Free Economics & Finance Courses for Data Scientists

Here is a selection of courses for those interested in diversifying their domain knowledge into the related realms of economics and finance, with the goal of being able to apply your data science skills to these domains.

Are you interested in expanding your economics and/or finance domain knowledge? The key to being able to apply your data science skills to any field is to have at least a minimal understanding of it. There also exists plenty of data in both economics and finance, providing myriad opportunities for the application of your skills.

Economics and finance are related, but distinct, fields; economics "is the social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services" (Wikipedia), while the finance "is a term for matters regarding the management, creation, and study of money and investments" (Wikipedia). It is this related nature which leads us to group and discuss them together herein.

This is a selection of economics and finance courses which are freely available online, and which can help further your understanding of these domains. There are a high number of free finance and economics courses available online, so instead of flooding the zone with all the courses, here are a few select choices to get you started. They have been separated into the broad topics of economics foundations, finance foundations, and specialized topics, which are a more advanced mix of the two. Definitions come directly from the respective course websites.


Image source: University of York

Economics Foundations

  • AP Macroeconomics, Advanced Placement (video playlist)
    Starting from zero? The Advanced Placement Macroeconomics video lectures playlist created for AP students to use during the COVID crisis may be a good, covering: Fiscal and Monetary Policy Actions in the Short Run, Money Growth and Inflation, Opportunity Cost, Government Deficits and the National Debt, Financial Assets, Interest Rates, Inflation, GDP, Monetary Policy, Economic Growth, Fiscal Policy, Market Equilibrium, Public Policy and Economic Growth, The Foreign Exchange Market, Exchange Rates, Effect of Changes in Policies on Economic Conditions, and much more.

  • AP Microeconomics, Advanced Placement (video playlist)
    Another Advanced Placement video lectures playlist for COVID crisis, this one on microeconomics, covers: Socially Efficient and Inefficient Market Outcomes, Public and Private Goods, Effects of Government Intervention in Different Market Structures, Profit Maximizing Behavior and Monopsonistic Markets, Scarcity and Resource Allocation in Economic Systems, Comparative Advantage and Trade, Supply and Demand, Market Equilibrium and Disequilibrium, Government Intervention and International Trade, Profit Maximization and Market Decisions, Perfect Competition, Oligopoly and Game Theory, and much more.

  • Principles of Macroeconomics, MIT (course)
    This course provides an overview of macroeconomic issues: the determination of output, employment, unemployment, interest rates, and inflation. Monetary and fiscal policies are discussed. Important policy debates such as, the sub-prime crisis, social security, the public debt, and international economic issues are critically explored. The course introduces basic models of macroeconomics and illustrates principles with the experience of the U.S. and foreign economies.

  • Principles of Microeconomics, MIT (course)
    Principles of Microeconomics is an introductory undergraduate course that teaches the fundamentals of microeconomics. This course introduces microeconomic concepts and analysis, supply and demand analysis, theories of the firm and individual behavior, competition and monopoly, and welfare economics. Students will also be introduced to the use of microeconomic applications to address problems in current economic policy throughout the semester.

  • Principles of Economics with Calculus, Caltech (course)
    This course provides a quantitative and model-based introduction to basic economic principles, and teaches how to apply them to make sense of a wide range of real world problems. Examples of applications include predicting the impact of technological changes in market prices, calculating the optimal gasoline tax, and measuring the value of new products.

Finance Foundations

  • Finance and capital markets, Khan Academy (course)
    This course progresses from beginner to advanced topics, and includes the modules: Interest and debt, Housing, Inflation, Taxes, Accounting and financial statements, Stocks and bonds, Investment vehicles, insurance, and retirement, Money, banking and central banks, Options, swaps, futures, MBSs, CDOs, and other derivatives, Current economics.

  • Financial Markets, Yale (course)
    An overview of the ideas, methods, and institutions that permit human society to manage risks and foster enterprise. Emphasis on financially-savvy leadership skills. Description of practices today and analysis of prospects for the future. Introduction to risk management and behavioral finance principles to understand the real-world functioning of securities, insurance, and banking industries. The ultimate goal of this course is using such industries effectively and towards a better society.

  • Economics of Money and Banking, Columbia University (course)
    The last three or four decades have seen a remarkable evolution in the institutions that comprise the modern monetary system. The financial crisis of 2007-2009 is a wakeup call that we need a similar evolution in the analytical apparatus and theories that we use to understand that system. Produced and sponsored by the Institute for New Economic Thinking, this course is an attempt to begin the process of new economic thinking by reviving and updating some forgotten traditions in monetary thought that have become newly relevant.

Specialized Topics

  • Behavioural Economics in Action, University of Toronto (course)
    How can we get people to save more money, eat healthy foods, engage in healthy behaviors, and make better choices in general? There has been a lot written about the fact that human beings do not process information and make decisions in an optimal fashion. This course builds on much of the fascinating work in the area of behavioral economics and allows learners to develop a hands-on approach by understanding its methods and more importantly, how it can be harnessed by suitably designing contexts to “nudge” choice.

  • Game Theory I, Stanford University/University of British Columbia (course)
    Popularized by movies such as "A Beautiful Mind," game theory is the mathematical modeling of strategic interaction among rational (and irrational) agents. How could you begin to model keyword auctions, and peer to peer file-sharing networks, without accounting for the incentives of the people using them? The course will provide the basics: representing games and strategies, the extensive form (which computer scientists call game trees), Bayesian games (modeling things like auctions), repeated and stochastic games, and more. We'll include a variety of examples including classic games and a few applications.

  • Game Theory II: Advanced Applications, Stanford University/University of British Columbia (course)
    Over four weeks of lectures, this advanced course considers how to design interactions between agents in order to achieve good social outcomes. Three main topics are covered: social choice theory (i.e., collective decision making and voting systems), mechanism design, and auctions.

  • The Global Financial Crisis, Yale (course)
    Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy F. Geithner and Professor Andrew Metrick survey the causes, events, policy responses, and aftermath of the recent global financial crisis.

  • Globalization, Economic Growth and Stability Specialization, IE Business School (specialization)
    This Specialization aims to make economic concepts accessible to every learner, and to teach them to analyze current events using the toolkit of economics. It begins by explaining the basic parameters of the macroeconomy, and how governments can/should use both fiscal and monetary policy to influence growth, inflation and employment. It then moves on to the international arena, where countries interact, and explains the basic principles of free trade, exchange rates, the balance of payments and immigration and how these interactions affect our everyday lives. Finally, learners will apply these tools and concepts to the world's leading economies and discover how they can "read" from a country's economic data important lessons about the risks and opportunities of doing business in these countries, equipping them with tools that they can use in the workplace and even in their personal investment decisions.