economics graduate schools in that category. Or, search for programs in a specific location.
Why a Graduate Degree in Economics?
Most economist careers, (other than entry-level government) require a Masters or PhD, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Therefore, students who want to pursue careers in business, research, or international organizations may find they need a mix of graduate education and work experience. In addition, courses that introduce students to statistical analysis software could be helpful. Strong analytical skills, experience with this type of software, and a graduate degree could provide graduates with more favorable career prospects
Now you're equipped with the information you need to start your search for a graduate program in economics. The academic path you choose may depend largely on what you plan to do after you complete your degree. To a certain extent, you want to not only prepare yourself with an education but also the ‘right’ education for the type of career you want to lead.
Don’t be shy, reaching out to more than one economics school may increase your chances of achieving your goal. Just click request info, fill out the for, and be sure you understand the ins and outs of each program.
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