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Why is economics considered a useless degree?

rks102rks102 Registered User Posts: 197 Junior Member
edited February 2013 in Business Major
I always hear about economics being **** on by business majors and how the degree is completely useless.

I took an intro macro course and I am currently in an intro micro course. So far I have loved learning about economics, but I don't want to major in it if it doesn't have good job prospects.

What makes econ so useless and are the job prospects really that poor?
Post edited by rks102 on

Replies to: Why is economics considered a useless degree?

  • MD MomMD Mom Registered User Posts: 6,728 Senior Member
    When I suggested DD investigate a major in Econ, my husband said that if economists knew what was going to happen, they would all be super rich. IMO, it is a good major to combine with other majors. For example, Econ and applied math.
  • oldfortoldfort Registered User Posts: 22,442 Senior Member
    Do you want to know what econ majors say about business majors? Liberal arts schools do not offer business major. Recruiters expect business majors to have higher GPA than econ/math/engineer majors.
  • discoinfernodiscoinferno Registered User Posts: 280 Junior Member
    Economics majors pick on business majors because typically top schools don't even offer plain "business" degrees.
    Finance majors think accounting majors are boring and timid.
    Accounting majors think finance majors are delusional kids who want to make it big in "i-banking" and end up working at "i-hop"
    Engineering majors think all of the above are majors for people who washed out of engineering.
    CS majors laugh at engineering majors because they're playing video games while engineers design hydraulic pumps for meat factories and make accounting look exciting..

    but if you make fun of art majors you're close-minded and ignorant LOL

    Economics is not a useless major:

    Best Undergrad College Degrees By Salary

    and if you've noticed most "economics" programs are not strictly "economics" as in the theoretical social science. Many are just prestigious accounting/finance programs with more of a research emphasis but will still give you the units required for a CPA exam.

    Yes you can probably get a "useless" economics degree if you intentionally set out to do so and completely avoided all quantitative coursework in favor of macro theory, but you'd really have to strive for it. Most economics programs are excellent majors.
  • VMaddenVMadden Registered User Posts: 70 Junior Member
    The intro econ courses that you are talking about are the most useful for applied economics which is why they are requirements in business schools. Business has a lot to do with applied econ, and after macro/micro, business majors stop taking econ courses as requirements.

    I've personally never heard that econ is a useless degree, and I don't think it is. Econ teaches you a lot of math which is very useful for careers in finance or accounting. The problem is that most of the later econ courses are highly theoretical and, therefore, not very appropriate to real life.

    Most of the time, if you go to a liberal arts college, econ majors are offered the ability to get a certificate in finance or accounting. This means that they will take all of the required econ classes while also taking certain classes that fulfill the requirement for their certificate. This is how students from schools like Harvard break into the finance or accounting field. It is also how all of the ivy league schools are the most sought after for recruitment by banks on wall street and top notch jobs in other areas of business. All of the ivies except Penn and Cornell do not have business schools, but their econ majors still end up being business leaders and wall street traders at the best firms.
  • onhcetumonhcetum Registered User Posts: 470 Member
    It's a bunch of theoretical ********. I am about four classes away from graduating, and I still haven't learned crap. I know the basics of supply and demand and the relationship between the unemployment rate and inflation and GDP, but not a whole else. If I had to go back, I would have done Finance or Accounting (but reading the courses for a Finance major at my university, it's a joke too). But then again, this is coming from a guy who thinks ANY MAJOR besides Computer Science and Engineering is useless. I think a Biology or Chemistry degree is also very valuable, but sadly there's not too many jobs for that.
  • discoinfernodiscoinferno Registered User Posts: 280 Junior Member
    onhcetum, what school are you going to if you don't mind me asking?

    My economics program includes enough accounting classes to sit in for the CPA exam, (but I guess it's technically an "economics-accounting" or "economics with accounting career track/emphasis" degree).

    I have noticed a pattern that at schools who have all three: Accounting, Finance, Economics, you should probably take finance or accounting, because the economics major is probably handled as a social science.

    At schools like mine (the UC system), many roll their entire business department into an "economics" degree and split it 50/50 between business/finance/accounting classes and theoretical economics classes.

    Sadly "economics" really has two completely different meanings. If you google something like "studies by economists" half of your results will be actual quantitative market analysis, the other half will be crap like that "Freakonomics" book.

    It's like biological anthropology vs social anthropology. Two people might have the same major ("anthropology") yet one is doing pre-med biology and chemistry classes, and the other is writing essays about wiccans and ninjas.
  • GoalsOrientedGoalsOriented Registered User Posts: 112 Junior Member
    I highly doubt he is going to a school as bad as my alma mater, unless he goes to the same school I did lol!
  • econoboyeconoboy Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    Alright, so I'm a senior graduating this semester with a degree in economics. Let me just give this as a warning to potential econ majors. Economics is an interesting field of study (like most social sciences) but it's also (like most social sciences) not marketable and very academic in nature. Economics makes many simplifying assumptions about human behavior that in reality makes it very unrealistic. I'm getting ready to graduate college feeling like I have learned a lot and had a good well-rounded education but I'm also sitting here thinking to myself - "What am I going to do for a career?"

    I just put in 4 years of school and I honestly don't feel much more marketable than a high school graduate. So, unless I go to law school or do graduate studies in economics - I basically have to go find some entry level position in business. Is that what I want after 4 years of college? - not really but that's life. Or, its law school which I don't have a real passion for but seems to be a natural 'next step' in my education. Or it's graduate economics schooling for another 4 or 5 years to get a phd.. not a very wonderful thought.

    So, just beware that unless you're going to a very good school that has top notch companies recruiting (unlike my school), or you have a desire to do more schooling after your undergraduate degree, think twice about doing economics. Yeah it's more interesting than accounting or supply chain management or .... fill in the blank. But at the end of the day, you need to pay the bills and don't want to be stuck in a call center after going through 4 rigorous years of college...!

    Good luck.
  • cbreezecbreeze Registered User Posts: 4,692 Senior Member
    Do you know what degree ALL Wharton grads get??? Economics.

    Is it the no name school that is useless or the degree?
  • jahall05jahall05 Registered User Posts: 55 Junior Member
    Economics is not a useless degree by any means. Business degrees are also valuable. It depends on what you go on to do with them that counts.

    Also, whoever said liberal arts colleges do not offer degrees in business...they most certainly do. I came from Westminster College in Pennsylvania and it is liberal arts entirely, and we offer a business administration degree. Westminster is also known as being a pretty good liberal arts college.
  • epoch707epoch707 Registered User Posts: 10 New Member
    Economics is less practical vs accounting and finance. Accounting is useful in terms of taxes and auditing, while finance has more variety but esstentially it is analyzing the financial statements from accounting in order to make a decision.

    Economics is all theory and it may or may not be right. Economists are still debating whether the fed reserve started the great depression in the 30s or not. If you do econ, then double major with finance with the intention of going into investments. hedge your bets, that's what they teach you in risk management in finance....not economics.
  • sosomenzasosomenza - Posts: 2,122 Senior Member
    Nothing wrong with Econ. But you'll need an advanced degree to break into he field. All big Corporations and Investment houses hire an army of economists. Also the head of the Federal Reserve is usually an Economist.
  • Samee24Samee24 Registered User Posts: 30 New Member
    Economics is, in no way or shape. a useless degree. It provides a solid grounding for grad school and tweaking the course to allow for quantitative elements can go a long way in promising a solid job upon graduation.
  • epoch707epoch707 Registered User Posts: 10 New Member
    the job outlook gets much better with a phd in economics, maybe in public policy or a professor but by that time you can make $100,000 5 years in as a financial analyst or sub $80,000 as a senior accountant, more if you are manager.

    ROI is much less if you were economics, like I said econ is less practical. They don't evey train you to think analytically with numbers like they do with finance.
  • chrischingchrisching Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    I definitely agree with what econoboy said - "Economics makes many simplifying assumptions about human behavior that in reality makes it very unrealistic".

    I am still a year 1 student and I will need to select my major at the end of the second year. I've just finished a basic economic course about Microeconomics and I found it quite interesting but I still couldn't believe that somehow quite a lot of economic theories are based on the assumptions about unrealistic human behavior. I am therefore still considering whether I should choose double major with economics and finance, or accounting and finance.

    But overall speaking, I don't think economics is a useless major.
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