How Long Does Economics School Take?

For those who love crunching numbers and find joy in looking at the relationship between statistical data and the overall health of the economy, a career as an economist would be very fitting. This role provides you with the opportunity to interpret and analyze data and predict future trends which help businesses determine their future steps forward and craft relevant policy decisions.

Before you can become a full-fledged economist, however, you’ll need to go to economics school. As you may have already guessed, the job of an economist involves analysis and interpretation of data which necessitates extensive training. If you really want to become an economist, your journey starts with a bachelor’s degree in economics or related fields where training in math and statistics is important. This usually takes four years for a fulltime student to complete in most colleges and universities. At the University of Texas at Dallas, for example, finishing the bachelor of arts in economics and bachelor of science in economics entail completing 120 hours of coursework.

Many economists are employed with the government. In fact, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that the federal government is the second highest paying employer for economists after those in the finance and insurance industry. To get a job with the federal government as an economist requires a bachelor’s degree with at least 21 semester hours of economics and 3 hours of statistics, accounting or calculus.

However, a bachelor’s degree is only enough for entry-level posts. Most of the time, bachelor’s degree holders also do not work as economists but as research assistants, market research analysts or similar posts. If you really want to work as an economist, do research and influence policy-making, it is necessary to hold an advanced degree. Thus, pursuing post graduate degrees are essential.

A master’s degree in economics can take anywhere from one-and-a-half to two years to complete. At New York University, for example, their master’s degree in economics program requires at least three semesters to finish for fulltime students. Master’s programs typically teach students courses in advanced economics as well as public policy.

For positions of advancement and research a doctoral degree in economics is required. At the University of California, Berkeley, a PhD in Economics takes about five to six years to finish, although there are those who are able to finish the program much earlier. In the first two to three years, students are prepared for candidacy. The remaining years are used to complete a dissertation. With a PhD, graduates are able to teach in colleges and universities as well as do research work at the same time. An advanced degree is also necessary for positions of leadership or for advancement or for consultant positions. They may specialize in various fields, such as industrial, organizational or international economics. Through their research, economists influence public policy and are able to help businesses and governments make projections that affect the welfare of the people.

Career Spotlight: Economist

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