Master's in Finance Vs Master's in Economics

Students deliberating between a master's in finance and a master's in economics should think about their career goals. Learn about some of the possible careers for each degree, as well as program information and admissions requirements.

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A master's degree program in finance and a master's degree program in economics are two very distinct programs. Although they both prepare students for business-related careers, they vary in program requirements, coursework and other factors. Compare and contrast the two degree programs below.

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Comparing a Master's in Finance to a Master's in Economics

Master's in Finance

A master's degree in finance is usually a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) designated program designed for students wishing to prepare for careers in the financial industry. The program focuses on finance and other business-related topics. This degree program is typically offered as a Master of Science degree, is available online and on-campus and can be completed in 1 to 2 years. Online programs may require students to participate in an on-campus residency to meet with faculty and/or their cohort. Some programs may culminate in a capstone course or project to allow students to apply their knowledge to real-world situations.

Students in the program often have their choice of a few elective courses, but common core courses likely discuss topics in financial reporting, financial analysis, corporate finance, markets and managerial finance. Graduates of this degree program can work as financial managers, financial analysts, financial planners, financial officers, lending officers, portfolio managers and more.

Master's in Economics

Some master's degree programs in economics may also be recognized as a STEM degree and are designed for students who wish to focus their study on economic theory and/or econometrics. These degree programs are available as a Master of Arts or a Master of Science (usually the STEM designated degree), are available online and on-campus and are usually completed in 1.5 to 2 years. Some programs may require students to complete a research paper prior to graduation, and, although it may be encouraged, an internship is not usually required.

Students typically take a few electives, but core courses cover topics in data analysis, microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics and mathematical methods. Graduates of this degree program typically find work as economists or doing economic research, but they may also find other related positions in the government and financial institutions working to solve various economic issues.

Common Entrance Requirements

Applicants to either a master's in finance or master's in economics degree program typically will need to submit the required applications and fees, official transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose and/or a resume. Some master's in finance programs may require a minimum GPA of 3.0. These programs also usually recommend that students have a background in business statistics, finance and microeconomics. Master's in economics degree programs typically recommend that applicants have a strong background in economics. Some of these programs may require that students have completed coursework in calculus and/or specific economics courses and may have a minimum GPA requirement of a 3.0.

Students interested in working in the financial industry as financial managers, analysts or similar positions should pursue a master's in finance, while those interested in studying the economy and working as an economist should earn a master's in economics. Both programs typically involve business-related math and often require applicants to have a 3.0 GPA.

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