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M.A. in Economics Vs. MBA

Apr 02, 2019

Despite an MBA usually including coursework in economics, there are some significant differences between an MBA and an M.A. in Economics. Compare and contrast the 2 degree programs, their graduation requirements, and their admissions procedures.

Although there are several dual Master of Arts (M.A.)/Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree programs in economics available, students trying to decide between the 2 degrees may wish to consider factors like career goals and personal interests. An M.A. in Economics is usually shorter in length and provides students with a more specific education in economics than an MBA program. Find out more about what sets these programs apart below.

M.A. in Economics vs. MBA

Master of Arts in Economics

M.A. in Economics degree programs are typically Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) designated programs that can usually be completed in 1 to 1.5 years. These programs may require around 30 to 32 credits for completion and are designed to train students in a quantitative approach to the field. Some of these programs may include a comprehensive exam, capstone course, optional internship experience for hands-on learning, and/or a portfolio exercise as a part of the culminating experience. Usually these programs include some core coursework in subjects like statistics, microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics, as well as some elective coursework to allow students to explore areas of personal interest that may even be in other closely economic-related subjects, such as computer science, mathematics, and statistics. Some graduates of M.A. programs in economics may pursue study at the doctoral level, but others may work as economists, researchers, financial or economic analysts, or consultants in business, industry, the government, and more.

Master of Business Administration

MBA programs are typically big-picture programs that provide students with a wide range of knowledge in business management, but also allow students to specialize in a particular area of interest, such as economics. These programs may be completed in about 15 months to 2 years, may require around 36 credits, can be available in online formats, and usually include a capstone course or advanced study project at the end of the program. Some of these programs may also include an internship experience and/or other experiential learning opportunities for hands-on training, such as projects, industry immersions, or fellowship programs. Students in MBA programs usually take core courses in business administration that may cover topics in ethics, finance, accounting, marketing, leadership, economics, and more, as well as courses within their chosen specialization, such as econometrics, microeconomics, and macroeconomics for a concentration in economics. Graduates of MBA programs, including those with a specialization in economics, are prepared to take on leadership and management positions within various areas of business, like finance, consulting, government, transportation, marketing, insurance, and banking.

Common Entrance Requirements

Applicants to either the M.A. in Economics or the MBA must hold at least a bachelor's degree, but some M.A. in Economics programs may require that the degree be in economics or a closely related field. Some M.A. programs in economics may also require applicants to have prior coursework in areas like algebra, statistics, calculus, and micro- and macroeconomics. Both programs generally require the GRE, but some MBA programs may also accept the GMAT. Common application materials for both programs include a student's transcripts, letters of recommendation, and statement of purpose or essay responses.

Students wishing to work careers specifically in economics or looking to pursue education at the doctoral level may wish to earn an M.A. in Economics instead of an MBA. The M.A. may be completed in as little as 1 year, while the MBA may take around 2 years to complete and provides more general business education.

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