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Best online economics degrees 2021: Top picks

Take the first step toward a rewarding career in finance, government, or business by exploring 10 of the best economics degrees available online.

Economics explores how people use resources and make decisions on small and large scales. After completing a bachelor's degree in economics, graduates find opportunities across multiple industries.

Finance and insurance, government, research and development services, and technical consulting services employ economics majors. Popular job titles include budget analyst, data analyst, and market research analyst. Budget analysts make an average of $78,970 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Online economics degrees provide a strong academic foundation in a flexible learning format.

Make an informed choice about your future by exploring the following ranked list of top online economics degrees.

The best online bachelor's in economics degrees

All of our program rankings rely on trusted federal data and expert insights. ZDNet's ranking methodology prioritizes the interests and unique goals of prospective students. Schools cannot pay for placement on ZDNet rankings lists.

Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Scorecard.

1. Florida International University

Miami, Florida

About the program: FIU's online economics degree offers admission to first-year, transfer, and international students. The 120-credit program explores economic theory, econometrics, and economic activity analysis.

  • Acceptance rate: 58%
  • Graduation rate: 64%
  • Annual net price: $7,296
  • Time to degree: Four years
  • SAT range: 1110-1280
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

Accreditation: Florida International University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

2. University of Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

About the program: The U's 48-credit online economics degree offers a flexible option for applicants possessing at least 30 transferable credits. Available focus areas include econometrics, economic history, and history of economic thought.

  • Acceptance rate: 62%
  • Graduation rate: 68%
  • Annual net price: $14,773
  • Time to degree: Three years
  • SAT range: 1143-1380
  • Minimum GPA: 2.35 for applicants with an associate degree; 2.6 for applicants with 30 credit hours
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

Accreditation: University of Utah is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

3. Utah State University

Logan, Utah

About the program: Available as a bachelor of arts or science, USU's online economics degree offers four emphasis options: economic theory, managerial economics, pre-law economics, and international economics and trade.

  • Acceptance rate: 91%
  • Graduation rate: 55%
  • Annual net price: $13,634
  • Time to degree: Four years
  • SAT range: 1050-1310
  • Minimum GPA: 3.5 for direct admission to the Huntsman School; 2.8 for admission as a pre-business major in good standing  
  • Enrollment periods per year: Two
  • Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

Accreditation: Utah State University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

4. Penn State World Campus

University Park, Pennsylvania

About the program: The 120-credit economics degree at Penn State World Campus includes 55 credits of economics core and supporting courses. Students dig into micro- and macroeconomics, statistical analysis, labor and industrial organizations, and more.

  • Acceptance rate: 76%
  • Graduation rate: 73%
  • Annual net price: $27,372
  • Time to degree: Four years
  • SAT range: 1070-1310
  • Minimum GPA: Not publicly available
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

Accreditation: Penn State World Campus is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

5. Washington State University

Pullman, Washington

About the program: WSU's economics degree requires a minimum of 120 credits. Students can pursue concentrations in agribusiness, management, marketing and analytics, or supply chain management.

  • Acceptance rate: 76%
  • Graduation rate: 67%
  • Annual net price: $16,358
  • Time to degree: Four years
  • SAT range: 1020-1230
  • Minimum GPA: 2.5 for transfer students
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

Accreditation: Washington State University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

6. Colorado State University

Fort Collins, Colorado

About the program: CSU's 120-credit economics degree requires completing a minor. Available minors include business administration, media studies, and global and environmental sustainability.

  • Acceptance rate: 81%
  • Graduation rate: 69%
  • Annual net price: $18,668
  • Time to degree: Four years
  • SAT range: 1070-1290
  • Minimum GPA: 2.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery methods: Online

Accreditation: Colorado State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

7. Oregon State University

Corvallis, Oregon

About the program: OSU's 180-credit online economics degree provides three specialization options, including general economics; managerial economics; and law, economics, and policy.

  • Acceptance rate: 82%
  • Graduation rate: 64%
  • Annual net price: $20,016
  • Time to degree: Four years
  • SAT range: 1080-1320
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0 preferred for first-time freshmen; 2.25 preferred for transfer students
  • Enrollment periods per year: Four
  • Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

Accreditation: Oregon State University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

8. North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Greensboro, North Carolina

About the program: Students can tailor N.C. A&T's online economics degree to meet specific career goals. They may choose up to nine elective courses from any academic department.

  • Acceptance rate: 58%
  • Graduation rate: 46%
  • Annual net price: $10,274
  • Time to degree: Four years
  • SAT range: 970-1150
  • Minimum GPA: 2.0 for transfer students
  • Enrollment periods per year: Two
  • Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

Accreditation: North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

9. Western Illinois University

Macomb, Illinois

About the program: WIU's integrated online economics degree offers the opportunity for students to earn both a bachelor's and master's in just five years.

  • Acceptance rate: 57%
  • Graduation rate: 59%
  • Annual net price: $16,210
  • Time to degree: Four years
  • SAT range: 950-1150
  • Minimum GPA: 2.0 
  • Enrollment periods per year: Two
  • Course delivery methods: Online

Accreditation: Western Illinois University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

10. Fort Hays State University

Hays, Kansas

About the program: Available on campus and online, FHSU's international business and economics program approaches economics, finance, accounting, and marketing from a global lens.

  • Acceptance rate: 91%
  • Graduation rate: 58%
  • Annual net price: $12,053
  • Time to degree: 4 years
  • SAT range: Not publicly available
  • Minimum GPA: 2.5 for first-time freshmen; 2.0 for transfer students
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery methods: Online

Accreditation: Fort Hays State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

What to expect in an online bachelor's in economics degree program

Economics degrees help build critical and analytical thinking, data analysis, and economic modeling skills. Courses provide a mix of theoretical and practical information that students can later apply to careers in business, finance, nonprofit work, or law and policy.  

While pursuing an online degree, economics students complete most of their work independently, though some courses may require group projects. Succeeding in an online program requires self-discipline, time management, and careful attention to course syllabi.

Undergraduate economics degrees typically include several electives. Students can fulfill these course requirements by completing a concentration, if available, or selecting individual courses aligned with their interests and professional goals. Common concentration options include management, marketing, and economic policy.

Economics courses

An economics bachelor's degree typically requires a minimum of 120 credits. General education subjects — including mathematics, humanities, and science — make up about half of all program coursework. 

Core courses explore key aspects of economic foundations, theory, and applied practice. Four courses economics students should expect to take at the undergraduate level include:

Principles of economics

Economics degrees commonly require two introductory courses covering the principles of micro- and macroeconomics. These courses expose students to core theories and fundamental tools used in economic calculations and analysis.

Introduction to econometrics

This course teaches students to perform foundational data analysis tasks like an economist. Using statistical software, learners explore regression analysis, inference, causal analysis, and forecasting methods.

International economics

Learners in this course study the history and theories of international economic relations. Topics include international trade patterns, commercial policies, and the relationship between national income and international trade.

Money and banking

Students examine financial institutions and markets from theory, practice, and policy perspectives. Key topics include the history and evolution of the modern financial system, banking, and monetary policy.

Economics degree levels

Both experience and educational attainment influence an economics career's trajectory. Undergraduate economics degrees can help you secure entry-level opportunities, while master's and doctoral programs open the door to specialized positions in business, finance, government, and academia.

Explore the requirements and benefits of each economics degree level below.

Associate in economics

Length: Two years

Cost: $2,300-$12,500

Post-grad careers: Administrative assistant, bookkeeping clerk, sales agent

This economics degree level requires approximately 60 credits of coursework, including general education and introductory economics courses. Learners gain essential skills in communication, problem solving, and critical thinking. 

Instructional methods include lectures, individual assignments, and group projects.

Students may pursue an associate degree in economics with plans to transfer to a bachelor's program. Graduates interested in entering the workforce can secure entry-level administrative, bookkeeping, and sales positions.

Bachelor's in economics

Length: Four years

Cost: $7,300-$56,000

Post-grad careers: Financial managers, market research analyst, financial analyst

This 120-credit program covers general education subjects and economic concepts, theories, and applied practices. Coursework features instructor lectures, individual assignments, group projects, and hands-on learning. Some programs allow or require students to complete an internship.

An economics bachelor's degree develops skills in communication, data analysis, and critical thinking. Graduates can pursue entry-level careers across multiple sectors. Popular industries include business, government, nonprofit, banking, and finance.

Master's in economics

Length: Two years

Cost: $24,000-$58,000

Post-grad careers: Economist, data analyst, economics instructor

Typically requiring between 30 and 36 credits, a graduate degree in economics builds on bachelor's coursework. Economics master's degrees offer advanced study in concepts, theory, and applied practice. Students master data analysis, finance, and economic modeling.

Master's programs tend to offer smaller class sizes, professor mentorships, and an emphasis on interactive class participation. Graduates often pursue mid- and senior-level job opportunities in their chosen industry.

Doctorate in economics

Length: Four to five years

Cost: $40,000-$80,000

Post-grad careers: Economist, economics professor, data scientist 

Terminal economics degrees allow graduates to shape the field. A doctorate in economics offers students a highly customizable curriculum focused on their areas of interest. Doctorates emphasize independent research and collaboration with professors rather than traditional class sessions and assignments.

Professionals who obtain a doctorate in economics can pursue the most advanced positions in their field. Graduates often work as top economists, researchers, data scientists, and college professors.

In conclusion

A bachelor's in economics serves as a first step on a rewarding career path. Economics graduates enjoy strong employment prospects in finance, government, consulting, and research.

Visit your prospective school's website for details on admission, financial aid, and course requirements to start your journey.

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