I started in 2008 like you did, reading and teaching myself as much as I could on the topic. I was lucky enough to have an employer who would help pay the way through college for undergrad and graduate programs (though the time on that second one is running out due to a recent corporate purchase by Lockheed Martin), as soon as I became eligible I decided I wanted to formally study economics.
I reached out to many of the heavy hitters you would see on Mises University YouTube videos. I emailed them (many of them heroes of mine) and received marginal guidance every step of the way. I even asked about my masters program on this very board, only to receive similar responses. I had to remove it on advice that a search for my name and economics might hurt my eligibility chances for acceptance (it did come up on Google). Mostly, it was simply “move down and go here or here” when the actual details of my life which play a significant role in my decision making were not in the strategy (kind of like taking aggregates and forgetting about the individual human action). I already have a B.A. so while I am three classes from finishing my B.S. degree in Econ/Finance from Southern New Hampshire University, I am currently in a Masters Program at Johns Hopkins University studying Applied Economics (not because I believe it is the greatest way to learn Austrian Economics mind you).
First: it all depends on what you want to do. I want to go into academia and be a marker in time for when the world is ready for actual economics and lifestyle which are inline with liberty and prosperity, so a PhD is pretty much the way to go. A B.S. degree is a great base, but it would not land you very many teaching gigs. But a B.S. in Economics with larger dive into another discipline could give you a greater range of understanding (Think Tom Woods – PhD in History but solid understanding of Econ). I am on the Masters route, because I want to study with Professor SOTO and HÜLSMANN for my PhD in Economics. But getting a masters degree can open up doors to work in think tanks, business, government (if you want to experience for future reference) etc.
A B.S. in Econ on its own is not a large enough achievement to set you apart competition wise (while I do obviously feel it is valuable). What are you goals? What are your strengths?
Dr. Block had a great debate with Dr. North where they debated getting a PhD in econ or not…. both men gave great points: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwWoY3OuBYA
There is no set strategy which will work best for all people who are minded towards Austrian Economics. For me, I believe learning the Keynesian/neo-classical/public choice/progressive ways but tempering that with altering view points allows me to pick up things like someone who would be studying different religions would study religion. You can be a Buddhist and study Catholicism very deeply and intellectually, and then study Islam with just as much intellectual involvement, yet stay a Buddhist. Of course, if one were to see evidence that their way was broken, it would be apparent because an alternate would have a possible way of solving that problem.
“When a given norm is changed in the face of the unchanging, the remaining contradiction shall parallel the truth.” – Saul Williams
What way to better understand the ideas of Austrian Economics than by understanding the same subject matter from a different lens? And thanks to Liberty Classroom, we have great professors and a way in order to keep the information in Austrian Econ coming into our formal educational conscience. As well as Mises.org and Mises gatherings etc.
Sorry for the length. But the first step I guess is to ask what doors do you think you will be the best at opening and then what level of formal education is the best fit for that endeavor.