Certificate programs in strategy and economics go by a range of official titles and are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Admission requirements often include a high school diploma and prerequisite courses at the undergraduate level; graduate certificates mandate that students hold a bachelor's degree. Coursework is heavy with economics classes regardless of certificate title, however some of this coursework may be available online. Undergraduate certificate programs are typically part of a broader bachelor's program.
Undergraduate Certificate in Strategy and Economics
Though certificate names vary widely from one institution to the next, bachelor's degree programs in business, economics, or other disciplines may include a specialized certificate in an area of strategy or economics. Students study how regulatory and policy changes, market competition, and other forces drive economic decision-making and business strategy, with an emphasis on applied economics and strategic management. Emphasis is also placed on economic analysis, budgeting, managing risk, and the critical-thinking skills needed to make sound financial decisions in emerging or volatile markets.
In addition to a high school diploma or GED, which is required for university admission, business and economics degree and certificate programs may require students to take a series of foundational prerequisite courses for program admission. Microeconomics, macroeconomics, statistics, and advanced mathematics courses are often required before students can take upper-level economics and strategy courses.
Many certificate programs include coursework in a variety of advanced economics and management topics. A strategy and economics certificate might include these course topics:
- Economic forecasting
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Graduate Certificate in Strategy and Economics
At the graduate level, strategy and economics certificates may be offered as stand-alone programs for industry professionals, or as part of graduate degree programs in economics, finance, or a similar discipline. Graduate certificates are often highly specialized to provide in-depth instruction in strategic management, economic development and emerging markets, financial economics, or other topics. Students learn to analyze risks and opportunities in foreign and domestic markets, plan financial strategies based on economic modeling, and interpret available data for the decision-making process.
Generally, these programs require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree, and some programs may be offered for continuing education credits or professional development for those already employed in the corporate finance, business, or economics fields.
Because graduate certificates in strategy and economics can be tailored to the specific career goals and academic interests of the student, coursework varies widely from one certificate program to the next. A program may include any of the following courses:
- Economic development
- Strategic management
- Financial modeling and forecasting
- Risk management and business decisions
- Financial economics
- International markets and finance
Popular Career Options
In addition to being hired for executive positions, certificate program graduates may find employment with financial services institutions, private corporations, and government agencies. Some career options include the following:
- Financial manager
- Economic analyst
- Management analyst
- Securities and commodities sales agent
Continuing Education Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted that many professionals in economics, business, and financial services fields complete extensive job training and increasingly pursue advanced degrees to enhance their career opportunities (www.bls.gov). A master's degree in a relevant field, such as economics, accounting, finance, or business, may be required by some employers, while others prefer candidates who hold a Master of Business Administration (MBA), the BLS reported.
Depending on the chosen career, there may be professional certification or accreditation available; several financial and economic careers also require licensure. For example, financial managers and securities and commodities sales agents can acquire the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) credential. Accounting professionals may be required to obtain a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license, while brokers, securities professionals and other financial advisors are required to register with FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Most certifications and licenses have education and experience requirements and include examinations for credentialing.
The BLS noted that while a bachelor's degree may provide entry-level job opportunities for economists, career advancement usually necessitates earning an advanced degree. According to O*Net OnLine, 29% of economists hold a master's degree and 58% hold a doctoral or professional degree (www.onetonline.org). Top-level administrative positions and economic research jobs typically require at least a master's degree, and university teaching positions are generally open to applicants with a Ph.D., the BLS reported.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The BLS predicted 6% job growth for economists between 2014 and 2024, since related industries will continue to seek individuals with advanced economics knowledge for the purposes of economic analysis and consulting. The BLS further noted that the best job opportunities will arise in private corporations, especially for applicants with specialized skills.
May 2015 salary figures from the BLS demonstrated a wide variation in wages between the bottom earners and the top earners, with annual salaries falling between $52,540 and $176,90. The national average salary for economists as of May 2015 was $109,230, the BLS reported.
Students can take certificate programs in strategy and economics at the undergraduate and graduate level. These programs are supplemental to either a bachelor's or master's degree, and focuses on specific career goals students may have regarding the economics field.