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Is an M.A. in Economics Worth it?

In order to succeed in your field, it’s important to make yourself stand out as much as possible. Many people do this by going back to school and earning a graduate degree. There's a growing demand in master’s degrees, even when the degree does not directly relate to your field. But is it really worth the money and the hassle to do so? Let’s examine the facts surrounding the economics M.A. program, and you can decide for yourself.

What does it take to get it?

First, you need to take either the GRE or the GMAT, depending on which exam your school requires. You also need to get some glowing recommendation letters and write an admissions essay. But what can you do to put yourself ahead of all of the other aspiring economists?

One thing that’s sure to impress the pants off the admissions counselors is research in the field, either while you obtain your undergraduate degree or after graduation. This shows that you like what you’re doing and you don’t mind doing extra work. If you have to interview, be sure to talk specifics when it comes to this research, or if you don’t have any independent findings, talk about what you were doing instead and how it relates to economics.

What will I learn?

Economics graduate programs aim to build on what you already learned in your undergraduate studies, particularly in helping to better develop your analytical and quantitative skills. They also help you broaden your understanding of how the state of economics can have a profound impact on the world. You will learn about how different countries interact to form a global market.

The variety of classes will give you an opportunity to see economics play out in a number of different areas, such as philosophy, law, and anthropology. In this respect, the program can be tailored to your own interest.  

But will it really help me get a job?

Almost definitely. The most coveted economist positions (often within the government) are given to those who have a proven track record of going above and beyond in the field. There’s no better way to do this than by earning multiple degrees in economics. When employers stack candidates against one another, level of education is one of the first things they notice.

A master’s degree shows that you have a passion for the subject and a willingness to be an advocate for yourself. It can also be a stepping stone to a Ph.D. This would be aimed at those who want to teach economics at a university. This may be less appealing to some, as teaching can be difficult work and is more focused on theory than on real world application. Still, an M.A. can only make you more valuable to whatever you hope to achieve afterward.

Last Updated: September 02, 2015