Masters in Economics in USA: Top Colleges, Admissions, Fees, Scholarships, Jobs

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    Bhavya Rawal

    Study Abroad Expert

    Masters in economics in USA is usually a 1-2 year-long program costing up to 120,000 USD (~89 lakhs INR). MS in economics in USA is offered at some of the globally ranking institutions like MIT, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Stanford University, etc. Admissions to international students for top economics colleges in the USA are offered mostly during the fall session. Masters in economics in USA, is an entry-level requirement for becoming an economist in the country. Applicants can also apply for CPA USA, and sit for the CPA exam after completion of masters in economics in the USA.  

    To get admissions to top economics colleges in USA, international students must submit test scores like IELTS/TOEFL and GRE along with their bachelor's degree in relevant subjects with excellent scores. Applications will have to apply directly through the university website. 

    A master’s in economics in India costs only up to 2 lakhs, one of the major reasons that attract students to study in the USA is the return on investment. Where average annual salary package offered to postgraduates of economics in India range between 2-6 LPA, on completion of the same degree you can earn as much as 50-70 LPA in the USA. Such an attractive salary packages result in the student overlooking the cost involved. 

    Top Universities for 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. Tabulated below are the top colleges for pursuing masters in economics in USA as per their rankings, along with the program fees and other details:

    University QS Ranking Degree offered Total Program Fees (USD)
    MIT* 2 Masters in DEDP (Data, Economics and Development Policy) 106,900
    Stanford University 3 Masters of Arts in Energy & Resources 106,176
    University of California, Berkeley (UCB) 4 Masters of Arts in Energy & Resources 120,638
    Columbia University 11 Master of Science in Financial Economics 84,000
    New York University 12 Masters of Arts in Economics 36,544
    UCLA 15 Master of Applied Economics 72,306
    University of Michigan 19 Master of Applied Economics 115,800
    Duke University 20 MS Economics and Computation 115,800
    Cornell University 35 Master of Science in Applied Economics and Management 54,720
    Boston University 44 MA in Economics 56,904
    University of Minnesota 49 MS in Applied Economics 72,000
    University of Wisconsin 49 Master of Science in Economics 72,000

    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. 

    Why Study Masters in Economics in USA?

    • Seven 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)
    • The 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%).

    Note: The expected rise may be affected by the COVID19 outbreak.

    Masters in Economics in USA: What is it About?

    Masters in Economics in USA is 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 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, and Interpretational Economics

    Specializations Offered

    • Financial Economics: Study facets of economics, domestic & international markets and is utilized in banking, investment, corporate financial management sectors.
    • Macroeconomics: Understanding of dynamics of economics agents and is used in the public policy sector.
    • Microeconomics: Study of analytical tools for market, consumer behavior, distribution in the market. Helpful in understanding consumer demands.
    • International Economics: Exploring international finance & trade to understand foreign Exchange, MNCs, Welfare implications of trade policies.
    • Game Theory: Learning to create models on competing behavior of agents.
    • Industrial Economics: Learning to apply economics to the management of modern businesses.

    A master's in economics in USA will help you investigate factors involved in the consumption, production, and distribution of goods and services. It will help a student understand the dynamics of economic actions and their effect on both consumers and the company.

    Masters in Economics in USA: Course Highlights

    Duration 1.5-2 years
    Tuition fees 24,000 USD- 62,000 USD per year
    Admission process Merit-based, GRE and TOEFL/IELTS
    Evaluation cycle Semester-wise
    Entry-level Package 75,000 USD-110,000 USD
    Job Roles Economist, Consultant, Statistician, Policy Analyst, Market Researcher, Budget Analyst etc
    Top Recruiters Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Apple, Citi Bank, Chubb, Ernst and Young, The World Bank, Google, JP Morgan, McKinsey & Company etc.

    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 the 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 Masters in Economics 

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

    University Minimum UG Requirements English Language Requirements
    MIT UG degree TOEFL: 100
    IELTS: 7.0
    University of California, Berkeley (UCB) 83-86% TOEFL: 93
    IELTS: 6.5
    Columbia University UG in relevant subject TOEFL (iBT): 100, (pBT): 600
    IELTS: 7.5
    New York University 87-89% TOEFL (iBT): 105
    IELTS: 7.5
    UCLA 83-86% TOEFL (pBT): 560, (cBT):220, (iBT): 87
    IELTS: 7.0
    University of Michigan 80-82% TOEFL (pBT): 560, (iBT): 84
    IELTS: 6.5
    Duke University 90-92% TOEFL (iBT): 90; (pBT): 577
    IELTS: 7.0
    Cornell University UG in relevant degree TOEFL (iBT): 77
    IELTS: 7.0
    Boston University UG in relevant degree TOEFL (iBT): 84
    IELTS: 7.0
    University of Minnesota 83-86% TOEFL (iBT): 79
    IELTS: 6.5
    PTE: 59
    University of Wisconsin UG degree with Calculus & Linear algebra TOEFL (iBT): 92 (pBT): 580
    IELTS: 7.0

    MS in Economics in USA: GRE Requirements

    University Average GRE score
    MIT Not required
    University of California, Berkeley Required
    Columbia University 310
    New York University 150 (V)
    160 (Q)
    UCLA 158 (V)
    169 (Q)
    University of Michigan 152 (V)
    166 (Q)
    Duke University 160 (V)
    164 (Q)
    Cornell University 160 (V)
    167 (Q)
    Boston University No minimum required score
    University of Minnesota 153 (V)
    170 (Q)
    University of Wisconsin Not required

    MS 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 Expenses Expenses (USD)
    University Application 100
    Visa Application 190
    TOEFL 180
    IELTS 174
    GRE 205
    Airfare 1100
    Total Expenses 1949

    Tuition Fees for MS in Economics in USA in INR

    The overall cost of pursuing the program from top economics colleges in USA ranges from 40,000-120,00 USD. Detailed below is a graphical comparison of the annual tuition fees of pursuing Masters in economics in USA. The annual costs that an Indian student would invest as tuition fees roughly range between 15 lakhs to 45 lakhs INR. (Conversion rate as off Oct 2020). This amount may seem too much for a student on a budget. You can always apply for scholarships available to study masters in USA.

    University Annual Fees (INR)
    UC Berkeley 19.5 lakhs
    Columbia University 44.7 lakhs
    NYU 41.1 lakhs
    UCLA 26.8 lakhs
    Duke University 42.5 lakhs
    Cornell University 15.2 lakhs
    Boston University 40.2 lakhs
    University of Minnesota 20.9 lakhs
    University of Wisconsin 26.4 lakhs

    Cost of Living in USA

    The 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:

    Categories Average monthly expenses (in USD)
    Accommodation 1000 (On-Campus)
    600-800 (Off-Campus)
    Meals 120-160
    Transportation 100-300
    Personal Expenditures 300-600
    Health Insurance 450-700
    Total 1,570-2,813

    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.

    Masters in Economics in USA with Scholarship

    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 applicants to 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:

    Scholarship Scholarship Award (USD) Deadline
    Debesh Kamal Scholarships 1,385 April,2020
    Hsiao Economics Scholarships 1000 NA
    Ritchie- Jennings Memorial Scholarship Variable NA
    KC Mahindra Scholarships 5,542 March,2020
    Rotary Foundation Graduate Scholarship Program 30,000 USD NA
    Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program Tuition 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. 

    Jobs after Masters in Economics in USA

    One of the most reputed job designations 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 to the field include:

    • Masters in the entry-level degree in the field in USA. 
    • The 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 Roles Annual Entry-level Salaries (USD)
    Economist 73,709
    Financial Analyst 35,100
    Economic Consultant 36,231
    Compensation and Benefits Manager 57,500
    Credit Analyst 30,000
    Auditor 33,491
    Financial Manager 72,500
    Investor Relations Associate 17,355
    Financial Risk Analyst 54,503
    Actuary 65,552
    Investment Analyst 31,200

    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. With education giants like MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA offering the program, etc, MS in economics in USA is considered one of the best masters in economics programs in the world. 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. 


    Ques. What is the cost of studying masters in economics in USA?

    Ans. The annual tuition fees for pursuing masters in economics in USA range from 20,800 to 60,000 USD equivalent to 15-45 lakhs INR. Apart from the fees, international students will require funds to live in USA. The average monthly cost of living in USA is around 1500-2500 USD. 

    Ques. Can I become an economist with a masters degree in USA?

    Ans. Yes, masters in economics is the entry-level degree required for pursuing a career as an economist in the USA. Additionally, you can also apply for CPA exams and get certifications. 

    Ques. Should one take the GRE or GMAT to study masters in economics in USA?

    Ans. GRE should be preferably undertaken by a student who wishes to study masters in economics in the USA. Many top universities require a student to have a good GRE score for taking admissions in the program.

    Ques. Is it possible to study Masters in economics in USA without GRE?

    Ans. Yes, there are many of the universities in the USA that do not require an international student to have a GRE score for applying for masters in economics in USA. These include MIT, Boston University, University of Wisconsin, and others. However, it is always suggested that one should preferably have the exam score to enhance their application profile. 

    Ques. What is the eligibility to pursue masters in economics in USA?

    Ans. For applying for masters in economics in USA, an applicant must have a bachelors degree (4-year) in a relevant subject with an average of 80% or more. Additional GRE scores may be required depending on the university. International students are required to have IELTS (avg- 7.0) or TOEFL (avg- 85) scores as well.

    Ques. What are the top universities for masters in economics in USA?

    Ans. Some of the top economics colleges in USA offering masters in economics include MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Cornell University, University of Michigan, etc.