M.S in Economics Vs MBA

While both a Master of Science (MS) in Economics and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) are business-related degrees, they are very different. Learn about each degree, common courses, admissions requirements and potential career options.

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An MS in Economics is a more specific degree program, while an MBA is a broader degree program. Students trying to decide between these two degree programs should consider their long-term career goals and personal interests. Compare and contrast the programs to help you make a decision.

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Comparing an MS in Economics to an MBA

Master of Science in Economics

An MS in Economics degree program is usually considered a Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) degree and are designed for students with analytic backgrounds who wish to further study quantitative economics. These programs are available in on-campus, online and hybrid formats, can be taken full- or part-time and can typically be completed in 2 to 3 years. Some programs may provide optional thesis and/or internship opportunities, as well as additional concentrations, such as applied economics/business or advanced theory. Elective coursework may vary to allow students to focus in a particular area of economics, but common core courses usually cover topics in econometrics, microeconomics, macroeconomics, international economics, behavioral economics and data analysis. Graduates of these degree programs may go on to pursue a doctorate degree or a career as an economist or another business, managerial or public policy career that has an emphasis on economics.

Master of Business Administration

MBA degree programs are typically more flexible programs that offer many different specializations to prepare students for a wide range of business-related careers. These programs are also available in on-campus and online formats, can be taken full- or part-time and can usually be completed in 1 to 2 years. Students in these programs may need to complete a capstone project and/or internship prior to graduation for hands-on learning and can choose from various concentrations, such as organizational leadership, supply chain management, and human resources. Elective coursework varies greatly depending on a student's chosen concentration, but many common core courses discuss topics in information and technology management, statistics, organizational behavior, financial accounting, economics and ethics. Graduates of MBA programs are prepared to work a variety of administrative, managerial and business-related careers in the government, investment banking and businesses in many different industries.

Common Entrance Requirements

Most MS in Economics and MBA degree programs ask applicants to submit official transcripts, GRE or GMAT scores, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose or essay and/or a resume, as part of the required application documents. MS in Economics degree programs could also have a minimum 3.0 GPA requirement and expect students to have prior coursework in statistics, calculus and/or probability. Although these programs typically do not require students to hold a bachelor's degree from a particular field, applicants with a STEM degree may be preferred. In contrast, some MBA degree programs may have a minimum GPA requirement as low as a 2.0. Some MBA degree programs may also require applicants to have related work experience prior to entrance into the program.

Students who would like to focus their studies specifically on economics may consider earning an MS in Economics, while students who would like to focus in a different business-related area may want to pursue an MBA. These degree programs may each require some economics courses, but vary greatly in the other required courses and even some admission requirements.

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