Applied Economics is a broad field with many applications.
Applied Economics is a broad field of study covering many topics. Recognizing the wide range of applications has led departments of Agricultural Economics across numerous universities to change their degree program names to Applied Economics. In 2008, the American Agricultural Economics Association changed its name to the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA).This trend is noted in research published in the journal Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy:
"Increased work in areas such as agribusiness, rural development, and environmental economics is making it more difficult to maintain one umbrella organization or to use the title “agricultural economist” ... the number of departments named" Agricultural Economics” has fallen from 36 in 1956 to 9 in 2007."
Applied Economics emphasizes quantitative and analytics skills ideal for careers in data science
While a PhD or traditional master's degree in economic theory provide valuable training for the modern analytics focused workforce as discussed below, many applied economics master's degrees are designed to serve as a very attractive terminal degree for professionals.
To quote, from Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Economics program home page:
“Economic analysis is no longer relegated to academicians and a small number of PhD-trained specialists. Instead, economics has become an increasingly ubiquitous as well as rapidly changing line of inquiry that requires people who are skilled in analyzing and interpreting economic data, and then using it to effect decisions ………Advances in computing and the greater availability of timely data through the Internet have created an arena which demands skilled statistical analysis, guided by economic reasoning and modeling.”
Many applied economics programs are STEM designated programs reflecting the emphasis that applied economics places on quantitative and analytics skills. The University of Pittsburg has designed their STEM designated M.S. in Quantitative Economics specifically with data science roles in mind. Virginia Tech offers an online Master of Ag and Applied Economics, the first I have seen in an Agricultural and Applied Economics department specifically designed to incorporate economics with data science and programming.
'What is the Future of Agricultural Economics Departments and the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association?' By Gregory M. Perry. Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy (2010) volume 32, number 1, pp. 117–134.