Best Bachelor's Degrees in Economics

Mar 04, 2021

What is an Economics Bachelor Degree?

Economics can broadly be defined as the study of wealth. However, it's a very complex field with many layers. It studies the way that people make decisions, examines historical trends, and how government policy affects everyday life. These can be analyzed on a global scale or down to individual actions.

Economists can use the information found about these topics to do a variety of things. They can work towards a better society with knowledge of labor and political economics. They can also be a bit more theoretical, using statistical models to better understand or predict human behavior.

Given the breadth of the field, there are many problems that economics can help to solve. The field is ever-evolving as well. Economics can be applied to many different causes, so its practitioners must be able to adapt their work as what they study changes.

The Top Bachelor's Degrees in Economics

1. University of California-Irvine

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$13727 27% 84% 63% Yes Yes AP Credits

2. Spelman College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$29972 43% 75% 97% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

3. University of California-Santa Cruz

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$13991 51% 75% 70% Yes Yes AP Credits

4. SUNY Oneonta

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8740 56% 76% 85% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

5. St. Mary's College of Maryland

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$15124 84% 77% 95% Yes Yes AP Credits

6. CUNY Queens College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7538 49% 56% 79% Yes Yes AP Credits

7. University of California-Santa Barbara

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$14391 30% 83% 63% Yes Yes AP Credits

8. Binghamton University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10201 41% 82% 75% Yes Yes AP Credits

9. SUNY Cortland

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8806 46% 71% 86% Yes Yes AP Credits

10. University of Oregon

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$12720 82% 74% 77% Yes Yes AP Credits

11. University of California-Davis

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$14495 39% 87% 66% Yes Yes AP Credits

12. Virginia Military Institute

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$19118 60% 79% 92% Yes Yes AP Credits

13. SUNY at Albany

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10176 54% 63% 85% No Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

14. University of Virginia-Main Campus

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$17935 24% 95% 57% Yes Yes AP Credits

15. University of California-Riverside

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$13853 57% 76% 85% Yes Yes AP Credits

16. University of California-Los Angeles

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$13240 12% 92% 61% Yes Yes AP Credits

17. Utah State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7659 91% 54% 86% Yes Yes AP / ACE Credits

18. University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$16389 64% 82% 90% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

19. University of Wisconsin-Madison

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10725 54% 88% 61% Yes Yes AP Credits

20. William & Mary

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$22922 38% 90% 56% Yes Yes AP Credits

21. Greensboro College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$18500 77% 33% 100% No Yes AP Credits

22. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$17274 59% 85% 64% Yes Yes AP Credits

23. University of Connecticut

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$17226 49% 84% 75% Yes Yes AP Credits

24. University of Maryland-College Park

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10779 44% 87% 66% Yes Yes AP Credits

25. Miami University-Oxford

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$15193 80% 81% 82% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

26. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8980 23% 91% 65% No Yes AP Credits

27. University of California-Berkeley

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$14253 16% 93% 63% Yes Yes AP Credits

28. South Dakota State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$9114 90% 56% 93% Yes Yes AP Credits

29. Morehouse College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$28847 100% 54% 95% Yes Yes AP Credits

30. Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$18450 76% 71% 73% Yes Yes AP / ACE Credits

31. University of Maryland-Baltimore County

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$12028 61% 71% 90% Yes Yes AP Credits

32. Fort Hays State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$5280 91% 43% 96% Yes Yes AP / ACE Credits

33. Colorado State University-Pueblo

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8407 93% 36% 93% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

34. Ave Maria University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$21854 85% 58% 100% Yes Yes AP Credits

35. University of North Carolina at Asheville

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7231 84% 59% 94% Yes Yes AP Credits

36. Stony Brook University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10175 44% 76% 79% Yes Yes AP Credits

37. Mills College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$30877 76% 57% 100% Yes Yes AP Credits

38. University of California-San Diego

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$14415 31% 87% 63% Yes Yes AP Credits

39. University of Colorado Boulder

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$12500 78% 69% 66% Yes Yes AP Credits

40. The University of Texas at Austin

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10824 32% 86% 67% Yes Yes AP Credits

41. University of Kentucky

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$12360 96% 66% 94% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

42. Christopher Newport University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$14924 72% 78% 75% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

43. University of Minnesota-Morris

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$13578 57% 58% 98% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

44. University of Arizona

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$12379 85% 65% 91% Yes Yes AP / ACE Credits

45. Brigham Young University-Provo

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$5790 67% 78% 71% Yes Yes AP Credits

46. Colorado State University-Fort Collins

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$11901 81% 70% 79% Yes Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits

47. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$16540 23% 93% 65% Yes Yes AP Credits

48. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$15027 57% 83% 81% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

49. University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$9366 78% 66% 91% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

50. Florida State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$6517 36% 83% 97% Yes Yes AP / ACE Credits

To get a more in-depth look at our school ranking methodology, please visit Study.com's ranking methodology page.

Tuition information is based on published tuition and required fees, per data by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

Economics Bachelor's Degree Concentrations

Economics has a broad range of concentrations to choose from. These concentrations give students the opportunity to focus on parts of the major that interest them. Some examples of common economics concentrations include:

  • Finance, a technical focus that can provide insight into financial markets and decision making.
  • Economic Policy, a concentration that provides students the opportunity to explore how things like government budgets and taxes impact national well-being.
  • Multinational Economics, which helps students consider the application of economic theory and practice on an international stage.

Students might want to consider both their interests and abilities when selecting an economics concentration.

Curriculum for a Bachelor's Degree in Economics

The curriculum of this degree is an important factor that prospective students may want to take into account when considering if they should major in economics.

While the exact required courses will vary between programs and concentrations, students can expect classes that require some mathematical ability as well as critical thinking skills.

It is likely that a bachelor's degree in economics will start with classes that cover fundamental economic principles before branching out to classes that fit the student's concentration. They may also be able to take economics electives that are not directly related to their field of study.

Some examples of common courses to expect from a bachelor's degree in economics may include:

  • Macroeconomics, which provides students the opportunity to learn the foundations of large-scale economic principles.
  • Game theory, which usually covers the process of strategic decision making in the presence of others doing the same thing.
  • Behavioral Economics, which typically covers theories about social behaviors and their influence on economic decision making.

In addition to classes that focus on economics, students pursuing a bachelor's degree in economics should expect other classes as well. These are typically courses that fulfill a school's general education requirements.

General education requirements are usually meant to instruct students on a well-rounded variety of courses. They may include courses that do not directly relate to economics. Some examples include composition, fine arts, or foreign language classes.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Bachelor's in Economics?

A typical bachelor's degree in economics is around 120 credit hours. These can usually be completed over four years if attending school full-time, or more if enrolled as part-time.

While the class breakdown varies, this number is typically divided equally between core economics classes, chosen electives, and general education requirements. Given that economics is a field that typically relies on modeling and theory, it is likely that students pursuing this degree will take courses that focus heavily on mathematics courses.

Additionally, many programs also require some of these credits to be spent pursuing internships. This experience can help students to understand the application of economics to a certain job's requirements.

How to Choose an Economics School & Bachelor's Program

When choosing a school to pursue a bachelor's degree in economics, there are a variety of things that students may want to consider.

One element is the quality of the school's non-economics education. Students might want to look over a school's general education requirements. This might help them better understand what other skills they will have the opportunity to obtain in that program.

As for economics programs themselves, students should consider the difference between a Bachelor of Art (BA) in Economics degree and a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Economics. A BA might focus more on the real-life application of economics alongside topics like ethics in its practice. In contrast, a BS might have classes more focused on the collection and analysis of economic data.

Additionally, some schools share the jobs that graduates of their program go on to have. For students considering a career in economics, consulting this information may help give them a picture of the available jobs for economics graduates. It might further give an idea of what kinds of opportunities are available to graduates from that school's specific program.

Accreditation for Bachelor's in Economics Degrees

Accredited schools are those that have been approved on an official basis by non-governmental organizations. These approvals are respected because the organizations are themselves recognized by either the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the Department of Education, or both. There are three forms of accreditation that students should consider: regional, national, and programmatic. Accredited schools are those that have been vetted for education by quality, reliable groups. Students may want to attend an accredited school to demonstrate the value of their education to future employers. Additionally, governmental aid is only available to students attending accredited schools, so students may want to consider this when applying.

While there is no programmatic accreditation specifically for a bachelor's degree in economics, there is one for business programs in general. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is an international non-profit that seeks to recognize the quality of a school's business programs. Therefore, students who are considering pursuing a bachelor's degree in economics that is taught through a business school may want to consider looking for this organization's accreditation.

Economics Licensure and Certification

There is no blanket licensure or certification for the field of economists. However, this does not mean that students who obtain a bachelor's in economics will not need to obtain certification in order to help their job prospects.

For instance, students may choose to become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). A CFP must hold a bachelor's degree or higher in addition to completing coursework as laid out by the private CFP Board. Additionally, they must complete a six-hour exam, have at least 4,000 hours of relevant experience, commit to an ethical standard, and pay the fees associated with the process. This certification must be renewed via a fee and shorter examination every two years.

Becoming a CFP is not typically a requirement for all economics jobs. However, students who choose to pursue this certification might find themselves more attractive to potential employers. Additionally, it can help project a reliable image. Those with this certification are demonstrating that they have passed rigorous expectations of a reliable organization, a tenant of which is the duty to act in the client's best interest. As such, students who are considering a career in financial planning or similar fields should also consider becoming a CFP.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor's Degree in Economics?

There are many reasons to consider majoring in economics. One of these reasons is the job opportunities it can provide.

A bachelor's degree in economics often leads to careers in finance. It can also pave the way towards various jobs in the legal system and open opportunities for positions in sales and academia.

While job titles vary greatly, a common job title for graduates with this degree is 'economist'. An economist can usually expect to have responsibilities related to analyzing financial data. This may be within a medical, legal, academic or even governmental context.

A student's chosen concentration will likely prepare them for a specific kind of job in economics. As such, students should consider their desired career path when choosing a program and economic focus. For example, those hoping to work in a governmental position may want to attend a school that offers a robust curriculum in economic policy. By the same token, students interested in applying economic principles to a medical setting might want to take advantage of concentrations such as health economics.

How to Become a Policy Economist

A policy economist is a professional that provides governmental bodies with economic advice about the causes and effects of their decisions. Duties may include preparing international briefs, evaluating the effectiveness of the current policy, and liaising with outside economic professionals to achieve the government's goals. This job can take place in a governmental office, however, some job postings state that travel may be required a few times per month.

No licensure or certification is typically required for entry-level positions. However, applicants are usually required to possess a bachelor's degree in economics or a closely related field. Additionally, some degree of experience in a similar position within the government may be a requirement as well.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that individuals in the closely related profession of economist can expect to earn just over $105,000 per year. Data on the same profession predicts an impressive annual growth rate of 14% for the 2019-2029 period. However, the BLS states that this growth will likely benefit economists with master's and doctoral degrees more than those with bachelor's degrees. The highest paying state for economists is New York, followed by Washington, D.C., and Virginia.

Students interested in pursuing this career should begin by earning a bachelor's degree in economics from an accredited school. After that, they should consider a master's degree or higher if they wish to be prepared for higher-level positions later on. Next, they may want to apply to entry-level jobs in governmental policy departments in order to accrue relevant experience. Students who have completed these actions might find that they are well-prepared to apply for jobs as a policy economist.

How to Become a Financial Analyst

A financial analyst is a professional that helps businesses or individuals make investment decisions. A bachelor's degree in economics is typically satisfactory for many education requirements. They may be required to forecast economic decisions, make sure projects stay on budget, or investigate previous financial decisions. This job typically takes place in an office setting and may require over 40 hours of work per week.

The need for certification varies between specific financial analyst positions. If the job includes selling financial products, for example, the individual will need to pursue licensure from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). However, as companies must register individuals for the required exams, this licensure is not typically required by entry-level job applicants. Additionally, applicants with at least four years of experience may want to obtain optional certification from the CFA Institute to increase their odds of employment and advancement.

The BLS estimates that individuals in this profession can expect to earn around $81,590 per year. They also report a projected 2019-2029 growth rate of around 5%. This is a result of their prediction that more in-depth financial products will require more financial analysts with specific skills and knowledge. The highest paying states for financial analysts are New York, Washington, D.C., and Connecticut.

Students interested in pursuing a career as a financial analyst should begin by obtaining a bachelor's degree in economics. They might also want to consider taking electives in other finance-heavy fields or completing an internship where they can observe and work with established financial analysts. After that, students are typically qualified to send out applications. However, they may also want to think about obtaining certification from the CFA Institute if they have the requisite experience.

Professional Organization in Economics

Professional organizations help to connect people in a field and provide resources for their members. One popular professional organization in economics is the American Economic Association. This group boasts over 20,000 members from a variety of economics-related positions. In addition to networking opportunities, members of this group benefit from journal access, discounts, and access to the group's annual meetings. Membership is available to anybody studying or working in the economics field who pays an annual fee.

Another option is the National Association of Business Economics (NABE). As the name implies, NABE is specifically for professionals who apply economics to a business setting. However, NABE membership is open to anybody who applies economics in the workplace. There are currently about 2,600 members. Benefits of this membership include access to a quarterly journal, certification programs, and conference discounts. Those interested in joining are required to be someone who applies economics to their work and is willing to pay a membership fee.

What Other Kinds of Economics Degrees Are There?

Aside from the previously discussed Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in economics, there are other degree levels available to students as well. Higher degrees may qualify students for higher-paying jobs, and, as such, should be a factor that they consider when mapping out their education.

Some of the other options for economics degrees include an associate degree, a master's degree, a doctoral degree, and a certificate in the same field. Some, such as the associate degree, can act as a stepping stone towards further higher education. Others, such as the master's and doctorate, may be required for some high-level positions.

Associate Degrees in Economics

An Associate in Arts (AA) in Economics requires fewer credit hours than a bachelor's degree in economics. Typically, they require about half as many, adding up to around 60 credits as opposed to 120. This also means that associate degree programs tend to require less time, money, and commitment for students to attend.

The shorter program typically does away with many general education requirements. This means that an associate degree in economics will be largely composed of classes that directly relate to the field. Credits earned in an associate program are often transferable to a four-year institution. As such, some students may choose to acquire their associate degree first and transfer their completed credits to a school that can give them the opportunity to obtain a bachelor's degree in economics.

Master's Degrees in Economics

Master's degrees in economics are more advanced than bachelor's degrees, typically requiring the completion of between 30 and 48 credits. These credits may also include a required internship experience or capstone project to demonstrate ability. Master's degrees can be either a Master of Science in Economics or a Master of Art in Economics.

This can typically be done in one year full-time or more if done part-time. Master's degrees typically build on a student's education as gained through a bachelor's degree in economics. The program may also branch out and focus on a specialty area, such as economics and policy analysis.

For students interested in pursuing a career in applied economics, a master's degree may provide the opportunity to learn the necessary skills. Students who are considering a doctoral degree may also want to pursue a master's degree beforehand to prepare them for the course load expectations.

Doctoral Degrees in Economics

A doctoral degree in economics can take anywhere from three to six years to complete depending on the student and program. While the program often begins with advanced taught classes on the topic of economics, it usually terminates in a large amount of individual student research. This culminates in a doctoral dissertation. Additional requirements such as assistant teaching or internships may also be required for graduation. A Ph.D. in Economics may qualify a student for higher-level job and research opportunities, as it demonstrates a degree of mastery in the field. These programs tend to be competitive, with a rough GPA requirement to be considered for admission possible.

Certificates in Economics

Certificates in economics exist on both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Undergraduate certificates in economics are commonly earned by taking related classes while completing a bachelor's degree. These are done over three to four courses and demonstrate an undergraduate level of proficiency in economics.

Graduate certificates are an opportunity available to those who already possess a bachelor's degree, typically in economics or a closely related field. These can act as a way to demonstrate ability. They may also be a good option for graduates who are interested in pursuing a master's degree but would like to try out a shorter, less involved program first to familiarize themselves with the content.

Financial Aid and Scholarship Information for Bachelor's in Economics Degrees

Financial aid, along with the potential future salary of an economics graduate, is an important monetary issue to consider when applying for a bachelor's degree in economics.

One source of financial aid for students attending an accredited school is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students who complete this application can find out how eligible they are for governmental support. This can manifest in the form of scholarships, loans, work-study opportunities, or a combination of the three. Aid is given on the basis of financial need and can take some time, so students might want to consider submitting this application as early as is convenient.

There are also scholarships specific to economics majors. One option is the Mid Atlantic Security Traders Association scholarship. Students are eligible to apply if they are high school seniors who have been a part of the Stock Market Game, or if they are sophomores or juniors majoring in economics, finance, or business. Additionally, it is also restricted to those in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. The award amount varies. However, recent awards were $2,000 for high school seniors and $5,000 for college students.

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