Which Universities Offer Graduate Programs in Applied Economics?

This article covers information for students wishing to choose an applied economics school. Prospective students can learn about factors to consider when looking at different schools, including ranking, technology quality and faculty. Students will also discover the top schools offering advanced degrees in applied economics.

Students considering an applied economics school in the U.S. are typically pursuing an advanced degree, since applied economics includes formulating and implementing different economic models, which are tasks that require graduate-level training.

Top 10 Economics Schools

In 2013, U.S. News & World Report developed a list of the graduate schools with the country's best economics programs. Included in the table are the list's top ten programs and the 2015-2016 tuition rates.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Graduate Tuition (2015-2016)*
Harvard University Cambridge, MA 4-year, private not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral $42,874
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 4-year, private not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral $49,272
Princeton University Princeton, NJ 4-year, private not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral $45,350
University of Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year, private not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral $52,713
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, private not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral $46,320
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, public Master's, Doctoral $13,431 in-state, 28,533 out-of-state
Northwestern University Evanston, IL 4-year, private not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral $49,064
Yale University New Haven, CT 4-year, private not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral $38,700
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 4-year, private not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral $34,268
Columbia University New York, NY 4-year, private not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral $44,176

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

College Selection Criteria

When reviewing a school's applied economics program, students should consider the following factors:

  • Students who wish to pursue an applied economics degree should consider the ranking of schools offering this type of program, as well as faculty experience and research interests.
  • Since the field requires skilled statistical analysis, schools should have access to state-of-the-art technology and other resources.
  • In choosing an applied economics school, students should take into account the types of concentrations and electives offered.
  • Working professionals who want to earn a master's degree may look for schools that offer online coursework and/or evening classes.

Master's Degree Programs

Most master's degree programs in applied economics confer a Master of Science (MS) degree. They consist of a series of advanced courses that cover the theoretical underpinnings of the field, as well as statistical analysis and modeling methods. Students also gain familiarity with industry-standard software. In some programs, it is possible to choose a concentration in a specialized subfield, such as financial economics. When taken on a full-time basis, MS in Applied Economics programs can usually be completed in twelve months. However, many are offered on a part-time basis to accommodate the needs of working professionals; these can take up two years. Some schools also offer students the opportunity to pursue this program in an online or hybrid format.

Doctoral Degree Programs

At the doctoral level, interested students can earn a PhD in Applied Economics. These programs give students the chance to conduct high-level theoretical or empirical research in applied economics. Depending on their interests, students may focus their projects on subfields such as behavioral economics, policy analysis, development economics, energy and environmental economics, market design, health economics, risk management or real estate. They also take advanced coursework similar to that found in master's degree programs, and they may be required to teach undergraduate economics courses. These programs culminate in a final dissertation and oral defense. Graduates generally go on to academic positions at universities or economic research institutions.

Obtaining an advanced degree in applied economics provides ample opportunities for students to seek employment in government, education, business, and the healthcare industry; PhD program graduates may also become researchers in the field. There are a large number of schools, both private and public, throughout the nation offering advanced degrees in applied economics.


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