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Behavioral Economics Degree and Certificate Program Overviews

Behavioral economics programs integrate aspects of business, economics, and psychology, to give an in-depth view of this relatively new field, focused on making better economic decisions. This field is most commonly offered at the graduate level through master's and doctoral programs. Students may be able to customize a certificate program at some schools, but these programs aren't commonly offered.

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Essential Information

A graduate program in behavioral economics can lead to work in the business field, specifically, in areas of market analysis. At the master's level, students can explore behavioral economics through research projects, while the doctorate degree program focuses majorly on the behavioral aspects of economics. This program requires coursework in psychology, economics, sociology, and other departments, including the completion of a research-intensive dissertation. Although, program features may vary with universities, the general overview of the Behavioral Economics program is as follows:

  • Program Levels in Behavioral Economics: Master's and Doctorate
  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree in any major and GRE/GMAT
  • Program Length: Master's: 2 years; Ph.D.: 4-5 years
  • Online Availability: Master's programs/courses may be offered online

Master's Degree in Economics with a Behavioral Economics Concentration

Behavioral Economics is a relatively new field of study. Universities and colleges often do not offer a wide variety of classes specifically on this subject, however, at the graduate level, there are usually more research opportunities that students can pursue in this area. Research primarily incorporates the technical, number-crunching parts of economics, with the often irrational aspects of human behavior. Behavioral economics requires a cross-section of classes involving finance and economics, in addition to classes that dissect consumer decisions. This field requires students to be open to a variety of disciplines and to observe and interpret their impact on each other. Classes may include the following:

  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics
  • Game theory
  • Organizational behavior
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Statistical Mathematics

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Ph.D. in Economics with a Behavioral Economics Concentration

Ph.D. programs progressively focus more on the behavioral aspect of economics. The first three years generally involve classes in economics, psychology, and sometimes, biology. The final years are composed of research - focusing on an area of behavioral economics chosen by the student, which may include areas such as perfect rationality (the assumption that users - like buyers and sellers - always aim for the best potential outcome when making decisions). Classes offered in the Ph.D. program will be an extension of those offered in the master's program but involve additional theories regarding current research. Advanced classes generally include the following:

  • Economic theory
  • Empirical Economics
  • International Finance
  • Social Psychology
  • Behavioral decision-making

Popular Career Options

Depending on the concentration chosen by the student, there is a wide range of career options available for students with a master's degree. Career options may include the following:

  • Financial analyst
  • Marketing researcher
  • Corporate economist
  • Behavioral Health Economist

Ph.D. graduates generally continue their research while working for the government, universities, or the private sector. Job prospects include the following:

  • Economics professor
  • Consumer modeler
  • Economics research scientist

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects that employment for economists will grow by 6% over the years 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov), which is as fast as the average compared to other professions. The mean annual wage for economists reported by BLS in May 2015 was $109,230.

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