Best MBA Programs in Economics for 2021

Your Guide to Career, Curriculum and Education

Pursuing an Economics MBA, in general, is a big decision. But most graduates say that the degree pays for itself in the form of salary bumps and increased opportunities. That said, those considering an MBA have a few choices to consider. For example, you can take the route of getting a traditional MBA or an MBA with a concentration. If you studied economics as an undergrad, it might be worthwhile to take that knowledge further with a specialized MBA. This degree stands to help you develop in-depth economic knowledge combined with the skills that take theory and put it into practice.

What Can You Do With an MBA in Economics?


An MBA in economics is one of the more versatile concentrations, so there are several different options available for those who choose this area as an educational focus at business school. That said, some of the more common jobs for people with this background fall into finance, analytics, or some combination of the two.

Here are some potential careers to explore post-graduation:

  • Senior Financial Analyst
    Salary: $100,000

    Senior financial analysts are most likely to work in a large company. In most cases, you’d work in a corporate office setting.

    This position requires a strong proficiency in analyzing data to determine statistical, economic, and financial risk factors and find real solutions.

  • Finance Manager
    Salary: $139,000

    Financial managers can find work in a variety of institutions, from banks to insurance companies and corporate offices. Additionally, financial managers could work independently on a consulting basis.

    Finance managers spend much of their time reviewing and preparing financial reports, as well as forecasting. The role of a financial manager generally centers around helping businesses or clients find the best route to profitability. They’ll also help clients identify new opportunities like expansions, mergers, and acquisitions.

  • Finance Director
    Salary: $175,000

    Finance directors will most likely work in a corporate office setting. Salary will depend on the size and profitability of the organization.

    Finance directors are members of a senior leadership team responsible for the company’s financial health.

    This person brings together operational knowledge and strategy—and seeks to chart a plan for an organization’s long-term growth.

    On a day-to-day basis, finance directors will set budgets and work with department heads to ensure that each department meets financial goals. This person will analyze output, create reports, and make recommendations to the C-suite. Ideally, you should be a good communicator, as much of this job involves managing people and serving as a financial liaison between various departments.

  • Analytics Manager
    Salary: $92,000

    Analytics managers work in office settings, larger corporations, banks, or with the government. This role is available in a variety of sectors from finance to energy management, so where you end up could have something to do with your specialization—macroeconomics, economics and finance, etc.

    Analytics managers develop approaches for businesses to uncover answers to critical questions. Questions might include things like assessing financial risk or how to improve employee performance and increase profits.

    This person typically works in an office environment analyzing complex data sets and putting together reports that demonstrate their findings. In this role, you’ll work closely with the C-suite, making recommendations based on your research. While you could enter an analytics role with a bachelor’s degree, an MBA can help you land a more prestigious role and a higher salary.

Types of Economics MBA Degrees


What’s the difference between getting an MBA in economics or going for a Master of Science in Economics? Or even opting for a general MBA? Here’s a look at what you can expect to be required to study in each of these programs, as well as what you can expect your salary to look like once you complete your degree program.

  • Master of Business Administration: Economics
    Average Salary: $97,000
    Length: 2 years

    When you pursue an MBA in economics, you’re looking at a degree that combines economic principles and with business basics, like finance and marketing. This degree provides a sense of expertise—there’s a high demand for business leaders who understand the nuts and bolts of economies and public policies and how those elements influence businesses.

    Careers span all manner of industries from finance and consulting to banking, government, management, and more. This is a versatile degree with a lot of opportunities at the end of the tunnel.

  • Master of Science: Economics
    Average Salary: $80,000
    Length: 2 years

    If you opt for a master’s in economics, instead of the MBA, you will get a degree which is much more focused on research and manipulating actual numbers to learn things about your sector. This differs from an MBA in that.

    You’re looking at furthering your expertise in economics and training for careers such as actuary, economist, data scientist, statistician. These are all potentially lucrative career paths, but it’s a different set of options than you’ll find with the concentrated MBA.

  • MBA
    Average Salary: $106,000
    Length: 3 years

    A general MBA is another option for those considering the next step. With this degree, you’ll study all aspects of running a business from finance and economics to management and leadership. An MBA provides a well-rounded business education and often paves the way for higher salaries than those who graduate with a specialization.

Sample Curriculum & Courses for Economics


Economics MBAs will study a wide range of topics that look at economic theory, business economics, various sciences and technology in the field, econometrics, and how to apply those theories and learning to real-life scenarios, whether that is in local industry or international business.

  • Labor Economics
    Labor economics looks at traditional and contemporary topics like supply, demand, and human capital. This course is a study of microeconomics as they apply to labor markets and will look at things like wage differentials, benefits, alternative compensation, and more.
  • Economic Analysis for Business Leaders
    This course covers microeconomics, specifically decision-making within a business management role. Here, students will learn to look at leadership strategies through the lens of economics.
  • Economics of Management
    Another microeconomics study, this course examines the behavior of workers and managers in the context of the workplace. Here, you’ll learn how to structure an organization for productivity retention, and how to evaluate employee output.
  • Financial Economics
    In this course, students will look at the inner workings of commodities, banks, and the factors that affect money supply and demands. Additionally, students will learn about the broader consequences of bank failures.
  • Macroeconomics
    This course provides students with an overview of macroeconomics issues like unemployment, interest rate inflation, and employment trends. Overall, this path presents students with an understanding of how economics in the US and abroad affects society at large.

Best MBA in Economics Colleges


University of Pennsylvania Location
Philadelphia, PA
Tuition In-State
$37,678
Tuition Out-of-State
$37,678
Retention %
98%
Graduation %
96%
Average Salary
$135,000
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
6:1
University of Chicago Location
Chicago, IL
Tuition In-State
$60,300
Tuition Out-of-State
$60,300
Retention %
99%
Graduation %
96%
Average Salary
$135,400
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
Yes
Student-to-faculty
5:1
Carnegie Mellon University Location
Pittsburgh, PA
Tuition In-State
$46,441
Tuition Out-of-State
$46,441
Retention %
97%
Graduation %
93%
Average Salary
$128,000
Hybrid
Yes
Part-Time
Yes
Student-to-faculty
5:1
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Location
Champaign, IL
Tuition In-State
$15,016
Tuition Out-of-State
$27,187
Retention %
93%
Graduation %
86%
Average Salary
$105,800
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
Yes
Student-to-faculty
20:1
California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo Location
San Luis Obispo, CA
Tuition In-State
$7,176
Tuition Out-of-State
$16,680
Retention %
94%
Graduation %
83%
Average Salary
$96,700
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
20:1
Bentley University Location
Waltham, MA
Tuition In-State
$40,992
Tuition Out-of-State
$40,992
Retention %
92%
Graduation %
90%
Average Salary
$101,500
Hybrid
Yes
Part-Time
Yes
Student-to-faculty
11:1
Loyola University Chicago Location
Chicago, IL
Tuition In-State
$18,594
Tuition Out-of-State
$18,594
Retention %
85%
Graduation %
76%
Average Salary
$94,800
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
Yes
Student-to-faculty
14:1
Georgia State University Location
Atlanta, GA
Tuition In-State
$7,164
Tuition Out-of-State
$22,662
Retention %
82%
Graduation %
53%
Average Salary
$103,000
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
Yes
Student-to-faculty
26:1
Saint Louis University Location
St. Louis, MO
Tuition In-State
$21,420
Tuition Out-of-State
$21,420
Retention %
91%
Graduation %
79%
Average Salary
$84,100
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
Yes
Student-to-faculty
9:1
University of Illinois Chicago Location
Chicago, IL
Tuition In-State
$13,799
Tuition Out-of-State
$23,714
Retention %
79%
Graduation %
63%
Average Salary
$95,200
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
Yes
Student-to-faculty
18:1
Full Ranking Report

Who Should Consider Getting This Degree?


You want to make a difference
While economics is one of the more lucrative MBA concentrations, this field of study also allows you to work with non-profits, government agencies, and organizations involved with public policy. Where someone with an MS or MA in economics might embark on a career path solely in economics and quantitative analysis, admission into an MBA curriculum means you will be prepared for a leadership role where management and economics come together.

You want to apply your economics background to a specific occupation.
Getting an MBA with an economics concentration is a significant next step for students who already have a bachelor’s degree in economics. While economics, in general, may be useful in several industries, undergraduate degrees don’t necessarily prepare students for a specific path or a leadership role.

Your bachelor’s degree comes with several benefits including big picture thinking, logic, problem-solving skills, and communications – which you will learn in your core classes at most colleges and universities; all useful in the corporate world at any level. An MBA puts those skills into practice as you complete degree requirements. You’ll learn business applications like finance, organizational management, marketing, administration, and leadership skills.

You’ve built up some work experience
An MBA in Economics will set you on a lucrative career path, but many programs require candidates to have some work experience under their belt before heading back to the classroom. If you have an undergraduate degree in economics, economic consulting may be a good way to kick off your career and lay the groundwork for MBA acceptance down the road. Additionally, marketing and finance positions or working in a leadership capacity can help you secure a spot in an MBA in economics program.

Finally, while there are MBA programs that don’t require work experience, there’s a reason this isn’t the norm. Work experience means you understand where you want to go, you’re used to working in a self-directed environment, and you’ll (ideally) already possess the soft skills needed to get ahead. In an academic setting, you don’t get all of these real-world applications, even if the faculty have worked in the business for years, so bringing the combination of education and work to the table means you’re more likely to enter the workforce as a capable and prepared applicant.

You want to work in a leadership role
While you can certainly work your way up in many cases, an MBA paves the way to more advanced positions and higher salaries. Even if you have a background in economics, you may still not have the leadership training needed to advance. As such, an MBA in economics can provide the development of additional economics expertise and the ability to apply that knowledge to a specific type of business.

How to Choose the Right Program


What are your career goals?


An MBA in economics is a versatile degree. There’s certainly some overlap between this option and what you can find with an MBA in finance or a general MBA.

This is an ideal degree for someone who wants to embark on a career path that allows them to think critically and apply their knowledge to real-life scenarios.

What kind of recruiting opportunities are available?


Like it or not, one of the key benefits of getting an MBA is the chances for networking that come with your education. This may mean that you network or connect with other students in your class or search for a mentor among alumni. While many schools try to limit recruiter presence on campus, it might be worthwhile to look into job hunting opportunities before you enroll. Get the info on this and other support the school offers, through a student services center or some other resource, before you make your final choice of program.

In some cases, like banking or consulting, top firms start the recruiting process early in an MBA program. If you’re considering this path, keep this in mind before you apply.

What courses are offered?


The Economics concentration covers a wide range of possibilities, so you’ll need to pick and choose the courses that align with your desired career path. While most programs cover in-depth economic theory, as well as finance and analytics, your electives are important as well.

In some cases, you can go even deeper into an economics specialization—focusing on say, urban economics, labor economics, or economic analysis. Additionally, you could go for an Economics and Finance concentration, which could put you on a path toward a promising career and provide the credit you need to graduate on time.

How well are alumni doing after graduation?


We recommend looking into a few specifics to determine your return on investment. For example, what is the average base salary for alumni? What is the average debt load, cost per class, what financial aid options are available, and how likely is it that you’ll find a job upon graduation?

What does the program cost?


In addition to reviewing alumni salaries and occupations, it’s a good idea to weigh your options when it comes to taking on debt. Weigh the school’s reputation against the cost. While top programs are always appealing to employers, there are several smaller programs with niche specializations that can land you that dream job, too or you might find a program that supports company-paid aid for students.

Are you interested in taking classes online or off?


Online MBAs are an increasingly popular option these days, due to their flexibility and wide array of offerings. If you’re near a university or college that meets your needs, we encourage you to check it out. But, online programs are offered through many top schools and allow you to choose a program that covers the subject matter you’re most interested in, regardless of where you live.

Additionally, they allow you to continue working or caring for a family while you further your education. For students looking to go back, the flexible schedule may feel way less daunting than trying to figure out the logistics of dropping out of the workforce to attend school full-time.

Potential Scholarships to Consider


  • Mary Elizabeth Lockwood Beneventi MBA Scholarship
    This scholarship is provided to MBA students and aims to cover at least part of the tuition costs associated with the program. This scholarship is a one-time award, so previous recipients cannot reapply the following year.

    Those who wish to apply must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.25 and submit an essay and official transcripts. Any MBA concentration is eligible.

  • Robert J. Yourzak Scholarship Award
    Administered by the Project Management Institute, this scholarship is awarded to students who demonstrate leadership in business management, economics, finance, and more. Students will receive a one-time $2000 award by financial need.

    To be considered, students must write two essays and include a full resume, three written references, and official transcripts.

  • Gates Millennium Scholars
    The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation doles out awards to students who demonstrate excellent leadership skills on a financial need basis. Amounts up to $10,000 are given each year, and eligible students may need to submit multiple essays, transcripts, and references to apply.

  • NSHMBA Foundation Scholarship Program
    The National Society of Hispanic MBA offers a scholarship to MBA candidates of Hispanic heritage. Scholarship awards range from $2500 to $10,000 and may be applied to an MBA with any concentration. The scholarship may not be renewed, but funds will be dispersed throughout the school year.

  • Golden Key Graduate Scholar Award
    This $10,000 scholarship is given to Golden Key members pursuing post-baccalaureate studies. To apply, you’ll need to write a 500-word essay that covers your plan to use your education to make the world a better place. You’ll also need a letter of recommendation from an employer, administrator, or professor; transcripts and a resume.

  • Daniel B. Goldberg Scholarship
    This scholarship is awarded to a full-time graduate student preparing for a career in state or local government finance. The scholarship is worth $13,000, and candidates must include a statement of their proposed career plan in government finance. You’ll also need to provide your transcripts and coursework plan—as scholarships are awarded based on merit, as well as relevance to a career in the public sector.

    For many professionals in the economics or finance field, a graduate degree opens up a wide range of career possibilities and the potential to earn a top salary. While both MBA programs and a graduate degree in economics come with a specific set of benefits, the specialized MBA will allow you to move into a broader array of spheres.

MBA Degrees, Career Paths & Resources