Compare and Contrast: Econ/Math Joint BA vs Applied Math and Stats BS

Hello, incoming freshman here. Right now these are the top two majors I’m considering taking, and I was wondering if you can help me by telling me how they differ and which would be best suited for my goals. A few things about my situation:

  • I'm interested in the major that would open up the most possibilities for me. I'm not sure what kind of job I want to have yet.
  • "Making it rich" isn't as important to me as living a fulfilling life.
  • I don't want to spend much time working on a computer. (Hence why I ruled out the math/comp. sci. joint BA). I understand most if not all jobs nowadays require SOME time at the computer, so I don't mind doing stuff like creating spreadsheets and slideshows and writing up reports and whatnot, but I just want to spend as much time doing hands-on activities and working face-to-face with others as possible.
  • I really like the math and am good at the math I've already taken (E.g., Calc I and II), but don't have any history with Econ or stats, but I have a willingness to learn!
  • I hope to also minor in religion.
  • Finally, my ultimate goal isn't a job that will come from this degree. Sometime after graduating college, I hope to get a job with my degree that I can use to support myself until entering and while going to seminary, after which I hope to enter the ministry. And, if that doesn't end up being a path I take, then I'd like the degree I can best fall back on/do the most with.

Hi there! I’m a second-year who’s recently declared the Math/Econ joint major, but I decided on it early so I’m pretty far along. I don’t know much about the Applied Math/Stats major although I also was considering it for a while, but I can do my best to compare the two.

Just like you, I really liked math all throughout school. It’s one of those hit-or-miss subjects that either really clicks or really doesn’t, so if it does then it’s good you’re sticking with it in college.

I took up to Multivariable Calc (Calc III) in high school and loved it, so I knew I had to major in math. The thing is, though, I feel like pure math and statistics are two very different subjects. Math is entirely essential to statistics, but I personally love pure math while I can’t stand to study stats. It’s a very narrow and specific form of mathematical application, so some people love it and some people are like me and it just doesn’t spark our interest. So I would recommend you think about that when deciding between the two joint majors. Do you find stats interesting? Do you like working with data sets and mapping out trends? Or do you prefer more pure, sometimes abstract, computational and theoretical math?

I’m sure there are some people who equally love pure math and statistics because the two are very related, but from my experience I would say if you prefer pure math you might want to stay away from stats.

Also like you, I didn’t have that much experience with econ before college. Or stats for that matter. I took AP Econ in my senior year of high school, which included both AP Microecon and AP Macroecon, and I did well in the class but I didn’t consider majoring in it until I found out about the joint major. And then I thought to myself, econ is interesting and I could potentially really like it, so I transferred one of my AP credits and took Intro Macro and Intermediate Micro and had a very positive experience. So I declared the major.

I would say that if you even have just a small inkling of interest in econ and a willingness to learn, you probably will end up really liking it. I’m sure the same could be said for statistics. They’re just very different ways to apply math, although you could say the two are also very related. And econ has a lot to do with theory. But I love econ and I don’t love stats, so make of that what you will.

It sounds like you have a clear side interest as well, and I can definitely say that you will be more than able to pursue it alongside the Math/Econ joint major. Especially if you start out taking classes for the major early on. I don’t know if you can tell by how much I clearly like to write and ramble, but I love English and I’m pursuing it as a minor. I haven’t declared it yet because I’m deciding between that and Film for a minor, but at the very least let that speak to how much room you’ll have to pursue a minor in religion. I’ve already taken classes in both English and Film and I’m also far ahead in my major for only being two semesters in, so rest assured that you’ll have plenty of room to explore all that you’re interested in.

I also think that the Math/Econ joint major is a very open-ended major that you can do a lot with, because math applies to all things in life and economic thinking necessary for almost any job, so you’ll have plenty of options after graduation in terms of work, even if you don’t want a job that’s clearly and specifically related to math and economics. To me, it seems like applied math and statistics are very concentrated in data and numbers, so it’s more tailored specifically for careers that you might be working on computers a lot for. And you said that’s not the ideal outcome for you, so just keep that in mind. Trust me, I relate. I love math, but I most certainly do not love computers.

I think the Math/Econ joint major might open up more doors for the kind of hands-on and face-to-face work you seem to be interested in. Econ is a very personified version of mathematics, so you could be doing a lot of things in the future that involve personal interaction with that degree.

It all depends on what you’re most drawn to. And keep in mind that I’m definitely no authority to draw conclusions on the Applied Math/Stats major so take everything I say about it with a grain of salt. Additionally, something to consider is that the Math/Econ joint major is 16 courses and 51 credit hours to complete, and the Applied Math/.Stats joint major is 20 courses and 54-59 credit hours to complete. Keep that in mind, especially if you want to pursue a minor in religion or explore any other subject. One joint major is clearly more demanding than the other. And that can be good or bad, it all just depends on what you want.

I personally am very indecisive still about what I want to do after graduation, and I felt like the major I chose opened up a variety of options I might be interested in. I also have a lot of side interests so I wanted to make sure I had room to explore those. I’m biased but I love my major, and you sound a lot like I did when I was in your position just a year ago.

I know this was a very long-winded explanation that may not have hit all the points that you were thinking about, but I hope it somewhat helped. Best of luck!