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MA in Economics

Would a MA in Economics be a total waste of time vs an MBA? I’m thinking about options down the road and think that Economics is a lot more interesting than a re-hash of CFA material+marketing. I know that an MBA is undoubtably better for networking but I just don’t want to go that route…

[Yes, I’ve used the search feature, just looking for some fresh insights…]

What career paths might be open with an MA in Eco, assuming it were a top school? (Plus by then hopefully I’ll have the CFA knocked out…) Commodity analyst? Strategist? Economist?

Does anyone here have said degree?

Thanks in advance!

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War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.

- Ambrose Bierce
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With either degree, what matters is the recruiting facilities of the school. Talk to people and see where they generally get placed. Some MA in Econ programs focus less on financial markets and more on gov’t budgeting or welfare econ.

I concur - recruiting is key. Since I’m in NYC, the logical choice (assuming I could get in!) would be NYU since they have a great department with a terminal MA program that supposedly is more professionally oriented than academically oriented. As far as course content, there seems to be a good variety plus you can take 3 classes at Stern towards the degree. (I’m sure Stern doesn’t allow access to recruiting though seeing as how they don’t even let PT MBA students access it.)

Hypothetically, it seems like MA in Econ would be great background for a lot of career paths…but it’s unclear if employers think the same.

Does anyone know much about the Econ MA recruiting @ NYU? They gave a list of places their alums work but don’t talk much about recruiting or placement rates in detail.

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War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.

- Ambrose Bierce
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Call someone in the career office. I’m sure they’ll tell you or send something.

Most importantly, it depends on what you want to do and the recruiting of the school.

If you want to be a commodity analyst, you probably don’t need a graduate degree to pull that off. If you want to be an economic analyst, quant, or strat, I can see the MA helping. The rub is that the MA Econ degree is like a degree between an MBA and a MS in Math Finance. You do a lot of math and statistics in economics, but not as much as Math Finance. You’ll probably have as much knowledge as an MBA (especially with the CFA or a couple of levels done), but you don’t fit into a cookie cutter that makes it necessarily easy to recruit. Also, MBAs have more work experience on average than MA Econ do and for the same quality of school, the MBA gets paid more straight out of school.

I would say that if you want to be a PM, it is safer to go with an MBA (but CFA and MA will help). If you want to be a quant, get the MS. The good thing about the MA is that you can take parts of both of those (if you can take a lot of electives) and have a jack of all trades understanding of all of them.

If you’re really passionate about Economics, I would recommend getting a job in NYC and convincing your employer to pay for a part-time degree at NYU.

Yeah that’s probably a good idea…I’d rather hear from current students or alums though, but they might be more willing to talk with me once I (a) apply and (b) get accepted.

I’ll post details once I get around to calling them…

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War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.

- Ambrose Bierce
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Remember that the MBA includes information on marketing, organizational behavior, management, learning how to work in teams, etc.. For analyst and portfolio manager type jobs, these are sometimes considered irrelevant, and the CFA and Econ background is considered more directly applicable.

However, these other skills are valuable, and people that don’t have them can run into other issues especially if they have to interface with the “business” part of the asset management business.

You want a quote?  Haven’t I written enough already???

bchadwick - I agree that those are valuable skills but I don’t know if an MBA is the only way to acquire them, especially in the context of asset management. I’m sure an MBA is useful in those areas but I like the idea of getting more in depth into econ than the typical MBA program will go. The big issue for me, as discussed above, is recruiting - will the degree pay off?

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War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.

- Ambrose Bierce
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I’m an alum from the NYU program.

As to whether the degree pays off, life is about tradeoffs given uncertainty. I can’t predict the future for you. Would most people I know from the program, if given the chance to do it over again, do so? I would probably say yes.

jmh530,

if you don’t mind me asking, what area do you work in now? what was your experience with recruiting and finding a job - are there good resources available? do you think that it would be feasible to do the program on a part time basis, and would that adversely affect recruiting/job opportunities? also, did you take any courses through stern, and were they useful/interesting? as far as admissions, how competitive would you say it is?

sorry for the barrage of questions ;) just trying to figure out if the program is something i should seriously consider…i like the idea of further study in economics because it’s something i really enjoy. so that in itself would be rewarding, but i’m also trying to weigh real world issues to see if it makes sense in my situation.

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War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.

- Ambrose Bierce
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if you are only interesested in business opportunities (ouside of academia / public sector), I would have to say a reputable MBA would be a better choice. That said, working as an economist for a: bank, brokerage firm, hedge fund, asset management firm, etc. would definitely be an option.

"Let's face it son, some people just don't belong"

yeah i dunno, i just like the idea of getting an economics degree more than getting an MBA. i mean with an MBA there would be more opportunities but i just don’t see any point in getting the cfa and an mba. i’m actually interested in economics, whereas marketing and management really don’t appeal to me very much.

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War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.

- Ambrose Bierce
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I hate to say this but, you have to pursue whatever gets you to your desired end state, or at least provides you with the best options around the general idea of your deisred end state. Having to take 1 marketing class, 1 operations class, and 1 organizational behavior class is really not such a big deal, and should not be the focal point of your decision. You could take 90% finance related classes in the end (especially in certain programs).

If you are truly interested ONLY in economics, then I think you know the answer to your question, and your ultimate career goals.

"Let's face it son, some people just don't belong"

Well you can always get an MBA with a focus in Economics and take any stat courses there instead of the business school.

I’m a trader trying to get a job as an economist.

I think part-time with your company paying for it is the best way to do it or do it while working another job.

I took risk management systems and bankruptcy at Stern and Derivatives at Courant. Learned a lot in all of them, but MBA classes are a little too much power point for me.

An MA degree or lack thereof is not a prerequisite to study economics. You can learn a lot about economics by just reading on your own. It’s much more about figuring out what you want and what you want to do with the degree. That’s much more important than anything I can tell you. My advice mirrors Gecco, if you want to go into asset management, safe bet is to just get an MBA. If you want to be a macro trader, strat, or economist, or whatever, the MA may be for you.

Good luck with your job search and thanks for humoring my barrage of questions…

I can see what you mean about self-study, I’m a big fan of that and do a decent amount of reading on my own. I do like the idea of continuing my formal education in economics but maybe doing it part time would be best, especially if I can get my employer to chip in.

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War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.

- Ambrose Bierce
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What’s nice about an academic setting is the opportunity to be oriented by people who understand the debates and different approaches used in economics, and who typically have some experience bringing people up to speed and therefore know where the most common misunderstandings are for the newly initiated. When I talk to intelligent finance types, I am often struck by 1) how smart they are, and 2) how opaquely they speak about stuff (though admittedly some of that might be deliberate).

You want a quote?  Haven’t I written enough already???

even i feel doin a course in economics wud be a better idea…thinkin of doin one myself…..but i stay in abu dhabi and there isnt any post grad university offerin a course in eco here!!!!….though there a billion mba courses available…..NYU is going to start an Abu dhabi campus….but dunno if they will offer a course in economics…..another option is a distance learning course from univeristy of london…i.e….. MSc finance(major in economic policy)…..the course was called MSc in financial economics b4…and the content is titled towards economics for sure…….any suggestions guys!!!!

if you are interested in doing economics as a career, I think people are pretty “qualification sensitive” meaning they will definitely expect you to have a masters degree (at least). Most of the economists I work with have PhDs.

Self study is great for things like CFA, but for formal academic training (esp econ), go full time and go brand heavy.

"Let's face it son, some people just don't belong"

Gecco,

What is your rationale behind full time vs part time? Do you really think that would have a big impact? I guess it might help to get an internship if you’re a career-changer.

I know that most people would say full time is the way to go for an MBA, just wondering if the same rationale applies here.

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War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.

- Ambrose Bierce
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I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t do this all for the money, but for the fact that I actually enjoy it. If you become knowledgeable about something, more than most, you will be qualified for that job. I think there are two sides to it:

1) the guys above me have nailed it - what you want to be plays a major role and this leads into my next, new point…

2) what are you credentials as of now? I am going through the same decision although I’m planning on moving forwards 2-3 years from now so I have much thought to go, but..

the way I see it is, because I already have a BBA, which has taught me intermediate marketing, hr, operations management, and I obviously chose to take a concentration in accounting and finance, the material in an MBA would be mostly redundant and not useful considering I’m already a LII candidate in this program as well. So, if you have a BBA, don’t consider an MBA if you’re in finance. I’m heading the strategist route and will be taking an MA in Econ because I believe it will deliver alot more knowledge to me.

Based on your previous education and what you want to be, it should be an easy decision. Now i’m not a recruiter but my advice is to take what you think will deliver the most new knowledge, not what will advance your career, because one day, when you’re deep in your career you will either 1) not know something and get demoted or 2) feel unfulfilled because you took the money route instead of the enlightenment route.

Matt,

Thanks for your take on this. I’m in about the same place as you, except I’m taking level I this December, so grad school would be a few years out for sure. I have a BS in applied math and economics and really enjoy economics. My current job is pretty good but I think down the line I would like to get into the kinds of things that a grad econ degree would allow me to do - strategist, commodities analyst, economist (non-academic), macro trading, etc.

At this early stage I just have to see where I am in 2 years or so and see if it makes sense for me then, but I’m leaning towards going the MA route rather than MBA. I think there’s a good balance between it being something I enjoy as well as applicable to career paths that interest me. Sometimes it’s tough to just sit back for a while and let things happen…

Anyway, good luck in your endeavors.

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War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.

- Ambrose Bierce
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makes sense. sounds like our minds are made :D

if you have access to a really good part time program, there is no tradeoff. Just make sure you go to a top notch program.

"Let's face it son, some people just don't belong"

Can anyone shed some light on the career path of strategist/economist ? would they have a shot at becoming a portfolio manager or asset allocator?

i’m not very familiar with that career path, but i would imagine the answer is yes, although that’s probably a very roundabout way of becoming a PM. plus you have the issue of work experience - someone who’s been an analyst for a while is probably more likely to move into a PM position than an economist. not saying it’s impossible, just seems like it’s taking the long way.

please take this with a grain of salt though.

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War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.

- Ambrose Bierce
------------------------------------------------------------------

itmonkey, I wonder the same thing, because I’m better cut out for an economist/strategist role than analyst (where I’m not UNsuited, but it’s harder for me to stand out vs other candidates).

I do know that some strategist types do eventually get to PM. My sense is that this is less common in fundamental bottom-up shops, and more common in quant or tactical asset allocation shops. This is just my sense of things, not necessarily all that informed… would be interested in any one else’s.

You want a quote?  Haven’t I written enough already???