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Which is more math intensive, Economics or Engineering?

Cflor111Cflor111 Registered User Posts: 21 New Member
edited September 2011 in Engineering Majors
Which is more math intensive and requires higher level reasoning?

I heard Economics as an undergrad involves little to no math at all but once you get into Gradschool you are bombarded with an unbelievable amount of math. Then theres Engineering majors which obviously involves math but Grad school isnt essential.
Post edited by Cflor111 on

Replies to: Which is more math intensive, Economics or Engineering?

  • RoysGoin2CollegeRoysGoin2College Registered User Posts: 558 Member
    BumpThis....
  • KaiLunKaiLun Registered User Posts: 317 Junior Member
    Yup bump. Curious as well.
  • KamelAkbarKamelAkbar Registered User Posts: 500 Member
    Engineering.

    Edit: Not sure about grad school.
  • DreburdenDreburden Registered User Posts: 297 Junior Member
    Why don't you look at the curriculums for both at a variety of schools and figure out for yourself?
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 76,615 Senior Member
    Economics majors can be rather light on math (a year of "calculus for business majors" and introductory statistics) or very heavy on math (freshman and sophomore math that is the same as what math and engineering majors take, plus junior and senior level math courses like real analysis, intermediate / advanced differential equations, intermediate / advanced statistics).
  • iTransferiTransfer Registered User Posts: 857 Member
    Engineering.

    The only hard math for an economics major is advanced statistics and econometrics. Which are usually optional to take anyways.

    Also I find that statistics/econometrics is significantly easier to understand than the math involved engineering classes.

    Another thing about economics is that the electives that you choose to take don't have to involve math at all. However with engineering, you will be facing tough math in almost every single class you take.
  • DocTDocT Registered User Posts: 7,279 Senior Member
    Of course when you get to something like financial engineering, the math is significantly more sophisticated than what a typical engineer will ever encounter.
  • boneh3adboneh3ad Forum Champion Engineering Posts: 7,560 Forum Champion
    DocT wrote:
    Of course when you get to something like financial engineering, the math is significantly more sophisticated than what a typical engineer will ever encounter.

    Examples? Otherwise I assume you don't have a clue.
  • DreburdenDreburden Registered User Posts: 297 Junior Member
    Financial engineering is not economics.
  • mregomrego Registered User Posts: 1,038 Senior Member
    If you want to investigate the math involved with advanced economics, take a look at the work done by some Nobel prize laureates in Economics. For example, look at the Black-Scholes formula and ways of valuing derivatives and pricing options.
  • Burgsoccer09Burgsoccer09 Registered User Posts: 324 Member
    Engineering.

    No contest.
  • DueceyDuecey Registered User Posts: 73 Junior Member
    At undergrad level, engineering will require significantly more math. At grad level, econ will likely require more.
  • aegrisomniaaegrisomnia Registered User Posts: 1,026 Senior Member
    One example comes to mind, although I don't know how good it is. I'd generally consider game theory to be "harder" than differential equations, and economists do game theory whereas engineers do differential equations. This is academic, though, in the sense that you can do a very cursory treatment of game theory in an economics program and a very rigorous treatment of differential equations in an engineering program, and vice versa.

    I would offer, though, that the "hardest" part of both economics and engineering programs is the mathematical component, though, and as such, the difficulty (real or artificial) of the programs - which can be inferred from graduation/retention rates - should correlate fairly well with how rigorously the programs do the mathematics. In other words, see which programs have higher drop-out rates, and maybe even see whether you have more economics -> engineering or engineering -> economics (normalized for the sake of comparison) transfers.

    Also, the difficulty of the mathematics involved will very across engineering disciplines, somewhat at least. The variation is greater if you count software engineering & computer science as "engineering", in which case, I'd be of the opinion that these involve the hardest mathematics... surpassed only by mathematics or rigorous statistics degree programs. Of course, as a math guy working in software, you might take this with a grain of salt.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 76,615 Senior Member
    In other words, see which programs have higher drop-out rates, and maybe even see whether you have more economics -> engineering or engineering -> economics (normalized for the sake of comparison) transfers.

    However, this is confounded by the fact that switching into engineering is logistically difficult unless one has been planning it from freshman year, due to the prerequisite chains in math, physics, etc. that are needed. Trying to switch into engineering having not followed the engineering course schedule previously will typically result in delayed graduation, while switching into economics can probably be done up to a later stage.

    Most economics majors take lightweight math ("calculus for business majors" and introductory statistics) and do not go to graduate school in economics. Those few intending to go to graduate school in economics take junior level math and statistics courses, possibly double majoring in math or statistics. So the answer to the title question depends on which economics majors are being referred to -- the former do much less math than engineering majors, while the latter do much more math than engineering majors.
  • aegrisomniaaegrisomnia Registered User Posts: 1,026 Senior Member
    In fairness, the question is about which involves higher-level, harder mathematics... not which one requires more mathematics. You could clearly take 20 introductory courses in different subjects and not have to do much hard thinking, whereas a sequence of 10 consecutive (and meaningfully distinct) courses in e.g. discrete mathematics will probably take you from knowing nothing to knowing approximately as much as most PhD mathematicians do about logic, graph theory and the theory of computation.
This discussion has been closed.