Why Get an Applied Economics Degree?

Created by Henry Steele

By Henry Steele - June 25, 2018
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Reading Time: 4 minutes

An applied economics degree will help the student or professional to develop a high level of skill in economic reasoning through the use of econometrics and other advanced quantitative techniques. Students earning a degree in applied economics will develop a high level of skill in macro and micro economics and will learn to analyze and forecast economic trends such as budgetary and fiscal policy; international trade and labor and urban economics.

What Is Applied Economics?

Applied economics is applying economic theories and principles to situations in the real world, with the idea of predicting the possible outcomes. Applied economics is designed to review possible economic and financial outcomes without the background noise that is associated with explanations that are not supported by data. Applied economics may involve the use of case studies and econometrics, which is applying statistical and mathematical theories in economics to test economic hypotheses and forecast future economic trends.

Applied economics can be used to show the possible outcomes of choices that people make in finance and economics. For instance, if a person wants to buy a luxury item but they do not have a lot of financial resources, assessing the cost and the long term effects of such a purchase would have on their financial situation can help to decide if that expense is worth it.

Applied Economics Degree Opportunity

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of economists is expected to rise by 6% through 2026, which is about as fast as average when compared to other occupations. As the US economy is getting stronger, more businesses and organizations will be expanding and will need to use economic analysis and quantitative methods to forecast and analyze business, sales and other trends in economics.

Demand for applied economists should come from the greater complexity of the global economy, as well as the addition of financial regulations and a stronger business climate.

Applied Economics Degree Career Paths

BLS reports economists held approximately 21,300 jobs as of 2016 in the United States. The biggest employers of economists were:

  • Federal government: 22%
  • Scientific research and development services: 17%
  • Management, scientific and technical consulting services: 15%
  • State government: 9%
  • Finance and insurance: 7%

Applied Economics Degree Salaries

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median salary for all economists in 2017 was $102,000, with the top 10% earning more than $172,000 per year. Some of the top industries and salaries are:

  • Finance and insurance: $121,900
  • Federal government: $113,000
  • Scientific research and development services: $109,000
  • Management, scientific and technical consulting services: $106,000
  • State government: $70,300

Payscale.com also reports the median salary for economists is $74,800.

Applied Economics Degree Employers

If you are earning your degree in applied economics, you may wonder what your career options will be when you graduate. Below are some of the best employment sectors for economists:

  • Universities: Colleges and universities will always be some of the top employers for people with degrees in applied economics.
  • Research institutes: Many economists are employed by graduate schools or research institutions. These offer some of the same advantages of working in a university but have more of a focus on research and not teaching.
  • Banks and finance companies: Having a strong knowledge of economics will give you good career options in banking and finance, such as a financial director or financial analyst. Big banks have offices around the globe and can provide many lucrative opportunities for work in finance and economics.
  • NGOs: There are many nonprofit organizations that have a need for economists and financial experts.
  • Government: One of the top employers for economists in the US are the federal and state governments, which need economists to ensure that taxpayer funds are being used wisely.
  • Healthcare: There is more need today for financial experts and economists to evaluate data about healthcare costs and find efficient solutions for healthcare providers.

Applied Economics Bachelor’s Degree

Earning a bachelor’s degree in applied economics will provide you with a strong foundation in basic economic principles and how they are applied in the world to enhance the lives of average people. Some of the core courses you will study in a bachelor’s program in applied economics are microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics. Many programs also have courses in environmental and resource economies, international and development economics, agricultural economics and economics of the public sector. A bachelor’s degree in applied economics will provide you with strong critical thinking skills, strong efficiency in data analysis and the ability to communicate complex economic ideas in writing.

Applied Economics Master’s Degree

A master’s degree in applied economics will provide you with a good grasp of fundamental and advanced tools of economic analysis that are used to do rigorous studies of economic policies and issues. Typical focus in a master’s program is on advanced courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics and data analysis.

Applied Economics Admission Requirements

Entry requirements for a degree program in applied economics will depend upon whether you are getting a bachelor’s or master’s degree, as well as the specific requirements of the university. Common requirements to get into a master’s program are:

  • 3.0 GPA or higher
  • GRE scores may be required
  • Official college transcripts
  • Professional and academic recommendations
  • Resume
  • Writing samples

Applied Economics Degree Curriculum

Below are some of the required courses in the master’s degree in applied economics at Georgetown University:

  • Macroeconomics
  • Econometrics
  • Microeconomics
  • Data Analysis
  • Development Economics
  • Law and Economics
  • Monetary Theory and Policy
  • International Finance
  • International Trade

Applied Economics Degree Financial Assistance

Earning a degree in applied economics can be expensive, so it is fortunate that there are many scholarships and grants available to help to pay for your studies:

  • AIER Summer Fellowship Practicum Program: Various amounts
  • Appraisal Institute Education Trust Scholarships: $1000
  • Blanche McKenzie Scholarship in Economics: $1000
  • Citigroup Fellows Program: $6400
  • Edmunds S. Muskie Graduate Fellowship: Various amounts
  • Enid Hall Griswold Memorial Scholarship: $1000
  • Equilar Scholars Program: $1000
  • Frederic S. Lee Heterodox Economics Scholarship: Various amounts
  • Helen D. Snow Memorial Scholarship: $2500

Applied Economics Degree Certifications

To enhance your job qualifications, you may consider earning one or more of these economist certifications. Earning them can make your resume stand out from others in the economics field:

  • Economics Development Finance Professional – National Development Council
  • Chartered Economist – American Academy of Financial Management
  • Certified Economic Developer – International Economic Development Council

Applied Economics Degree Associations

Some the associations you may consider joining to expand your career and networking options include:

  • National Association for Business Economics
  • Association for Social Economics
  • American Economic Association
  • World Economics Association
  • National Association of Forensic Economics
  • Association for Evolutionary Economics

The field of applied economics should be growing at a steady pace as the US economy enters a stronger growth period. Professionals with an applied economics degree should be able to find plenty of job opportunities as the global economic picture continues to brighten in the next several years.


Henry Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of BusinessStudent.com. He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.

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