If you are interested in pursuing a degree or finding a job in the field of economics, everything you need is here. Find the best schools, career information, history of the discipline, influential people in the field, great books, and more.

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What Is Economics?

Economics is the study of production, wealth transfer, monetary policy, financial markets, and more. A degree in economics can be a point of entry into a career in banking, financial consulting, brokerage, financial analysis, and a host of other well-paying careers.

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The Best Colleges and Universities for Economics Degrees

Best Economics Major Research Universities

  1. Harvard University
  2. MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  3. University of Chicago
  4. Princeton University
  5. Yale University

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Best Economics Major Liberal Arts Colleges

  1. Swarthmore College
  2. Amherst College
  3. Williams College
  4. Claremont McKenna College
  5. Wesleyan University

Go to The Best Economics Liberal Arts Colleges

Best Economics Major Online Colleges

  1. University of Arizona
  2. University of Maine
  3. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
  4. Missouri State University
  5. University of Alaska Fairbanks

Go to The Best Economics Online Colleges

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The Best Online Economics Degrees

A large number of fully accredited colleges and universities offer excellent online degrees in economics at every level of education. Likewise, it is possible to earn a closely-related online degree in finance at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s levels.

Did you know that a job as an economist is a versatile and future-proof career? This degree can prepare you to compete for jobs in tomorrow’s workplace. A degree in economics is versatile, has a projected growth rate of at least 13% between 2020 and 2030, and is either complimentary to the rise of automation, or represents functions that can only be performed by human beings. Find out more about this versatile degree.

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Economics Degrees

What Will I Study as an Economics Major?

Your concentration will determine many of the courses you’ll take as an economics major. Likewise, you will be required to take a number of requisite courses on foundational topics such as microeconomics and macroeconomics. However, you will also have a chance to choose courses based on your specialized area of interest, from investment banking and labor practices to healthcare and marketing. Common economics courses include: Principles of Economics; Money and Banking; Economics of Healthcare; Globalization; Econometrics; Labor Studies; Economics and the Developing Sphere; Gender and Economy; Financial Markets; Sustainability and Development; and more.

What Can I Do With a Degree in Economics

Your economics major can lead to a wide range of career opportunities, both within the field of economics, and in the countless professional sectors where financial, market, and budgetary analyses are required. Those with a degree in economics can qualify to work as Economists, Budget Analysts, Personal Financial Advisors, Securities, Commodities and Financial Service Sales Agents, Appraisers and Assessors of Real Estate, Cost Estimators, and more.

If you’re still not sure what to study in college, we have developed an overview of the most popular majors in our guide to college majors and programs. Get some clarity and direction here.

How To Get a Degree in Economics

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Who are the most influential economists in history?

The following are the top economists in history (1600-2020) according to our machine-powered Influence Rankings, which are drawn from a numerical score of academic achievements, merits, and citations across Wikipedia/data, Crossref, and an ever-growing body of data.

  1. Karl Marx was a German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist and socialist revolutionary, whose 1848 pamphlet The Communist Manifesto and the three-volume Das Kapital had enormous influence on subsequent intellectual, economic and political history.
  2. Adam Smith was a Scottish economist, philosopher, pioneer of political economy, and a key figure during the Scottish Enlightenment, whose text, The Wealth of Nations, is considered first modern work of economics.
  3. John Maynard Keynes was an English economist, whose ideas fundamentally changed the theory and practice of macroeconomics and the economic policies of governments, providing the basis for the school of thought known as Keynesian economics.
  4. Milton Friedman was an American economist and statistician who received the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his research on consumption analysis, monetary history and theory and the complexity of stabilization policy.
  5. Paul Samuelson was the first American to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, has been referred to as the “Father of Modern Economics”, and was once recognized by The New York Times as the “foremost academic economist of the 20th century”.
  6. Alfred Marshall was an English economist who composed, in Principles of Economics, what was the predominant economic textbook in England for many years, earning him recognition as one of the founders of neoclassical economics.
  7. Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian civil engineer, sociologist, economist, political scientist, and philosopher who made major contributions to the study of income distribution, the analysis of individuals’ choices, and popularization of the term “elite” in social analysis.
  8. Friedrich Hayek was an Austrian-British economist and philosopher who is best known for his defence of classical liberalism.
  9. Kenneth Arrow was an American economist, mathematician, writer, and political theorist, whose most significant works are his contributions to social choice theory, notably “Arrow’s impossibility theorem”, and his work on general equilibrium analysis.
  10. Léon Walras was a French mathematical economist and Georgist who formulated the marginal theory of value and pioneered the development of general equilibrium theory.

Now that you have a bird’s eye view of some of the most influential economists of all time, explore these pioneers and others in more depth.

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Who are the top economics influencers today?

The following are the top economics influencers in the field today according to our machine-powered Influence Rankings, which are drawn from a numerical score of academic achievements, merits, and citations across Wikipedia/data, Crossref, and an ever-growing body of data.

  1. Paul Krugman is a professor emeritus of the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University, a distinguished professor of the Graduate Center Economics Ph.D program and scholar at the Luxembourg Income Study Center, both at City University of New York, and is credited with pioneering a new trade theory and a new economic geography through his work.
  2. Joseph Stiglitz is a public policy analyst, professor at Columbia University, and winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work analyzing markets with asymmetric information.
  3. Thomas Piketty is Professor at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) and at the Paris School of Economics.
  4. Esther Duflo is Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who, along with collaborators Abhijit Banerjee and Michael Kremer, was awarded the 2019 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for their work conducting trial experiments to alleviate poverty.
  5. Abhijit Banerjee is the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who, along with his wife Esther Duflo and collaborator Michael Kremer, won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 2019.
  6. Amartya Sen is the Thomas W. Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University who has made major contributions to the study of welfare economics.
  7. Jeffrey Sachs is the Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs and professor of health policy and management for Columbia University’s School of Public Health whose expertise has led him to work as an economic advisor for governments seeking to move from communism to capitalism, such as Bolivia and Poland.
  8. Gabriel Zucman is an internationally recognized expert in corporate tax havens and Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley who was recognized as the Best Young Economist in France in 2018 for his work on the impacts and consequences of tax evasion.
  9. Robert Solow is Emeritus Institute Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who created the Solow Growth Model, which measures market output in consideration of changes to technological progress, savings, and population growth.
  10. George Akerlof is a university professor at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy and an emeritus professor at the University of California, Berkeley whose research eventually led to current lemon laws, which are designed to better protect consumers from larger, hidden market forces.

Learn about other top economics influencers.

Interviews with Top Thinkers in Economics

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Great Books About Economics

The following are the most influential books in the field of economics today according to our backstage Ranking Analytics tool, which calculates the influence of various sources in both academics and popular culture using a numerical scoring of citations across Wikipedia/data, Crossref, and an ever-growing body of data.

  1. Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo provides an intimate look at the daily lives of some of the world’s poorest people and the economic decisions they face. The authors argue that international aid ought to be evaluated on the basis of experimental evidence about which measures really do improve people’s lives with respect to education, health, access to capital, and more.
  2. Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty is a wide-ranging historical analysis in which the author makes the case that today’s income inequality is a built-in feature of industrial capitalism, which can only be cured by economic redistribution on a massive scale, preferably by means of a global tax on wealth.
  3. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg is a controversial book in which the author-who is Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer-uses both data and personal anecdote to argue that women can succeed in high-powered careers by “leaning in,” meaning shedding a psychology of risk aversion and committing to taking risks, facing challenges, and doing what it takes to succeed in their careers.
  4. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner is the most popular pop-economics textbook of all time, wherein the authors explore the economics of a wide variety of out-of-the-ordinary, yet everyday transactions among, for example, public school teachers and their students, parents and their children, drug dealers, white supremacists, and much, much more, explaining the hidden rationales that lead people to do what they do.
  5. Prosperity without Growth: Foundations for the Economy of Tomorrow by Tim Jackson argues that the mainstream model of economic prosperity linked to continuous growth is unsustainable and offers an alternative vision of sustainable global prosperity that can be achieved by changing our current consumerist understanding of what it means to “flourish.”
  6. The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths by Mariana Mazzucato argues that the startling growth in global prosperity during the postwar period has been mainly due to governmental guidance of the private sector, citing as the most obvious example the unprecedented levels of direct financial support for technological innovation and provided by the governments of most Western countries and the consequent economic growth.
  7. The Global Minotaur: America, Europe and the Future of the Global Economy by Yanis Varoufakis is a manifesto penned by a this former Finance Minister and famous opponent of the European Union-imposed policy of austerity, employing the Greek myth of the Minotaur as a metaphor for an insatiable, global, neoliberal financial order sustained by human sacrifices.
  8. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith is often considered to be the founding document of the science of economics, wherein Smith’s detailed depiction of the division of labor (a pin factory) and his analysis of the self-organization of markets (“the invisible hand”) are among the best-known highlights of this classic text.
  9. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy by Karl Marx analyzes world history from the perspective of dialectical materialism, class struggle, the labor theory of value, and other foundational concepts of socialist and communist economic theory.
  10. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein examines a wide range of recent world events through the lens of her central thesis that global capital takes advantage of local “shocks,” such as wars and revolutions, in various countries to impose the neoliberal system on them.

Learn about more great economics books.

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Economics Controversial Topics

The economics discipline centers on matters like money, labor, and distribution of resources. These matters have a profound impact on the everyday lives of Americans, so it’s no surprise that much controversy is generated around the economics discipline. Read on for a look at some of the top controversies connected to the economics discipline today.

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