Best Economics Bachelor's Programs 2023

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Published January 11, 2023

Are you considering majoring in economics? Discover what some of the best economics bachelor's programs can offer and how to find the right program to fit your goals.

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Earning bachelor's degrees in economics allows graduates to pursue careers as statisticians, financial advisors, and financial analysts. This degree teaches learners to assist private and public organizations in reducing costs, mitigating risk, and forming sustainable habits.

According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the popularity of a bachelor's in economics degree has risen in the last decade. The major saw 27,623 people earning the degree in 2010 versus 34,992 in 2020.

The degree's demand could be due to the spectrum of careers available upon graduation. Graduates can work in diverse industries, including research, energy, banking, and real estate. An entry-level economist can also climb the ladder to more advanced positions like securities trader.

Below, explore the features, costs, and outcomes associated with an economics bachelor's degree. This guide also highlights some of the best economics bachelor's programs to springboard your search.

Why Get an Economics Bachelor's Degree?

  • Strong Salary Potential: Research indicates that majoring in economics can lead to a $22,000 entry-level salary increase compared to other majors. Additionally, January 2023 Payscale data indicates that individuals with bachelor's degrees in economics earned an average salary of $81,000 more — nearly $23,000 higher than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
  • More Career Opportunities: Several economics-related careers require a minimum of a bachelor's degree for entry-level opportunities. BLS reporting demonstrates that actuaries, budget analysts, economists, and market research analysts typically need bachelor's degrees.
  • Seamless Transition to Graduate Studies: After graduating with bachelor's degrees in economics, learners can consider master's programs to pursue more advanced roles as urban planners and political scientists. In addition, some graduate schools require enrollees to have bachelor's degrees in economics or relevant coursework, allowing an easy credit transfer to their graduate program.

What to Expect From an Economics Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree in economics prepares learners to understand how behaviors, business, and society can affect the economy. Degree-seekers also study organizational funding, banking, and investing.

An economics bachelor's degree typically includes 120 credits designed for students to complete in four years. Core credits include business, finance, and general education courses. In addition, schools often reserve some credits for electives, allowing enrollees to choose classes that interest them and build additional skills.

Undergraduates interested in pursuing a master's degree in economics should look for an accredited bachelor's program to ensure the transferability of their credits to their graduate program. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE) confer the status to the best economics bachelor's programs.

Degree, Concentration, and Format Options

Understanding the differences between the best economic bachelor's programs can help learners find a suitable fit for their career goals. Degree-seekers can choose a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science in economics.

The bachelor of science variation typically leans more into math and science concepts, including statistics and calculus. In contrast, bachelor of arts programs usually include more social sciences and economics theory courses.

Despite their subtle differences, these bachelor's degrees require the same number of credits and length to completion. However, a bachelor of arts curriculum may include additional electives. Accelerated economics bachelor's degrees may allow learners to complete their bachelor's in three years, while a combined bachelor's-to-master's curriculum may take five.

Finally, degree-seekers should consider whether to attend school in person or online. Online classes provide flexibility for learners who live far from their campus. Additionally, asynchronous courses without scheduled lectures and meeting times offer greater scheduling flexibility to online students.

Still, some learners work better with in-person instruction. Hybrid programs feature a blend of online and in-person learning, benefiting enrollees who need an accommodating schedule.

Should You Get an Economics Bachelor's or an Accounting Bachelor's?

Accounting and economics bachelor's degrees have many similarities, making it challenging to determine which program may offer the best fit. Degree-seekers will find that these two degrees include some of the same courses and require the same time commitment and credit loads.

However, a bachelor's in economics degree may have more admission requirements and prerequisites for students to meet. Learners seeking a specific career should also be mindful of the varied professional outcomes of each degree.

Comparing Bachelor's in Economics and Accounting
Key Factor Bachelor's in Economics Bachelor's in Accounting

Credit load

120 credits

120 credits

Program length

Four years

Four years

Tuition

$200-$660 per credit

$250-$450 per credit

Admission requirements

  • Submit high school transcripts and a statement of purpose or essay
  • May require prerequisites, such as introductory microeconomics or macroeconomics courses
  • Submit high school transcripts
  • May require minimum GPA and SAT or ACT scores

Types of courses

Macroeconomics

Microeconomics

Statistics

Calculus

Corporate finance

Data science

Accounting

Microeconomics

Macroeconomics

Cost accounting

Business taxation

Statistics

Career outcomes

Statistician

Financial consultant

Risk analyst

Economic research scientist

Market analyst

Actuary

Public accountant

Forensic accountant

Auditor

Financial director

Chief financial officer

Tax specialist

Sources: University of North Dakota; Oregon State University; Florida International University; Penn State World Campus; Southern New Hampshire University; Wright State University; University of Washington;

Admissions Process

The admissions process for an economics bachelor's degree begins with an application and submission of high school transcripts or proof of GED completion.

Some schools also require applicants to complete macroeconomics, microeconomics, and statistics courses with passing grades before declaring an economics major. Additional requirements for some programs include a minimum GPA of 3.0 and ACT or SAT scores.

Though not all schools require candidates to provide letters of recommendation, these documents may increase an applicant's chances of acceptance. Applicants should consider using Common App to streamline the process of applying to multiple schools.

Popular Economics Undergraduate Courses

Undergraduate economics programs include general education, core curriculum, and elective courses. General education courses, such as composition and calculus, take up most of the first two terms. Then, students begin their core curriculum of targeted economics courses and relevant electives of their choosing.

Most programs also end with capstone projects, in which students apply learned concepts to real-world situations.

  • Intermediate Microeconomics: This core course explores the effects of individual and business decisions on the economy and society. Learners discover microeconomics principles and theory, along with interactions between policy and microeconomics. This course also covers supply, demand, and achieving market equilibrium.
  • Intermediate Macroeconomics: Another addition to the core curriculum, intermediate macroeconomics dives into inflation, supply and demand, business cycles, fiscal policy, and international supply chains. Learners also discover how the money market works and how organizations and society attribute or hinder economic growth. Coursework develops crucial analytic skills for future economists.
  • Environmental Economics: In this course, students research how dire environmental issues affect the supply chain, society, and the economy. Learners explore how population growth affects the environment and, subsequently, the economy. This course builds logical thinking, math, and science skills that help economic professionals piece together key data points.
  • Rural Sociology: An example of a relevant elective, rural sociology covers critical societal issues in rural America and how they affect society as a whole. Students can relate these concepts to their economics studies as they determine how rural economies and behaviors affect a larger community and economy and vice versa.

How Much Do Economics Bachelor's Programs Cost?

An economics bachelor's degree costs $200-$660 per credit, on average. Therefore, a 120-credit program may cost $24,000-$79,200. However, some schools offer per-semester or per-year tuition, which can reduce total program costs — especially for accelerated degrees.

Tuition rates may also vary between in-state and out-of-state learners, with the latter costing more per credit. Some schools also assign different tuition rates for online learners, which may be higher than in-state tuition.

Degree-seekers can receive help paying for their education with financial aid. Students do not need to pay back scholarships or grants but must repay loans after the initial deferment period. Follow the links below to learn more about financial aid options for an economics bachelor's degree.

Should You Get Your Degree Online?

Online learning has become a popular option for students. According to NCES data, 44% of four-year public school students were enrolled exclusively in distance education courses in the fall 2020 semester. Private for-profit schools found 73% of their students enrolled online.

Several schools offer online economics bachelor's degrees with no in-person requirements. The math and social science-based curriculum suits the online experience well for motivated learners who do not require face-to-face instruction.

An online bachelor's in economics with asynchronous classes allows learners to complete coursework where and when they want. An online program with online tuition rates may also be the most cost-effective option for out-of-state learners.

Economics Jobs and Salaries

According to the BLS, economics professionals earn the highest average wages in the finance and insurance industry, with the federal government close behind. Fortunately, these industries offer career opportunities for economics graduates, such as actuary and financial analyst roles.

Additionally, a graduate can advance their career and salary potential by pursuing a master's degree. Many employers prefer master's degree-holders for economist, statistician, and urban planner roles.

The following careers are possible options for economics bachelor's degree graduates.

Actuary


Actuaries typically possess accounting backgrounds but use mathematical and statistical analysis skills to determine financial risk for a company. Their duties include compiling and dissecting financial reports, reporting findings to financial managers, and designing policies to mitigate risk. Actuaries often work in the insurance industry but also work with government agencies or large corporations.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree in economics, actuarial science, or accounting

Job Outlook (2021-31): +21%

Median Annual Salary (2021): $105,900

Source: BLS

Financial Analyst


A financial analyst works with an organization to discover ways to increase its revenue and improve financial stability. These professionals typically work in the investment and insurance industries. Economics students interested in financial analyst careers can focus their electives on financial courses, like accounting and corporate investments.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree in accounting, business, or economics

Job Outlook (2021-31): +9%

Median Annual Salary (2021): $95,570

Source: BLS

Economist


Economists study how business, society, and the economy affect one another. Their work assists in identifying opportunities for economic growth and mitigating the risk of inflation and supply chain issues. Although some employers prefer master's-level candidates, bachelor's graduates may find entry-level roles that allow for advancement within organizations or government agencies.

Required Education: Master's degree in economics, statistics, or business

Job Outlook (2021-31): +6%

Median Annual Salary (2021): $105,630

Source: BLS

Statistician


These professionals use advanced mathematical concepts to dissect, compile, and understand data. Statisticians with backgrounds in economics might use their skills to analyze current and predict future economic trends. Healthcare, government, and research facilities typically employ statisticians.

Required Education: Master's degree in statistics, economics, or computer science

Job Outlook (2021-31): +31%

Median Annual Salary (2021): $96,280

Source: BLS

Selecting the Right Economics Program

Choosing the best program for your needs can help you reach your educational and career goals. Consider the following factors when searching for an economics bachelor's degree:

  • Accreditation: Accredited programs meet quality standards set by accrediting bodies. Look for programs accredited by AACSB or IACBE, which commonly endorse economics programs. Always ensure that the college or university holds institutional accreditation, as well.
  • Curriculum: Does a curriculum allow you to include electives that build specific skills or interests? Consider if the program's courses align with your career goals.
  • Research Opportunities: Some economics programs include internships or research opportunities for students to gain practical experience. If you are studying online, make sure you can meet in-person field requirements.
  • Concentrations: Programs with concentration options can benefit students interested in specializing in an area of economics, such as public policy or international economics.
  • Graduate Support: What alum support is available for graduates? Research if a program includes career mentorship, job search assistance, or networking events to help graduates transition into the workforce.

Below are a few of the best economics bachelor's degrees to start your search.

Best Economics Bachelor's Degrees

Follow the link below to learn what factors we consider when ranking schools. Then, explore some of the best economics bachelor's degrees based on reputation, affordability, academic quality, and other key features.

#1 Best Economics Bachelor’s Programs 2023

Berea College

  • Berea, KY
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Located in Berea, Kentucky, Berea makes higher education accessible to families with financial need. Its no-tuition promise guarantees that approved students can complete accredited bachelor's degrees without paying tuition.

Business Administration in Economics

The economics major at Berea College offers two concentrations: methods and models as well as international politics and policy. The program also allows students to add a finance specialization to complement their degree. 

The methods and models concentration prepares students for graduate studies and careers in business-focused economics. Enrollees pursuing the international politics and policy specialization learn about global economics, policies, and law. The finance concentration includes classes in investments, international finance, accounting, and financial management.

In both concentrations, students must complete a two-course capstone sequence. Learners build research development skills in the first class and conduct an economics research project in the second.

Berea's Specializations

Methods and Models | International Politics and Policy

Applying to Berea

Degree-seekers submit their high school transcripts, a school counselor evaluation, and a teacher recommendation with their online application. Although not required, students may submit their SAT or ACT scores for consideration.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges 
  • Tuition: $0/semester
  • Delivery Format: On campus
Average Tuition
In-state
$44,400
Out-of-state
$44,400
Retention Rate
87%
Admission Rate
33%
Students Enrolled
1,432
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
99% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 Best Economics Bachelor’s Programs 2023

Wellesley College

  • Wellesley, MA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Located near Boston, Massachusetts, Wellesley is a private liberal arts college for women. Its low student-to-faculty ratio, diverse degree offerings, and global women's network are among the benefits the school can offer students. 

Economics Major

The economics major at Wellesley College includes nine required courses. These classes cover topics like probability and statistical methods, microeconomic analysis, and econometrics. Students can also pursue additional courses that explore subjects such as health economics and economic law.

The Wellesley economics program emphasizes research. During their studies, learners can collaborate with faculty to develop and lead their own project. Students can also enroll in a nine-week summer research fellowship to assist Wellesley faculty with research. 

Enrollees interested in earning a master's degree can pursue the school's combined international economics and finance program, offered jointly with the Brandeis International School of Business, to earn a bachelor's and a master's in five years. 

Applying to Wellesley

Degree-seekers can use Common App or QuestBridge to apply to Wellesley. The school also requires two essays and transcripts.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Tuition: $30,792/semester
  • Delivery Format: On campus
Average Tuition
In-state
$58,120
Out-of-state
$58,120
Retention Rate
93%
Admission Rate
20%
Students Enrolled
2,280
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
86% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#3 Best Economics Bachelor’s Programs 2023

Carleton College

  • Northfield, MN
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Carleton is a liberal arts college located in Northfield, Minnesota. Founded in 1866, Carleton has committed to sustainability studies and climate justice. In 2004, the school erected the first college-owned wind turbine. 

Economics Major

Carleton College offers an economics major that emphasizes economic theory and policy. With about 50 seniors graduating from the program each year, class sizes and student-to-faculty ratios remain small, affording enrollees multiple collaborative learning opportunities.

Economics students can gain additional experience through internships, fellowships, and mentorships. For example, the department offers a mentorship program specifically for women and nonbinary learners that allows them to connect with mentors for accountability and support.

Seniors must complete an integrative exercise requiring a research paper or a policy white paper. Learners must also earn at least six talk credits in their final two years, which they fulfill by attending department events and lectures. 

Applying to Carleton

Prospective learners can apply to Carleton with Common App or QuestBridge. Carleton seeks well-rounded applicants with a proven commitment to academics, extracurriculars, and community and school involvement. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $62,244/year
  • Delivery Format: On campus
Average Tuition
In-state
$58,968
Out-of-state
$58,968
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
21%
Students Enrolled
1,940
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#4 Best Economics Bachelor’s Programs 2023

Bates College

  • Lewiston, ME
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Located in Lewiston, Maine, Bates is a private liberal arts college with commitments to diversity and acceptance. The school reports their student-to-faculty ratio is 10-to-1, which can help learners connect individually with instructors.

Economics Major

The economics degree at Bates College includes courses about topics like statistics and econometrics. As learners move through the program, they transition into more specialized electives, such as women and economic development, urban economics, and energy economics.

Seniors can take a seminar or thesis course to complete their studies. The one-course seminar asks students to apply their knowledge to independent research. In the two-course thesis option, degree-seekers propose and write an economics-focused thesis.

To enhance their skills and prepare for their future careers, Bates economics majors can take advantage of opportunities like work experiences and departmental assistantships.

Applying to Bates

Bates applicants can use Common App or Scoir to apply. Bates requires official transcripts, recommendations from a teacher and school counselor, and a school report/profile. Applicants may also submit standardized test scores.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Tuition: $78,280/year (includes room and board)
  • Delivery Format: On campus
Average Tuition
In-state
$57,353
Out-of-state
$57,353
Retention Rate
90%
Admission Rate
14%
Students Enrolled
1,876
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#5 Best Economics Bachelor’s Programs 2023

Haverford College

  • Haverford, PA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Located near Philadelphia, Haverford offers opportunities for students to learn, network, and explore. The school's academic centers for natural sciences, arts and humanities, and peace and global citizenship help enrollees develop skills with real-world applications.

Economics Major

Haverford College's economics major includes 13 required courses like analytical methods for economics and macroeconomic analysis. Economics majors can also complete classes at nearby Bryn Mawr College. Haverford offers a mathematical economics concentration that emphasizes statistics and probability, analysis, and scientific computing. 

In their final year, enrollees complete two senior-level research seminars to craft their own thesis. Juniors can also pursue specialized research seminars about subjects like access to finance and health economics. 

Haverford students interested in pursuing further education can qualify for a full tuition scholarship at Claremont McKenna College if they are accepted to the school's one-year master's program in finance.

Haverford College's Specializations

Mathematical Economics

Applying to Haverford College

Haverford applicants can use Common App, QuestBridge, or Scoir. The college requires a school report, transcript, personal statement, counselor report, and two teacher evaluations with each application. The application fee is $65, though prospective students may qualify for a fee waiver.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition: $62,850/year
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus
Average Tuition
In-state
$58,402
Out-of-state
$58,402
Retention Rate
88%
Admission Rate
18%
Students Enrolled
1,307
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Common Questions About Economics Bachelor's Degrees

  • What can you do with an economics bachelor's?

    An economics bachelor's degree can open the door to diverse career opportunities, such as business or government consulting, financial analysis, or economic research. Graduates can also work in various industries, including nonprofits, healthcare, and real estate.

  • What's the difference between an economics bachelor's and certification?

    A bachelor's degree in economics dives deep into microeconomics, macroeconomics, and financial analysis. A certification condenses these concepts for a shorter and usually more affordable program. Many employers prefer candidates with economics bachelor's degrees.

  • How much does an economics bachelor's program cost?

    A bachelor's degree in economics costs $200-$660 per credit, on average, totaling $24,000-$79,200 per 120-credit program. In-state learners tend to see lower tuition rates than out-of-state students.

  • Can you get an economics bachelor's degree online?

    Yes — several schools offer online bachelor's degrees in economics using the same curriculum as their in-person programs. An online degree can provide flexibility and convenience for learners who work full-time or live far from campus.

  • Is a BS in economics a good degree?

    Yes. A BS in economics can pave the way for several lucrative careers, including roles as economists, actuaries, and statisticians. Economics graduates also have promising job outlooks, with the BLS projecting employment for economists to grow by 6% from 2021-2031.

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