economics meeting

Bachelor of Arts in

Program summary

Gain insight into markets and economies by understanding how incentives affect human behavior. This online degree program focuses on social behavior and qualitative economics issues and is designed to give students the skills to succeed in the growing fields of economics and finance.

Application deadline

Apply by June 30 to start August 21

Credits and costs

120 Credits $620/$664 per credit

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Advance Your Career with an Online Degree in Economics

An increasing world population, the scarcity of resources and the growing need for social responsibility are very prominent issues that we currently face in society.  The importance of these areas has created a need for individuals that can understand the actions of society and create incentives that lead to welfare and sustainability.

Economics is the social science that aims to understand and predict human behavior by combining a strong education in liberal arts with a thorough understanding of mathematics and computer science.

In this program, you will have the opportunity to study with highly regarded faculty from Penn State's College of the Liberal Arts, one of the premier institutions in the world to study and work in the liberal arts disciplines. The curriculum of this program is designed to give you the tools to understand how incentives affect human behavior, markets, and economies so you can model real-life situations, effectively allocate resources, and map out the best outcomes.  

Along with giving you the benefit of a top-quality liberal arts education, Penn State’s Bachelor of Arts in Economics can provide you with the additional advantage of a solid foundation in the analytical knowledge of economics, as well as the skills to think more critically in your work for complex national and international organizations, and to manage change and social challenges effectively.

Expand Your Skills

With your bachelor of arts degree in economics, you can expand your career opportunities to work in diverse professional settings, with a varied set of professional responsibilities that could include:

  • examining trends, such as turnover rates, product cycles, or immigration to help make predictions about the future
  • carrying out quantitative analysis through surveys and data collection to understand and explain human behavior
  • advising the strategic leadership of any organization to maximize the payoff for all stakeholders
  • designing policies or making recommendations to optimize the use of resources in any project or plan

Who Should Apply?

A Bachelor of Arts in Economics may be most suitable for you if you wish to work in consulting or if you want to advance your career in the following fields:

  • government
  • health and environmental policy
  • public policy
  • small, medium or large businesses
  • nonprofit organizations (national and international)

Stepping-Stone for Your Long-Term Goals

The Bachelor of Arts in Economics program can offer you an excellent stepping-stone to graduate or specialized studies, especially in economics or law school.

Choose Your Focus in Economics

We offer both a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science in economics. Choose the one that best fits your career goals by deciding if you want to concentrate on the qualitative or quantitative aspects of the discipline.

  • The Bachelor of Arts in Economics is best suited for you if you want to focus on the qualitative aspect of economics. The program places a stronger emphasis on social behavior, culture, international relations, and foreign languages to prepare you for work in national or international organizations.
  • The Bachelor of Science in Economics seeks to help you develop solid analytical skills, especially in mathematic theory, research, and computer programming. It can provide you with the strong quantitative knowledge necessary to represent and interpret individual and group behavior through numerical concepts and models.

Online Education at Penn State

Penn State has a history of 100+ years of distance education and more than a decade of experience in online learning. We create an online learning environment that offers you the same quality education our residential students experience in a face-to-face setting. Learn more about Penn State World Campus


The Bachelor of Arts in Economics requires you to complete a minimum of 120 credits. 

If you are a transfer student, the number of credits you must take will vary according to the courses that transfer into the economics program. Once you are admitted to the program, your assigned academic adviser can help you select the remaining required courses.

A student enrolled in this major must receive a grade of C or better in all courses required for the major.

Prescribed Courses (18 credits)

  • 3

    Methods of economic analysis and their use; price determination; theory of the firm; distribution.

    • C or better

      A student enrolled in this course must receive a grade of C or better.

  • 3

    National income measurement; aggregate economic models; money and income; policy problems.

    • C or better

      A student enrolled in this course must receive a grade of C or better.

  • 3

    Basic statistical concepts used in economics. Topics include probability distributions, expectations, estimation, hypothesis testing, correlation, and simple regression. Students who have completed ECON 306 may not schedule this course.

    • C or better

      A student enrolled in this course must receive a grade of C or better.

  • 3

    Allocation of resources and distribution of income within various market structures, with emphasis on analytical tools.

    • Prerequisite

      ECON 102

    • C or better

      A student enrolled in this course must receive a grade of C or better.

  • 3

    Analysis of forces that determine the level of aggregate economic activity.

    • Prerequisite

      ECON 104

    • C or better

      A student enrolled in this course must receive a grade of C or better.

  • 3

    The implementation of statistical techniques to analyze data and address economic questions. Econometric results are produced and assessed.

    • Prerequisite

      ECON 106

    • C or better

      A student enrolled in this course must receive a grade of C or better.

Supporting Courses and Related Areas (select 18 credits)

For Supporting Courses, select 18 credits in economics 300- or 400-level with department approval, including at least 9 credits at the 400 level.

Additional 400-level courses are being developed. Please check with your adviser about their availability.

  • 3

    Economic analysis of employment, earnings, and the labor market; labor relations; related government policies.

    • Prerequisite

      ECON 102

  • 3

    Why nations trade, barriers to trade, balance of payments adjustment and exchange rate determination, eurocurrency markets, and trade-related institutions.

    • Prerequisite

      ECON 102, ECON 104 or ECON 014

  • 3

    Money, credit, commercial and central banking, financial intermediaries, treasury operations, monetary theory and policy, and foreign exchange. Students who have already taken ECON 451 may not schedule this course.

    • Prerequisite

      ECON 102 or ECON 104

  • 3

    Development and application of the tools for decision making under uncertainty and for game theoretic analysis of economic problems.

    • Prerequisite

      ECON 302 and ECON 106 or SCM 200 or STAT 200

  • 3

    Analytic and policy aspects of public expenditure decisions; applications from areas of contemporary public interest.

    • Prerequisite

      ECON 302 or ECON 323

  • 3

    Environmental pollution, the market economy, and optimal resource allocation; alternative control procedures; levels of environmental protection and public policy.

    • Prerequisite

      ECON 302 or ECON 323

  • 3

    Causes/consequences of trade; effects of tariffs and quotas; strategic trade policy; political economy of trade restrictions and other topics.

    • Prerequisite

      ECON 302 or ECON 333

  • 3

    Trade balance movements, exchange rate determination; monetary and fiscal policies in open economies; international policy coordination; the world monetary system.

    • Prerequisite

      ECON 304 or ECON 333

  • 3

    Problems of capital formation, institutional considerations, theories of economic growth.

    • Prerequisite

      ECON 302 or ECON 304 or ECON 372

Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements

Some Bachelor of Arts requirements may be satisfied by courses required for the major, General Education courses, or electives. Students should work with an adviser to select courses.

  • Foreign Language: 0–12 credits
    Student must attain 12th credit level of proficiency in one foreign language.
  • B.A. Fields: 9 credits
    Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arts, Foreign Languages, Natural Sciences, Quantification (cannot be taken in the area of the student's primary major; foreign language credits in this category must be in a second foreign language or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the first language)
  • Other Cultures: 0–3 credits
    Select 3 credits from approved list. Students may count courses in this category in order to meet other major, minor, elective, or General Education requirements, except for the General Education US/IL requirement.​

General Education Requirements

Some General Education requirements may be satisfied by courses required for the major. Students should work with an adviser to select courses.

  • Arts (GA): 6 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 6 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 9 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits
    A student must receive a grade of C or better in GWS courses.
  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
    A student must receive a grade of C or better in GQ courses.
  • Integrative Studies: 6 credits
    This requirement only applies to students starting in summer 2018 or later. Learn more about the Integrative Studies options and consult your academic adviser when choosing courses to fulfill these requirements. Integrative Studies credits may be completed within the thirty Knowledge Domain credits and must be completed with either Inter-domain or Linked courses, not a combination of both.

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.

Costs and Financial Aid

Undergraduate Tuition

Undergraduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register and the number of total credits you have accrued at or transferred to Penn State. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.

2022–23 Academic Year Rates

How many credits do you plan to take per semester? If you have 59 or fewer credits If you have 60 or more credits
11 or fewer $620 per credit $664 per credit
12 or more $7,527 per semester $8,125 per semester

Financial Aid and Military Benefits

Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.

How to Apply

Deadlines and Important Dates

Your degree application, including receipt of all transcripts, must be received by the following deadlines to be considered complete.

  • Fall DeadlineApply by June 30 to start August 21
  • Spring DeadlineApply by October 31 to start January 8
  • Summer DeadlineApply by March 15, 2024, to start May 13, 2024

New students are encouraged to complete the FAFSA by March 1. Please visit the Office of Student Aid website for more information about applying for financial aid and recommended deadlines.

Admissions Help

Thank you for your interest in applying to this program. Contact an admissions counselor to discuss your educational goals, financial aid options, and application deadlines.

Admission Requirements 

To apply for this program, you must be a high school graduate, or have completed your GED. 

Entrance-to-Major Requirements

In order to declare economics as your major, you must complete the ECON 102 and ECON 104 courses with a grade of C or better.

What You Need

Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee. You will need the following items to complete your application:

High school transcripts or GED transcript - First-year applicants are required to submit Self-Reported Academic Records (SRAR). Official high school transcripts will only be required at the time a student accepts an offer of admission to Penn State.

Official college or university transcripts, if you attended another institution, and/or official military transcripts (if applicable). (All college or university transcripts are required regardless of the length of time that has passed, the grades earned, or the accreditation of the institutions attended. Acceptance of transfer credit toward your degree is subject to final approval by the academic department. For detailed information, see the Transfer Students page.)

Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Please send your transcripts by mail or electronically through Parchment, eScrip-Safe, or the National Student Clearinghouse directly to Penn State from the college/university where coursework was attempted.

Submit official documents by mail to:

Undergraduate Admissions Office
The Pennsylvania State University
201 Shields Building
University Park PA 16802

English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Language Proficiency section on the Undergraduate Admissions International Requirements page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.

Start Your Application

Former Penn State students may not need to complete the admissions application. Please visit our Returning Students page for instructions. 

If this is your first time applying to Penn State, you'll need to complete the following steps:

  1. Review the application instructions before beginning.
  2. Complete the online application and submit all official documents.
  3. Pay the application fee.

Checking Your Status

You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form and choosing "MyPennState — Check Application Status." Your decision letter (confirming your acceptance or denial) will be mailed four to six weeks after receipt of all application materials. An admissions counselor will contact you if additional information is required.

Technical Requirements 

Review the technical requirements for this degree program.

Ready to Learn More?

Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.

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Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State bachelor's degree?

Apply by June 30 to start August 21. How to Apply

Start or Advance Your Career

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You can use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue careers in a variety of fields, depending on your goals.

Job Titles Related to This Degree

The following roles are often held by people with this type of degree:

  • Economic Analyst
  • Market Analyst
  • Research Analyst

Employment Outlook for Occupational Fields Related to This Degree

Estimates of employment growth and total employment are provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and are subject to change. While these occupations are often pursued by graduates with this degree, individual outcomes may vary depending on a variety of factors. Penn State World Campus cannot guarantee employment in a given occupation.

Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists

employment growth (10 years)
total employment


employment growth (10 years)
total employment

Career Services to Set You Up for Success

Student having a virtual meeting on a laptop with a career counselor

From the day you're accepted as a student, you can access resources and tools provided by Penn State World Campus Career Services to further your career. These resources are beneficial whether you're searching for a job or advancing in an established career.

  • Opportunities to connect with employers
  • Career counselor/coach support
  • Occupation and salary information
  • Internships
  • Graduate school resources 

Contact Us

To learn more about the Bachelor of Arts in Economics, offered in partnership with the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts, please contact:

World Campus Admissions Counselors
Phone: 814-863-5386
Email: [email protected]


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    Dr. Austin Boyle is an assistant teaching professor of economics whose areas of interest and research include teaching and learning, housing markets, and walkability.

  • David Brown

    • Degree
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    • Degree
      B.A., Economics; B.A., Computer Science, Hastings College

    Dr. David Brown serves as the director of the Undergraduate Studies program in the Department of Economics.

  • Jaime Brown

    • Degree
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    • Degree
      B.A., Economics, Hastings College

    Jaime Brown has taught Introductory Microeconomics, Introductory Macroeconomics, Labor Economics, and International Economics. She is especially interested in helping students see how economics connects to current events and other "hot topic" issues (immigration, gender wage gap, etc.).

  • Katherine S. Coll

    • Degree
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    • Degree
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    Katherine S. Coll is an assistant teaching professor of economics. She teaches a variety of economics courses, including principles and intermediate microeconomics, macroeconomics, international trade, development, and labor economics. Her research interests focus on health care economics, with a special interest in the pharmaceutical industry. In 2017, she received the Filippelli Institute Award for Excellence in Online Teaching.

  • William Goffe

    • Degree
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    Dr. William Goffe is an associate teaching professor of economics whose interests include pedagogy and computational economics.

  • Paul Kagundu

    • Degree
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    Dr. Paul Kagundu is associate director of the Undergraduate Studies program in the Department of Economics and a teaching professor of economics. His interests include development economics, public finance, and economics pedagogy.

  • Pitchayaporn "Peach" Tantihkarnchana
    • Degree
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      M.S., Economics, Washington State University
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      B.A., Economics, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

    Dr. Pitchayaporn "Peach" Tantihkarnchana is an assistant teaching professor of economics. Her areas of interest and research include environmental law, environmental and natural resources, and land development.


Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State bachelor's degree?

Apply by June 30 to start August 21. How to Apply