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Best Online Doctorates in Economics: Top PhD Programs, Career Paths, and Salary

Ajayi Abimbola Samuel - June 17, 2022


The best online PhD in Economics offers a broad, comprehensive knowledge of how economics affects the global landscape. An online program at the doctoral level in economics provides graduates with the advanced analytical and critical thinking skills they need to build successful careers in banking, government, politics, healthcare, insurance, and non-profit sectors.

If you are looking to get an online PhD in Economics, then this article is for you. This guide contains a list of the best schools you can earn your economics PhD online, their admission requirements and tuition, as well as the economics jobs you’ll qualify for after graduating from business school.

Can You Get a PhD in Economics Online?

Yes, you can get a PhD in Economics online. Online degree programs offer students the opportunity to earn an economics doctoral degree without the inconvenience of taking physical classes on the university campus. Online graduate programs are a great choice for students who are restricted by geographical location or who prefer to take online classes.

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Is an Online PhD Respected?

Yes, an online PhD is respected. They have the same coursework, curriculum, and degree requirements as in-person degrees. A survey by the Society for Human Resources Management on hiring practices and attitudes reported that 55 percent of organizations would not give preference to a candidate with an in-person degree over one with an online degree if both had the same job experience.

That being said, students need to ensure that they get their online degrees from an accredited online school . Accreditation demonstrates that a school meets the minimum acceptable academic standards set by an external accreditation body to be able to offer academic degrees. Checking a school’s accreditation status before beginning the application process is recommended.

What Is the Best Online PhD Program in Economics?

The best online PhD program in economics is the PhD in Public Policy – Economic Policy offered by Liberty University. Out of all the online doctoral degree programs on our list, Liberty University’s PhD in Public Policy – Economic Policy’s high-quality curriculum and faculty stand out among the others.

Why Liberty University Has the Best Online PhD Program in Economics

Liberty University has the best online economics PhD program because of its well-rounded curriculum, giving students a comprehensive understanding of national and global public and economic policies. Students take classes taught by industry leaders and experienced policymakers and take high-level courses in public and economic theory and policy, policy analysis, and research design.

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Online PhD in Economics Admission Requirements

The typical admission requirements for an online PhD in Economics are a Master’s Degree in Economics or in a related field from an accredited institution with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Other common requirements include recommendation letters, an interview, your resume, a statement of purpose or personal statement, and professional work experience.

While the specific requirements will differ from one school to the next, prospective students are always required to submit their unofficial or official transcripts of all of their undergraduate and graduate coursework. Although some schools have waived this due to the pandemic, many require students to submit GMAT or GRE test scores as part of the application process.

Online PhD in Economics Admission Requirements

  • A Master’s Degree in Economics or in a related field from an accredited institution
  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A copy of your resume
  • A statement of purpose or personal statement
  • Professional work experience
  • Your GMAT or GRE test scores
  • An online interview

Best Online PhDs in Economics: Top Degree Program Details

School Program Estimated Length
California Baptist University Doctor of Business Administration 3 years
Hampton University Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration 3 years
Liberty University PhD in Public Policy – Economic Policy 3 years
Marymount University Online Doctor of Business Administration in Business Intelligence 3 years
University of Maryland – Global Campus PhD in Business Administration 3 years

Best Online PhDs in Economics: Top University Programs to Get a PhD in Economics Online

The top university programs to get a PhD in Economics online are able to let students benefit from experiencing diverse cultures and learning from a high-quality curriculum with many research opportunities without having to relocate. It is a great option for students who want to balance school with work, family, or other personal commitments. Here are the best online PhDs in Economics.

1

California Baptist University

Riverside, CA

California Baptist University was founded in 1950 and is located in the city of Riverside in Southern California. This private, Christian university offers a wide variety of bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and associate degrees , as well as certificate programs in an in-person and online format.

Doctor of Business Administration

The online Doctor of Business Administration at California Baptist University is a 56-credit-hour doctorate program that equips students with the specialized skills and insights needed to achieve their career goals. Students will gain the tools and theoretical foundation to carry out research and develop actionable plans with the goal of solving complex business problems.

Doctor of Business Administration Overview

  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission
  • Program Length: 3 years
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A
  • Tuition and Fees: $795/credit

Doctor of Business Administration Admission Requirements

  • A Master’s Degree in Business Administration from an accredited institution
  • A copy of your resume with your work experience and education, and your leadership, professional and scholarly activities
  • Meeting the professional guidelines set by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • Your official transcripts
2

Hampton University

Hampton, VA

Hampton University , founded in 1861, is a dynamic institution of higher learning offering a wide range of technical, liberal, and arts degree programs at all education levels. Its 97 degree programs can be found in different fields of study, including business, engineering and technology, nursing, pharmacy, science, and liberal arts.

Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration

This is a 60-credit-hour program for students aspiring to become consultants, researchers, and academicians in leadership roles in the industry. It is a hybrid program with two compulsory four-week summer residencies. Students take core courses in managerial economics, quantitative business analysis, and accounting.

Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration Overview

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Program Length: 3 years
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A
  • Tuition and Fees: $695/credit

Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration Admission Requirements

  • A master’s degree from an accredited institution. Prerequisite courses may have to be taken depending on the master’s degree held
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A copy of your resume with at least three years of work experience relevant to the field of study
  • A GMAT score of at least 400
  • A written Statement of Career Plans or Professional Plans
  • Your official transcripts
3

Liberty University

Lynchburg, VA

Liberty University was founded in 1971 in Lynchburg, Virginia and is a private, Christian college offering world-class education. It has a total enrollment of over 100,000 students across its over 700 programs at all educational levels, including doctoral programs. The majority of its students are enrolled in online courses, making it one of the largest distance learning institutions in the country.

PhD in Public Policy - Economic Policy

This is a 60-credit hour program for students wanting to learn how to better serve the public interest and create actionable solutions to today’s global economic challenges. It provides the specialized knowledge that students need to land leadership job roles in government, consulting, and international organizations.

PhD in Public Policy - Economic Policy Overview

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Program Length: 3 years
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A
  • Tuition and Fees: $595/credit

PhD in Public Policy - Economic Policy Admission Requirements

  • Complete and submit an online application form
  • A master’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Pay a non-refundable $50 application fee
  • Submit your official undergraduate and graduate transcripts
4

Marymount University

Arlington, VA

Marymount University is a private catholic university founded in 1950. Ranked 38th among the best southern regional universities by US News & World Report, it has over 4,000 students enrolled in its wide range of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs. Marymount combines theory with experiential learning to provide its students with valuable education, leading them to gratifying careers.

Online Doctor of Business Administration in Business Intelligence

Offered by Marymount’s College of Business, Innovation, Leadership, and Technology, this 36-credit program introduces students to real-world business intelligence tools currently used by professionals in leadership positions. Students develop analytical, higher-order thinking, and research skills and work on a doctoral research project that attempts to solve real-world issues.

Online Doctor of Business Administration in Business Intelligence Overview

  • Accreditation: Southern Associations of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Program Length: 3 years
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A
  • Tuition and Fees: $1,140/credit

Online Doctor of Business Administration in Business Intelligence Admission Requirements

  • A completed online application
  • A master’s degree in a business or IT related field
  • Five to 10 years of work experience
  • A minimum GPA of 3.5
  • A statement of research background and interest
  • Resume
  • A writing sample
5

University of Maryland - Global Campus

College Park, MD

Founded in 1947 and headquartered in College Park, Maryland, the University of Maryland - Global Campus (UMGC) is the online division of the University System of Maryland. UMGC first began offering online courses in the mid-1990s and is now home to a wide range of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs obtainable fully online.

PhD in Business Administration

This 48-credit program provides its students with a solid foundation in economic theory and statistical methods. Offering advanced courses in data analytics, management solutions, and research methods, this terminal degree requires the completion of a 12-credit dissertation project.

PhD in Business Administration Overview

  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Program Length: 3 years
  • Acceptance Rate: NA
  • Tuition and Fees: $1,087/credit

PhD in Business Administration Admission Requirements

  • Completed the Foundation of Doctoral Studies course with a minimum B grade
  • Completion of UMGC’s online admission application
  • Your official transcripts
  • A master’s degree
  • A copy of your resume
  • Two professional references
  • A personal statement
  • A writing sample (optional)
  • An interview, if requested by the UMGC admission committee

Online Economics PhD Graduation Rates: How Hard Is It to Complete an Online PhD Program in Economics?

It is very hard to complete an online PhD in Economics. This can be attributed to the stress students experience, as well as lack of motivation. Those that want to pursue a PhD must be certain that they are academically and financially prepared.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Economics Online?

It takes about three years to get a PhD in Economics online. Although, it can take as long as seven or eight years, depending on the school’s curriculum, learning pace, and specialization. Over these three years, students need to complete a certain number of courses, pass written or oral exams, and research and write a dissertation on their chosen research topic.

How Hard Is an Online Doctorate in Economics?

An online Doctorate in Economics is very hard. It is a broad, multidisciplinary degree that involves the study of complex business, sociology, mathematics, and accounting topics. Students in an online Doctoral Degree in Economics take advanced courses that require strong skills in critical thinking and complex mathematical models to succeed.

The overall level of difficulty of an online PhD in Economics depends on a student’s academic foundation and their chosen program’s curriculum. Programs offered at universities with a higher reputation or higher school ranking are usually more difficult. That being said, these programs will usually better prepare you for the real world and impress potential employers.

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What Courses Are in an Online Economics PhD Program?

An online economics PhD program includes courses such as Economic History, Economics and Public Policy, Policy Analysis and Research Design, Introduction to Economic Policy Studies, and Managerial Economics. These courses will prepare you for a long and lucrative career in the industry and equip you with the skills you need.

Main Areas of Study in an Economics PhD Program

  1. Economic history
  2. Economics and public policy
  3. Policy analysis and research design
  4. Introduction to economic policy studies
  5. Managerial economics

How Much Does Getting an Online Economics PhD Cost?

It costs around $19,314 per year to get an online PhD in Economics, according to the National  Center for Education Statistics. However, this is a ballpark estimate. The actual amount you will spend to get an online economics PhD largely depends on whether the school is public or private. On top of tuition costs, you also need to consider fees, study material costs, and other miscellaneous expenses.

How to Pay for an Online PhD Program in Economics

You can pay for an online PhD program in economics through an upfront payment, grants and scholarships, employer tuition reimbursement, government loans, and private loans. Students in the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and the US Military can also benefit from tuition reduction. For example, Liberty University offers their doctoral degree for $300 per credit for members of the military, which is an almost 50 percent discount.

How to Get an Online PhD for Free

You can’t get an online PhD for free. All legitimate PhD programs charge tuition, and there are no fully funded online PhDs in Economics. That being said, students needing financial aid can inquire about available scholarships and grants offered by their school. Online PhD students can register for the Free Application for Federal Scholarship Aid.

What Is the Most Affordable Online PhD in Economics Degree Program?

The most affordable online PhD in Economics is the PhD in Public Policy – Economic Policy offered by Liberty University. At $595 per credit, this 60-credit program costs a total of $35,700 in tuition. Compared to the most expensive program on our list, which costs approximately $52,000, you could save up to $16,300.

Most Affordable Online PhD Programs in Economics: In Brief

School Program Tuition
Liberty University PhD in Public Policy – Economic Policy $595 per credit
Hampton University Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration (PhD) $695 per credit
California Baptist University Doctor of Business Administration $795 per credit

University of Maryland – Global Campus

PhD in Business Administration

$1,087 per credit
Marymount University Doctor of Business Administration in Business Intelligence $1,140 per credit

Why You Should Get an Online PhD in Economics

You should get an online PhD in Economics because it’ll provide you with specialized knowledge of economics and equip you with the in-demand skills you’ll need to work in leadership positions across the fields of politics, history, business administration, and finance. A PhD is the highest level of education you can get and will give you a leg up over other candidates during the hiring process.

Top Reasons for Getting a PhD in Economics

  • Increased job opportunities. A PhD in Economics will make you more attractive to employers looking to fill high-level leadership positions in the industry. PhD graduates have more career options than lower-level degree holders.
  • Enhanced earning potential. A PhD in Economics can improve your earning potential. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that PhD holders have a median weekly salary of $1,885. This is higher than the salary for master’s and bachelor’s degree graduates.
  • Higher employment rate. The skills and knowledge that economics doctoral degree holders have can qualify them for a wider range of positions. In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that PhD holders have a higher employment rate than all other degree holders.
  • Specialized skills. Getting a PhD will provide you with advanced technical skills in your field of study as well as transferable soft skills. Both of these hard and soft skills are things you need to succeed in the highest possible career after graduation.

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What Is the Difference Between an On-Campus Economics PhD and an Online PhD in Economics?

The difference between an on-campus economics PhD and an online PhD in Economics is each program’s cost, flexibility, interactivity with faculty and fellow students, and availability of funding. While their course content and curricula may be alike, there are a few differences between an online economics PhD and an on-campus PhD in Economics.

Online PhD vs On-Campus PhD: Key Differences

  • Cost. Online doctoral programs usually cost less than on-campus degrees. Not only is the tuition itself usually lower for an online program, but you’ll also avoid needing to pay additional fees related to transportation, student accommodation, and labs or study materials.
  • Flexibility. Students in on-campus programs have to be physically present at specific times and locations on the school campus to take classes, while online PhD students can take their classes from the comfort of their homes. Many online courses are also asynchronous and can be taken when convenient.
  • Interactivity. Students in an on-campus PhD program enjoy physical interaction with faculty and peers, which can help with learning and motivation. On the other hand, online students have to employ virtual platforms to contact faculty at scheduled times.
  • Availability of funding. There are more funding opportunities for on-campus students than students in online programs. On-campus students usually have access to fellowships, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships.

How to Get a PhD in Economics Online: A Step-by-Step Guide

A woman attending an online class on her laptop.
An online PhD can open career pathways toward lucrative job roles in the public and private sectors.

To get a PhD in Economics online, you need to gain admission into an accredited university, complete your course credit requirements, pass all examinations, get your dissertation project topic approved, research your dissertation topic, and defend what you wrote during the final stage of the dissertation process. Doctorate programs take a lot of work to complete, but knowing what to expect will help you prepare.

1

Step 1: Apply to Your Desired Program Online

The first step you need to take to get a PhD in Economics online is to look for schools that offer the program and that offer the specific specialization that you want to study. Afterward, you should review each program’s admissions requirement for prospective students. Once you’ve gathered your application materials, you’re ready to apply to your desired doctorate degree programs.

2

Step 2: Complete Course Credit Requirements

All doctoral students need to complete a certain number of online courses. Some schools also have residency requirements. While these are less common for online programs, residencies do require in-person attendance. Make sure to review the delivery format of each of the doctoral programs you’re interested in before enrolling.

3

Step 3: Pass All Examinations

During your PhD program, you will have to pass certain examinations. These examinations are used by the faculty at graduate schools to track and gauge your progress and understanding of the course material. You won’t be able to graduate without passing your examinations.

4

Step 4: Get Your Dissertation Topic Approved

As you complete your classes, you will also need to pick a dissertation topic and get it approved by the faculty. Your dissertation is a long-term research project that you must complete along the course of your PhD program. Make sure to pick a topic you’re interested in as it’ll make the research process much more enjoyable.

5

Step 5: Complete Your Dissertation Research

After getting your topic approved, you will be able to start your research, which you will work on either at the same time as or after your course requirements. You will be asked to demonstrate your progress to your dissertation supervisor many times during your studies. It’s typical for 12 of your required credits to be dedicated to your dissertation.

6

Step 6: Defend Your Dissertation

As you research your dissertation project, you will need to write a paper on your findings under the guidance, support, and supervision of your program’s faculty. Once you’ve completed your research and finished writing your paper, you will need to explain and defend your findings to your program’s faculty. Once you pass, you will be able to get your PhD.

Online PhD in Economics Salary and Job Outlook

Online economics PhD graduates can earn between $77,427 and $153,460 per year, depending on their job title, location, employer, and experience. An online PhD in Economics will provide you with the skillset needed to land high-paying roles in different sectors, including academia, business, finance, government, and politics.

What Can You Do With an Online Doctorate in Economics?

With an online Doctorate in Economics, you can become an economic consultant, postsecondary professor of economics, economist, financial manager, and financial analyst. Some of these roles are high-paying senior-level positions requiring applicants to hold a PhD.

Best Jobs with a PhD in Economics

  • Economic Consultant
  • Postsecondary Professor of Economics
  • Economist
  • Financial Analyst
  • Financial Manager

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What Is the Average Salary for an Online PhD Holder in Economics?

The average salary for a PhD holder in Economics is $110,000 per year , according to PayScale. PhD graduates can qualify for a wide range of high-paying positions across many industries. Keep in mind that your actual annual salary can vary depending on factors such as location, years of experience, industry, and position.

Highest-Paying Economics Jobs for PhD Grads

Online Economics PhD Jobs Average Salary
Financial Manager $131,710
Economist $105,630
Professor of Economics $96,198
Financial Analyst $81,410
Economic Consultant $77,427

Best Economics Jobs for Online PhD Holders

Knowing the best economics jobs for online PhD holders will help you decide whether or not it’s worth it for you to embark on the long journey of earning your PhD. In this section, we’ve  put together a list of the best economics jobs for online PhD holders, a description of what they do, their job outlook, the number of jobs, and the highest-paying states.

1

Financial Manager

PhD Salary: $131,710

Financial managers coordinate banking, accounting, insurance, security, and other financial operations in an organization. Financial management includes ensuring good financial health, monitoring cash flow, managing an organization’s expenses, analyzing profitability, and providing accurate financial information.

2

Economist

PhD Salary: $105,630

Economists collect and analyze data to study the relationship between economic resources and the production and distribution of goods and services. They conduct surveys and review economic problems to find actionable solutions. They also advise businesses and organizations on economic issues.

3

Professor of Economics

PhD Salary: $96,168

Professors of economics teach in economics departments at a university. They prepare and deliver lectures, examinations, and curricula for undergraduate and graduate economics students. They also conduct research and publish their findings to contribute to the field of economics.

4

Financial Analyst

PhD Salary: $81,410

Financial analysts study current and past financial data and economic trends to gain a better understanding of a company’s financial health. They advise the organization on the best investments to make to help them maximize profits according to the data they’ve studied.

5

Economic Consultant

PhD Salary: $77,427

Economic consultants develop plans to improve the policies and operations of the company they work for to increase their economic gains. They conduct surveys and create forecasts to discover economic trends to improve the company’s practices. They also work in the production, budgeting, and accounting department to optimize quality control practices.

Is It Worth It to Do a PhD in Economics Online?

Yes, it is worth it to do a PhD in Economics online because it allows you to get advanced education and expertise in economics from the comfort of your home while preparing you to land high-profile positions where you can make an impact on the world. Economics PhD graduates gain advanced knowledge in the theoretical foundations, methodology, and philosophy of economics.

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Online PhD in Economics FAQ

Can you do a PhD in Economics entirely at a distance?

Yes, you can do a PhD in Economics entirely at a distance. An increasing number of schools are beginning to offer completely online economics PhD programs for distance learners. Online degrees are respected by hiring managers as well and are considered as good as in-person degrees.


Can you get a PhD in Economics in one year?

No, you can not get a PhD in Economics in one year. It usually takes a minimum of three years to complete the graduate degree requirements. This includes the credit requirements and dissertation paper.


Can you do a PhD in Economics without a master’s?

Yes, it is possible to do a PhD in Economics without a master’s. Although the typical requirements for a PhD program include having an in-person or online Master’s Degree in Economics or relevant field from an accredited institution, some schools allow students to apply to their PhD program without one.

Is 50 too late to get a PhD?

No, 50 is not too late to get a PhD. There is no age limit in the pursuit of higher education, and you can go back to college at 50 or at any time you want. Anyone can enroll in a PhD program regardless of age. All it takes is the willingness to learn and the determination to succeed. In fact, your work experience can help you get into a PhD program.

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Ajayi Abimbola Samuel

About the author: Ajayi Abimbola is an expert content writer who has written for sites like LocalPrana and Junkar Ninja. He holds a BSc in Chemical Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, where he also studied Java and Python.

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