The Best Universities for
Economics in 2021

The United States has competitive economics school rankings, and students gain excellent job prospects after graduating. A Bachelor’s Degree in Economics must also equip economics students with the skills required to adapt to a rapidly changing global world.

In this guide, we’ll look at the best schools for economics in 2021. We’ll cover different degree options, what each university offers, tuition cost, job outlook, and more.

Overview: The Top 10 Economics Colleges in 2021

In the table below, we’ve listed the best undergraduate and best graduate schools for economics. Each university offers core courses that give students a comprehensive understanding of economics and equips them with the skills to navigate the challenges of a changing tech world.

We’ve included the tuition and fees for each degree program. These have been sourced from the National Center of Education Statistics College Navigator.

School State Degrees and Tuition Online Options
Columbia University NY Bachelor of Economics
$61,671 per year
No
Harvard University MA Bachelor of Social Science in Economics
$54,002 per year
No
Massachusetts Institute
of Technology
MA Bachelor of Science in Economics
$53,450 per year
No
New York University NY Bachelor of Social Science in Economics
$54,880 per year
No
Northwestern University IL Bachelor of Arts in Economics
$58,701 per year
No
Princeton University NJ Bachelor of Arts in Economics
$48,502 per year
No
Stanford University CA Bachelor of Arts in Economics
$56,169 per year
No
University of Chicago IL Bachelor of Arts in Economics
$60,552 per year
No
University of Pennsylvania PA Bachelor of Arts in Economics
$60,042 per year
No
Yale University CT Bachelor of Arts in Economics
$57,700 per year
No

Economics Degree Levels Explained

When pursuing a career in economics, students can choose from several degree levels. While an associate degree can be a good way to start a career, most students opt for a bachelor’s. If you’re looking to continue your higher education further, you may want to look for a school that offers a master’s or doctoral program.

Economics Associate Degree

An Associate Degree in Economics will provide you with a fundamental understanding of the market economy, trade, and competition. Much of this can be done online at community college. These are great building blocks that can set you on the way to a career in economics.

Typically, you would need to complete about 90 quarter credits for an associate degree, which usually takes two years.

Economics Bachelor’s Degree

The most direct route to a career in economics is to complete a Bachelor of Economics program. Some schools offer slightly different programs such as a Bachelor in Economic Sciences, Bachelor of Science in Economics, Bachelor of Arts in Economics, or Bachelor of Applied Economics.

All of these courses are heavily rooted in economic theory and research. Any Bachelor’s Degree in Economics will typically take you between three and five years to complete. You can refer to the bachelor’s programs listed below to learn more.

Economics Master’s Degree

A Master of Economics degree places emphasis on developing economic theory, econometrics, and applied economics. You could also complete this program under the banner Master of Science, Master of Arts, or Master of Commerce. Typically, these take an additional two years to complete.

Economics Doctorate

Like all doctoral programs, studying economics at this level will focus heavily on research. To be accepted in a program like this, you must be able to credibly describe the research that you intend to do at the university.

Most universities will give you about six years to complete this program. The doctoral program is designed for leaders who will likely shape economic thought for decades to come.

In Detail: The Best Economics Schools of 2021

In Detail: The Best Economics Schools of 2021

As an economics major, you want to attend an institution that ranks well for faculty citations, has a good student ratio, and is held in high regard by prospective employers. Take a look below at the best economics schools of 2021.

Columbia University

Degree Levels: Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree

Graduation Rate: 92 percent

Regional Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

Columbia University is an Ivy League school based in New York City. Founded in 1754, it’s the oldest higher education institute in New York. It has a reputation for schooling many world leaders and Nobel Prize winners. It prides itself on attracting a diverse student body and faculty.

As an undergraduate, you can study economics as a major or choose between five interdisciplinary programs.

Columbia University Economics Pros

  • History of graduate success
  • Compelling research opportunities for graduates and undergraduates
  • Columbia Economics Society helps students in economics programs network and receive career advice

Columbia University Economics Cons

  • New York is an expensive city to live in, alongside the steep tuition costs
  • Urban campus might not suit everyone

Harvard University

Degree Levels: Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, Doctorate

Graduation Rate: 98 percent

Regional Accreditation: NECHE

Harvard University has a very high reputation among employers, bolstered by an outstanding academic reputation. Harvard economics is not just an education, it is an investment. This is one of your best choices for a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics because it offers a comprehensive education with a great graduate success rate.

Harvard University Economics Pros

  • History of graduate success
  • Emphasis on creating a more inclusive and diverse economy
  • Long list of compelling economics research initiatives

Harvard University Economics Cons

  • Large student body can be impersonal
  • Expensive tuition and living expenses

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Degree Levels: Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, Doctorate

Graduation Rate: 93 percent

Regional Accreditation: New England Commission Of Higher Education (NECHE)

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT is currently the most highly-regarded academic institution in the world. That is because MIT has an outstanding faculty-to-student ratio of just four and the school is famous for its outstanding research output.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Economics Pros

  • History of graduate success
  • Many international students
  • Strong alumni network across every continent

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Economics Cons

  • Expensive tuition
  • Hard to get into
  • Rigorous curriculum

New York University

Degree Levels: Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, Doctorate

Graduation Rate: 85 percent

Regional Accreditation: MSCHE

NYU is the biggest private university in the US. It’s made up of 18 schools and colleges and also has campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai. It’s highly selective and can be expensive. However, the school does have a reputation for producing successful and prominent people.

The economics department has a particular reputation for international economics, macroeconomics, and economic growth and development. Students can major in economics or choose a joint major with computer science or mathematics.

New York University Economics Pros

  • Many opportunities to study abroad
  • High research output in the economics field
  • Joint major in economics and computer science or mathematics

New York University Economics Cons

  • Graduation rate is lower than most
  • International faculty ratio is low
  • Low acceptance rate

Northwestern University

Degree Levels: Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, Doctorate

Graduation Rate: 94 percent

Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Located in Evanston, Northwestern University is another institution that prides itself on high economic research output. It currently has 120 PhD students in residence. Its joint BA and MA program allows outstanding students to complete both a bachelor’s and master’s in economics at an accelerated pace.

Northwestern Economics Pros

  • Ranked among the best in the field
  • Outstanding students can take a joint BA/MA program
  • High post-graduation employment rate

Northwestern Economics Cons

  • International student ratio is comparatively low
  • Expensive tuition

Princeton University

Degree Levels: Certificate, Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, Doctorate

Graduation Rate: 98 percent

Regional Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Located in Princeton, New Jersey, this is another top economics school that is private and exclusive. The tuition costs are high and courses are known to be intense. However, the research output and graduation rate at the institution is very high, meaning it’s worth the investment.

Princeton University Economics Pros

  • High graduate success rate
  • Strong economics faculty and community

Princeton University Economics Cons

  • International faculty ratio is low compared to other top universities
  • Expensive tuition

Stanford University

Degree Levels: Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, Doctorate

Graduation Rate: 96 percent

Regional Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

Located in Stanford, California, Stanford University is one of the best universities in the world. It commits itself to cutting-edge research and collaboration. It is another private institution that enjoys an outstanding reputation with employers, boosted by strong academic performance.

Stanford University Economics Pros

  • High graduate success rate
  • Faculty-to-student ratio of four, which means that everybody gets the necessary attention
  • Many international students

Stanford University Economics Cons

  • Tuition and fees are high
  • Less focus on mathematics than some programs
  • Low acceptance rate

University of Chicago

Degree Levels: Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, Doctorate

Graduation Rate: 93 percent

Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association

University Of Chicago is a private institution famed for its prolific research output. They have produced a huge number of Nobel laureates for economics, including Milton Freidman. The student-to-faculty ratio at the university is six, which is very good.

University of Chicago Economics Pros

  • Recent Nobel laureates in the field
  • University of Chicago Policy Forum emphasizes economic debate and discussion
  • Specialization in either business economics or data science

University of Chicago Economics Cons

  • International faculty rate could be higher
  • Low acceptance rate

University of Pennsylvania

Degree Levels: Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate

Graduation Rate: 96 percent

Regional Accreditation: MSCHE

The University of Pennsylvania is another example of a private university leading the global conversation on economics. This private Ivy League university is located in Philadelphia. It has a strong research program. It prides itself on its PhD program in particular, with graduates going on to gain senior academic and research positions.

University of Pennsylvania Economics Pros

  • High research output
  • Home to the very famous Penn Institute for Economic Research

University of Pennsylvania Economics Cons

  • Low number of international students
  • Fewer citations per faculty than other schools

Yale University

Degree Levels: Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, Doctorate

Graduation Rate: 96 percent

Regional Accreditation: NECHE

Located in New Haven, Connecticut, this institution has consistently ranked among the best in the world across all academic spheres. The institution has an outstanding academic reputation, along with an excellent reputation among employers. Graduates work across a diverse range of organizations.

Yale University Economics Pros

  • Particular emphasis on the economics of climate change
  • Includes the Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics
  • High graduate success rate

Yale University Economics Cons

  • Low number of international students
  • Expensive tuition
How to Pick the Best Economics School for You

How to Pick the Best Economics School for You

When choosing the best school to earn your economics degree, you’ll need to take into account factors such as tuition, the quality of education, and how hard it is to secure a place. Below are a few of the key things to think about before applying to an economics school.

Online vs In-Person Economics Degrees

While online courses and certificates are readily available, the best economics programs are done on campus and in person. That is better for collaboration, debate, discussion, and research. You should decide whether you value student resources in person or online flexibility more.

Tuition

The primary determining factor when choosing an economic school is affordability. If you can’t afford to attend a certain school, you need to evaluate the other options that might be available. Find out which colleges have scholarship and bursary programs and establish if you qualify for any of those.

Admission Rate

The other consideration is available places at the faculty. Most of the institutions we listed above are private and have a high entry threshold. Outstanding academic performance is one way to overcome this obstacle. However, keep in mind that some of these universities have lengthy application processes and low admission rates.

Reputation

Attending an economics school is an investment in the true sense of the word. You want to go to an institution that has a good academic reputation and an equally good reputation with prospective employers. Choosing a highly-regarded institution will help you get you the best-paying jobs in the industry.

Graduation Rate

If the graduation rate at an economics school is lower than similar schools, it suggests there’s a problem. The learning environment may not be ideal, or the instructors could be sub-par. Do some research to establish why the graduation rate is lower than would be expected.

How Much Can You Earn With an Economics Degree?

According to PayScale, the average salary for people with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics is $78,603. Studying for an economics-related degree will open up career opportunities in many industries. This includes finance, accounting, general commerce, trade, and the civil service.

The Best Economics Careers

Profession Required Education Average Salary
Risk Manager Bachelor’s Degree $87,851
Chartered Accountant Bachelor’s Degree + ACA Qualification $80,000
Economist Masters Degree $78,384
Compliance Officer Bachelor’s Degree $70,088
Actuarial Analyst Bachelor’s Degree $65,740
Risk Analyst Bachelor’s Degree $65,530
Financial Analyst Bachelor’s Degree $61,870
Data Analyst Diploma or Bachelor’s Degree $61,593
Stock Broker Bachelor’s Degree $59,800
Internal Auditor Bachelor’s Degree $51,650

Why You Should Attend an Economics School in 2021

You should study economics because it is a lucrative growing field. According to the Bureau Of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for economists sits at about 14 percent growth between 2019 and 2029, which is faster than average.

The world of global economics is rapidly changing and it will require the efforts of new economists to navigate. Once you get your degree in economics, you will be able to contribute to the new scene and help others learn as well.

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