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Economics Major: What can an economics degree do for you?

By Brendan Conway updated on Monday, January 28, 2013
Economics is one of the most popular and most commonly offered majors in colleges today. If you're thinking of becoming an economics major, then you'll want to know everything you can about whether or not you should choose to pursue an economics degree.

Economics degree vs. Business degree

Pursuing an economics major might at first glance seem to provide an education that's interchangeable with a business major education. It's not! The two different types of degree will provide you with a rather different set of options upon graduating, and will require rather different paths to get there.

First of all, an economics major is likely to be more versatile and to leave you with a wider array of options than a business major will. Business majors will generally go into specific roles in business, as the course of study for a business degree will prepare them mostly for such roles. Economics majors, on the other hand, can find positions with the government, in all areas of businesses, in postiions associated with technology or finance, and more.

Moreover, economics can be a better choice if you're interested in advancing to the graduate school level. An economics major would be able to move into the study of economics for a master's or PhD degree, while a business major would not be able to do so. Those with economics degrees or business degrees would all be able to pursue MBAs.

On the other hand, pursuing an economics degree can involve a great deal of mathematics and analytical thought, simply by the nature of the field. If you're not interested in performing a great deal of math, or if math is a weakness for you, then pursuing an economics major may not be the right choice. Business majors are often less mathematically oriented.

What will you study in an economics major?

If you're interested in majoring in economics, you'll be studying (unsurprisingly) economic theory in all its various forms. Microeconomics, macroeconomics, currency systems, international economics, and more will all be slotted into your course of study. By the end of your pursuit of an economics degree, you should have a strong grounding in all the economic principles and theories that will help you pursue your occupation.

It's important to note that an economics major will not be focusing on the specifics of how to run a business. While certain elements of economics may touch on that subject, in general someone pursuing an economics major will instead be studying economic systems at different levels. This is in part why an economics major will be able to pursue a greater breadth of career options than would a business major.

What can you do with an economics major?

So economics majors can pursue a breadth of career options. Well what do those include, exactly?

Some of the job titles held by economic majors include market analyst, real estate agent, urban planner, policy analyst, business forecaster, research assistant, and statistician, among many, many others. All of these jobs involve, to some extent, the application of the analytical skills that are necessary for those studying economics.

Graduated economics majors have found employment with the following employers, among others: the Federal Reserve Banks, the Bureau of the Census, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Department of the Treasury, numerous banks, accounting firms, litigation consulting firms, and market research companies.

What's more, it's looking like the positions for economics majors may actually be growing in number. Remember, these positions are not inherently business related positions, and as such, aren't directly correlated with the status of businesses in America.

Finally, of course, as earlier mentioned, you can pursue a graduate level degree in economics. Such a degree, like a master's or a PhD, would allow you to work in higher-level positions than would just an undergraduate degree. A graduate level degree would also allow you to teach economics, if that was something in which you were interested.

See all Schools that Offer Economics Degrees
About the Author

Brendan Conway is the Web Content Editor for Peterson's Interactive and is well-versed in the world of higher education and admissions. He is a graduate of Hamilton College, and has been working in admissions advice, test-prep advice, career planning advice, and similar fields for the majority of his career since graduation. Brendan endeavors to provide the most relevant, useful, and interesting information via Peterson's Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ feeds. Brendan enjoys lexicological oddities and voraciously reading in his free time.

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