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Earning an economics degree can be expensive, with tuition steadily increasing and students feeling the pressure of student loans and other debts. However, there are affordable options you can choose from that will provide you with a quality education without putting you and your family in a financial bind. 

Some of the cheapest online economics degree programs can be found at your local community college. Community colleges offer affordable online degree programs that can be paid for through scholarships, grants, Stafford loans, or employer reimbursement programs. Students can also combine methods of payment to ensure all of their school-related expenses are covered. 

Methodology: Ranking the Most Affordable Economics Degrees

To help students find an affordable degree in economics, Great Business Schools editors feature only accredited, legitimate institutions. For the ranking, however, only one factor matters: tuition cost, according to current IPEDS data. 

1. University of Florida

u florida

The BA in Economics from the University of Florida tops our list of the most affordable economics degrees. In this program, students learn how to break down the complexity of our modern world and understand how human behavior impacts economies. Students analyze households, companies, and governments to learn how they make financial decisions. They learn how economic decisions affect resource allocation, prices, income distribution, and more. Courses include law and economics, international trade, game theory, economics of sports, and public choice.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Florida has an enrollment of more than 10,000 students and offers more than 40 majors. The school provides a well-rounded education that is designed to meet the needs of a rapidly changing and increasingly technological workforce. Students have access to the Career Connections Center for career help and guidance.

Highlight: Not only are there international study opportunities, but students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of them.

Degree: Economics, BA 

2. Stanford University

stanford u

The BA in Economics from Stanford University is an affordable degree in economics that introduces students to economics and helps them think about the way society is affected by economics. Students learn to analyze economic problems and evaluate public policies. The program covers macroeconomics and microeconomics. It helps students improve their thinking and writing skills as they use them to evaluate policy issues and economic problems. Graduates of the program work in corporations and government offices or go on to pursue a graduate degree.

The School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University provides a top-notch liberal arts education. The school has 48 programs and departments and offers 48 undergraduate majors. By studying the sciences and humanities, students learn effective communication skills and they learn to care about their fellow students.

Highlight: Stanford offers many opportunities such as research projects, fellowships, and overseas study that will enrich your learning experience.

Degree: Economics, BA 

3. University of Washington

u washington logo

The BA/BS in Economics from the University of Washington is one of the most affordable economics degrees in the US. Economics students study the methods and institutions that determine how scarce resources are used. The program helps students understand how the behavior of companies, individuals, and governments affects various economies. The University of Washington offers study abroad programs in six different countries. There is an honors program, a mentorship program, and certificate programs in four specializations.

The Department of Economics at the University of Washington has set up educational goals for its students, to help them develop “an economic way of thinking.” Students learn a framework for analyzing problems in economics. This framework helps students think through and understand the challenges and problems faced by businesses, individuals, and organizations in all areas, not just economics.

Highlight: The University of Washington offers both a BA and a BS in economics.

Degree: Economics, BA/BS

4. University of California, San Diego

uc san diego

The BA in Economics from UC San Diego is another affordable degree in economics. The program teaches students to apply economics tools and analysis to today’s government policies and economic problems. Students learn to use formal methods to analyze real-world data, use regression for prediction and to infer causal relationships, and interpret research studies. They learn to set up models, apply models to various theories, and use game theory to understand the behavior of both corporations and individuals.

The Department of Economics at the University of California San Diego has been around since 1964. The department has students from a wide variety of backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, and identities and does its best to provide a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for everyone. The department teaches econometric and microeconomic theory, development economics, macroeconomics, public finance, environmental economics, international economics, and labor economics.

Highlight: UC San Diego has a two-year plan for transfer students.

Degree: Economics, BA 

5. Rutgers University – Camden

rutgers logo

The BA in Economics from Rutgers UniversityCamden is next on our list of the most affordable economics degrees. This program teaches students how the economic system functions and what role groups and institutions play within the system. Students learn how wealth is transferred to obtain goods and services. Students can choose a concentration such as data analysis and quantitative methods; behavioral economics; financial markets; international development; health, healthcare, management, and health policy; strategic behavior; or public policy and environmental analysis.

The College of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University—Camden provides an individualized liberal arts education. The school offers students the benefits of being able to work closely with faculty at a research university, but at the same time is small enough to give students the personalized attention they need to succeed.

Highlight: Rutgers offers a dual degree program that combines the Bachelor of Arts in Economics with a Master of Business Administration.

Degree: Economics, BA 

6. Indiana University Bloomington

indiana university

The BA in Economics from Indiana University Bloomington is an affordable degree in economics that is ranked highly among other economics programs in the country. The program allows students to work closely with faculty members who have extensive expertise in economic policy and analysis. Students must complete eight core courses that provide a foundation in microeconomic theory, mathematical modeling, macroeconomic theory, econometrics, and economic statistics. The electives allow students to customize their degrees to suit their own needs.

The Department of Economics at Indiana University Bloomington is considered one of the best economics departments in the world. The department participates in research and offers a world-class education to its students that covers a variety of fields within economics. Graduates are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to be prepared for future job opportunities in the field of economics.

Highlight: Indiana University Bloomington also offers a minor in economics.

Degree: Economics, BA 

7. University of Texas at Dallas

ut dallas logo

The BA and BS in Economics from the University of Texas at Dallas are among the most affordable economics degrees available in the United States. Students learn how people respond to the tradeoffs and incentives they face in their lives. They examine the markets, labor organizations, government activities, income distribution, and economic philosophies. The school’s faculty has received many awards and grants and are nationally and internationally renowned economists who have served on the editorial boards of prestigious academic journals.

The School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas prepares future economic and political leaders who are equipped to handle the challenges facing the economy. The school’s distinguished faculty members are committed to creating an educational experience that transforms students. Students and faculty at the school work on meaningful research projects that will make an impact on the world.

Highlight: The University of Texas at Dallas also offers an MS and a PhD in economics.

Degree: Economics, BA/BS

8. University of North Carolina

unc chapel hill

The new BS in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is an affordable degree in economics that teaches students quantitative techniques and data analysis. The school also offers a BA in Economics for those who want a more analytical approach. The curriculum for the BS degree includes courses such as Introduction to Economics; Intermediate Theory: Price and Distribution; Introduction to Statistics and Econometrics; Econometrics; and Intermediate Theory: Money, Income, and Employment.

The Economics Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill prepares tomorrow’s economics for the challenging and competitive job market they will face in the future. Students learn about how economics affects behavior and the relationships between individuals, corporations, and governments. They learn to think like economists as they evaluate various economic problems and situations. They learn to analyze situations as they try to figure out why people, companies, and governments act the way they do.

Highlight: UNC’s Kenan-Flagler School of Business is widely considered one of the best b-schools in the world. 

Degree: Economics, BS

9. University of California, Davis

uc davis

The BA in Economics from the University of California, Davis is another of the most affordable economics degrees. The program teaches students to use analysis and deductive reasoning to understand economic strategies, theory, policies, tactics, and consequences. Students learn modern data analysis methods that are required in today’s business environment. The program teaches students to collect and interpret data to gain a broader understanding of economics. Students gain a foundation in theory as well as gaining exposure to real-world scenarios.

The Department of Economics at the University of California, Davis has a strong foundation in quantitative methods, mathematics, and analysis. Students learn to apply these to environmental issues, poverty, education, globalization, innovation, and other areas. The study of economics allows students to understand how individuals act in society and in the markets. The school’s faculty members are experts in the field of economics.

Highlight: The BA in Economics from UC Davis is very flexible. There are seven electives that students can choose to suit their interests.

Degree: Economics, BA 

10. Georgia State University

georgia state

The BA in Economics from Georgia State University is an affordable degree in economics that teaches students the qualitative and quantitative skills they need to learn to make good decisions and think critically. The faculty includes nationally recognized economists with experience in various areas of economics. The program’s focus is qualitative. Graduates of the program have gained employment with Sun Trust Bank, Hartfield Philips Incorporated, Emory Law, the Federal Reserve, the Tax Foundation, and many other prestigious organizations.

The Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University proclaims itself an experiential urban laboratory. The school operates in an area where there is a high concentration of government agencies, legislative bodies, and courts. The school focuses on economics, criminology, social work, and public policy.

Highlight: The program consists on 120 credit hours and takes four years to complete.

Degree: Economics, BA

How Do I Save Money on an Economics Degree?

Scholarships and grants are both ideal options for students who don’t want to be strapped into a long-term student loan. The money that is provided does not have to be paid back and can be used for tuition as well as other expenses that are associated with your education. Students who are seeking employee reimbursement will have to pay for their classes first. Once they have completed them with passing grades, the employer will reimburse them for their expenses. Employer reimbursement plans are a good way for an employee to go back to school and earn their economics degree without having to leave their job or take time off of work.

Can I Get a Job with Just a Bachelor’s?

Some of the best jobs to get with an Economics degree don’t require a Masters’ degree. Graduates who have earned a Bachelor’s degree can find mid-level positions that pay the average yearly salary or higher and offer a well-rounded benefits package. While it’s good to pursue the highest degree program possible, it may not work to your advantage. The option to take a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree program online makes it much easier for you to work and support your family while you go back to school.

There are several jobs in the economics field that you can apply for with a Bachelor’s degree or less. Having experience in the field is always beneficial and will go along way in showing your level of knowledge and skills. The more you learn both in and out of the classroom, the more opportunities you will see for advancement and higher pay. Earning a Master’s degree is a good idea if you are interested in earning a management level position, but it isn’t always necessary.

How Much Can I Make with an Economics Degree?

The amount of money you can earn with an economics degree will vary depending on the type of degree you receive and how much experience you have in your chosen field. An economics position at the state or local level may garner you close to $70,000 per year. This normally does not include education and hospital fields. An economics degree can earn you approximately $110,000 a year in consulting careers in the management, technical, and scientific fields. Every career field is different and will offer different opportunities as your career progresses.

Economics graduates can expect to earn $110,000 to $120,000 per year in the fields of research and development and government jobs at the federal level, respectively. The more experience you earn prior to graduating with your economics degree, the more you can expect to earn as a new hire. If you choose to return to school and earn a higher degree, your opportunities for both higher pay and management roles will steadily continue to increase. Taking advantage of each opportunity offers you options so that you can build the career you want. whether you are applying for an entry-level position or one for an upper management role, the amount of pay you are offered is only a starting point. Know your worth and negotiate accordingly.

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