Masters Economics vs. MBA vs. Masters Finance

The Importance of Skill Sets

  • The comparisons below aren't meant to point out that one program is better than another. Rather, prospective students need to understand the skills set various graduate programs offer.
  • One program is not better than the other! We advise prospective students to assess their current skills against the demands and requirements of the next step or their career (either professionally or academically (i.e. PHD program). To begin your assessment, we recommend securing a copy of a job description or PHD requirements and researching it by studying trade publications, attending business seminars focused on industry trends, as well as setting up informational interviews with professional leaders in your area of business. Once you get the information, you should rate your skill set based upon the skills that are critical for your current job or the one you want. How well do you perform now, what will it require for you to keep pace or even ahead of industry demands, and what will it require for you to be an industry leader? Is a Masters in Economics aligned with the skill set you require?

Masters Economics

  • Masters in Economics emphasizes mathematical modeling and statistical techniques that are used in several industries and government. Communicating the results of economic analysis is a valuable skill in the business world.
  • The analytical skills attained in the program are useful in evaluating alternative methods of achieving society's goals and objectives, and then formulating strategies and policies that will help to achieve these objectives. work competently with data and interpret clearly the results of empirical studies. Over the course of the program, Masters students develop and hone their abilities to solve problems. The program produces students with a set of skills that both businesses and policy makers value.
  • Students gain skills that help to explain the complexities of how people and society operate. Economics isn't a business degree, although economics teaches important business skills.

  • You can still take courses in the School of Management towards the Masters Economics. degree (or advanced certificate) or for pure interest (depending on availability)
  • The Masters Economics program doesn't teach marketing, organizational behavior, operations, leadership or other general business classes you might find in traditional M.B.A. programs.
  • Learn to conduct econometric research -- collect, interpret, manipulate, and analyze policy-related data.
  • Develop writing skills to communicate research findings to a variety of audiences including business professionals, economists, policy makers, and the public at large.

Economics in the markets

  • Investors have an erratic history with economists, listening to them carefully at some times and all but ignoring them at others. While some investors may ignore economists' concerns and pile their investments into the latest booming sector, others will carefully track data on GDP, inflation and deficits to inform their investing decisions.
  • It also matters which market is being considered; bond investors typically tend to pay more attention to economic data than many equity investors do.

Economics as a career

  • For those who choose to pursue economics as a career, academia is an obvious option. Academics not only spend their time attempting to teach students the principles of economics, but also researching within the field and formulating new theories and explanations of how markets work and how their agents interact.
  • There is also call for economists in the corporate world. Here the concerns of economists are more immediate and near-term. Economists working for major investment banks, consultancies, and other corporations often focus on forecasting growth (GDP, for instance), interest rates, inflation, and so on. These projections may represent a product in their own right (that can be marketed to clients) or an input for managers and other decision-makers within the company.



  • The Masters of Business Administration (MBA or M.B.A.) is a Master's degree in business administration, which attracts people from a wide range of academic disciplines.
  • An MBA program will widen your horizons and provide you with a good overview of business.
  • Completing an MBA requires a substantial time commitment.
  • The core courses in the MBA program are designed to introduce students to the various areas of business such as accounting, finance, marketing, human resources, operations management

  • Students traditionally study a wide breadth of courses in the program's first year, and then pursue a specialized curriculum in the second year.
  • If you want to be able to work strategically and think strategically, then the MBA will benefit you greatly. The MBA isn’t about rote learning, it is more about decision-making and analysis in an environment where you can share your ideas and your experiences with other people who have a similar level of work and management background to you.
  • People who seek more of a general managerial role in the industry they are currently in will find that the portfolio of tools and techniques for managers come in extremely useful. These tools and techniques are not just the ‘hard’ and direct managerial skills, but also the soft-skills that you need to really succeed in a managerial role.

Masters in Finance

  • Masters degree finance is a non-thesis course, in the typical program the core curriculum is focused on investment analysis, corporate finance and financial management / managerial accounting.
  • To keep up with the highly competitive and demanding nature of the finance industry, masters’ degree in finance normally incorporates accounting, economics, mathematics, and other finance-related disciplines in the curriculum. Other fields of study include financial management, managerial accounting, quantitative, and non-quantitative subjects.
  • The program usually concludes with coursework in advanced topics — where several areas are integrated or applied — such as portfolio management, financial modeling, mergers and acquisitions and real options.
  • The curriculum often also includes financial economics and financial risk management as advanced topics, and sometimes managerial economics and quantitative finance / computational finance. These are areas which are usually studied as disciplines in their own right, via specialized degrees in economics and applied mathematics.


In the markets

  • As finance tries to concern itself with assessing the value of financial instruments, it is not surprising that one of the most common applications of finance in the markets is in the determination of fair value for a wide range of investment products. Stock-pricing models like the capital asset pricing model, option models like Black-Scholes, and bond concepts like duration are all byproducts of applied finance in an investment context.
  • Finance also offers new theories about the "right" way to do things, whether that is the optimal dividend or debt policy for a corporation or the proper asset allocation strategy for an investor.
  • It can also be argued that finance affects the markets with a seemingly constant stream of new products. Although many derivatives and advanced financial products have been maligned in the wake of the Great Recession, the fact remains that many of these instruments were designed to address and solve market demands and needs.


Finance as a career

  • In some respects, a degree or academic background in finance opens more obvious doors than a similar background in economics. A degree in finance is a common denominator among many of those who populate Wall Street, be they analysts, bankers or fund managers. Likewise, many of those who work for commercial banks, insurance companies and other financial service providers have college backgrounds in finance. Apart from the finance industry itself, a degree in finance can be a pathway into and through the senior management of companies and corporations.


Difference Between Economics and Finance

  • Although they are often taught and presented as very separate disciplines, economics and finance are interrelated and inform and influence each other. Investors care about these studies because they also influence the markets to a great degree. Here we take a look at finance and economics, what they can teach investors and how they differ.
  • Without falling back on dry academic definitions, economics is a social science that studies the production, consumption and distribution of goods and services, with an aim of explaining how economies work and how their agents interact. Although labeled a "social science" and often treated as one of the liberal arts, modern economics is in fact often very quantitative and heavily math-oriented in practice.
  • Finance is a branch of economics which studies the fund management and other assets.
  • Economics is a social science that studies production and distribution, consumption of goods and services, and their management.
  • Economics branches out into macroeconomics and micronomics. Macroeconomics explores the economy as a whole including national income, output, unemployment rate, government policy, inflation, and many other aspects. Microeconomics focus on the interactions between individual markets.
  • Finance can be broken down into the branches: personal, business and public finance. Personal finance deals with individuals and family financing such as debts, income, and loan obligations. Business finance includes managing funds for a business and balancing risk and profitability with the goal of maximizing profit and value. Public finance is concerned with financial activities with the government.
  • Finance is concerned with maximization of wealth while Economics is concerned about reaching optimization of valued goal.
Related Courses
Philosophy of Economics, Laws and Economics, Policitical Economics
Accountancy, Chartered Financial Analyst and other
Economics is a social science that studies the management of goods and services, including the production and consumption and the factors affecting them.
Finance is the science of managing funds keeping in mind the time, cash at hand and the risk involved.
Branches of economics include macro and micro economics .
Branches of finance include personal finance, corporate finance and public finance.
Profession economists are hired as consultants by private and public sector.
Finance is managed by individuals in families or by banks or other institutions.


Additional Information

From: The Difference Between Finance And Economics

  • It is important for investors to avoid "either/or" arguments regarding economics and finance; both are important, and both have valid uses and applications. In many respects, economics is "big picture" (how a country/region/market are doing) and concerned about public policy, while finance is more company/industry-specific and concerned about how companies and investors evaluate and price risk and return. Historically, economics has been more theoretical and finance more practical, but this has changed in the last 20 years.
  • It is interesting to note, though, that the two disciplines seem to be converging in some respects. It seems that academics in finance are trying to incorporate more and more theory into their work and appear more academically rigorous. At the same time, there is at least a movement within some schools of economics to lean more heavily on math and appear practical and applicable to everyday business and policy decision-making processes.
  • At some fundamental level, there will always be a separation, but both are likely to remain very important to the economy and financial markets for some time to come.