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Masters in Economics in USA: Comprehensive Course Guide

Bhavya Rawal Bhavya Rawal
Study Abroad Expert

A masters in economics in USA is usually a 1-2 year long program costing up to 120,000 USD. With education giants like MIT, Stanford, UC, Berkeley, UCLA, etc, MS in economics becomes one of the best masters in economics programs in the world.

  • Admissions to top economics colleges in the USA are offered mostly during fall session. 
  • Masters is the entry level requirement for becoming an economist in USA. 
  • Applicants can also apply for CPA USA, and sit for the CPA exam. 

Why Study Economics in USA?

  • 7 US universities have found prominent places in the top 10 Economics colleges in the world. 
  • Projected employment in the field of economics is around 22,800 by 2028 as per BLS, USA. This is the second most growing industry as projected for 2018-2028. 
Percentage in Employment (projected 2018-2028)
  • Median pay of an economist is around 104,340 USD/annum. 
  • Top recruiters include Federal government (22%), scientific research and development services (19%), management and scientific technical consulting services (13%), state government (9%), and finance & insurance (6%).

Masters in Economics in USA: Course Highlights

Duration1.5-2 years
Tuition fees24,000 USD- 62,000 USD per year
Admission processMerit-based, GRE and TOEFL/IELTS
Evaluation cycleSemester-wise
Entry-level Package75,000 USD-110,000 USD
Job RolesEconomist, Consultant, Statistician, Policy Analyst, Market Researcher, Budget Analyst etc
Top RecruitersBank of America Merrill Lynch, Apple, Citi Bank, Chubb, Ernst and Young, The World Bank, Google, JP Morgan, McKinsey & Company etc.

Top US Universities: Masters in Economics in USA

The QS Global Rankings 2020 for Economics enlisted 21 Universities in the USA amongst the top 50 Economics colleges of the world. Below are the top 10 USA colleges providing masters in economics studies:

UniversityQS RankingDegree offeredProgram durationAnnual Tuition Fees (USD)
MIT*2Masters in DEDP (Data, Economics and Development Policy)253,450
Stanford University3Masters of Arts in Energy & Resources253,088
University of California, Berkeley (UCB)4Masters of Arts in Energy & Resources2120,638
Columbia University11Master of Science in Financial Economics1.584,000
New York University12Masters of Arts in Economics9 months36,544
UCLA15Master of Applied Economics1.572,306
University of Michigan19Master of Applied Economics1.5-2115,800
Duke University20MS Economics and Computation241,600
Cornell University35Master of Science in Applied Economics and Management154,720
Boston University44MA in Economics18-21 months56,904
University of Minnesota49MS in Applied Economics272,000
University of Wisconsin49Master of Science in Economics2106,900

The economics program at MIT is a blended online/residency program. Students are required to first complete online MIT micromasters before applying for the DEDP program. The academic qualification for completing micromasters is judged on the basis of five rigorous courses along with in-person proctored exams.

Masters in Economics in USA: What is it About?

Masters in Economics programs in USA are available as online, residency, and blended programs. The program is often tailored for students who have a previous education background of mathematics or economics focussed degree. 

The degree is more theory focused or applied/career focused. Some economics colleges in the USA offer students with a chance of undertaking internships or study-abroad options. The core course structure comprises of the following subjects:

  • Econometrics
  •  Macro & Microeconomics
  • Developmental Economics
  • Financial Economics
  • Game Theory 
  • Interpretational Economics

Specializations Offered

SpecializationDescriptionSector Utilized
Financial EconomicsStudy facets of economics, domestic & international marketsBanking, investment, corporate financial management
MacroeconomicsUnderstanding of dynamics of economics agentsPublic Policy Sector
MicroeconomicsAnalytical tools for market, consumer behaviour, distribution in marketConsumer Demand
International EconomicsExploring international finance & tradeForeign Exchange, MNCs, Welfare implications of trade policies
Game TheoryLearning to create models on competing behaviour of agents-
Industrial EconomicsLearning to apply economics to management of modern businessesBusiness & Management

Masters in Economics in USA: Admissions

When planning to study in the USA, international applicants are required to fulfill specific criteria to be admitted to their college of choice. Various entrance tests are also required for pursuing higher education in the USA. 

International students must be familiar with admission requirements for studying in the USA before making applications. The basic and university-specific requirements for pursuing masters in economics in USA are as follows:

Masters in Economics in USA: Eligibility

  • To study in the US one must have 16 years of education, which is 10+2+4. Suggesting a 4 year bachelors is mandatory for pursuing masters in the USA
  • Language proficiency: Required for non-native English speaking applicants. 
  • Funding to support their studies
  • USA student visa, applications for which can be made after acceptance in a university. 

University-Specific Eligibility

For admission at various top universities in the USA, applicants must fulfill the following eligibility requirements for getting accepted for a postgraduate economics degree. 

UniversityMinimum UG RequirementsAverage GRE scoreEnglish Language Requirements
MITUG degreeNot requiredTOEFL: 100
IELTS: 7.0
University of California, Berkeley (UCB)83-86%RequiredTOEFL: 93
IELTS: 6.5
Columbia UniversityUG in relevant subject310TOEFL (iBT): 100, (pBT): 600
IELTS: 7.5
New York University87-89%150 (V)
160 (Q)
TOEFL (iBT): 105
IELTS: 7.5
UCLA83-86%158 (V)
169 (Q)
TOEFL (pBT): 560, (cBT):220, (iBT): 87
IELTS: 7.0
University of Michigan80-82%152 (V)
166 (Q)
TOEFL (pBT): 560, (iBT): 84
IELTS: 6.5
Duke University90-92%160 (V)
164 (Q)
TOEFL (iBT): 90; (pBT): 577
IELTS: 7.0
Cornell UniversityUG in relevant degree160 (V)
167 (Q)
TOEFL (iBT): 77
IELTS: 7.0
Boston UniversityUG in relevant degreeNo minimum required scoreTOEFL (iBT): 84
IELTS: 7.0
University of Minnesota83-86%153 (V)
170 (Q)
TOEFL (iBT): 79
IELTS: 6.5
PTE: 59
University of WisconsinUG degree with Calculus & Linear algebraNot requiredTOEFL (iBT): 92 (pBT): 580
IELTS: 7.0

Masters in Economics in USA Requirements

International applicants must be aware of the deadlines, requirements and admission process to study in the USA. Given below are the details of the documents required for pursuing MA/MS Economics in USA: 

  • Official transcripts: Usually required at the time of accepting offers. May be required along with the applications. In other cases, applicants may be asked for certified copies of transcripts
  • Letter of Recommendation: Mostly 3 LOR are required by economics schools in USA. 
  • SOP/Personal Statement/Letter of Intent: A statement of why the student wants to pursue the program and why the choice of university is included in these supporting documents. 
  • Resume: A detailed resume may be required by some of the institutions. 

Admission Decision

The decisions to your applications in most of the cases are made by judging your capabilities on a holistic level. However, the results may be announced in a time of 4-8 weeks. This may vary from university to university. Applicants are, therefore, suggested to keep an eye on the application tracking portals. 

Masters in Economics in USA: Cost of Study

Cost of studying MS in the USA can be broadly categorized into pre-arrival expenses, tuition fees, cost of living, etc. The estimates for each segment are stated below:

Pre-Arrival Expenses

Studying abroad involves expenses that one spends even before they have landed at their study destination. These include fees of various exams, USA student visa fees, application fees, etc. Some of these are:

Type of ExpensesExpenses (USD)
University Application100
Visa Application190
Total Expenses1949

Tuition Fees for International Students

The overall cost of pursuing the program from top economics colleges from USA ranges from 40,000-120,00 USD. Detailed below is a graphical comparison of the annual tuition fees of pursuing MS in economics in USA.

Tuition fees for MS in Economics in USA

Cost of Living in USA

Cost of living is an important fragment of the cost of studying in USA. It is important for an international student to be prepared to spend a humongous amount on the cost of living when expenses are not monitored well. Given below are minimum monthly expenses in USD:

CategoriesAverage monthly expenses (in USD)
600-800(Off Campus)
Personal Expenditures300-600
Health Insurance450-700

This varies with the University chosen by an individual. The cost of living is also affected by the lifestyle choices made by the individual. However, monthly expenses of living in USA ranges from 1-2 lakhs in Indian currency.


Studying masters in USA can burn a hole in your pockets if the budget is not well planned. Students are henceforth suggested to ensure that they apply for the scholarship available to international applicantsto ease down this burden. There are a variety of funding options available to Indian Students in the USA. Read some of the popular scholarships available for international students in the USA:

ScholarshipScholarship Award (USD)Deadline
Debesh Kamal Scholarships1,385April,2020
Hsiao Economics Scholarships1000NA
Ritchie- Jennings Memorial ScholarshipVariableNA
KC Mahindra Scholarships5,542March,2020
Rotary Foundation Graduate Scholarship Program30,000 USDNA
Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship ProgramTuition fees, travel expenses, monthly stipend, computer subsidy, health insurance coverage.Varies by country

In case you are unable to get any of the scholarships, loans available for international students in USA are another option for funding your studies. 


One of the most reputed job designation for applicants who have completed their masters in economics is CPA in USA. Apart from CPA, you can be hired as an economist and at other posts. Some of the job trends related with the field include:

  • Masters in the entry-level degree in the field in USA. 
  • Largest employment is offered by the federal government (22% of the total). 
  • Around 65% of economics graduates get employed within six months of completion of degree and around 15% go for further studies.
  • Financial analysts’ jobs will grow by around 11% by 2026.

How International Student can Pursue CPA in USA

CPA USA (Certified Public Accountant) is an accounting qualification were an individual with required education and experience is granted a license to practice in USA. For obtaining the license international applicants are required to sit for the CPA exam conducted by AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants). The details of CPA USA are given below:

Certified Public Accountant USA

Some of the popular jobs in USA for a postgraduate in economics are given below along with their minimum entry-level annual salaries. 

Job RolesAnnual Entry-level Salaries (USD)
Financial Analyst35,100
Economic Consultant36,231
Compensation and Benefits Manager57,500
Credit Analyst30,000
Financial Manager72,500
Investor Relations Associate17,355
Financial Risk Analyst54,503
Investment Analyst31,200

Masters in economics in USA, a degree best suited for students with a previous background in economics or advanced mathematics can cost you anywhere around 40,000-120,000 USD. But, the degree is capable of offering you lucrative jobs with cushy median salaries of up to 200,000 USD. The degree opens your pathway to pursuing a PhD from the USA, which can offer you a hike of as much as 23% on your previous salaries. 

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