Top Economics Programs: List of Top U.S. Schools

Economics programs in the United States may be offered through a university's business school or college of liberal arts and social sciences. Get rankings, degree offerings and other details for the top economics programs in the country.

Many top schools in the U.S. offer economics program at the undergraduate and graduate degree levels. These schools include the University of Chicago, Columbia University and Stanford University.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Applied Economics
  • Development Economics
  • Econometrics
  • International Economics

School Overviews

Below are profiles of three highly respected institutions with nationally recognized economics programs. These programs offer bachelor's and doctoral degrees, and a master's degree can be earned in progress to the doctoral degree. Dual degree options are also available at each school. All three schools were highly rated by U.S. News & World Report. Read on for further details about these schools' programs and achievements.

University of Chicago in Chicago, IL

School Highlight: 28 Nobel Prize winners in Economics have been faculty, students or researchers at Chicago.

U.S. News & World Report listed the University of Chicago tied for third in the 2017 ranking of the best colleges in the nation. The publication also placed the school tied for first in its 2013 national ranking of the best graduate programs in economics, which was the most recent year that economics programs were ranked.

The University of Chicago's Department of Economics offers a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Economics. A Master of Arts (M.A.) in Economics may be obtained if the Ph.D. candidate is unable to complete the five-year doctoral degree but has fulfilled the requirements for a master's degree. Doctoral candidates focus on three basic economics theories: Theory of Income, Employment and the Price Level, Quantitative Methods and Price Theory. A dual Ph.D. program in finance and economics is also available from the economics department and the University's Booth School of Business.

Stanford University in Stanford, CA

School Highlight: Stanford's economics department provides for academic research into 17 primary fields.

U.S. News & World Report listed Stanford University, a private institution, tied for fifth in the 2017 ranking of the best colleges in the nation. Stanford was also tied for fifth in the U.S. News & World Report's national ranking of universities with the best graduate degree programs in economics in 2013.

Both economics undergraduate and graduate degree programs are offered through the School of Humanities and Sciences. The B.A. in Economics program requires 80 units, while a minor requires 35 units of economics coursework. The Ph.D. program can be completed in four years, during which a doctoral candidate may also obtain an M.A. in Economics upon completion of the required units. The Department of Economics and the Stanford Law School offer two dual degree programs resulting in a Juris Doctor (J.D.) and a M.A. in Economics or a J.D. and a Ph.D. in Economics.

Columbia University in New York, NY

School Highlight: The economics department added a Master of Arts option in 2015, and also offers B.A. and Ph.D. degree programs in the field.

Columbia University was ranked tied for fifth in the rankings of the best colleges in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for 2017, and its graduate economics program ranked tenth in 2013. The Department of Economics offers a general economics major as well as five interdisciplinary majors. Ph.D. students must take certifying exams in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics. Weekly workshops are available for doctoral students in subjects that include international economics and economic theory.

Top Economics Programs

These top schools also offer economics programs:

  • Located in Cambridge, MA, Harvard University's economics department produces the world-renowned Quarterly Journal of Economics, the first scholarly journal on the subject in the English-speaking world.
  • At Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA, economics students can apply to spend their junior year studying economics at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
  • Located in Evanston, IL, Northwestern University offers a highly selective, four-year B.A./M.A. program in economics.
  • At Princeton University in Princeton, NJ, undergraduate economics students pursue independent research work in their junior and senior years.
  • Located in Berkeley, CA, the University of California-Berkeley's economics faculty includes five Nobel Prize winners.
  • Located in Philadelphia, PA, the University of Pennsylvania's economics department specializes in the study of empirical microeconomics, modern macroeconomics and microtheory, with particular emphasis on game theory.
  • At Wellesley College in Wellesley, MA, students can pursue a five-year B.A./M.A. program in international economics and finance through a joint program with the Brandeis International School of Business.
  • Williams College in Williamstown, MA, has an economics department that has established three research centers, including a center in Cape Town, South Africa.
  • At Yale University in New Haven, CT, undergraduates can apply for a research assistantship in economics for up to a year; undergraduate research opportunities are also available in the summer.

Many options and opportunities are available for students looking for an economics program at one of the top schools in the U.S. These include research opportunities and assistantships, different specializations, undergraduate majors and numerous graduate programs.

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