Top 5 Online Associate in Economics Programs for 2019

An online associate degree in economics prepares students to enter postsecondary programs with training in basic financial principles and markets. Graduates can pursue entry-level jobs in fields such as accounting, banking, insurance, and real estate. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for associate-degree holders is $51,050, compared to $37,110 for high school diploma holders.

Associate degree occupations are projected to rise 8.7% by 2024. An associate degree in economics holder is prepared to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business, public administration, and economics, providing greater employment and salary potential.



Foothill College Los Altos Hills, California

Foothill offers an online associate degree in economics that requires students to be proficient in English and mathematics or complete recommended remedial courses. This 90-unit program includes general education requirements, 18 units of core courses, and 12 units of support classes. The curriculum covers a variety of topics, including microeconomics and macroeconomics, political economy, the global economy, calculus, and elementary statistics.

Students can also enroll in four independent study courses, where they learn one-on-one with an instructor. In these cases, students typically study material from a syllabus that was co-designed by the student and their supervising instructor. All students must earn a minimum GPA of 2.0 in all core and support courses to graduate. Foothill is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.


West Valley College Saratoga, California

WVC offers an AA in economics that emphasizes public policy and the global marketing as well as practical and theoretical analysis. The program includes two core courses on micro- and macroeconomics, while the rest of the curriculum is comprised of a wide variety of elective classes. These electives cover several topics, including anthropology, comparative governments, human growth and development, psychology, and American government.

Students earning their online degree in economics at WVC are in a unique position to study issues such as unemployment, inflation, the stock market, and pollution with dedicated faculty members who are all experts in their fields. Distance learners at WVC have access to a broad range of student support services, including counseling services, tutorials, health services, and remote access to online library materials. WVC is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.


Palo Alto College San Antonio, Texas

Palo Alto offers an online degree in economics that teaches students how to identify economic trend and understand major economic principles. Graduates are prepared to pursue entry-level careers in the field or to continue their education in a bachelor's degree program. The 60-credit curriculum includes 42 credits of general education requirements and 18 credits of major economics coursework. Core courses cover a variety of topics, including micro- and macroeconomics, financial accounting, business computer applications, and economic geography and global issues.

Financial aid is available through the Alamo Colleges Foundation, need-based federal scholarships, and numerous other private committees and organizations. The school accepts transfer scholarships from a long list of colleges located in Texas. Palo Alto has an open door admissions policy with no admissions requirements like minimum entrance exam scores, minimum GPA, or class ranking. Palo Alto is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.


Barton County Community College Great Bend, Kansas

Barton offers an online associate degree in economics that is ideal for students who want to transfer into a four-year bachelor's program. This 64-credit associate degree in economics can be completed in four semesters by enrolling in 16 to 17 credits each semester. The curriculum includes courses on a variety of topics, such as microeconomics and macroeconomics, general accounting, and managerial accounting. Students can also customize their degree with a variety of elective courses.

Students pursuing an online associate degree in economics at Barton have access to various online resources including live tutoring sessions, psychological and emotional counseling, and disability services. Applicants to this online economics degree program who do not have SAT, ACT, ACCUPLACER, or ASSET scores must take the BARTonline placement exam to be considered. Barton is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


College of Southern Idaho Twin Falls, Idaho

CSI offers an AA in economics with concentrations in business economics and social science. All students enroll in the same core courses over their first two semesters. Beginning in the third semester, students begin enrolling in concentration coursework. Business students study topics like financial accounting, statistics, and international economics, while social science students focus their studies on philosophy, ethics, and an additional course on western civilization.

Students in each concentration must also choose two humanities and science courses from outside disciplines as electives. This 65-credit can be completed in just four semesters. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to be considered. The school strongly recommends that students meet with an academic adviser before registering for classes. CSI is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

How to Choose an Online Associate in Economics Program

An online associate degree in economics requires students to complete approximately 60-credits, which typically takes about two years. The curriculum includes coursework in micro and macroeconomics, statistics, accounting, budget analysis, and financial planning. Students are expected to complete general curriculum coursework in English, natural science, and the humanities. An online economics degree prepares students for entry-level positions and to earn an advanced degree. Many schools have articulation agreements with four-year institutions, which allows students to easily transfer credits. Learners should figure out what they need from a program. Some online program might have on-campus requirements or synchronous components. Students with a busy schedule should look for asynchronous, completely-online programs.

Educational Paths

An online associate degree in economics provides the foundation for numerous bachelor's programs, which can lead to careers in business, accounting, economics, and public administration.

  • Economics

    A bachelor’s degree in economics would require an additional two years of coursework. Upper division economics courses are specialized and delve into aspects of economic theory, market analysis, and legal and philosophical principles of finance.

  • Business Management

    An online economics associate degree provides a foundation for an advanced business management degree. Bachelor’s degrees in business management vary and can include an emphasis in economics, finance, organizational behavior, international economics, entrepreneurship, and computer technology in economics.

  • Accounting

    A bachelor's in accounting trains students in analytical and managerial aspects of accounting. The knowledge in financial principles and business practices obtained from an online associate degree in economics usually fulfills general education requirements for a bachelor's program.

  • Public Administration

    A bachelor's degree in public administration prepares students for careers in public policy and management and includes coursework in financial leadership, policy analysis, and regional planning.

Career Paths for Economics Graduates

Graduates of an online associate degree in economics enjoy occupations in banking and finance, as well as in entry-level business fields. Bank, audit, and accounting clerks benefit from earning an economics degree and are able to acquire experience relevant to their field. Entry-level sales, marketing, and office positions are also available to economic associate degree earners. All of these positions allow for upward mobility and opportunities for continued study.

Bank Teller

Bank tellers offer customer service to bank customers as well as basic financial exchanges and interactions. They provide customers with financial information and participate in numerous transactions daily. They may also take part in sales at their banking institution.

Median Salary: $11.74 per hour/ $24,000 per year

Audit Clerk

An audit clerk works in an office setting. They verify, standardize, and review financial documents. Audit clerks help regulate documentation according to rules, procedures, and policies, which may vary by state and/or field.

Median Salary: $16.21 per hour/$33,000 per year

Sales Associate

Sales associate responsibilities change according to the products or services that they sell. They maintain records of their economic activities, monitor stocks, make recommendations to clients, and recruit new customers.

Median Salary: $33,000

Accounting Clerk

An accounting clerk keeps, records, and calculates financial and revenue information within an office setting. Accounting clerks may also participate in duties such as data entry and filing.

Median Salary: $16.21 per hour/$33,000 per year

Office Manager

An office manager keeps financial, personnel, and organizational records in an office setting. This includes overseeing clerical staff and interoffice and external communication. Other responsibilities include ordering supplies, allocating space for the business, and preparing budgets.

Median Salary: $45,124

Job Outlook and Salary

An online associate degree in economics opens opportunities for career advancement and the degree is ideal for students who already hold a job in the field.


An economics degree online allows students to obtain experience through an entry-level position. Experience generally leads to higher pay, as illustrated by the table below.

To determine the best online associate in economics programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school's commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the 10 best online associate in economics programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school's ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category's ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.