Behavioral economics is an interdisciplinary field concerning how the financial decisions made by individuals and groups differ from their predicted outcomes. Degree programs specifically in behavioral economics are rare, but many master's and doctoral degree programs in economics offer relevant coursework.
A Master of Arts (M.A.) in Economics curriculum discusses microeconomic and macroeconomic population factors, global financial activity theories and mathematical and statistical measuring methods. Students must manage a live financial portfolio. Applicants are asked to submit letters of recommendation and a personal statement. Those with a background in economics and strong analytical and mathematics skills will have an advantage.
At the doctoral level, students gain an understanding of the theoretical basis and practical implications of economic ideas, research methodology and applied behavioral economics. They also learn how socialization, psychology and other factors affect financial decision-making. Concentration options are offered. Prospective enrollees must have completed courses in macroeconomic and microeconomic theory, have familiarity with basic statistical methods and strong analytical and communication skills.
Master of Arts Degree in Economics
Classes in these programs emphasize applying theoretical information to financial situations with experimental economics, which analyzes how particular variables affect economic activity. Other common topics are:
- Theories of behavioral economics
- Economic statistics
Doctor of Philosophy in Economics
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in economics programs typically provide in-depth theoretical training, where students are able to understand and predict world economic events. Core subjects include:
- Behavioral decision research
- Public economic policy and behavioral economics
- Experimental behavioral economics
- Behavioral microeconomics
Popular Career Options
Economic master's graduates are qualified for jobs in the public and private sectors and in the areas of theoretical and applied economics. Some individuals work as economic consultants or policy research assistants. Doctoral degree holders are able to pursue research, teaching and consulting positions. Some popular job titles include:
- Economics Professor
- Behavioral economics researcher
- Behavioral economics consultant
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that employment for economists and postsecondary teachers will grow at a rate of 6% and 13% over the 2014-2024 decade, with mean annual wages of $109,230 and $106,980 as of May 2015, respectively.
Behavioral economics is a discipline typically taught within broader graduate economics programs. Whether a student wishes to pursue research, teaching, or consulting will help them determine the correct educational pathway.