Home » FAQ » What Can I Do With an Economics MBA?

What Can I Do With an Economics MBA?

“Economics is everywhere, and understanding economics can help you make better decisions and lead a happier life.”

– Tyler Cowen

Money makes the world go round. Economics experts understand the financial engine that keeps it spinning. An MBA has long been the gold standard in business education, and an MBA in Economics prepares graduates with special insight into how economic principles impact the world of business. With such a degree, you’ll develop powerful quantitative reasoning, and be able to apply economic theory to practical business planing and decision-making.

If you’ve got a mind for money, markets, and all things financial, an economics MBA could be an excellent degree path for you. An MBA in economics is associated with a wide range of jobs, high earning potential, and excellent career growth. MBAs are in high demand and, thanks to online and part-time degree programs, are more accessible than ever before. If you’re exploring this degree path, you may be wondering “where can I find work with an MBA in economics?”, “what are the pros and cons of pursuing this degree?”, “how much does an MBA in economics cost?”

We’ve sourced data from the most up-to-date reports from business schools, employers, and education researchers to deliver the information you need to get familiar with the basics of an MBA in economics. Read on to learn all about how you can earn this sought-after degree and use it to launch a thriving business career.

What is Economics?

Whether you’re living off the land in a tiny rural homestead or running a thriving company in a major city, you’re participating in the economy and affected by its principles. Making sound decisions in personal finances and in business decisions depends on an understanding of economics.

Economics can be broadly defined as the social science that focuses on the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services, including the behavior and interactions of economic agents and the way in which economies work. As the American Economic Association points out, economics intersects a range of disciplines, from math to politics to data science. There are a wide range of powerful applications for economics, from health and the environment, to education and business.

What is an MBA in Economics?

Before delving into the nitty-gritty of the degree programs and and career paths associated with this credential, let’s address the most basic question of all: what is an MBA in Economics?

An MBA in Economics is simply a traditional MBA with a concentration in Economics. That means the elective classes included in the MBA curriculum are focused on economics. Through an economics concentration, you’ll develop a deep understanding of business topics that are rooted in economic principles. Examples include:

  • Global markets
  • Local economies
  • Public policy
  • Consumer behavior
  • Pricing indices
  • Purchasing power

Unlike a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) in Economics, an MBA in Economics is, first and foremost, a Master of Business Administration (MBA). That means that you’ll have a broad understanding of the ins and outs of the business world, with a special focus on how economics shape business. In contrast, an MA or MS in economics is entirely focused on economics, and only covers business as it relates to economic principles.

An MBA traditionally takes two years to complete on a full-time basis. Accelerated MBA programs are also widely available, which compress the classwork into s little as 18 months. For students that wish to work on their degrees part-time, it can take 3-4 years to earn an MBA in economics.

What is the Curriculum for an MBA in Economics?

The world of business touches on every aspect of society, from human behavior and law to technology and statistics. For that reason, an MBA is designed to be an interdisciplinary degree, with studies in a broad range of areas, from accounting to marketing and information technology. Students learn how businesses work and receive formal training in the personal skills required for business success, such as ethics, leadership, and communication.

No two business schools have the same Economics MBA curriculum, but all all follow the same general pattern: core business classes, economics concentration classes, a capstone, and an experiential learning component. Because an MBA in economics is primarily a business degree, your business core will comprise around 9 courses, while the economics concentration will be limited to around 4 courses. Most business schools provide students with a set curriculum to be completed in a prescribed sequence, rather than a selection of electives, particularly for the MBA core.

Commonly offered classes in an MBA core include:

  • Finance
  • Operations
  • Accounting
  • Business Law
  • Ethics
  • Business Communications
  • Human Resources
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Leadership
  • Global Business

Once you’ve established a strong business foundation through your core classes, you’ll take courses for the economics MBA concentration. These, again, will vary in title and content from school to school. Typical class titles include:

  • Principles of Economics
  • Math and Statistics for Economics
  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics
  • Econometrics

Most programs culminate in a comprehensive research or project based capstone. This final component of the program usually takes up 1-2 courses, and challenges students to apply all their prior learning to solving a problem in economics as it applies to the world of business. You may also complete an experiential learning component, such as an internship, externship, or practicum. This experience allows students to apply their classroom learning in the field, developing hands-on learning and advanced workplace experience.

Can I Earn an Online MBA in Economics?

Surveys show that today’s graduate students are frequently mid-career professionals who are maintaining jobs (and often raising families) while pursuing their degrees. This is especially true of MBA students- the average MBA student is 27 years old and has several years’ work experience. They are frequently looking to advance their existing careers or to make a career switch with an advanced degree, all while holding down a job that usually requires long hours and business travel.

If you find yourself in this common scenario, an online MBA in Economics may be an excellent pathway to completing your degree. There are many outstanding Online MBA Degree Programs, and we’ve covered those offering an Economics concentration in The 15 Best Online Economics MBA Degree Programs for 2019. In selecting an online Economics MBA, you’ll want to consider your priorities in terms of flexibility, tuition, and institutional prestige. Many of these business schools also have online Economics concentrations that are specific to a particular sector, such as Public Policy or Health, another important factor to consider.

The curriculum for an online Economics MBA will be similar or identical to the curriculum offered at an on-campus program, complete with an MBA business core, economics concentration, capstone research or project, and potentially experiential learning as well. Class content is typically delivered through both asynchronous content like pre-recorded lectures and written lessons, and synchronous content like live video conferences.

One issue that gives many potential online students pause is concern about missing out on personal connections. An influential professional network is one of the main reasons to attend business school, and there’s no doubt that online MBA students need to make an extra effort to forge the same connections that naturally develop in on-campus programs. Online schools address this through virtual social and networking groups, group discussions and assignments, and cohort-based models (in which students enroll, progress, and graduate at the same pace).

How Much Does an MBA in Economics Cost?

If you care about economics, you’re certainly going to be thinking about the cost of an MBA versus its payoff. In addition to the cost of tuition, you’ll be missing out on earned income with time away from work. You’ll also potentially face opportunity cost- the professional opportunities you may miss out on while you’re engaged with your MBA studies. That all adds up to a major investment- one you’ll want to consider carefully and make plans to manage.

When it comes to tuition, there’s no two ways about it- an MBA is an expensive investment. Top-tier business schools such as Wharton or Harvard charge more than $150,000. Tuition for smaller private schools and state universities is lower, but still a major expense at anywhere between $75,000 and $100,000. Add on the usual fees, the cost of textbooks, computer and internet, and time away from work, and the final price tag is significantly higher.

How can you meet this expense? If you’re looking to advance in your current career with an Economics MBA, your employer may decide that your potential to add value to the company with more education makes it worthwhile to sponsor you. Investopedia notes that large corporations such as Intel and Wells Fargo are especially likely to pay for their employees to pursue an MBA. Employers with less resources to support staff education may sponsor a portion of the cost of tuition, rather than all.

What Jobs Can I Get with an MBA in Economics?

An economics MBA gives graduates training in applying big-picture thinking to universal business skills, making them eligible for a wide range of positions, including:

  • Pricing analyst
  • Global management
  • Financial analyst
  • Management consultant
  • Economic forecaster
  • Market research consultant
  • Entrepreneur or small business owner

All of these positions offer room for upward growth, allowing professionals to take on leadership roles such as supervisors, managers, and department heads. You may also be able to develop niche expertise in one area, such as Education or Clean Energy.

How Much Can I Make with an MBA in Economics?

Considering a degree in economics from an economic perspective only makes sense. If you’ve made a major investment in tuition, you’ll expect a large salary to justify the cost. Here’s where an MBA in economics proves its value. According to Payscale, a professional with a Master of Business Administration (MBA), Finance & Economics Degree earns an average salary of $102,000.

The news only gets better from there. Poets and Quants’ 2016 survey of MBA concentrations found that some concentrations yield more growth over the course of a person’s career, with Economics and Finance leading the pack. Professionals with these degrees doubled their salaries between early and mid-career, moving up from $66,700 to $137,000.

Where Can I Work with an Economics MBA?

One of the perks of an Economics MBA is its flexibility. The principles of economics are at play in every sector, so you won’t be limited to one area or industry in your job search. There are opportunities in such private and public sectors as:

  • Banking
  • Finance
  • Government
  • Consulting
  • Insurance
  • Retail
  • Transportation
  • Manufacturing
  • Marketing
  • Telecommunications
  • Utilities

With an economics MBA you can find work in the public and private sectors. Payscale lists top employers for this degree as comprising a number of top large companies, including Fortune 500 corporations, including:

  • Morgan Stanley
  • Atkore International
  • Banco Santander
  • General Electric (GE) Aviation
  • J.P. Morgan Chase

Some of these employers have been covered in our article on The 50 Most Powerful Corporations in the World, a testament to their vast resources and influence. Working for a Fortune 500 or other large corporation tends to come with excellent benefits, in addition to a large salary. As a valued employee at a large corporation, you will likely have great health insurance, leave, stock options and bonuses. At a large company, you’ll also have great room for professional growth, with access to an influential network, powerful mentors, skill training, new responsibility, and room for promotion.

As we’ve covered in The Best States For MBA Graduates, location matters, too. Most large companies are headquartered in large cities, so it should come as no surprise that states with big economies and large cities are associated with the highest salaries for professionals with an Economics MBA. Such states have higher salaries across all sectors of the economy, however, along with a higher cost of living, which lowers the actual buying power of a high salary, so job-seekers should adjust their expectations accordingly.

The most popular cities for graduates with an MBA in Economics are:

  • New York, New York Salary range: $68,784 – $168,500
  • Chicago, Illinois Salary range: $51,000 – $120,079
  • Boston, Massachusetts Salary range:
    $53,582 – $136,160
  • Dallas, Texas Salary range: $73,491 – $175,000
  • Los Angeles, California Salary range: $63,423 – $152,605

What is the Job Market with an Economics MBA?

MBAs in general are in demand, and MBAs in Economics are very much so. Poets and Quants has reported that demand for MBAs will stay high in the near future. In a poll of 350 employers, the the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) found that 78% intend to hire new MBA graduates in 2019. Employers look for MBAs simply because they believe that this high degree of training matters. The GMAC further found that 86% of employers called the value of a graduate business education “above average” or “very high.”

MBAs in economics qualify job seekers for a number of different managerial positions in the field of finance and economic analysis. Demand for these jobs varies by position but in general is very robust. Through 2026, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment opportunities for financial analysts will increase by 11%, that budget analyst positions will increase by 7%, and that market research analyst positions will grow by by 23%.

Pros and Cons of an Economics MBA

An MBA is a serious investment of time, money, and energy. You’ll want to know that its impact on your career will justify your commitment and sacrifices. Before jumping in, weight the benefits and drawbacks of this degree. You’ll also want to be sure that it’s the right degree for your personal strengths and interests.

Pros:

High Salary

An associated average salary of $102,000 makes this a lucrative MBA concentration. Many positions associated with an Economics MBA are at large companies, which means excellent benefits and opportunities for professional growth.

Professional Growth

Salaries with an MBA in Economics grow considerably over the course of the most professional’s careers, rising on average from $66,700 to $137,000. A broad skill set and employment at large corporations also means excellent opportunities to move up the corporate ladder.

Job Satisfaction

A survey conducted by Payscale of 95 professional holding MBAs in Economics revealed that the average respondent was “highly satisfied” with their work, giving the position a rating of 4 out of 5.

Cons:

High Tuition

The cost of business school ranges from $75,000 and $100,000 for smaller private and public schools, and over $150,000 at top tier business schools.

Employers May Not Sponsor

While some large companies pay for their employees to pursue an MBA, not all are willing or able to do so. Some may offer partial sponsorship, while others may not contribute, leaving students to pay for their own education through loans, fellowships, grants, or savings.

Lack of Clear Career Path

For many, the flexibility offered by an MBA in economics is a perk; you can work in a wide range of positions. Others may find that it’s more difficult to navigate their career path if the line between their degree title and job title isn’t clearly drawn.

As you weigh the pros and cons of an MBA in economics, be sure to also ask yourself if this degree is the right fit for you in terms of your personal strengths. Are you an analytical thinker? Do you see things in terms of the bug picture? Do you have a head for numbers? Do you naturally look for patterns and anticipate outcomes? Do you have business acumen? If you have these traits, you’ve got the mindset to apply the principles of economics in the business world, and an MBA in Economics could be a great choice for you.

Further Reading: