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International Economics Degree Options By Level

Oct 20, 2019

An international economics degree program provides students with an advanced understanding of how economic principles play out on a global scale. Two degrees available in the field are a Master of Arts in International Economics and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in International Economics.

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Essential Information

Master's degree programs accept students who hold a bachelor's degree and have a strong background in business and finance. Courses cover topics such as international trade, econometrics, and monetary economics.

Economists or graduate students who want to get into teaching or research can enroll in a Ph.D. program. Courses may include monetary theory, international corporate finance and economic development, and students spend much of their time researching and preparing their dissertation on an area of international economics.


Master of Arts in International Economics

Master's degree programs in international economics are designed for students who already have a solid understanding of business principles and finance. While enrolled in such a degree program, students learn about advanced microeconomics and macroeconomics, global economic theory and international trade theory. Many master's degree programs in the field also allow students to choose a specialization, such as development economics or quantitative methods of economic theory.

Applicants to most master's programs in international economics need to have earned a baccalaureate degree. Incoming international economics master's students typically need a solid educational background in mathematics, economics, business administration and finance.

Many courses included within a master's degree program in international economics are theory-based, and are therefore offered through intensive lecture formats. Some examples of those types of courses include:

  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics
  • International trade
  • Econometrics
  • Economic development
  • International politics and economics

Doctor of Philosophy in International Economics

A Ph.D. in International Economics typically takes 5-7 years to complete and is primarily suited for graduate students or professional economists who are looking to go into teaching or research positions. Core seminar courses cover advanced topics in global economic theory, labor economics, comparative systems, public finance and finance markets. Students are also often required to take qualifying examinations to achieve candidacy within a Ph.D. program, in addition to completing a dissertation that further explores a subfield of international economics.

Successful applicants to Ph.D. programs in international economics usually already have a strong understanding of global financial markets and economic theory. Some professional experience in the field is often preferred, if not required. Baccalaureate and master's degrees are often required.

Although typically at least one third of a Ph.D. program in international economics is taken up with individual study and dissertation research, the remaining portion of such a program consists of graduate seminars. Some of these might cover topics like:

  • Monetary theory and policy
  • Economic development
  • International corporate finance
  • International monetary system
  • Tariffs, quotas and policies

Popular Career Options

International economics is a complex field that often requires professionals to earn a master's or doctoral degree. Individuals who earn a Ph.D. in international economics are eligible for the following positions:

  • Professor of international economics
  • Associate professor
  • Economics department chair
  • Economic researcher
  • International economist

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

International economists are responsible for analyzing financial markets and trade policies throughout the world. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were roughly 21,000 economists employed in the country in 2018 (www.bls.gov). The median annual wage of an economist in 2018 was $104,340 , according to BLS data. The BLS estimated that job growth for economists will increase 8% for the years 2018 through 2028.

Prospective students of international economics can study at a master's or doctoral level. Classes in macroeconomics and economic development prepare graduates for a range of career options, include a professor or economist.

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