A master’s degree in economics is one of the most highly sought-after degrees, thanks to high employer demand and high earning potential.

Now college graduates, mid-career professionals and others can pursue their master’s degree in economics online through a new program from the University of Missouri.

“People can take the program at their own pace,” says Vitor Trindade, an associate professor of economics at MU. “They can pursue their careers and the program at the same time.” 

The new online program is an adaption of MU’s existing residential program, which The Financial Engineer and College Choice have both ranked as one of the very best in the country.

The program is the first of its kind in the region. No campus visits are required. Students can pursue their degrees, even as they continue to work full time.

“The program is 100-percent online,” Trindade says. “Students don't have to come to campus.”

Trindade says MU’s online economics degree stands out in terms of affordability and quality. Unlike other graduate degrees in economics, Mizzou’s program only charges students in-state tuition, regardless of where they live and work.

Successful graduates

Graduates of the online study option will enjoy success similar to alumni of the on-campus program. “We've had people that have become data analysts in banks, in foundations and in health care companies,” Trindade says. “We've had a person who became a financial analyst for the Kansas City Chiefs. One person went to work for the Korean National Assembly.”

One such successful graduate is Sean McCrary, who earned his master’s in economics in 2013 and went to work at the Federal Reserve Bank in St. Louis. McCrary is now pursuing his doctorate in economics at the University of Pennsylvania.

“I have used the economic insights and programming skills I learned at Mizzou in my roles as a research associate at the Federal Reserve and now as a PhD student,” McCrary says.

“As either a stepping stone towards a PhD program, or as a means to make your application stand out to potential employers, the MA program provides the skills needed to advance your career,” McCrary says.

Student experience

MU’s online master’s in economics delivers a big-picture understanding of the global market. Students learn to analyze large data sets, especially those related to international trade and finance, economic development and the public sectors.

The program provides students with opportunity to conduct research under real conditions. “It's a very hands-on program,” Trindade says. “Students take a data set and analyze it to get real-world conclusions.”

MU’s Department of Economics is a vibrant, collaborative environment where students feel comfortable knocking on professors’ doors. “People talk about research a lot,” Trindade says. “Contrary to what people might think, professors love to interact with their students.”

Apply today

The online master’s program is currently accepting applications for the fall 2018 semester. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. GRE scores are not required.

Successful completion of the program requires 30 credit hours. Students can take one or two classes each semester, including summers, and finish their degree in two years.

“The schedule is flexible,” Trindade says. “If you want to get a head start and do it really fast, you have that prerogative.”

Whether you’re a fresh graduate of a bachelor’s degree program or a mid-career professional, the key factor to success in economics is an appetite for learning. 

“Be really curious,” Trindade says. “Ask a lot of questions.”

If you have questions about Mizzou’s online master’s degree in economics, visit online.missouri.edu/econ-ma.

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Travis and Sara Inman


Sara Inman came back to school for professional advancement and her husband, Travis, pursued graduate education in order to change careers completely. Mizzou made available the access they needed at just the right time in their lives.

“Travis and Sara represent the growing number of nontraditional students who obtain an initial degree, join the workforce, and later return to higher education to pursue a different career,” said MU Chancellor Alexander Cartwright Nov. 15 in a speech marking his first 100 days with Mizzou.

Sara and Travis are examples of success in the University’s land-grant mission of providing access to a world-class education. Sara, a health care professional at the Missouri Orthopedics Institute, is pursuing an online master’s in health administration (MHA). Travis, a former Missouri state trooper, is working toward a dual master’s degree in veterinary medicine and public health (DVM/MPH).

Career ambitions

Sara comes from a small town in southwest Missouri. Her high school class had just 26 students. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the College of the Ozarks and has worked in health care for 10 years.

Online study is helping her reach her lifelong goal of obtaining a master’s degree. “I never imagined I would make it this far with higher education. But I thought, ‘Why not?’ I can keep going,” Sara said.

Travis was a Missouri Highway Patrol trooper. Like many mid-career adults, he had changing career ambitions. He came to Mizzou to fulfill his dream of becoming a veterinarian.

To better serve nontraditional students like the Inmans, Mizzou has been making online degree programs and other customized learning experiences available for 20-plus years.

“MU’s innovative educators know that many students need to come back to pursue professional and graduate credentials in the context of their life circumstances and at a pace convenient for them,” Cartwright said.

Awareness of adult learners’ needs is important. “There can be a lot of anxiety for nontraditional students,” Travis said. “But I’m here to say Mizzou offers a lot of support for us.”

Online study is part of that support. “It gave me the flexibility to continue my full-time job,” Sara said. “We also have a 4-year-old daughter, so I was able to go to school and still take care of her at the same time.”

Online options

Whether on campus or online, working professionals like Travis and Sara reach their full potential with MU. Stories like theirs “illustrate the fact that there are many pathways our students take to achieve their personal goals,” Cartwright said. “Like life, those pathways are not linear.”

Sara’s degree program, the online executive MHA, helps health care professionals integrate their clinical competencies with managerial skills. The program prepares students like Sara prepare for leadership positions in health care.

Travis is pursuing his dual degree on campus. However, starting in fall 2018, Mizzou grad students will be able to enroll in a new, 100-percent online master’s program in veterinary public health. Applications are being accepted now and the classes begin August.

MU is helping couples like Travis and Sara become #MizzouMade right when they need it. If you’re a mid-career professional and you want to take your career higher or in a new direction, see what MU’s 100+ online degrees and certificates can do for you.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment of accountants and auditors will grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.

The market for bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks is in the doldrums, however, shedding 23,500 jobs in the same period.

The good news is, working professionals can level up their education and leverage their experience into higher-paying, in-demand jobs in accounting.

Median pay for accountants and auditors was $68,150 in 2016; here in Missouri, the average annual wage for these professions as $70,530.

The BLS points out that, while most accountants and auditors need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field, the certified public accountant (CPA) credential can improve job prospects.

To become a CPA in the United States, you must pass the Uniform CPA Examination. In most states, you also must complete 150 credit hours of college course work to be a licensed CPA.

Vairam ArunachalamVairam Arunachalam, director of the MU School of Accountancy and PricewaterhouseCoopers/Joseph A. Silvoso Distinguished Professor of Accountancy.

CPA candidates typically fulfill this requirement with a bachelor’s degree – 120 credit hours of undergraduate study – and a 30-credit-hour master’s degree

Employer demand for CPAs is very strong. At the University of Missouri, 95 percent graduates of the master of accountancy program find full-time jobs in accounting upon graduation.

Working professionals who want to advance their careers might be wary of going back to school. How do you balance the demands of graduate study with a full-time job? Luckily, online study is increasingly an option.

Beginning in August 2018, career professionals can earn their master of accountancy (MAcc) from MU entirely online.

“Making our degree available online gives students and working professionals the chance to be part of a nationally ranked program and broadens their access to an extensive network of faculty and accounting industry peers,” says Vairam Arunachalam, director of the MU School of Accountancy and PricewaterhouseCoopers/Joseph A. Silvoso Distinguished Professor of Accountancy.      

“This high demand presents the perfect opportunity for students,” Arunachalam says. “They can pursue graduate education knowing their skills will be needed.”

Students with full-time jobs can take one class each semester and finish the MU program in about three years.

As with all online graduate programs at MU, students in the new online MAcc will pay in-state tuition regardless of residency.

The program is currently accepting applications for the fall 2018 semester. If want to become a certified public accountant (CPA), or if you’re ready to move up a level or advance to a leadership role in your accounting career, this may be the degree for you.

Visit online.missouri.edu/MAcc-launch.

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From left: School of Journalism Dean Earnest Perry, Kim Siegenthaler and Stephen Ball.


A leading national organization for online education has recognized the University of Missouri for innovation and excellence.

Representatives from MU received two awards Oct. 19 at the 2017 UPCEA Central Region Conference in Detroit, Michigan.

UPCEA is the premier association for continuing, professional and online education. Its members include leading public and private colleges and universities in North America.  

“Online and distance education provide integral access and innovative education solutions to adult and non-traditional learners, who make up more than 80 percent of today’s students,” said UPCEA CEO Bob Hansen. “I congratulate the University of Missouri on its achievements, and I’m glad that MU’s leadership in this area is being recognized by these UPCEA Central Region awards.”

UPCEA honored Stephen Ball, an associate professor in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences, with the Excellence in Teaching Award. Much of Ball’s teaching occurs outside the traditional classroom as part of his outreach work as a state fitness specialist with MU Extension. In the last year, 695 students have taken Ball’s online course, Introduction to Exercise and Fitness.

“I am flattered to be named this year's recipient and represent MU. I know there were many other worthy applicants,” Ball said. “Not only does the award recognize the importance of teaching excellence but it acknowledges that varied audiences and modes of instruction exist.”

The Missouri School of Journalism earned the Innovative Program Award (Credit) for its interactive media online master’s degree. Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in the School of Journalism Earnest Perry thanked UPCEA and the MU faculty and staff who brought the interactive media program to fruition four years ago.

“Since the program launched in 2013, the school has continued to look for ways to innovate, improve and inspire our students. The online delivery has allowed us to reach students from all over the U.S. at various stages in their careers,” Perry said. “The school will continue to help students stay at the forefront of interactive media.”

Mizzou Online Assistant Director Terrie Nagel also attended the conference. “These peer-reviewed awards, given for excellence in online programs and teaching, demonstrate MU’s position as a leader in distance education,” she said. “We are proud of MU’s achievements in attaining such prestigious and highly competitive distinctions,” Nagel said.

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Contrary to popular belief, there’s nothing dismal about economics. In fact, economics may be the best degree to pursue if you want to understand how the world works.

“Economics is a good combination of two appealing traits,” says Vitor Trindade, an associate professor of economics at the University of Missouri. “It has a very good job market, and it’s a substantial science focused on very interesting, real-world issues.”   

Studying economics pays off in the job market. The Brookings Institute reports that the career prospects and lifetime earnings of economics majors are rivaled only by majors in the other STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and finance.

Median pay for economists in 2014 was $101,050, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also estimates the job market for economists will grow 6 percent between 2014 and 2024.

Despite these strong numbers, however, some employers have difficulty finding an economist when they need one.

Loyd Wilson is the director of administration in the Missouri Public Service Commission. “Part of our mission … is to support economic development. Big-picture thinking is essential for the job. The challenge for us, when hiring, is to find candidates with the kind of perspective you gain from graduate study in economics,” Wilson says.

Economics or business?

Business and economics are both very worthwhile academic pursuits with good prospects. Before you choose one over the other, consider what your career motivations are.

“If you want to be a manager in a firm or if you want to manage investments, you might choose business,” Trindade says. “Economics starts at a more fundamental level of understanding of society.”

An economist has two roles, Trindade explains: scientist and policy maker. “As scientists, we are trying to understand how the world works. As policy makers, we're trying to inform various levels of government about policies that can make the world a better place.”

Economics is a good field to study even if you’re in the middle of your career. A background in economics is not a prerequisite for graduate study in the field.

“Our master’s in economics is suitable for students with backgrounds in engineering, statistics or mathematics,” Trindade says, “or even an ambitious student with some other background.”

The Department of Economics in the MU College of Arts and Sciences is now offering a master’s degree in economics completely online. No GRE or campus visits required. Learn more about Mizzou’s online master’s in economics.

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The University of Missouri’s commitment to distance learners has been reinforced by three more awards for MU’s achievements in online education.

Each year, the Association for Distance Education and Independent Learning (ADEIL) presents a number of awards recognizing excellence in various aspects of distance education and independent learning. MU has garnered three out of four of this year’s awards.

College-Level Course Award

Department of Religious Studies instructor Kate Kelley received the outstanding new college-level credit course award for Religion in Science Fiction (REL_ST 3451W).

Learners in the course engage with literary and filmic science fiction while building a writing portfolio. The course lets students explore the type of science fiction that captures their interest, boosting their intrinsic motivation to dive into the material, write and learn.

Kelley developed and teaches the class. Other contributors to the course are Jerod Quinn, instructional designer; Kay Nullmeyer, instructional developer; and Brad Mitchell, multimedia producer.

Excellence in Support Service Award

Mizzou Online instructional designer Julie Shults received the Excellence in Support Service Award for her outstanding contribution in course development. Shults works in partnership with instructors to develop and revise courses and internships that are pedagogically sound and help students succeed. 

Research Award

Mizzou Online Assistant Director for Research Terrie Nagel earned the ADEIL Research Award for her study, “Academic Achievement and Persistence in Online Self-Paced Courses.”

For her research, Nagel analyzed 11,829 records of students who took self-paced online courses at MU during the 2014–15 academic year.

Nagel ran dozens of multilevel models to understand how students’ gender, academic level, enrollment time and completion time related to their academic achievement and persistence.

The study previously earned Nagel the Winemiller Excellence Award from the Trulaske College of Business at MU.

The ADEIL awards were presented at the 2017 World Conference on Online Learning: Teaching in a Digital Age, Oct. 17-19 in Toronto.

“Terrie, Julie and Kate make all of us at Mizzou Online extremely proud,” said Mizzou Online Director Kim Siegenthaler. “These achievements reflect the commitment to the success of Mizzou’s distance students that our entire staff shares.”

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REL_ST 3451 - W Religion in Science Fiction (Writing Intensive)

Keep at it: Persistence is key to success with self-paced online courses

Online instructor earns book award for Lloyd Gaines history

The University of Missouri is working to help special education teachers apply evidence-based practice to better serve learners with cross-categorical disabilities.

The Department of Special Education in the MU College of Education is now offering a master of arts degree in general special education completely online.

No campus visits are required. Teachers, specialists and other educators can pursue their degrees, as they continue to work full time.

Erica Lembke

The program, one of the first of its kind in Missouri, takes a nuanced approach to special education. “One size does not fit all,” said Erica Lembke, chair of the Department of Special Education. “Students may have a combination of cognitive, emotional and learning disabilities – what we call cross-categorical disabilities.”

Lembke said the new degree program is research intensive. “It will give paraeducators, interventionists, school administrators and other educators a firm grasp of the latest research and show them how to use the best practices that school districts need to adopt,” she said.

Positive behavior intervention supports

One such evidence-based practice is positive behavior intervention supports (PBIS), which helps educators prevent inappropriate behavior by teaching and reinforcing appropriate behavior.

Another best practice in special education is multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS), a process whereby teachers respond to an individual student’s performance with the most appropriate intervention for that student.

The online general special education master of arts option adds to the College of Education’s online master’s offerings in the field of special education, which cover gifted education, autism education, early childhood and autism, and early childhood special education.

“Special education is a critical field of study and there is an incredible demand for qualified special educators,” said MU College of Education’s Kathryn Chval, who is the Joanne H. Hook Dean’s Chair in Education Renewal. “This master’s degree will help equip educators to use research-based interventions and strategies so that they will have a tremendous impact on children, families, schools, and communities.”

Earn your degree in three years

Successful completion of the program requires 33 credit hours. Students can take one or two classes each semester, including summers, and finish their degree in two to three years.

The program is accepting applications until October 1 for classes that begin in January. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. GRE scores also are required.

Learn more about the online master’s degree in general special education.

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The University of Missouri is working to increase the number of researchers who use a patient-centered and community-engaged approach to their work by launching a new online graduate certificate in participatory health research.

"When researchers, community members, social welfare experts and health care administrators work as partners to conduct research projects, there is an increase in meaningful change and forward progress," said Maithe Enriquez, MU Sinclair School of Nursing associate professor.

"Former U.S. Surgeon General David Stacher has said that this type of research methodology holds the key for getting to the root cause of health disparities," Enriquez said.

The new online graduate certificate in participatory health research will create more health care professionals who are able to not only improve outcomes in their clinical settings, but also influence health care policy, Enriquez said.

In-demand skills

The 15-credit-hour program is designed for professionals in social work, nursing and public health who want to acquire research skills to expand and grow their careers.

 Students in the online program will apply research methodologies that health care systems and health research institutions value most:

  • Community-based participatory research (CBPR) – a partnership approach to research in which various stakeholders contribute expertise and share decision-making.
  • Patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) – a methodology that involves health care consumers and caregivers, helping them communicate and make informed health care decisions together.
  • Clinical effectiveness research (CER) – the direct comparison of health care interventions to determine which work best for which patients.

Enriquez said the graduate certificate can be taken in addition to a student’s current graduate program of study in medicine, public health, nursing, social work or other areas. In-service professionals who seek to enhance their skills also can enroll in the certificate program.

“Students are going to pick up valuable skills and expertise in community-based, patient-centered and clinical effectiveness research,” she said. “They also can grow their professional networks while continuing their education, which is something all licensed health care professionals are required to do.”

Four MU academic units are working together to offer the course work for this online graduate certificate: the School of Medicine’s Department of Family and Community Medicine, the School of Social Work, the School of Health Professions and the Sinclair School of Nursing.

Academic requirements

MU is now accepting applications for the online graduate certificate in participatory health. All course work is 100-percent online: no campus visits are required. Students who take two classes each semester can finish the 15-credit hour program in one year.

Applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree to be admitted to the program. GRE scores are not required for application. Apply by July 15 to begin course work in the fall semester, which starts August 21.

Learn more about the online graduate certificate in participatory health research and how to apply

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Most people who have attended the University of Missouri are familiar with the Gaines Oldham Black Culture Center or have heard of Lloyd Gaines, the first African-American to apply to the MU law school, which denied his application.

Until now, however, few have been aware of the legal battles Gaines and the NAACP waged to guarantee equal rights decades before the civil rights movement gained steam.

Earlier this year MU political science professors Bill Horner and James Endersby received the 2017 Book Award from the Missouri Conference on History for their book, Lloyd Gaines and the Fight to End Segregation.

Published by the University of Missouri Press, the book is the first to focus entirely on the Gaines case (Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada) and the vital role played by the NAACP and its lawyers. The authors position the Gaines case as the first in a long line of decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding race, higher education and equal opportunity.

Read the full story here: Book Details Legal Struggles of Lloyd Gaines

In addition to being an author, Horner is the director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Political Science. In his capacity as a teaching professor, he teaches three self-paced online courses:

POL_SC 1100 American Government covers the Constitution, civil liberties and voting behavior, among other topics. POL_SC 1100 fulfills the state law constitution requirement at MU.

POL_SC 4120 Politics and the Media looks at the role of mass media in the political process, primarily the politics of media control, political news and advertising, and the effects of information on election campaigns, political institutions and policymaking. POL_SC 4120W is writing intensive.

POL_SC 4150 The American Presidency examines the evolution of the presidency, with particular emphasis on constitutional and political roles played by chief executives in shaping public policy.

You can enroll in these and other self-paced courses for the summer (until July 10) or fall semester either as an undergraduate or post-baccalaureate student.

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If you want to help individuals, families and communities access education and other shared resources, consider an online degree in the growing field of family and community services.

Family and community services professionals work with children, youth, adults and families in social service agencies, educational settings and faith-based institutions, as well as military support agencies.

The University of Missouri offers an excellent online master’s in family and community services that helps students understand family, interpersonal and community dynamics so they can deliver services and manage resources effectively.

Ashlie Lester

We’re especially proud of program faculty members like Ashlie Lester, assistant teaching professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Human Development and Family Science.

Lester recently received a Faculty Excellence Award from the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance. The award recognizes Lester’s leadership in redesigning a key graduate-level course, Foundations and Principles of Family and Community Services.

The course is one of the first classes students take in the family and community service master’s. It provides an introduction to the field of family studies as well as related professions that involve working with individuals and families in communities.

If you have a bachelor’s degree in social and behavioral sciences and want to work with children, youth, adults and families in community agency settings, the family and community service online master’s may be the degree for you. Apply by July 1 for fall admission.

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