While they both fall within the field of business, a master's degree program in economics is very different from a master's degree program in finance. They vary in program length, common courses, career options and other factors. Here we compare and contrast these two programs and examine some of the common admissions requirements for each.
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Comparing a Master's in Economics to a Master's in Finance
Master's in Economics
Students interested in pursuing a master's degree program in economics can find programs that offer a Master of Science or a Master of Arts in the field, as well as online study options and/or a concentration in applied economics. These programs typically range in duration from three semesters to three years and, depending on the program, may require a research paper and/or comprehensive exams prior to graduation. Students in these programs will take courses in micro- and macroeconomics, statistics and other mathematical analysis and econometrics. Graduates of these programs can pursue doctoral degrees or find careers as economists, entrepreneurs, investment bankers, research assistants and consultants.
Master's in Finance
Students interested in finance can earn a Master of Science in Finance degree online or on campus at many institutions across the nation. These programs usually take anywhere from one to two years to complete and many follow a cohort model, even those available online, so that students complete their studies with the same group of peers. Some online programs may also require a short on-campus residency at some point throughout the program so that students can meet face-to-face with faculty and each other. Some common courses for a master's degree in finance include financial analysis, financial accounting, corporate finance, valuation and risk management. Graduates from this program may pursue many different business careers in banks, companies and other financial institutions and hold job titles like financial analyst, corporate finance officer, portfolio manager, financial accountant and financial risk manager.
Common Entrance Requirements
Entrance into either master's degree program is usually competitive and in general requires the submission of an application, official transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation and English-language proficiency. Students applying to the master's in economics programs may be required to hold a bachelor's degree in economics, mathematics or a closely related field and usually need to submit a statement of purpose. The master's degree programs in economics may have a minimum GPA requirement of a 3.0, depending on the program. Students applying to the master's in finance programs are typically not required to hold a bachelor's degree in a specific field, but any coursework in finance and business will be helpful. Some finance programs may prefer students to submit GMAT scores in place of GRE scores and any related work experience may be taken into account for entrance to the program.
Students pursuing a career in the field of business may consider earning a Master of Science or Master of Arts in Economics or a Master of Science in Finance. These degree programs provide students with specific coursework in their respective subject that prepares them for a future career in the field, and these programs have fairly competitive entrance requirements.