11 Best Economics Schools in the World

Let me guess, you want to major in economics because you love math and money.

Or maybe you just want to know why the price of your precious avocados keep going up.

Or perhaps you really want to be an investment banker.

Regardless of why you want to study economics (econ), the number of varying degrees you can get coupled with an economics careers available to you, makes econ a fun and secure subject to major in.

Now that you’ve decided on your major, let’s get down to business and find you your perfect school!

US Universities

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): Cambridge, Massachusetts

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Here’s the deal, at most universities, economics is the largest major by far. At MIT, it’s one of the smallest.

The bad news? There aren’t that many other students you can lean on for help in your major. The good news? Your teachers will consist of some of the top economists in the world and you will get a lot of individual attention and one on one time with your professors.

Fun Fact: MIT’s majors are referred to by numbers, so if you are an economics major you’re actually “Course 14.”

The Basics:

Top Universities Rank: 1

Admissions Rate: 7.9%

Cost of Attendance: $65,478 USD

% of Students on Financial Aid: 91%

Average Starting Salary: $70,300 USD

Undergraduate Size: 4,524

Student Teacher Ratio: 3:1

% of Undergraduate Population in Economics: 0.8%

Graduate Degree in Economics? Yes: Masters and PHD

Harvard University: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Most of your professors at Harvard will have held top level White House jobs or federal reserve jobs. AKA, they know how things work.

While your class sizes may be a larger than you’d like because economics is the largest major on campus, your professors are always willing to speak with you one on one as long as you reach out to them.

Fun Fact: EC10 (the economics intro class) is so popular it is taken by half or more of the school every year!

The Basics:

Top Universities Rank: 2

Admissions Rate: 5.4%

Cost of Attendance: $63,025 USD

% of Students on Financial Aid: 70%

Average Starting Salary: $57,700 USD

Undergraduate Size: 6,699

Student Teacher Ratio: 7:1

% of Undergraduate Population in Economics: N/A but it is the largest major at Harvard

Graduate Degree in Economics? Yes: Masters and PHD

University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley): Berkeley, California

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It is no surprise that the best public university in the world has one of the best economics programs in the world. In fact, many believe the economics world is going through the “Berkeley Reformation.”

If you want to be a part one of the most forward thinking economics departments in the world, Berkeley is the school for you.

Fun Fact: When the econ department was founded it wasn’t even called “economics," it was called “Political Economy” and had only one faculty member! A lot has changed since then...

The Basics:

Top Universities Rank: 4

Admissions Rate: 17.5%

Cost of Attendance: In state: $34,972 USD Out of state: $61,654 USD

% of Students on Financial Aid: 65%

Average Starting Salary: $59,500 USD

Undergraduate Size: 27,496

Student Teacher Ratio: 17:1

% of Undergraduate Population in Economics: N/A

Graduate Degree in Economics? Yes: Masters and PHD

University of Chicago (UChicago): Chicago, Illinois

If you dream of winning a Nobel Prize in economics, you can increase your chances dramatically by attending UChicago. The university has produced 28 Nobel Prize winners in economics. More than any other school.

Fun Fact: Ever wanted to know about cheating as it applies to teachers and sumo wrestlers? You'll love UChicago. The author of Freakonomics, Steven Levitt, is a UChicago professor and he’s got all of your craziest economics questions covered.

The Basics:

Top Universities Rank: 7

Admissions Rate: 7.9%

Cost of Attendance: $71,559 USD

% of Students on Financial Aid: 69%

Average Starting Salary: $57,526 USD

Undergraduate Size: 5,844

Student Teacher Ratio: 5:1

% of Undergraduate Population in Economics: 24.04%

Graduate Degree in Economics? Yes: Masters and PHD

Columbia University: New York City, New York

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What better way to ensure you get a job on Wall Street than to actually study economics in the heart of New York City? Welcome to Columbia University.

Fun Fact: Don’t want a job on Wall Street? Don’t worry! Columbia’s got an awesome list of suggested econ course loads fit to your ideal career. Check out their sample program list to see which econ courses and career paths are right for you!

The Basics:

Top Universities Rank: 10

Admissions Rate: 6%

Cost of Attendance: $71,690 USD

% of Students on Financial Aid: 53%

Average Starting Salary: $59,200 USD

Undergraduate Size: 6,170

Student Teacher Ratio: 6:1

% of Undergraduate Population in Economics: N/A

Graduate Degree in Economics? Yes: Masters and PHD

University of Pennsylvania (UPenn): Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

While at UPenn you can pick between a B.S. from Wharton undergraduate or a B.A. from the College of Arts & Sciences. Having the flexibility to decide between a more business heavy degree and a more qualitative degree allows you to tailor your four years at Penn to fit your interests.

Fun Fact: When you enroll in Microeconomics 101, exam be prepared to do the “Econ Scream” to release your stress by shouting on the Junior Balcony at midnight before your first exam. Streaking is also permitted.

P.S. the student government considers this as the first official event of the year!

The Basics:

Top Universities Rank: 13

Admissions Rate: 9.4%

Cost of Attendance: $69,340 USD

% of Students on Financial Aid: 47%

Average Starting Salary: $59,300 USD

Undergraduate Size: 9,726

Student Teacher Ratio: 6:1

% of Undergraduate Population in Economics: N/A

Graduate Degree in Economics? Yes: Masters and PHD

European Universities

London School of Economics (LSE): London, England

It’s hard to have a bad economics program at a school that has the word “economics” in its name and LSE’s program does not disappoint. The school focuses on the more quantitative aspects of economics and it’s program is heavily job-oriented.

LSE is also a fantastic place for networking because of its proximity to London and its large amount of international students. If you want a fantastic economics program in the heart of a wonderful city, you will love LSE.

Fun Fact: Dream of being a billionaire? You’re in luck. LSE has educated the most billionaires than any other European university.

The Basics:

Top Universities Rank: 5

Admissions Rate: 37.1%

Cost of Attending: EU: $23,655 USD Non-EU: $32,712 USD

Financial Aid Available: Yes

Average Starting Salary: $43,086

Undergraduate Size: 4,700

Student Teacher Ratio: 3:1

% of Undergraduate Population in Economics: 14%

Graduate Degree in Economics? Yes: Masters and PHD

University of Oxford: Oxford, England

Oxford is very different from the rest of the unis on this list because it does not actually offer an economics degree. Instead, Oxford offers degrees in economics coupled with other subjects such as “Politics, Philosophy and Economics,” “Economics and Management,” and “History and Economics.”

The majority of Oxfords economics degrees focus on the more qualitative aspects of the subject so if you’re less interested in hard numbers and more interested in the “political economy” part of economics, Oxford is for you.

Fun Fact: Ever heard of the “invisible hand”? My guess is yes. The guy (Adam Smith) who wrote it went to Oxford.

The Basics:

Top Universities Rank: 8

Admissions Rate: 17.5%

Cost of Attending: EU: $22,955 USD Non-EU: $34,473 USD

Financial Aid Available: Yes

Average Starting Salary: $28,837 USD

Undergraduate Size: 11,603

Student Teacher Ratio: 2:1

% of Undergraduate Population in Economics: 8.5%

Graduate Degree in Economics? Yes: Masters and PHD

University of Cambridge: Cambridge, England

I know what you’re thinking, another university in England?? What can I say, the Brits know their economics and I couldn’t possibly leave Cambridge off the list. I mean, come on it’s Cambridge.

Cambridge’s econ program is notorious for covering a lot of ground in a little bit of time, while placing emphasis on in-depth knowledge of economics. The teaching tends to be very mathematical and the exams tend to be very theoretical. Sounds like the best of both worlds to me!

Fun Fact: It’s only fitting that the other hot shot economist went to Cambridge. #JohnMaynardKeynes

The Basics:

Top Universities Rank: 11

Admissions Rate: 21%

Cost of Attending: EU: $19,521 USD Non-EU: $32,486 USD

Financial Aid Available: Yes

Average Salary After 5 Years: $59,107 USD

Undergraduate Size: 12,220

Student Teacher Ratio: 2:1

% of Undergraduate Population in Economics: 4.5%

Graduate Degree in Economics? Yes: Masters and PHD

Bocconi University: Milan, Italy

The highest rated non-UK economics university is Bocconi University. If you want to go into finance, getting a degree from Bocconi will certainly help. The university has an excellent reputation for economics around the world. Bocconi offers 7 majors in English and luckily, economics is one of them.

Not to mention, eating pizza and gelato everyday will make stress-eating so much more fun (and delicious).

Fun Fact: Bocconi University gave out the [first economics degree] (https://registry.ibo.org/schools/8e7b0462-9cfb-4f41-859c-9737e0dc35b6) ever in Italy.

The Basics:

Top Universities Rank: 16

Admissions Rate: 39%

Cost of Attending: EU: $12,540 Non-EU: $25,567 USD

Financial Aid Available: Yes

Average Starting Salary: N/A

Undergraduate Size: 7,624

Student Teacher Ratio: 9:1

% of Undergraduate Population in Economics: N/A

Graduate Degree in Economics? Yes: Masters and PHD

Erasmus University Rotterdam (Erasmus): Rotterdam, Netherlands

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Erasmus is located in Rotterdam, the economics and logistics center of Europe. Due to its location and history, the university has a very large and influential network that you can tap into both during your studies and after. Plus, pretty much everyone in the country speaks English (unlike in Italy…)

Fun Fact: Erasmus is by far the cheapest university on this entire list proving that it’s totally possible to get an excellent education without breaking the bank.

The Basics:

Top Universities Rank: 44

Admissions Rate: 56%

Cost of Attending: EU: $8,624 USD Non-EU: $15,601 USD

Financial Aid Available: Yes

Average Starting Salary: $33,793 USD

Undergraduate Size: 13,281

Student Teacher Ratio: 7:1

% of Undergraduate Population in Economics: N/A

Graduate Degree in Economics? Yes: Masters and PHD

Final Thoughts

The best way to tell if an economics program is the right fit for you is to look at the courses each program offers and decide based on what program you think fits your style of learning and your preferred method of study.

Do you like the qualitative side of economics? Or are you more into numbers?

Would you prefer a large variety of classes? Or an in-depth study of a specific sector?

Asking yourself these questions ahead of time gives you a better chance of ending up at a university you love.

But, even if you don’t end up being an economist, at least you might learn why the prices of your precious avocados fluctuate so much!

Best of luck!

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