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The Breakdown

Though it might sound like a bold statement, societies and civilizations truly rise and fall based upon the strength of their economies and prevailing economic principles.  This is because, at its essence, economics is the study of how we distribute our scarce resources.  Indeed, far more than just stock tips and investment portfolios, economists investigate the choices people make and the value we place on everything from paper goods to ecosystems.

As an econ major, you’ll be part political scientist, part philosopher and part statistician.  Studying the theory behind economic policy, you’ll investigate everything from historical movements and legal precedents and procedures to human desire and drive and mathematical models.  In short, you’ll likely be working on problem sets and research papers in tandem.  While econ departments don’t necessarily follow the same prescribed course-load, nearly all programs require students to take microeconomics, macroeconomics and statistics.  Additionally, some schools have their undergrads take a breadth of courses while others allow their students to select a particular focus such as international economics or labor economics. 

Economics is one of those disciplines that demands both quantitative and qualitative skills.  Analyzing risk and behavior, you will be asked to think critically about and solve complex problems.  And you’ll need to be able to interpret history, policy and motivation along with empirical data.  If that wasn’t a tall enough order, writing and communication skills are essential as well.  Econ certainly requires a keen intellectual mind and isn’t for the academically indolent.


Nuts and Bolts

The course-load for an econ major will likely include classes such as: Financial Markets and Economic Fluctuations, Health Economics: Policy and Problems, Principles of Microeconomics: Prices and Markets, Antitrust and Regulation, Econometrics, Introduction to Accounting, Game Theory in Economics, International Financial Stability, Energy Economics, International Trade and The Economics of Taxation.

Decisions, Decisions

Economics majors certainly have a head for numbers, business and the social sciences and are likely to consider these majors as well: marketing, statistics, business, mathematics, advertising, accounting, international relations, political science and history.

What's Next

When placing college majors within a career context, Wall Street is definitely the common default for economics.  And, to some degree, this makes sense.  After all, plenty of econ majors land lucrative jobs as stockbrokers, financial analysts, investment bankers or traders.  Many who study economics also go on to pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA).  However, economics is far more versatile than simply placing graduates in the financial sector.  Indeed, many econ students continue on to law or medical degrees.  And a number of economics majors find jobs in consulting or doing marketing for a variety of companies.  Others land gigs doing policy work, teaching or working as financial/business reporters and journalists.  Really, a degree in economics can be stretched as far as your passion and professional ambitions allow.



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Don Munce