Master's degree programs in economics and finance typically lead to different career outcomes. Although these programs may be similar in length, they usually vary in the coursework and specific training they provide students. Here we examine some of the differences between a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Economics and the Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Finance.
Comparing an M.A. in Economics to an MBA in Finance
Master of Arts in Economics
M.A. in Economics degree programs are usually 1 to 2 years in length and may provide students with additional areas of concentration, such as global economy or applied microeconomics. Some of these programs are Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) designated programs and typically provides students with a range of hands-on learning opportunities, such as conducting research, participating in academic conferences, and training with current computer software used in the field. As a part of the culminating experience, students may be required to take a comprehensive exam or complete various master's projects in areas of personal interest, depending on the program. Most of these programs require core coursework in economic theory, typically at both the micro- and macro- levels, statistics, and econometrics and then offer students a range of electives in different areas of interest, such as international economics, managerial economics, or labor economics. Graduates can pursue economic-related careers in the government, consulting, industry, banking, and more; they may also go on to pursue advanced education.
Master of Business Administration in Finance
Finance is typically offered as a concentration in some MBA programs, which may take as little as 15 months to 21 months to complete. Often, these degree programs are available in flexible online formats and/or offer coursework in the evenings. Typically, students complete their training with somewhere between 22 and 31 credits of core coursework in business administration, followed by concentration coursework specifically in finance, which may include an optional internship opportunity for hands-on learning. Core coursework may include topics in research methods, business ethics, marketing, policy, and management, while specific finance courses may cover subjects in corporate finance, investments, banking, portfolio management, and more. Graduates are prepared to work a variety of business- and finance-related careers, such as management analysts, investment fund managers, and loss prevention managers in settings like banks, broker-dealer firms, and consulting firms.
Common Entrance Requirements
Applicants to either the M.A. in Economics or MBA in Finance programs typically need to hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and are likely to need to meet a minimum GPA requirement, which usually ranges between a 2.5 to 2.75. Some M.A. in Economics programs may require students to have some prior coursework in algebra and calculus. Students should be sure to check the standardized test requirements for their particular institution, as some require students to take the GRE, while others do not require the exam at all. Typically, students applying to either program need to include their transcripts with their application and then, depending on the program, some students may also need to include letters of recommendation and/or a statement of purpose.
Students can usually earn their M.A. in Economics or MBA in Finance in about 1 to 2 years, but as the name implies, the M.A. focuses more on economics while the MBA program provides students with general business administration training and specific training in the world of finance. Both programs usually provide hands-on learning experiences and prepare students for a variety of careers.