How to Choose a Master of Arts in Economics Degree + Online Option

This article provides an overview of the master of arts in economics degree program, some of the subjects and courses that are included, and why you may want to consider this degree for career advancement. It also highlights an online master of arts in economics that you could enroll in.

What Is a Master of Arts in Economics?

Most entry level positions in economics only require people to complete a bachelor’s degree. However, it is increasingly common, particularly in the private sector, for people to be required to have a master’s degree. Universities that offer graduate degrees in economics tend to have very stringent admission requirements, including having an undergraduate degree in a related field and the completion of certain prerequisite courses. Some schools also require their applicants to have several years of work experience in a field relating to economics. The degree generally takes two years to complete.

Usually, the coursework of the degree is very flexible. This is because economics is a very broad field and students are given the opportunity to specialize in a particular area. That said, there are generally some core components to all of these degrees, focusing in micro- and macroeconomic theories. Some of these courses are:

  • Econometrics
  • Economic growth
  • Numerical computation
  • Economic forecasting
  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics

Why Earn a Master of Arts in Economics?

Graduates of the master of arts in economics have many professional opportunities available to them. There is also the opportunity to study on towards a doctorate degree. Doing this enables graduates to become researchers or academics.

The master of arts in economics has been designed for those who want to advance their career, while at the same time learn more about a certain area of economics. Many schools do this through a master of science, but the master of arts is becoming more common. Either way, the degree delivers graduates with broader skills and knowledge about the trends, theories, and research in economics.

Graduates of this masters degree have extensive knowledge about global and domestic monetary and fiscal policies and economic growth. They can find employment with economic consulting firms, financial institutions, congressional committees, government agencies, business finance, nongovernmental organizations, multilateral organizations, think tanks, and more.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that the median salary for an economist was $101,050 per year as of May 2016. They have also reported that there will be a 6% increase in demand for economists from 2014 to 2024, which is on par with the national average. This will translate into some 1,200 new jobs.

Online Option for Master of Arts in Economics

American University

Those who wish to study towards a master of arts in economics may want to consider the Online MA Economics, Applied Economics Specialization offered by American University Online. This degree focuses on the fact that a healthy economy is required for a thriving society. Graduates of the degree are equipped with an in-depth understanding of economic theory, understand the impact of policies on markets, have advanced analytical skills, and know how to apply all of that in the real world.

The university delivers graduates who have advanced communication and analytical skills, as well as advanced credentials and knowledge required to make a difference in the field of economics. Faculty is made up of esteemed scholars and economists. They are respected for their experience in influencing policy and research accomplishments. They focus on analyzing and quantifying organizational and human behavior, test hypotheses, interpret economic models, understand the financial system, and apply mathematical and statistical theories. Ultimately, this enables them to educate the next generation of economists, who will positively impact the world as a whole.

The degree can be completed in just 20 months and is highly flexible. Students can continue to meet their professional and personal commitments. Furthermore, the school has a number of scholarship opportunities in place.

The curriculum is based strongly on policy, having been developed in Washington, DC, which is the considered to be the heart of American economic policy. This location has greatly influenced the degree program as a whole, ensuring that students can be connected to those who truly impact the world’s economy. The curriculum focuses on data analysis and how this can be applied to economic policy, while at the same time translating this into plain English. The focus, therefore, is both on practical applications and on theory, delivering graduates who can interpret and understanding complex mathematical concepts and apply them to real-world challenges. The degree also focuses on transforming students into true leaders.

Graduates are highly sought-after for their ability to predict and understand the impact of policy changes on the wider economic markets. This is something of particular importance to financial institutions, NGOs, think tanks, corporations, and government agencies. Additionally, American University Online delivers its courses through highly credentialed faculty, who have wide-ranging international and policy expertise and come from a range of different backgrounds. These expert faculty and scholars teach the students how to solve real-life, pressing problems. They do this online, through the utilization of interactive media relating to issues facing the economy today.

The faculty of American University are regularly featured in global media. These include The Peninsula, The Boston Globe, CNN, The Los Angeles Time, the International Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Finance and Management, the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, and the Review of International Organization. This further demonstrates the real-world knowledge and skill that the faculty bring to the degree.

Core courses of the program include:

  • Introduction to Mathematical Economics
  • Microeconomic Theory
  • Macroeconomic Theory
  • Applied Econometrics

Those who complete the master of arts in economics have a range of career opportunities available to them. Regardless of the position they take on, they will focus on monitoring and analyzing available economic data and information. Where they do this, however, will vary tremendously. Often, they work in highly specialized fields, taking on professional level positions in line with their advanced degree. Some focus on the financial and economic information of specific industries, others focus on certain time periods, and others still on certain organizations. Common job titles seen in graduates of the master of arts in economics include:

  • Microeconomist
  • Industrial economist
  • Macroeconomist
  • Financial economist


By completing a master of arts in economics, you have the opportunity to greatly advance your career, regardless of which industry you decide to work in. Furthermore, you can decide to move on to the doctorate degree level, becoming a researcher in the field or an educator of the next generation of economists. Either way, you will be respected for your advanced management and leadership skills and knowledge, and that is something you can rightfully take a great deal of personal pride in.