Masters of Arts in Economics, Applied Economics Specialization

Online Master of Arts in Economics, Applied Economics Specialization

Program Length:
20 Months
Credit Hours:
Total Classes:
Cost Per Credit:

What are the program start dates?

Spring 2024

Summer 2024

Fall 2024
August 26

At a Glance

See How You Can Make a Difference in the World

At American University, our policy-centered curriculum is taught by esteemed economists and scholars who have studied key economic and societal issues such as how to best serve children in foster care and prevent sex trafficking, and the gains and losses from trade protection.

As you earn your online Master of Arts in Economics, Applied Economics degree, they’ll prepare you to analyze data and human and organizational behavior, interpret economic models, test hypotheses, and apply your analysis to economic policy.

Our graduates are able to communicate critical information and policy recommendations to a wider audience that includes legislatures, advocates, interest groups, lobbyists, and legislative aids that write the text of the law.

Graduates also qualify to sit for the Certified Business Economist (CBE) exam by the National Association for Business Economics (NABE).

Program Objectives

Prepare for Excellence

The online MA in Applied Economics is a policy-oriented program that prepares you for excellence in the top three skills economists need to make a difference in the world: Using economic theory to make predictions or explain outcomes, to answer questions thoroughly using econometrics and data analysis, and to communicate economic information to all audiences in a way they easily understand. Graduates can:

  1. Research Properly

    Find and collect data and test hypotheses using the appropriate statistical tools.

  2. Use Industry Tools

    Employ Stata and other state-of-the-art industry tools to analyze data.

  3. Communicate Outcomes

    Translate the implications of your work for economists and non-economists alike.

  4. Make Predictions

    Use economic models to predict the changes in various economic indicators.

  5. Make an Impact

    Make impactful, ethical and profitable decisions in the local and global economy.

  6. Solve Economic Models

    Acquire the higher mathematical skills to provide solutions to current challenges.

Program Rankings

Become a Changemaker

Before graduating, you’ll complete a capstone project that has you choose a topic of economic interest, develop a testable hypothesis and then choose the dataset and econometric model to test your hypothesis. You’ll complete a formal paper and presentation on your research as you would in the real world.

Examples of current capstone projects include:

  • Impact of the 2015 State-Level Minimum Wage Increases on Income and Hours Worked
  • Examining the Existence of Asset Poverty Trap by Asset Dynamics: Revisiting the Indian Case
  • Impact of Syrian Refugee Influxes on the Labor Market Outcomes of Jordanian Women

A Top-Ranked Online MS


Ranked number 5

Best Online Master in Economics Degree Program -, 2021

Admission Requirement
Curriculum Description
Careers and Outcomes
Student Experience

Your undergraduate degree does not need to be in economics to apply. Our online Master of Arts in Applied Economics is open to students with varied undergraduate backgrounds from an accredited college or university.

Applicants will need to submit the following:

All applicants are considered for the Online Merit Scholarship of up to $14,000 during the application review – no separate application is required.

*The application fee is typically waived if the application file is complete within a three-week period.


Online Merit Scholarship up to $14,000 — No Separate Application Required

Prospective students who have a cumulative 3.0 GPA or above (on a 4.0 scale) in their undergraduate program can qualify for the Online Merit Scholarship of up to $14,000. As part of your application process, your academic history will be reviewed to see if the scholarship can be applied; there is no separate application to fill out.

You’ll be notified of the scholarship status when you’re admitted to the program, or shortly thereafter.

To receive the scholarship, which is applied equally to the first and fifth courses of the program, you must remain in good academic standing.

Speak to an admissions advisor for full details.

The curriculum in the online Master of Arts in Applied Economics teaches you how to examine real-world issues and affect economic policy so you can make changes that have a positive effect on the economy. You will engage in on-screen problem demonstrations, interactive media, and documentary-style case studies influenced by real-world economic issues and current events.

Details can be found on our Program Curriculum page.

Lead a Rapidly Growing Field

As a graduate of AU’s master’s in economics program, you’re ready to step into the profitable and in-demand role of an economist. Economists expect to see 13% job growth from 2020 to 20302 — nearly double the national average job-growth rate 3 — and collectively, from entry-level economists to those in senior positions, they earn a median pay of $105,630 a year.

To provide a more narrow scope of salary information, consider the most recent salary survey results from the National Association for Business Economics (NABE), in which 72% of respondents held a graduate degree.1

NABE members reported these median base salaries:

  • All roles & experience levels, $153,500
  • Chief economist role, $250,000
  • Director role, $200,000
  • Senior economist, $150,500
  • Associate manager/director, $137,400

Top Three Paying Industries for Economists1

  • Real Estate - $200,000 Base Salary
  • Financial & Transportation Sectors - $195,000 Base Salary
  • Trade or Professional Associations - $193,000 Base Salary

Where Do AU Alumni Work?

52 percent For-Profit

19 percent Non-Profit

29 percent Government

Get real-time career updates of our graduates.

Alumni Employers

As passionate change-makers, our alumni are responsible for using their policy skills to make an impact in their careers. You can find some of them working at these outstanding businesses:

  • American College Health Association
  • Beacon Technology Partners LLC
  • Freddie Mac
  • The World Bank Group
  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • IHS Markit
  • International Monetary Fund
  • Key Investment Services LLC
  • U.S. Department of Labor
  • U.S. Navy
  • NetImpact Strategies Inc.
  • NewRez LLC
  • Sherman Credit, Inc.
  • University of Florida
  • Wayfair LLC
  • Solovis
  • The MITRE Corporation
  • 20/20 Vision

We’re especially proud of our faculty—prominent scholars and real-world professionals at the top of their fields who value mentoring students as much as they value excellence in the classroom. Through their teaching, scholarly achievements and first-hand experience, you’ll gain a special entry point to economics and applied economics.

Visit our Program Faculty page to learn more about our faculty. 

Learning Online

American University welcomes its online students as a part of its community. As an online student, you’ll learn from the same outstanding faculty and be held to the same learning standards as students who attend courses on campus. On-campus and online programs deliver the same outcomes, and important support systems, like career resources, are set up for online learners as well. The only difference is you’re allowed to learn when and where it’s best for you so you can earn your degree and advance your career without putting the rest of your career and life on hold.

We Bring AU to You

Our digital campus was intentionally designed based on extensive research behind what makes online learning successful. We combine advanced technology, hands-on experiences, and full access to the American University community. Here, you’re not an online student, you’re an AU student.

Rigorous Courses

Online courses are as challenging as their on-campus counterparts and taught by the same connected faculty members and prominent lecturers.

100% Support

New-student orientation, 24/7 help desk for technical issues, a student services coordinator, financial aid advisers, and more are all available to ensure your success.

Expert Faculty

Home to some of the most acclaimed scholars and thought leaders in the world, you’ll learn from award-winning scholars and policymakers, diplomats, authors, artists, attorneys, scientists, journalists, and more.

Collaborative Learning

Use virtual tools to talk about your coursework, work in teams with classmates, build strong connections, network with others and ask your professor questions and turn in assignments.


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Military Education Benefits

American University is dedicated to supporting military service members, veterans, and their families.

As an online student of the Master’s in Economics, Applied Economics program, you can transform your military experience and leadership skills into new career possibilities as you earn your degree, regardless of where you live or are stationed.

We support a full range of military education benefits such as:

  • Post-9/11 GI Bill®
  • Montgomery GI Bill® (MGIB)
  • Tuition Assistance (TA)
  • Yellow Ribbon Program

Additionally, if you’ve served in any branch of the US military on active duty within the past three years, you’re eligible for an application fee waiver. We accept transfer credits from military coursework, have a dedicated Office of Veterans Services to help connect you to benefits, and maintain an active Veterans Services Support Network.

We welcome you to learn more about our military benefits and how to apply for them.

Disclaimer: GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website: Education and Training Home (

Take Your First Step Today

Become an American University student. A passion for public service, an emphasis on active leadership, and a global outlook are the hallmarks of the American University learning experience. We create graduates who stand out from their peers as active, socially aware, and compassionate leaders who work toward creating meaningful change in our world.

Join Us.

To learn more about American University’s MA in Economics, Applied Economics, request more information, request an appointment, or call us toll-free at 855-725-7614.

Program FAQs

Degree requirements for the MA in Economics include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Students are also expected to have completed Calculus I (or its equivalent) prior to starting coursework in the program.

Applicants will need to submit the following:

They will also need to complete a phone interview with a department lead.

Calculus I (or its equivalent) or the CLEP exam must be completed prior to starting coursework in the program.

Yes – it is not a requirement to have an undergraduate degree in economics. Many of our students come from other areas of study.

The program can be completed in as little as 20 months.

No, a GRE test is not required.

We may accept up to six hours of graduate work from another institution that applies directly to the MA in Economics degree.

Students with a weak academic background may be admitted with provisional status. Students who are admitted provisionally must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 after the completion of the first nine credit hours of graduate study at American University or they will be academically dismissed.

A TOEFL score of 600 (or 100 on the internet-based test), a minimum score of 68 on the Pearson Test of English, or a minimum IELTS score of seven (7) is required. Additionally, applicants with international transcripts must have them evaluated course by course. For a list of acceptable evaluators, go to

Applicants will also need to submit:

Applicants will also complete a phone interview with a department lead.

*The application fee is typically waived if the application file is complete within a three week period.

Our application deadline varies based on the term you are applying for. Please note that the earlier you submit your application, the sooner you’ll know whether you’ve been awarded the Online Merit Scholarship. Please contact our online admissions advisors for a specific timeline as to when your application file needs to be fully submitted.

Yes, graduate students enrolled at least half-time in a master’s program may be eligible for federal loans. To apply, students must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). American University’s FAFSA code is 001434.

Students completing our program are likely to find a career in economics in one of the three following categories: Economic Consulting/Private Industry, Government Agencies or Not-For Profits/International Agencies. Learn more about our graduates’ success.

Yes, online students can easily request a Student ID online to take advantage of all the same resources as our on-campus students.

American University is pleased to offer the Online Merit Scholarship to students who demonstrate undergraduate excellence and continue on to graduate studies. Scholarships are available to students who meet the eligibility requirements.