Online Master's Degree in Applied Economics
Economics students will study production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. It is both a theoretical and practical subject area with multiple applications. Economics graduates don't just work in business, they also work in healthcare, labor, agriculture and education examining budgets and ensuring financial resources are properly organized. Economists study supply and demand and other factors that determine why prices fluctuate. They may also be charged with coming up with potential solutions. Increasingly, their skills are required in the environmental sector, driving modern organizations towards a sustainable future. Environmental economics is a growing and important area.
Master's degrees in Applied Economics will permit students to examine real-world application and policy-making of economics - not theory and research. Students who wish to use their master's in Applied Economics to enter a career in environmental economics will study the relationships between economic activity, public policy and planning, and environmental issues. They will examine the economics of natural resource use, resource allocation, climate change, population growth, global trade amongst other issues in corporate, government and third sector roles.
We expect Environmental Economics to be a growth area of the next few years; it's certainly an interesting area for graduates of online master's degrees in Applied Economics. Globalization, disruptive new technologies, environmental challenges, the growth of sustainable energy - these issues are presently forcing significant and disruptive change on the national and global market.
Choosing an Online Applied Economics Program
Online study is so popular today, providing students from all backgrounds the ability to study without having to engage with campus life. The main advantage to an online program in applied economics is flexibility. As a practical or applied area of study, there is less theory and more in the way of real-world working examples. Online programs are especially useful for parents and those caring for sick relatives. Studying in a home environment at home allows students of applied economics to study in a way that benefits their individual lifestyle.
There are many choices to study applied economics online. Courses are not necessarily all the same. It is advantageous for the student to research their options and prepare a list of questions for prospective schools if the student information does not already answer them:
- Ask the university how long they have been running this particular course or offering economics degrees in general. It is a new subject to some colleges.
- Enquire about the percentage of students who graduate at the end of the online applied economics program.
- Enquire about employability rates for graduates, especially for those entering the environmental field and what proportion succeed in their intended career.
- Ask about the types of job roles that students of this graduate program will typically find open to them.
- Some programs offer students work placements and internships for applied science roles. Enquire if and where this institution can send students for work experience.
If you're looking to enter an environmental role upon graduation, ask about your options to take courses from other degrees to tailor your online master's economics. Many traditional degree subjects are cross-disciplinary now. It is to the student's advantage to pursue a “best fit” degree program with flexibility.
Is an Online Degree Right for You?
While online degrees in any subject suit certain student types, it does not necessarily mean that it is a right fit for the student. Working from home requires discipline and organizational skills as well as aptitude and an interest in the subject. As students of online master's degrees in Applied Economics, you will need space to think and consider the real-world issues and their solutions. You'll need a bachelor's degree in a relevant subject. While most master's students have undergraduate degrees in economics, it is not always a given. Businesses degrees are useful, as are those in math and statistics. School requirements will vary but they will expect an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject. Some may have a minimum GPA for entry.
What to Expect
Online master's degrees in Applied Economics will cover all of the relevant subjects in modern practical rather than theoretical economics. Students will take a hands-on approach to looking at the business and government processes of the local, national and global market. Economics is the study of production and consumption, and of the transfer of wealth and resources. Students will examine microeconomics (single factors and individual decision-making) and macroeconomics (large-scale decision-making and performance such as GDP), statistics for economics and econometrics (measuring economic activity). You will also have a number of optional courses to help you tailor your studies in the area where you wish to pursue your career such as economic theory, environmental economics and the economics of sustainability.
Applied Economics Topics You'll Study
Most degree programs have core courses that students must take or will provide a list of which the student must take a minimum number.
- Each program will have compulsory subjects covering the essential concepts of economics such as microeconomics and macroeconomics, and statistics.
- Some will offer a choice of two advanced master's courses such as micro-econometrics and macro-econometrics from which the student must choose one.
- There will be a number of thematic courses to help the student tailor their studies for their career. Examples may include economics and environment/sustainability, the economics of health and international policy.
- A thesis, dissertation or other advanced project that will form a major part of the student's final grade.
Applied Economics Professional Organizations
Agricultural and Applied Economics Association: This is the major body for students and professionals working or intending to work in the vital area of agriculture. They are not for profit and work towards improving education and standards in the economics of agriculture, and national and international development. They also engage in environmental research for a more sustainable future.
American Economics Association: They are one of the country's oldest economics organizations, working on a non-partisan framework for the betterment of the economics discipline. Their mission is to improve standards for all economists, offering programs and training, and publishing an academic journal.
International Association of Agricultural Economists: The IAAE is a global organization for those working in the important area of agriculture. Their remit is not just to study the economics of agriculture, but also to examine the role of agriculture on environment and society. They also act as a facilitator for the stakeholders concerned with agricultural performance.
USDA Economic Research Service: A division of the US Department of Agriculture, the ERA provides information to the Federal government on statistics and agricultural production in the US. ERS was founded in 1863 to model and interpret statistical data although it has undergone several name changes in that time.
Tuition Costs Estimates
As with most college programs, the cost of tuition depends on whether the student is from the state or from out of state. Costs for international students will be even higher. Also, the more prestigious the college or university, the greater the cost associated with study. In a survey of colleges and universities offering degrees for the 2016-17 academic year, the lowest tuition cost was University of Florida at just over $18,000 for in-state residents. The highest cost was Columbia University with a tuition cost of around $67,200. The average appears to be around $60,000 for full tuition. Out of state residents can expect to pay around double the tuition costs of in state students. International students should check with each institute to determine eligibility as well as prospective cost.
What You'll Learn
Any master's degree in Applied Economics will provide students with the tools and methods of economics. They will exit the degree with a solid understanding of economic theory and practice and be able to understand the economic policies and issues debated in the world today. Core to this will be a study of the history of economics and its application. They will understand the different types of economics philosophies and be able to explain examples of real world models of each type. Further, they will have a solid foundation of the differences between microeconomics and macroeconomics, and understand why these are treated differently.
Applied economics differs from standard degrees in economics in that it is less heavy on the theory. It's an applied science for use in most career types whereas a master's degree in standard economics will direct students more towards a career in academic research and towards the types of role that require a PhD.
Career Track and Employment
All sectors: government, private industry and charity require economists for various reasons. The skills that economics students learn are flexible and transferable. The majority of new graduates will find that most opportunities are in in government - both federal and state with the majority being in the various branches of the Federal government. Economists also work independently of traditional structures. Some work for scientific and technical consulting services either as working for part of a private consultancy firm, or freelance. A growing number now work in the scientific research area with environment becoming one of the key areas where economists are needed. Finance & insurance is still a large and reliable employer of economists.
Economists may find a number of existing and growth opportunities to work with environmental and natural resource organizations. Environmental economists work towards financial and environmental sustainability for the project. They are involved in costing with a view to understanding environmental impact of each costed decision.
Where economists work for nonprofit organizations, they typically spend their working time analyzing environmental costs and benefits of proposed laws, regulations, and alternative energy sources. Some economists work on sustainable development projects for such organizations as UNICEF, the World Bank and U.S. Aid. Some of these roles may require regular overseas travel.
Each of the roles discussed above may have slightly different requirements. Most economists require an MS/MA at the very least with more important or responsible roles (especially those for US Aid and the United Nations) requiring a doctorate.
As of May 2020, the median salary for economists was $108,350. The highest paying area is still finance and insurance with an average $129,060
2020 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures and job growth projections for Economists reflect national data not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed September 2021.