Top 100 Affordable Economics Schools

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Economics is a field that is at least as old as the United States, when Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations, in 1776. However, economic thinking dates to the ancient Greeks and early scholars in the Middle East. These days, economic models and theories inform our daily lives. Economists help determine prices for things like fuel, groceries, and theater tickets. They also evaluate big data troves from the internet which is used to track all sorts of trends.

An affordable economics degree program can thus help students launch into the job market prepared to succeed. The skills that a degree in economics offers can apply to a wide variety of fascinating and rewarding jobs. It's possible to find economics majors working as actuaries, salespeople, market analysts, and even managers, to name a few possibilities.

This page was created to help aspiring economists learn more about how to find an affordable economics degree program.

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Top 100 Affordable Economics Degree College Rankings

Some of the factors we consider in our Rankings include:

  • Online Degree Programs:
    This is increasingly an important factor because so many students either need to continue working while they pursue their degrees, or they can't afford to move to the college or university. We also look for the option to pursue a blend of traditional and online courses.
  • Percent of Students Receiving Financial Aid:
    This figure can be informative when determining the baseline affordability of an economics degree program. However, many private colleges and universities have a student body that largely pays their bills in cash. Economics students should examine these statistics carefully.
  • Loan Default Rate:
    A high loan default rate may indicate that graduates are having a hard time converting their economics degrees into well-paying jobs.

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  • Tuition Costs:
    We evaluate the gross and net cost of tuition and living expenses. While net costs are an average, students can use these figures to get a better view of what they might owe upon graduation.
  • Retention Rate:
    This statistic reflects how many first-time, full-time students return to campus for a second year. A high retention rate is thought to indicate high rates of satisfaction with regards to academics, campus resources, and even the student body.

Berea College

  • Net Price: $1,196
  • Retention Rate: 87%
  • Graduation Rate: 67%
  • Total Enrollment: 1,432
  • Undergrad Students: 1,432
  • Graduate Students: 0
  • Diplomas Awarded: 6
  • Berea College

California State University-Los Angeles

  • Net Price: $3,859
  • Retention Rate: 83%
  • Graduation Rate: 52%
  • Total Enrollment: 26,745
  • Undergrad Students: 22,832
  • Graduate Students: 3,913
  • Diplomas Awarded: 23
  • California State University-Los Angeles

CUNY Bernard M Baruch College

  • Net Price: $3,897
  • Retention Rate: 88%
  • Graduation Rate: 73%
  • Total Enrollment: 19,740
  • Undergrad Students: 15,774
  • Graduate Students: 3,966
  • Diplomas Awarded: 66
  • CUNY Bernard M Baruch College

CUNY Lehman College

  • Net Price: $3,913
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Graduation Rate: 53%
  • Total Enrollment: 15,091
  • Undergrad Students: 12,833
  • Graduate Students: 2,258
  • Diplomas Awarded: 22
  • CUNY Lehman College

CUNY Hunter College

  • Net Price: $4,014
  • Retention Rate: 84%
  • Graduation Rate: 56%
  • Total Enrollment: 24,052
  • Undergrad Students: 17,943
  • Graduate Students: 6,109
  • Diplomas Awarded: 133
  • CUNY Hunter College

Texas A&M International University

  • Net Price: $4,165
  • Retention Rate: 74%
  • Graduation Rate: 46%
  • Total Enrollment: 8,525
  • Undergrad Students: 7,084
  • Graduate Students: 1,441
  • Diplomas Awarded: NA
  • Texas A&M International University

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

  • Net Price: $4,419
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Graduation Rate: 47%
  • Total Enrollment: 32,441
  • Undergrad Students: 26,762
  • Graduate Students: 5,679
  • Diplomas Awarded: 15
  • The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Indiana University-Northwest

  • Net Price: $5,453
  • Retention Rate: 70%
  • Graduation Rate: 32%
  • Total Enrollment: 3,801
  • Undergrad Students: 3,414
  • Graduate Students: 387
  • Diplomas Awarded: 2
  • Indiana University-Northwest

Brigham Young University-Idaho

  • Net Price: $6,871
  • Retention Rate: 74%
  • Graduation Rate: 56%
  • Total Enrollment: 44,481
  • Undergrad Students: 44,481
  • Graduate Students: 0
  • Diplomas Awarded: 18
  • Brigham Young University-Idaho

California State University-Fresno

  • Net Price: $6,906
  • Retention Rate: 87%
  • Graduation Rate: 58%
  • Total Enrollment: 25,497
  • Undergrad Students: 22,704
  • Graduate Students: 2,793
  • Diplomas Awarded: 27
  • California State University-Fresno
Full Ranking Report

Why a Degree from an Affordable Economics Program?

Economics is the study of financial values in a society. It measures how things like price can determine market efficacy and how consumers respond to various other qualities by spending. Future economists, then, seek to find economics degree programs that appeal to their intellectual and financial realities. Different economics degree programs offer different qualities that appeal to students in different ways.

Economics students should think of an economics degree program as affordable if it both is within their reach in terms of their immediate financial situation and if it promises academic value that will make them successful economists. This balance of price and value will help economics students discover the economics program that is the most affordable for them, not only today but for the duration of their careers.

One great thing about economics is the variety of outcomes it can yield. Unlike some other specialized undergraduate degree programs, economics provides students with a wide range of skill sets. Economics degree programs teach students quantitative analysis, critical thinking, and more. Graduates of these programs emerge with tools to evaluate trends in the macro economy as well as the ability to assess an individual company.

Some economics students embrace quantitative work and begin to gravitate towards mathematics and statistics. These students may take on skills from computer science and find themselves working with big data to evaluate societal trends. This sort of data science approach is in high demand these days, and economics students with these skills will do very well indeed.

Choosing an Affordable Economics Degree College

Once an economics student determines that they want to attend the most affordable program possible, they suddenly find that they are faced with a myriad of variables. To determine the most affordable program for them, they need to factor in things such as tuition, location, long-term value, return on investment, academic quality, and more. Since tuition is probably the figure that first leaps to mind when evaluating an affordable economics degree, students should be careful to be discerning with this number. If you look a little deeper, the gross tuition number is not necessarily what students will pay. Rather, financial aid can dramatically impact the cost of their college credits. In fact, some seemingly expensive private colleges are able to get their costs down in competition with public universities because their financial aid departments hep students find grants, scholarships, and student loans that make the cost less extreme.

As for location, this can impact affordability quite a lot. If an economics program is across the country, it will obviously be expensive to travel there and back between terms. The economics program might also be in an expensive urban area, such as the Bay Area or New York City, for example. If an economics student wants to attend one of those programs, it may be worthwhile to investigate an online option. On the other hand, students might also find that a local college or university has an economics department that has top accreditation and a program that suits them in terms of focus areas, courses offered, etc. Again, mitigating factors such as scholarships, grants, and other financial aid instruments can be a terrific boon to economics students.

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Academic quality should be a chief concern when determining whether an economics program is affordable. This can be ascertained by evaluating a program's accreditation. Economics departments should be accredited by a regional agency that has been approved by the CHEA. Students who would like to augment their degree with studies in data science or computer science should highly value those programs that boast ABET credentials. Students should also evaluate other critical statistics such as the program's retention rate, graduation rate, and salary estimates for economics degree holders. During an admission interview, students might also discuss how many graduates are admitted to top master’s degree programs.

Online Options for Economics Programs

Online education is a growing phenomenon in higher education. Students now have the option of taking some, or all, of their economics courses online. In fact, this is a great option for this subject. After all, economics is traditionally learned through simple reading and writing, two activities that are easily supported via online portals.

Many still question whether or not online degrees are as worthy as their traditional counterparts. The answer from educational researchers seems to be a resounding yes. It's also been shown that online students have the same outcomes as classroom students. In fact, economics degree programs receive the same sorts of accreditation as classroom programs. The questions of reputation and employability always linger, though.

Employers seldom care whether or not a degree comes from an online program. Their primary concern is with things like a candidate's GPA, class rank, and experience. They may even prefer to hire workers from online economics degree programs because those workers have proven that they have an extra degree of self-motivation. Plus, today's workplace is increasingly remote and a graduate from an online program is already accustomed to conducting their work through an online medium.

Since an online economics degree can offer savings in terms of living expenses and tuition, on top of the flexibility and lack of geographical constraints, students are urged to consider this option. Once freed of rigid scheduling concerns, economics students can even start work and gain relevant experience while completing on their degree in their off hours.

Are Economics Programs in High Demand?

Economics is increasingly valued by employers across the economy. Even if students don't pursue work as an economist, per se, they can capitalize on the skills they've honed during their years of study. Thus, a bachelor’s degree in economics can indeed help a person launch a highly successful and fulfilling career.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that economists are indeed in high demand. While the typical entry level education required is a master’s degree, the field is still expected to grow by 14% through 2029. Further, the median salary for economists is reported to be over $108,000. The BLS' research also reflects high demand and pay for comparable professions.

Financial analysts with a bachelor’s degree, for instance, earn a median salary of over $83,000 and their numbers are projected to grow by 5%. Economists can also look for work as market researchers, who earn more than $65,000 in median income and who only need a bachelor’s economics degree to get started. The BLS reports several other well-paid careers that educated economists can pursue with a bachelor’s degree.

These numbers indicate that there is high demand for economists in the wider economy. Thus, academia is sure to work hard on its efforts to fill that demand with viable candidates. Given this demand, many students who are considering fields such as statistics, sociology, psychology, and political science might want to consider switching their major degree field to economics. Given that these fields require similar skill sets, even a complimentary minor in economics would be a terrific addition to a resume.

What Can You Do with a Degree in Economics?

A bachelor’s degree in economics is a terrific choice because it allows the graduate so many options. The skills that economics students must master apply to so many different careers that anyone with an economics degree is sure to find success and fulfillment. They can also find work in a wide range of industries so, while the degree may seem rather specialized and narrow, the reality is quite different.

For instance, economics majors who focus on quantitative analysis can look for jobs in so many fields. Finance is one area that will appreciate their skill sets. Many economics majors start out as financial analysts and then work their way up in industries such as corporate finance, retail banking, and even as financial advisors, given the requisite credentials. This quantitative analysis might also provide the necessary background to work with big data, in which case they might work as market analysts or even for a public health department.

Economics majors can also find positions as actuaries. These professionals work for insurance companies and in risk management departments to assess the overall risk a firm is facing. This is a highly mathematical field that asks that economics students take at least one course in statistics, if not higher-level mathematics. In fact, a background in economics will be useful for many such analysts who can apply their quantitative work within a larger economic context, whether that extends beyond the firm or not.

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Economists might also find work for city, state, or even federal government. Agencies such as the BLS, FTC, and even the EPA may rely on economic analysis when they make decisions. At the local and state level, these governments frequently rely on economic forecasts when determining policy decisions and politicians need that data to help craft legislation. Thus, many economics degree holders find work for government contractors and other economic consulting firms.

Economics Graduates Earn More After College

For those who want to make money, it makes sense to study an academic field that focuses on how value moves in society. To make money, you can study money. It is certainly helpful that economists are increasingly in demand across so many industries. Businesses need the skills sets that economists bring to the table when seeking to expand their operations. They need economic analysis to help prepare for future events. While economics is not the study of clairvoyance, economic models are often predictive when placed in the context of historical trends.

Businesses can also use an economist's skill to analyze market data. Since economics is a field steeped in statistics, economics majors can use that skill to help firms determine where to allocate resources in terms of production and marketing. With skill in big data, an economist can create models that are as general or specific as a firm needs. Thus, some economists pursue work as data scientists, data analysts, and financial analysts.

When it comes to salaries, a degree in economics can help economics graduates land jobs that are well-paid. For instance, the BLS shows that market research analysts can earn a median salary of over $65,000. That is with only a bachelor’s degree, preferably one that features some coursework in marketing and statistics. Economists should also take courses that focus on research so that they can apply those skills in the workplace. Those who are able to devise clever studies can reap generous bonus payments on top of their healthy salary.


  • What is the top salary potential with a degree in economics?
    This number will vary according to which school of economics a student chooses. However, it may be possible to earn well into the six-figure range. Those who are able to land a position as a financial analyst with an investment bank frequently find average salaries but then generous bonus payments that launch their earnings into the stratosphere.
  • What can you expect from online economics degrees?
    Online economics students can expect great jobs and salaries from their degrees. They should also expect to need a high level of self-discipline when it comes to assignments. However, they frequently find that their instructors are easy to contact via e-mail, which can enhance their academic experience.
  • What level of degree should you get in economics?
    Every economics student should start with a bachelor’s degree in economics. They should also plan on completing a master’s degree in economics, if not an MBA, depending on their career aspirations. Those who wish to focus their careers specifically on economics should look towards an MA or MS in economics.
  • Can you complete an accelerated bachelor’s and/or master’s degree in economics?
    Yes, in fact this is recommended for students who qualify for these programs. These programs are notoriously intense and very stressful. However, once students graduate with their master’s degree in economics they find that higher salaries await them. Naturally, they also don't need to worry about returning to school any time soon, if ever.

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