Education

Best Applied Economics Degree Programs of 2022

Learn more about the top Applied Economics programs, what to expect, job prospects, and how to choose the program that’s right for you.

Applied economics is the study of how economic principles can be used to solve real-world problems. Applied economists use economic theory and quantitative methods to analyze issues such as unemployment, inflation, economic growth, and trade. Applied economics degrees can prepare students for a variety of careers in government, business, and academia.

Applied economics degrees offer a broad overview of economic principles and their applications. Students in applied economics degree programs learn about microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics. They also learn about the different ways in which economic principles can be applied to solve real-world problems.

How to Choose the Right Applied Economics Program

When it comes to choosing the right applied economics bachelor’s degree program, there are many factors to consider. Cost, location, and time to degree are all important factors that can help narrow down your options.

The cost of an applied economics degree varies depending on the institution. When considering costs, students need to research tuition, fees, and associated expenses such as housing, commuting, and parking. Public schools offer a lower tuition rate for in-state residents. Location can also affect the ability to gain internship opportunities and network for jobs after graduation. Finally, the time to degree may make an expensive program less costly if students can transfer in college credits.

In addition to these factors, prospective applied economics students also need to consider the specializations available at each program. Students can research the graduation requirements to learn how many general economics classes they must take versus the specialized courses in their track.

Best Bachelor’s in Applied Economics Programs

The best programs for Applied Economics ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the metrics influencing how the rankings are determined include graduation rate, average salary for graduates, accreditation, retention rate, and cost.

Rank 1
Northwestern University
Evanston, IL

The Bachelor of Science in Economics from Northwestern University provides students with a strong foundation in economic concepts, theories, and techniques. Students will learn how to think like economists and use economic analysis to solve real-world problems. The curriculum includes introductory and intermediate courses in macro- and microeconomics, econometrics, and advanced courses in topics such as banking, international finance and trade, taxation and public spending, behavioral economics, and the economics of developing countries.

Rank 2
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY

The Bachelor of Science in Applied Economics & Management from Cornell University provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in the business world. The flexible degree requirements give students the opportunity to customize their education to their specific interests and career goals. Additionally, the unique location of the Dyson School provides students with the opportunity to pursue a double major or minor in a wide variety of fields.

Rank 3
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN

The Bachelor of Science in Applied Economics from the University of Minnesota is a five-year program that allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree concurrently. The program is designed for students who are interested in pursuing a career in economics or a related field. The program offers two plan options: Plan A, which focuses on research development, and Plan B, which focuses on coursework.

Rank 4
Illinois Institute of Technology
Chicago, IL

The Bachelor of Science in Applied Economics Specialization from Illinois Institute of Technology provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to apply economic models in real-world settings. The program also prepares students to think critically about economic issues and to evaluate and improve methods for investigating economic components. The specialization offers a variety of courses that allow students to customize the program to their academic interests and career goals.

Rank 5
Saint Cloud State University
Saint Cloud, MN

The Bachelor of Arts in Applied Economics from Saint Cloud State University is a five-year program that allows students to receive both the Bachelor of Arts in Economics and the Master of Science in Applied Economics in five years. This accelerated, rigorous program is for undergraduates who maintain a 3.3 GPA and who show the ability and discipline necessary to successfully complete an accelerated combination undergraduate and graduate program in economics.

Rank 6
University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth
North Dartmouth, MA

The Bachelor of Arts in Economics from University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth is an online degree that uses economic theory and empirical analysis to address real-world problems. The degree requires 120 credits for completion and students can transfer up to 75 credits from a regionally accredited institution. The curriculum for the degree is focused on training students in econometrics, statistical methods, and software specifically for economic data.

Rank 7
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, OH

The Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies degree from Bowling Green State University is a unique program that allows students to combine Economics with a related discipline. Students are required to take advanced Economics courses, and three courses from their chosen discipline with a cohesive theme. Selection of specialization courses must be approved by the advisor and are subject to the availability of the course offerings. Students are encouraged to discuss their individual interests with the advisor as early in their program as possible to select the appropriate specialization courses to complete their program in a reasonable time.

Rank 8
Farmingdale State College
Farmingdale, NY

The Bachelor of Science in Applied Economics from Farmingdale State College is a comprehensive program that provides students with a strong foundation in economic concepts and applications, preparing them for entry-level positions in their chosen field. The program culminates with a capstone course sequence in which students complete an applied research project.

Rank 9
The City University of New York
New York, NY

The Bachelor of Science in Financial Economics at CUNY is a 100% online degree program that prepares students for a career in finance. The program provides students with a strong understanding of financial theory and the tools needed to conduct theoretical and applied research. Additionally, students will learn how to manage financial risk and understand financial instruments.

Rank 10
Eastern New Mexico University
Portales, NM

The Bachelor of Business Administration in Applied Economics and Finance from Eastern New Mexico University is a 100% online program that prepares students for a career in economics and finance. The program covers topics such as economic theory, financial analysis, and business decision-making. Students also have the opportunity to choose an emphasis in either general business or personal financial planning.

What to Expect From a Bachelor’s in Applied Economics Program

Students in a bachelor’s in applied economics program learn to apply economic principles to real-world situations. The degree emphasizes the use of economic analysis and quantitative methods to solve problems in business, government, and nonprofit organizations.

Most programs require students to complete core coursework in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics. Students may also be required to complete courses in calculus, statistics, and other quantitative methods. In addition, many programs offer concentration options, such as environmental economics, development economics, or health economics.

Applied economics programs typically culminate in a capstone course or project. This allows students to synthesize and apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired throughout the program.

To succeed in an applied economics program, students should have strong analytical and quantitative skills. They should also be able to effectively communicate their findings.

Common Applied Economics Courses

The courses students take for a degree in applied economics will depend on the school they attend and the program they choose. However, many programs offer a combination of the following courses.

Economic Development

This course covers the principles and practices of economic development. Topics include an introduction to economic development, business retention and expansion, business financing, workforce development, marketing, and project management. Upon completion, students should be able to apply economic development principles to real-world situations and projects.

Probability and Statistics

This course covers the study of probability, random variables, and statistical inference. Topics include basic probability theory, discrete and continuous random variables, expectation and variance, joint distributions, marginal and conditional distributions, correlation and regression, and the Central Limit Theorem. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the methods learned to real-world data sets in order to make inferences and predictions.

Labor Economics

This course covers the economic analysis of labor markets with an emphasis on the U.S. labor market. Topics include a review of basic microeconomic principles, an overview of the U.S. labor market, an analysis of labor demand and labor supply, an examination of the impact of unions on labor markets, an analysis of discrimination in labor markets, and an evaluation of public policy issues in labor markets. Upon completion, students should be able to apply microeconomic principles to the analysis of labor market issues and public policy.

Data Analysis

This course covers the basic concepts and methods of data analysis with an emphasis on applications in economics. Topics include data description, probability, estimation, hypothesis testing, and regression analysis. The use of statistical software is an integral part of the course. Upon completion, students should be able to understand and apply the basic methods of data analysis to economic problems.

Macroeconomic Principles

This course covers the basic principles of macroeconomics including economic growth, inflation, unemployment, and stabilization policies. Emphasis is placed on the application of macroeconomic analysis to current economic conditions and policy issues. Upon completion, students should be able to apply macroeconomic analysis to understand current economic conditions and policy issues.

Career Options for Applied Economics Graduates

Graduates of applied economics programs work in a variety of industries, including finance, banking, and consulting. They may also work in fields such as market research, economic development, and public policy.

Assistant Policy Analyst

Assistant policy analysts typically work under the supervision of a senior policy analyst to help research, develop, and implement policy recommendations. Their work might involve conducting research, analyzing data, writing reports, preparing presentations, and attending meetings. In some cases, assistant policy analysts may also be responsible for administrative tasks, such as scheduling, maintaining files and records, and coordinating travel.

Business Analyst

Business analysts are responsible for assessing a company’s business model and determining how it can be improved. They work with all departments within an organization to understand their needs and objectives and then develop solutions that can streamline processes and improve efficiency. Business analysts use data-driven analysis to identify inefficiencies and recommend solutions, which can include anything from process improvements to new technology implementations. They also develop business cases to justify their recommendations and track the results of implemented solutions.

Business Development Representative

Business development representatives are responsible for generating new business opportunities for their companies. They typically work in sales and are tasked with the first stage of the sales process: identifying potential customers, building relationships, and eventually passing qualified leads on to sales account executives. To succeed in this role, business development reps must be excellent communicators and relationship-builders, as well as have a deep understanding of their company’s products or services.

Data Analyst

Data analysts collect, organize, and study data to help a company run more efficiently and effectively. They might work with financial data, customer data, sales data, or any other type of data that can be quantified. Data analysts use their findings to develop recommendations for improving processes and solving problems. They also create visualizations, such as charts, graphs, and maps, to help communicate their findings to others. Data analysts typically have a background in mathematics, statistics, computer science, or another quantitative field.

Financial Analyst

Financial analysts use their math skills and business knowledge to help organizations make money. They might work for banks, insurance companies, accounting firms, or investment firms, and their job is to help these organizations make money by investing it wisely. Financial analysts typically have a four-year degree in business, economics, or finance, and they must be good at math and able to understand and analyze financial reports.

Insights From an Applied Economics Graduate

Brendan Matthews is a Senior Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He has a bachelor’s degree in applied economics from Cornell University. Brendan has over 10 years of experience in economic research and policy analysis.

ClimbtheLadder: What were the biggest takeaway(s) you got from your Applied Economics program that you may not have gotten otherwise?

Brendan Matthews: The biggest takeaway from my applied economics program was the ability to think critically about real-world problems. I was able to take the economic theories I learned in the classroom and apply them to real-world situations. This made me a much more effective problem-solver and policy analyst.

ClimbtheLadder: What should students interested in Applied Economics be good at?

Brendan Matthews: Students interested in applied economics should be good at math and statistics. They should also be able to think critically and be interested in economic policy.

ClimbtheLadder: What was the most challenging course you took? What advice would you give to students who are about to start this course?

Brendan Matthews: The most challenging course I took was econometrics. My advice for students who are about to start this course is to be prepared to put in a lot of time outside of class. The material is challenging, but if you are willing to put in the extra effort, you will be successful.

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