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Bachelor of Science inEconomics

Program summary

Focus on analytical strategies and mathematical theory as you gain the skills employers seek in the growing, in-demand fields of economics with the course work available through this online degree program.

Application deadline

Apply by March 15 to start May 13

Credits and costs

120 Credits$626/$671 per credit

Nationally Recognized

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Our bachelor's degrees are highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

Move Ahead in Your Profession with an Online Degree in Economics

Reducing costs, being sustainable, and performing effectively — these are all issues that many business and organizations face today. Thus, there is an increasing need for professionals with strong analytical and problem-solving skills that can help make their organizations more efficient.

A degree in economics can provide you with the knowledge necessary to view and describe society and organizations from an analytical perspective. Economics is the social science that aims to understand human behavior not only by using psychology or sociology, but also by studying society through mathematics and statistics. The curriculum of this program is designed to teach you to think critically and analytically in order to make or recommend decisions, allocate resources, and solve complex issues. 

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. This degree can provide you with the knowledge about mathematical models and statistical techniques and an understanding about how incentives affect human behavior, markets, and economies, so you can design solutions that utilize resources effectively and lead to the most optimal outcomes.

Gain Practical Skills

With your bachelor of science degree in economics, you could obtain a position requiring you to perform such tasks as the following:

  • understand and forecast market trends to predict how they will impact your business
  • determine pricing policies for products in order to maximize your organization’s profits
  • evaluate the impact of the economic environment on the bottom line of any organization
  • advise and make recommendations to management about key strategic decisions
  • collect and analyze data using spreadsheets, statistical software, and computer programs to understand preferences and design incentives

Who Should Apply?

You could be an ideal candidate for this program if you have a strong analytical or programming background, and are accustomed to using numerical data to describe and understand many situations. The curriculum of the bachelor of science degree places a strong emphasis on mathematics, statistics, and programming; the most successful candidates will be those who are passionate about quantitative analysis.

Consider Your Future

The Bachelor of Science in Economics can offer you excellent preparation for your graduate studies in economics or business, such as our online Master of Business Administration (iMBA).

Choose Your Path in Economics

We offer both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Economics. Both programs offer a strong economics foundation and have the same required core curriculum.

Your choice may depend on your future career goals and whether you want to focus on additional mathematical theory or foreign languages and international relations.

  • The Bachelor of Science in Economics program requires additional math and computer science courses to help students develop a deeper focus on mathematical models, allowing them to develop solid analytical skills, especially in mathematics theory, statistics, research, and computer programming.
  • The Bachelor of Arts in Economics program requires additional courses in a foreign language, which will prepare students to create an economic focus aimed at social behavior, culture, and international relations in preparation for work with national or global organizations.

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.

Courses

The Bachelor of Science 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
    credits

    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
    credits

    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
    credits

    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
    credits

    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
    credits

    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
    credits

    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.

Additional Courses (select 7–8 credits)

    • 3
      credits

      Fundamentals of computational thinking, including reasoning about problems at multiple levels of abstraction, and analyzing code for its behavior, efficiency, and correctness.

      • Prerequisite

        2 entrance units in mathematics

    • or:
      4
      credits

      Design, use, and programming of spreadsheets and data bases with applications from a range of disciplines.

      • Note

        not currently offered online through World Campus.

    • 4
      credits

      Introduces and develops the mathematical skills required for analyzing change, and the underlying mathematical behaviors that model real-life economics and financial applications. Develops student knowledge of calculus techniques, and how to use a calculus framework to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

      • Prerequisite

        MATH 022 or satisfactory performance on the mathematics placement examination

    • or:
      4
      credits

      Introduces and develops the mathematical skills required for analyzing change and creating mathematical models that replicate real-life phenomena. Develops student knowledge of calculus techniques and how to use the calculus environment to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

      • Prerequisite

        MATH 22 and MATH 26 or MATH 26 and satisfactory performance on the mathematics placement examination or MATH 40 or MATH 41 or satisfactory performance on the mathematics placement examination.

Supporting Courses and Related Areas (select 30 credits)

  • Select 18 credits in economics 300- or 400-level with department approval, including at least 9 credits at the 400 level
  • Select 3 credits in Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Select 6 credits in Arts, Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Select 3 credits in Quantification

Courses should be selected from the department Supporting Courses list.

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

  • 3
    credits

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

    • Prerequisite

      ECON 102

  • 3
    credits

    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
    credits

    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
    credits

    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
    credits

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

    • Prerequisite

      ECON 302 or ECON 323

  • 3
    credits

    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
    credits

    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
    credits

    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
    credits

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

    • Prerequisite

      ECON 302 or ECON 304 or ECON 372

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.

  • Foundations: 15 credits  
    All courses require a grade of C or better. Inter-Domain courses may not be used for foundations requirements. 
    • Writing/Speaking: 9 credits 
    • Quantification: 6 credits 
      3-6 credits are selected from mathematics, applied mathematics, and statistics; 3 credits may be selected from computer science or symbolic logic. 
  • Knowledge Domains: 15 credits  
    Inter-Domain courses may not be used for knowledge domain requirements.
    • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits 
    • Natural Sciences (GN): 3 credits 
    • Arts (GA): 3 credits 
    • Humanities (GH): 3 credits 
    • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 3 credits  
  • Integrative Studies: 6 credits
    • Inter-Domain course work: 6 credits  
  • Exploration: 9 credits 
    • Natural Sciences (GN) (may be Inter-Domain): 3 credits
    • GA, GH, GN, GS, and Inter-Domain courses: 6 credits  
      May include 3 credits of World Language course work beyond the requirements of the student’s degree program or at the 12th credit level, whichever is higher.

These General Education Requirements are for students who started in summer 2023 or later. Students who started earlier can review the prior version of the general education requirements

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.

2023–24 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?If you have 59 or fewer creditsIf you have 60 or more credits
11 or fewer$626 per credit$671 per credit
12–19$7,602 per semester$8,206 per semester

Undergraduate students taking more than 19 credits will be charged the flat tuition rate plus the regular per credit hour rate for each credit above 19. 

2024–25 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?If you have 59 or fewer creditsIf you have 60 or more credits
11 or fewer$632 per credit$678 per credit
12–19$7,678 per semester$8,288 per semester

Undergraduate students taking more than 19 credits will be charged the flat tuition rate plus the regular per credit hour rate for each credit above 19. 

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.

  • Summer DeadlineApply by March 15 to start May 13
  • Fall DeadlineApply by June 30 to start August 26
  • Spring DeadlineApply by October 31 to start January 13

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?

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

Apply by March 15 to start May 13. 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

13.4%
employment growth (10 years)
798,620
total employment

Economists

6.3%
employment growth (10 years)
16,370
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 Science 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]

Faculty

  • Austin Boyle

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Economics, Florida State University
    • Degree
      B.A., Florida Atlantic University

    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
      Ph.D., Economics, Kansas State University
    • 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
      M.A., Economics, Kansas State University
    • 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
      M.A., Economics, University of Delaware
    • Degree
      B.A., Economics and Mathematics, Salisbury University

    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
      Ph.D., Economics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    • Degree
      B.A., Math and Economics, University of Virginia

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

  • Paul Kagundu

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Economics, Georgia State University
    • Degree
      M.S., Economics, University of North Texas
    • Degree
      B.S., Economics, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda

    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
      Ph.D., Economics, Washington State University
    • Degree
      M.S., Economics, Washington State University
    • Degree
      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.

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

Apply by March 15 to start May 13. How to Apply