Economics is everywhere, and understanding economics can help you make better decisions and lead a happier life - Tyler Cowen

What is Economics?

The study of economics is at a crossroads of social science and mathematics, it is sometimes referred to as the science of money.
Economics is the social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses on the behavior and interactions of economic agents and how economies work.
This field in the social sciences tries to make sense of systems that move production and sale and purchase of products. These products can either be goods or services.
Because it is a social science this study wants to understand the decisions that people make about money and their relationship to that money. Through economics, you will also learn about how to analyze the activities and interactions regarding people, markets, and governments.
Microeconomics and macroeconomics are the two main subdivisions of study for economics.

How Useful is an Economics Degree?

If you are considering studying economics as your major you might be interested in finding out if this degree is useful and in demand.

The good news is that it is! An undergraduate or master's degree is highly sought out for by students. This is because it is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the job market.

job market for economists
The job market for students with degrees in economics is booming. (Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash)

Employers are also constantly looking for students with either a Bachelors of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in economics because these students not only have strong foundations in economic knowledge but also plenty of transferable skills.

Some of the transferable skills that you might pick up on during your studies in economics are the following:

  • Awareness of current events
  • Fast problem solving
  • Top-notch analyzation skills

These are all skills that you will acquire through the study of financial economics, political economy, or economic analysis.

With these skills, you will be able to apply to jobs in the field of economics as well as sectors that have a correlation to economics.

Possible jobs for those who obtain a degree in economics include careers in banking, business, government, education, and public policy.

With a certification from a reputable economics program from a top university like Georgetown University or the University of Chicago you can expect to make upwards of $60K as a starting salary.

The basic salary can vary from city to city but since the market is expected to grow by 10% by the year 2030, it would be a great investment in your future if you choose to major in economics.

Top Universities for Econ Majors in the US

Choosing your major is hard, but choosing what university you will be attending can be even harder. If you are a senior in high school this will be one of the most important decisions of your high school career.

Choosing the right school for your preferred major can be tough especially with so many options to choose from. Most universities do offer either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in economics.

harvard for an economics degree
Economics is such a popular major, that most universities have opportunities for both BA and BS degrees in the subject. (Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash)

To get you started on your search, here are a couple of the best universities for econ majors in the US.

  • Harvard University
  • Stanford University
  • University of Chicago

All three of these universities are extremely prestigious and have low acceptance rates, but do not let this discourage you. There are plenty of other universities that offer economics programs and that have outstanding economics departments.

Lastly, you may also want to look into online economics degrees. These are great options if you feel like a more personalized approach is best for your studies. There are several universities that offer full economics degrees to students completely through online platforms.

You can choose to study an undergraduate program in economic theory, business economics, environmental economics, and even economic policy all from your laptop.

Universities such as:

  • Washington State University;
  • Colorado State University;
  • Fort Hays University;
  • Purdue University; and
  • Ashford University.

These universities all offer a great variety of online economics courses with the full support of the institution. These online programs allow an economics student to earn their degree on their own time and at their own pace.

They also serve as a good foundation for future graduate-level degrees and even an economics PhD.

How Much Math Is Needed to Study Economics?

With class requirements like econometrics, applied economics, and microeconomics, it might be quite obvious that mathematics and economics are deeply interrelated.

Economics is the science of money, and like in any other science, math is used to make sense of a lot of the theories. However, there are still some niches within the economics scope that do not require such extensive knowledge of math.

math in economics
Basic levels of math are needed in economics courses. (Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash)

In the most basic classes, you will be asked to use algebra, calculus, and statistics to help support your economic research. This isn't a reason to fear a degree in economics though, these three types of math are used in very basic levels.

An economics major will most likely be required to take math courses throughout their time at university, but the amount of classes depends on whether they are going to be receiving a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS).

A BA allows students to focus on other liberal arts subjects such as other social sciences, languages, and literature. This means that the intensity of math courses required for this type of economics degree is quite low.

On the other hand, there are students who choose to receive a BS. A Bachelor of Science degree tends to be more analytical of quantitative data. This would mean that there will be more opportunities for higher levels of mathematical economics.

If you believe that math is not your strongest subject but would still like to pursue a program in economics, there are plenty of tools that can help you improve your math skills. Your economics professors should be able to explain the necessary math requirements for the class. You can also look into finding a private tutor to help you better understand the necessary math for your economics mayor.

Preparing Economics Students for a Diverse World

One of the major criticisms about economic courses at universities is their lack of diversity in their sources of knowledge.

Academic sources include books, academic journal articles, and published expert reports that professors may use as sources to teach their subjects. They may also use these sources as the basis for their syllabus and in-class examples. If these sources are not diversified, it means that the knowledge the students receive from them is not diverse either.

economic academic sources
Varied academic sources lead to better-prepared economists. (Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash)

Universities should aim to help professors get past the unconscious bias of using purely westernized examples for knowledge on economics. There is a push for academics to use more data based on minorities and people of color.

The lack of variety in academic sources pushes the notion that only classical and neoclassical theories of economics are worth teaching, when in fact there are over seven major economic theories that fill the varied and large field of economics.

Here are the major economic theories that should be taught at universities:

  1. Classical
  2. Neoclassical
  3. Marxists
  4. Developmentalist
  5. Keynesian
  6. Institutionalists
  7. Behaviorists

If a student is taught about these different theories they will be better informed about the variety of economic environments in different parts of the world. With the rise of globalization and the growing connection of the world's populations, it has come increasingly difficult to simply isolate economic theory to one dimension.

Economics is a multidimensional topic and for students to be adequately prepared for a job in this ever-changing market, they are going to need the necessary tools to deal with the diversity of economies around the globe.

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