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Earn an economics degree online and learn from real-world economists

A person sits at a desk while examining paperwork. Economics degree online

Oregon State instructor Rhodes is an example of how to use ‘in-demand skills in the modern workforce’

By Tyler Hansen
Feb. 18, 2021

Taylor Rhodes’ professional résumé paints the picture of an economist in high demand.

In addition to teaching economics courses online for Oregon State University, he serves as a data management analyst on the U.S. Treasury Department’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act operations team.

Rhodes also works as an economist for the Department of Labor. Prior to that, he was a research agricultural economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for several years.

And what was his first step in building such a successful professional and academic career? He earned his bachelor’s degree in economics.

Oregon State offers an economics bachelor’s degree online through OSU Ecampus, and having Ph.D. instructors like Rhodes on the faculty is one of the program’s many benefits. It means students learn from faculty who have immense firsthand knowledge of how economics course concepts are applied in the real world.

Rhodes’ work history also helps dispel a myth about what career fields economics graduates are qualified for.

“The most common misconception is that economists just work for the Federal Reserve or do stock-price forecasting,” said the instructor, who later earned two master’s degrees and a doctorate in economics. “Certainly, many economists work in these fields, but the career options are broader than working in financial areas.”

We caught up with Rhodes to discuss more of the benefits of pursuing an economics degree online with Oregon State.

How will a degree in economics benefit someone who wants to build a rewarding career in the modern workforce?

“I think economics offers a great set of in-demand skills in the modern workforce, ranging from reporting, data analytics, research and public policy. Economics, at its core, is about examining current data to better understand how to best allocate and utilize scare resources.

A headshot of Taylor Rhodes, an economics instructor in Oregon State's School of Public Policy. He teaches in OSU's economics online degree program.

Taylor Rhodes is an economics instructor in Oregon State’s School of Public Policy.

“When applied to policy, economics offers a toolkit which helps to understand and evaluate competing strategies to identify optimal decision paths into the future. As technology improves over time and as more data becomes available, the demand for these skills will increase and so will entry-, mid-career and peak-career salaries.”

If you were a student in Oregon State’s economics bachelor’s program, what would you value the most about your online learning experience?

“I would value Oregon State’s commitment to supporting education pathways for first-time and nontraditional learners, with proven success given OSU’s track record of being nationally ranked in the top 10 for online education for nearly a decade.”

How do you build a genuine connection with your Ecampus students whom, in many cases, you’ll never meet in person?

“I’ve had the honor of being a part of Oregon State for almost five years now, and many of my courses have writing components. So I’m able to witness a student’s progression, interest and understanding develop over a term. Also, when a student takes more than one of my courses, I’m able to recommend materials or additional courses to help them advance their training in economics.”

Why is graduate school a good option for students who earn an economics degree online?

“I think graduate training that offers data analytics, statistical and data programming, data visualization and private sector-oriented reporting is the best option for today’s labor market and the near future. These are the skills with growing demand and opportunity.

“The challenge is that graduate school is often more theoretical, so the applicable skills — like data automation, programming and creating visualizations and graphics — are self-taught.”

How broad of a knowledge base do economics students gain from this program?

“The program offers incredible coverage beginning with foundational courses (introductory and intermediate theory courses) and continuing with applied courses (labor economics, financial economics, environmental economics), social equality topic areas (economics of discrimination, economics of inequality), research methods (introduction to economic research) and a variety of technical courses (mathematical economics, econometrics and game theory).”


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