With the unstable economic situation of the world, nations are locked in a battle to swerve the global market in the favor of their citizens. Leaders, schools, organizations, and even individuals are committing resources and time to the study of economics as it appears to hold the answers to the world’s most critical problems.
If you’ve been looking to understand how the decisions of individuals, organizations, and governments affect the general economy, then economics might be the right major for you.
This article will introduce you to the top schools that offer the best economics programs in the US. You’ll also get to understand your career prospects as an economist and how much you can earn in the field.
But first, let’s look at what economics is all about and what you can do as an economist.
What is economics?
Economics is a social science that studies how goods and services are produced, distributed, and consumed. It seeks to understand how the limited resources available in the world are shared amongst people.
What do economists do?
Economists collect and analyze historical data and use their findings to make forecasts or provide financial advice to firms and governments. They are needed in literally all sectors or work environments. Be it in the health sector, finance, ICT, or even the “religious” sector.
Your role as an economist depends majorly on the sector you’re working in. If you’re working in a private firm, you’d have the responsibility of advising businesses on how government policies affect their business. Meanwhile, in the public sector, you’ll be charged with advising the government on the policies to enact for the economic good of the nation.
Irrespective of the industry or organization you work in, your role as an economist revolves around these:
- Collecting and analyzing data
- Making financial forecasts with the data analyzed
- Conducting surveys
- Preparing budgets
- Studying and interpreting government policies
- Providing solutions to economic problems
- Providing advice based on facts on the best business strategies, etc.
Is there a high demand for Economists in the US?
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 6 percent employment growth for economists in the US.
Economists are in high demand. They’ll always be because no business or government survives without knowing its economic risks and potential. Knowing your risks and potential enables you to make plans to mitigate the risks and harness the potential.
Top schools for economics in the US
These are the top 8 schools for economics in the US:
Harvard University isn’t just the best school for economics in the US; it also ranks as one of the top schools for every program it offers. It’s a private Ivy League university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has a strong reputation for its commitment to research.
The school offers a Bachelor of Arts degree with different concentrations in economics. In their first year, students are required to take classes on introductory and intermediate economic theory. This gives them a strong grasp of fundamental economic principles and prepares them for the research sessions in the subsequent years.
Harvard’s economics students learn from a faculty that’s filled with experience in both industrial and academic research.
The school has an acceptance rate of 5%, an SAT range of 1460-1590, and an ACT range of 32-35. That makes it one of the most competitive schools to get into.
You can visit the school’s website to learn more about its programs.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private land-grant university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT’s rigorous economics program makes it one of the top schools for economics in the US.
The school offers three undergraduate majors: Economics major, Mathematics Economics major, and Computer Science, Economics, and Data Science majors. Students also complete minors in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS), and Development Economics.
The school’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) allows students to take part in research and learn from some of the world’s best economics researchers.
With an acceptance rate of 7% and an SAT range of 1490-1570, MIT is another competitive school to get into the US.
You can visit the school’s website to learn more about its programs.
Stanford University has established its reputation as one of the top schools for economics in the US. With the structure of their program, it’s obvious many students would jump at the opportunity to study economics at Stanford University.
Students are given the option to choose a more general economics track or a more specific program. Stanford’s economics courses are grouped into the following focus areas:
- Behavioral and experimental economics
- International and Development Economics
- Government Policy Analysis
- Quantitative methods
- Business Strategy and Regulation
Stanford has an acceptance rate of 4% and an SAT range requirement of 1390-1540. You can visit the school website for more information.
Princeton University is a private Ivy League university in Princeton, New Jersey. The school’s strong research background makes it one of the top schools in the US for most programs, including economics.
Princeton offers undergraduate and graduate programs that prepare students to become expert economists with wide research experience. The economics major at Princeton is one of its most popular majors, as the school admits over 250 students every year.
With an acceptance rate of 6% and an SAT range requirement of 1430-1570, admission to Princeton University is highly competitive. You can visit the school’s website to learn more about its programs.
The economics program at the University of California, Berkeley began as the Political Economy program under the department of History and Political Science. The program has developed into one of the best economics programs in the US.
Berkeley Economics offers world-class undergraduate and graduate programs in economics. Berkeley’s PhD graduates are known to immediately secure jobs in top institutions like MIT, Harvard, Yale, the US Federal Reserve, and the World Bank.
With six Nobel Prize and six John Bates Clark Medal winners, it’s obvious Berkeley Economics depicts value in all its ramifications.
Berkeley has an acceptance rate of 17% and an SAT range requirement of 1260-1480, which makes it easier to get into than the schools above. You can visit the school’s website to learn more about its programs.
The University of Chicago, Illinois ranks as one of the best schools for economics in the US for obvious reasons. The school offers world-class undergraduate and graduate economics programs that prepare students to participate excellently in the academic, private, and public sectors.
UChicago offers an economics major with two specializations: business economics and data science. Students take part in research and internship programs to broaden their view and understanding of economics.
UChicago has an acceptance rate of 8% and an SAT range requirement of 1480-1580. You can visit the school website for more information.
Also read: Top 10 Schools For Journalism in 2023
Yale University is an Ivy League school in New Haven, Connecticut, known for its strong academic reputation. The world-class economics programs at Yale make it one of the best schools for economics in the US.
Yale’s Department of Economics offers undergraduate and graduate programs that meet world standards. You can even enroll in Yale’s microeconomics classes that have no prerequisites, making it a good program for those who have yet to decide on a major.
The school has an acceptance rate of 6% and an SAT range requirement of 1460-1580. You can visit the school website for more information.
Northwestern University is a private research and teaching university in Evanston, Illinois. It has a strong reputation for its economics programs, as it’s recognized as one of the top universities in the US.
The Northwestern University Department of Economics offers economics major and minor programs to undergraduate students. It also offers a very competitive BA/MA program that sees students acquire a bachelor’s and master’s degree in economics. The school’s PhD program has a strong reputation for its contributions to economic research in the US.
With an acceptance rate of 9% and an SAT range requirement of 1420-11560, Northwestern University is one of the most competitive schools to get into. You can visit the school’s website to learn more about its programs.
What does an economics major entail?
A major in economics focuses on the study of the way individuals, corporations, and governments utilize their scarce resources.
It revolves around important courses like demand theory and estimation, production and cost theory, market structure analysis, government policies and regulation of businesses, capital budgeting, inflation theory, unemployment, etc.
These courses are to introduce you to the strategies of wealth (resources) distribution and how you can position yourself and your business to receive the most share.
What subjects do I need for an economics major?
Most economics degree programs would require you to have completed these subjects in high school:
- Social Sciences
What can I do with an economics degree?
Economics is one discipline that prepares you to work in virtually any field. However, to be more specific, here are career paths you can pursue with an economics degree:
As an economist, you’ll be responsible for coming up with ways an organization can utilize its resources. You have to put into consideration the risks and returns involved in any allocation of resources.
2. Financial risk analyst
Here, your role will be to analyze the risks of every investment an organization or government wants to venture into. You’ll give professional advice on whether it is a worthwhile investment or not.
3. Data analyst
A data analyst looks at the historical data available to him and makes important forecasts with it. If you’re presented with a dataset of previous occurrences, you should be able to study it and provide advice on which economic decision to make in the future.
4. Financial planner
As a financial planner, you’ll provide expert advice and workable plans on how an organization should actualize its short, medium, and long-term financial goals.
You can also work as an accountant with your economics degree, as both disciplines interrelate. However, if you want to become a professional accountant, you’d need further professional qualifications.
6. Economic researcher
You can work as a researcher for an organization or government. Your primary assignment would be to conduct research and come up with plans to tackle economic problems.
7. Financial consultant
As a financial consultant, you’d be charged with providing professional advice to your clients on issues revolving around savings, investments, retirement, etc.
8. Investment Analyst
With your forecasting, risk management, and financial knowledge, you should be able to analyze an investment and figure out its potential.
What skills do I need to succeed as an economist?
As an economist, you need these skills to be at the forefront of your career:
- Strong analytical skills
- Ability to work with numbers
- Strong communication skills
- Financial knowledge
- Data presentation skills
How much do economists earn in the US?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for economists in the US is $105,630.
The lowest 10 percent earn less than $62,460 and the highest 10 percent earn more than $193,690.
What are the highest-paying economic jobs?
1. Stock Broker
Stock brokers provide expert advice to people and help them invest and manage their funds in the stock market. They earn an average annual salary of $136,264.
2. Management Consultant
As a management consultant, you’d help organizations improve business operations by identifying major business problems and proposing solutions for them.
Management consultants in the US make an average of $127,112 per year.
People who occupy the roles of economists in the US make an average annual salary of $105,630.
4. Data Analyst
Data analysts study data from different sources and make intelligent forecasts with the information gathered. They make an average annual salary of $100,560 in the US.
5. Pricing Analyst
Pricing analysts are economists who study the competitors’ pricing strategies, compare them to the expectations of the consumers, and use the information gathered to determine the ideal price of a product.
They make an average annual salary of $86,000 in the US.
6. Financial Analyst
Financial analysts are responsible for researching and advising a firm on the right financial investments to make. They study future investment opportunities, analyze the risks and returns involved, and determine the ones that are worth it.
Financial analysts make an average annual salary of $85,660 in the US.
What states pay the highest for economists in the US?
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Are there economic specializations?
Yes, there are key areas you can specialize in as an economist:
Microeconomics refers to the study of the effects of the decisions of individuals and firms on the economy. What happens when people and organizations make decisions regarding the allocation of their resources?
Macroeconomics is the study of the overall economy of a region or nation. This includes the economies of individuals, firms, regions, nations, and the world as a whole. Here you talk about issues like inflation, deflation, economic growth, etc.
Econometrics refers to the use of mathematics and economics to develop economic models. These models help explain economic theories and trends.
This deals with the study of the allocation of funds and resources in financial markets and institutions.
5. International economics
This refers to the study of economic interactions and transactions between countries. It looks at key economic factors like exchange rates, global financial markets, international trade, etc.
6. Public Finance
This refers to the study of the role of the government in the economy. How do the policies and decisions of the government affect the nation’s economy? That’s the question public finance seeks to answer.
7. Industrial/Organizational economics
How do organizations within an industry operate? And how do their decisions affect other organizations in the industry? This is the focus of industrial/organizational economics.
8. Labor economics
Labor economics seeks to study labor as a factor of production. It looks at how the behaviors of the employers of labor, employees, self-employed, and even the unemployed affect the economy.
Where do economists work?
Economists can be found in almost all sectors of the economy. Here are a few examples of where you can work as an economist:
- Banking and financial industry
- Private organizations
- Education industry
How can I become an economist?
1. Earn a bachelor’s degree
This is the first step toward becoming a professional economist. You have to earn a bachelor’s degree from a reputable school. The US schools listed in this article are top schools offering world-class economics programs.
2. Complete an internship
An internship helps you acquire industry experience. You’d learn from practicing economists how they conduct research, analysis, and forecasts regarding the economy.
3. Earn a master’s degree
A master’s degree boosts your chances of landing a good-paying job as an economist. This is because you must have specialized in a particular area of economics and done extensive research on it.
4. Seek employment
Once you’ve acquired your bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics, you can go on to seek job opportunities.
Wrapping it up on the top schools for economics in the US
The impact of economic decisions on a nation’s economy can’t be overemphasized. Most nations with experienced economists in the decision rooms of their economies always stand out in the global market. And that’s not all. Even individuals and firms need to have a good grasp of economics to survive the competition for the limited resources in the world.
If you’ve decided to study economics, or you’re already enrolled in a program, I want to let you know you’ve made an excellent decision. Knowledge of economics won’t just improve your life, it’d also improve that of people around you and the nation at large.
I hope this article has provided the answers you need regarding the best schools for economics in the US.
Frequently Asked Questions about the top schools for economics in the US
Harvard University has the best economics program in the US. Its rigorous programs prepare students to compete for the best jobs in economics in the US.
Mathematics is an integral part of economics. It’d be difficult to analyze economic models and concepts without bringing in quantitative analysis.
Yes, economics can be said to be a hard major. This is because it deals with abstract reasoning, calculations, and different tricky theories. However, solving economic problems means solving the major problems of the world. And what’s more interesting than helping people make maximum use of their scarce resources?
Economics and finance are complementary disciplines. Instead of thinking which is better (which is hard to say as they’re both relevant disciplines), why not study both and increase your chances of landing a good job?
Harvard University is the best Ivy League school for economics.