Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.
Please take a moment to read our updated TOS, Privacy Policy, and Forum Rules.

Why you should major in Economics

AmazingAmazing Registered User Posts: 259 Junior Member
edited January 2014 in UC Transfers
So I’m on a massive ****ing caffeine rush after an all nighter, and have decided to put it towards something constructive. Anyways… I’m a 3rd year Econ major, my brother is an Econ major, my best friend is an Econ major, and I will probably end up dying while drawing a graph of some sort. I’ve been in love with Econ since high school and have never regretted it since. It has been fun, interesting, and challenging. It has recently landed me my dream internship and I have no doubts that it will serve me will upon graduation.

Every once in awhile I’ll hear the usual, “Isn’t business better than econ? Isn’t econ too theoretical? What can you do with econ?”

There are frankly just too many assumptions, misconceptions, and ignorance because none of this is backed by any actual facts or statistics. So let me give you the actual cited truths about majoring in Economics. Hopefully I will convince just one person out there to see the benefits of the major over the years. I’ll probably end up raising this thread from the grave as the next generation of transfers come to this board and point my misguided friends here.

There are no opinions in here. I could say a million good things about the Economics major, but why trust my own words right. Here I have merely collected facts, quotes, and data from various sources, all cited. So for you people bashing on the Econ major, feel free to throw down with me, but BACK YOUR **** UP.

I. Humor
II. Job Prospects
III. Respect
IV. Graduate School
V. Versatility
VI. Social Benefit
VII. Personal Benefit

I. Humor

This is a joke heard a lot in Econ, but I think it gives a pretty good idea of the versatility of economics:

A mathematician, an accountant and an economist apply for the same job.
The interviewer calls in the mathematician and asks "What do two plus two equal?" The mathematician replies "Four." The interviewer asks "Four, exactly?" The mathematician looks at the interviewer incredulously and says "Yes, four, exactly."
Then the interviewer calls in the accountant and asks the same question "What do two plus two equal?" The accountant says "On average, four - give or take ten percent, but on average, four."
Then the interviewer calls in the economist and poses the same question "What do two plus two equal?" The economist gets up, locks the door, closes the shade, sits down next to the interviewer and says, "What do you want it to equal"?

II. Job Prospects

“Meanwhile, the economics, finance and math majors are pursing jobs with salaries that often double once they've gotten some decent experience under their belts.”
“The kinds of majors where you learn to integrate mathematics and science with the everyday world have a tremendous benefit in terms of earnings potential," says PayScale.com's Lee. These include economics, engineering, finance and mathematics.”
- Forbes
*Most Lucrative College Majors - Forbes.com

College Degrees in Most Demand: 2009
6. Economics/Finance
Average starting salary: $49,794

5. Business Administration/Management
Average starting salary: $45,887

*College Degrees in Most Demand: 2009 - Slideshows - CNBC.com

Best entry-level salaries for new grads:

Economics - $52,926
Career options for economics majors vary from private consulting for businesses to working for government agencies.
[High than every major except engineering]

*Best entry-level salaries for new grads - CNN.com

[Econ higher than everything except Engineering for starting salary, and even beating certain Engineering majors by mid-career salary]

- Payscale
*Best Undergrad College Degrees By Salary
* Can Plato pay the bills? | blog.bioethics.net

6. Economics
Average Starting Salary: $47,782
[Once again, higher than everything but Engineering]

Top 10 Paying College Majors -- Education-Portal.com

”The most lucrative college major is economics, which has an earnings premium of 0.33 log points and a premium of 0.19 including occupation controls.”
- Goldin and Katz analysis of Harvard graduates
* Greg Mankiw's Blog: Why Major in Economics?

”The National Association of Colleges and Employers undertook a survey in the summer of 2001 in which they identified the starting salary offers in different disciplines. The starting salary in economics/finance was $40,776. The starting salary in business administration was 7.7 percent lower at $37,844.”
* The Economics Major

Major Yearly Salary Ranges

Business $36,000 - $55,000
Economics $40,000 - $60,000

- Hollins
* Why Major in Economics? - Benefits of Economics Major - Hollins University

According to the US Department for Labor, “Employment of economists and market and survey researchers is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2010.”
- Roosevelt
* Roosevelt University - Why major in Economics?

”Pooja Jotwani, a recent graduate of Georgetown University in Washington D.C., says she is certain her economics degree helped her land a job in Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.'s sales and trading division, where she will earn $55,000, not including bonus. She says the major strengthened her business skills and provided her with something very simple: "financial security."”

- Wall Street Journal Online
* WSJ.com - The Hot Major For Undergrads Is Economics

”The mean monthly income of individuals possessing bachelor's degrees in economics exceeded the mean monthly income of individuals with degrees in business administration and management, other social sciences, humanities, and most natural sciences”

- Digest of Educational Statistics
* Interesting Facts

So… do you need me to keep going? Because I can keep quoting facts and statistics all day. Keep in mind that almost all of these are for just a Bachelor’s degree too. So Business is a more practical major than Economics? Then explain to me why almost every major source ranks Economics consistently higher than every other Business major (bus admin, marketing, etc), and even higher than every major except Engineering? Disprove all my sources or shut the **** up. Econ pays and it pays well.

III. Respect

“A few years ago BusinessWeek magazine asked the chief executive officers (CEOs) of major companies what they thought was the best undergraduate degree. Their first choice was engineering. Their second choice was economics. Economics scored higher than business administration.”
* The Economics Major

”In contrast, economics and business majors ranked among the five most-desirable majors in a 2004 survey of employers by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, along with accounting, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. It wasn't just banks and insurance companies that expressed interest in economics majors -- companies in industries such as utilities and retailing did so, too.”
”Indeed, the rising popularity of the economics major appears to be a global phenomenon. A recent McKinsey Global Institute study found that the share of degrees in economics and business awarded in Poland from 1996 to 2002 more than doubled, to 36% from 16%; in Russia, the share jumped to 31% from 18%.”

- Wall Street Journal Online
*WSJ.com - The Hot Major For Undergrads Is Economics

”When adjusting for size of the pool of graduates, those with undergraduate degrees in Economics are shown to have had a greater likelihood of becoming an S&P 500 CEO than any other major.”

- Bently Uni
* SSRN-Economics: A Good Choice of Major for Future CEOs by Patricia M. Flynn, Michael Quinn

”Economics is enjoying surging popularity with college students, especially at the
nation's most elite institutions. Economics is the top major at Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Stanford and the Universities of Pennsylvania and Chicago; second at Brown, Yale and the University of California at Berkeley; and third at Cornell and Dartmouth.”

- The Wall Street Journal
*Interesting Facts

”Economics training provides you with virtually all of the top ten most important job skills”

- Job Choices Magazine, by the National Association of Colleges and Employers
*Interesting Facts

” I work at the corporate headquarters of Mervyn's as a financial analyst and internal auditor. None of my work relates to the material I studied as an undergrad, but that does not imply that my economics degree provides little value. As I have found from my own recruiting experience, an economics degree enjoys a great deal of respect because of exposure to issues related to the economy and thus business, as well as the analytical thinking that underlies economics.”

- Berkeley Alum
*What Can I Do With an Econ Major?

Famous CEOs with an Econ Major:

Ted Turner, CEO CNN, Atlanta Braves/Hawks (Brown)
Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft (Harvard)
Scott McNealy, CEO, Sun Microsystems (Harvard)
Meg Whitman, CEO, Ebay Technologies (Princeton)
William Harrison, Jr., CEO, JP Morgan Chase (UNC-Chapel Hill)
John Sweeny, President, AFL-CIO (Iona College)
Kenneth Lay, CEO of Enron (University of Houston, PhD)
Donald Trump, Real Estate/TV Mogul (University of Pennsylvania- Wharton)
Warren Buffet, Financier (Columbia School of Business, Master's in Economics)
Sam Walton, Founder of Wal-Mart, (University of Missouri)

*Famous Economic Majors

IV. Graduate School

”A study by Craft and Baker (2003) published in the Journal of Economic Education found that lawyers with degrees in economics earned $10,000 more per year than the average lawyer with another degree.”

”Ed Tom, the former director of admissions for the U.C. - Berkley law school explains: "Of all majors, economics ranks in the top four or five consistently year after year for both applications and admissions.... Logical reasoning and analytical skills are critical to legal studies" (Craft and Baker, 2003).”

”According to the latest data available, economics majors ranked first among majors with at least 2,200 students taking the LSAT. Economics majors earn an average score of 156.6, which is in the 72nd percentile.”

*Do Economics Majors Make Better Lawyers? | Whittemore School of Business & Economics

”Economics majors are ranked with physics and theology majors as the highest achievers on the LSAT, the Law School entrance exams. Employers are impressed when they see potential employees have an economics major or minor.”

- Roosevelt
*Roosevelt University - Why major in Economics?

”Economics is also excellent preparation for an MBA. The same Wall Street Journal article quotes Richard Silverman, executive director of admissions at Yale School of Management, as saying “The best people are more frequently taking economics as their major than they were a decade ago.” He goes on to say “It shows they have the intellectual fire in the belly to perform well in an MBA program.””

*Why be an Economics Major? - Quinnipiac University – Hamden, Connecticut

”I am now in Law School at Harvard. Nowadays, an Economics degree is one of the most helpful degrees to have for an entering law student. In my experience, it is the only academic non-legal subject that every substantive introductory law class teaches; every class thereafter assumes one has an understanding of economics.”

”Currently, I am a Ph.D. student in physical chemistry at Princeton University. My research area is the theory of the optimal control of molecular quantum phenomena. At Berkeley, I was a double major in economics and mathematics. Originally, I had planned on doing financial economics in grad school, but I was lured into the physical sciences after working for a year after graduation as a research assistant at the UCB College of Chemistry. Many of the things I learned as an economics major are still valuable…”

”After my economics graduation, I continued my graduate studies and earned a Masters degree in Information Management Systems from UC Berkeley School of Information Management and Systems. With both Economics and Technical skills, I was able to gain many job interviews with Silicon Valley companies.”

- Berkeley Alums
*What Can I Do With an Econ Major?

V. Versatility

*Under Construction

VI. Social Benefit

*Under Construction

VII. Personal Benefit

*Under Construction
Post edited by Amazing on

Replies to: Why you should major in Economics

  • AmazingAmazing Registered User Posts: 259 Junior Member
    I'll be updating this gradually over time both as a personal resource and for near future college generations.

    I can't wait for the Econ haters to come in. Come on now, lets see some facts.
  • mrpotatoeheadmrpotatoehead Registered User Posts: 50 Junior Member
    Amazing, you're amazing.

    What would you choose - UCLA or Berkeley for Econ?
  • AmazingAmazing Registered User Posts: 259 Junior Member
    "What would you choose - UCLA or Berkeley for Econ?"

    This question is hard to answer because there are no reliable rankings for undergraduate Economics. The only source you can go on is the rankings for Grad Econ and reasonably assume that the quality of grad and undergrad are closely correlated.

    Rankings - Economics - Graduate Schools - Education - US News and World Report

    #6: Berkeley, Yale
    #14: CalTech, UCLA, UCSD, UoWM

    Berkeley is ranked higher just like in overall school rankings. However, in my personal opinion the difference is small enough that personal preference can make up for the difference.

    Personally I go to UCLA. My brother got accepted Econ at Cal and Bus Econ at UCLA, and he's decided to go to UCLA also. I have no backed reasoning for this other than that I have spent a lot of time at both campuses and I like UCLA better as a school overall.

    Conclusion: dunno
  • JetForcegeminixJetForcegeminix Registered User Posts: 1,294 Senior Member
    You might want to discuss the actual amount of mathematics that is required to do graduate studies in economics.

    edit: http://markborgschulte.googlepages.com/berkeleyclassesirecommend
  • AmazingAmazing Registered User Posts: 259 Junior Member

    You are completely right on that. Econ grad school is on another level than undergrad in terms of the math. The ironic thing is that Econ undergrad doesn't require enough math classes for Econ grad, even when it's from the same school. I have heard that even engineers get a little nervous at that level. This also accounts for why UCSD is ranked so high on the Econ Grad rankings because of their top Econometrics program.

    However, I was just using those rankings as a reference for comparing Cal and LA undergrad Econ because there is literally no reliable rankings for it. So take that with a grain of salt because it is not entirely representative of the comparison.

    In the context of the whole thread, I'm not focusing a lot on Econ grad school anyways. Almost all of those facts/stats/quotes are talking about people with a Bachelors. And from there most go on to just work in business, some go law, some go for an MBA, and then a few daredevils go for a Masters or PhD in Econ.
  • SanDiegoStateGuySanDiegoStateGuy Registered User Posts: 73 Junior Member
    That economics joke got me and a coworker of mine busting up at work, very nice! haha.

    I absolutely agree, economics is an incredible major. Not only does it teach specific information, but the way of thinking that economics trains you in is what seems the most worthwhile to me. Good post! I hope you keep up with it.
  • AmazingAmazing Registered User Posts: 259 Junior Member
    Oh and on that note, I'll bring up more about Econ Grad school when I work on the Versatility section. But, just as a preview of it.. what major out there gives you such great job prospects with only a Bachelors, but at the same time giving you skills and preparation to go into Law school, MBA school, and Masters/PhD for teaching?

    I don't like making bold claims, but it really is one of the if not the most versatile major there is. Your classmates are all on different paths and you are essentially building a network in your department of people who will end up in widely varied careers.

    Drunk and disorderly conduct?... I'll hit up my friend going to law..
    My future-son wants to be an accountant?... I'll hit up my friend working at the Big Four..
    Who really shot Kennedy?... I'll hit up my friend working for the Feds...
  • AmazingAmazing Registered User Posts: 259 Junior Member
    "That economics joke got me and a coworker of mine busting up at work, very nice! haha."

    A friend of mine and also current Econ professor at a community college (Cal Econ Alumni) had his own shirt printed with the words:

    "Sure it works in practice, but what about in theory?"

    I swear I was cracking up all day haha.
  • grey_syntacticsgrey_syntactics Registered User Posts: 2,342 Senior Member
    Nice job, Amazing.

    While I am majoring in something completely astray from Econ, I took macroecon in the winter session just for fun/for units. I really liked it and am now taking microecon. I have the highest grade in the class. :)

    Unfortunately, I'm transferring already and don't have time to do the Calculus series to major in Econ, and really am not up for staying another year at my cc. Poo.
  • iTransferiTransfer Registered User Posts: 857 Member
    You can call me a hater if you want, but i say business is a lot better.

    1. I bet 90% of business majors will have good paying jobs (~45k/year) after graduation.
    2. I bet only about 50% econ actually get good working jobs. Usually its the people who are active, have good internships under their belt, or graduated from a prestigious school. The rest are pretty much screwed with a crappy job and have to work from the bottom up.

    Plus business majors usually get jobs that they actually specialize in. Like accounting, finance, or management. Econ majors is too broad of a major and many end up getting jobs unrelated to their major.

    The only thing that you market yourself as an econ major is
    A. You have a college degree
    B. You want to work in business
    C. You did well in college
    D. You are a hard worker
    Business majors can actually say they have focused their studies on the area of their desired job. Plus, you don't have to be the over-achiever as a business major to be able to find a job. You can be an average joe with an accounting degree and still find a job easily. Econ is different. You have to be the cream of the crop to be able to land a good job.

    If you are an econ major, I would suggest you get internships during college. Experience is the only thing that will guarantee you a job after college. Experience has more meaning than a degree. If an art major had 10 years of management experience under his belt and a newly business admin/management major applied for the same job, I bet the person with 10 years experience would have the upper hand even if he didn't even major in management.

    So if you are an econ major, work as hard to get internships as you are in school. A person with a couple years of experience + average gpa will have a upper hand over a 4.0 gpa with zero experience.

    Well, that is my thoughts about it.
  • JetForcegeminixJetForcegeminix Registered User Posts: 1,294 Senior Member
    oh no what are all the ivy league econ majors going to do when you take their jobs!?!? If you graduate with a business degree from a crappy school it's not gonna be any better than the crappy econ grad.

    Check Berkeley's career website and you'll see the vast majority of econ majors are employed after graduation.
  • iTransferiTransfer Registered User Posts: 857 Member
    2. I bet only about 50% econ actually get good working jobs. Usually its the people who are active, have good internships under their belt, or graduated from a prestigious school. The rest are pretty much screwed with a crappy job and have to work from the bottom up.

    Check Berkeley's career website and you'll see the vast majority of econ majors are employed after graduation.

    I heard Berkeley is not a prestigious school?

    You should ask previous econ majors and where they are at today. Then see how many make it and how many don't. Don't count on those statistics especially from Berkeley students.. They usually all make it.

    I didn't say if you went to a crappy school you won't get a good job either. I said if you are not hard working, active, and goal driven then you will end up with a crappy job.
  • AmazingAmazing Registered User Posts: 259 Junior Member

    It's awesome that you are taking Econ for your own enjoyment. A piece of paper with Economics and your name written on it surely does not determine success. Far more important is the way of thinking you learn when you really take those Econ courses to heart.

    I'll do my own analysis here on something I posted:

    "When adjusting for size of the pool of graduates, those with undergraduate degrees in Economics are shown to have had a greater likelihood of becoming an S&P 500 CEO than any other major.”

    Why is it that Econ majors have a greater likelihood of becoming a CEO? It can't be because of the degree itself, because that only determined entry into the company. And we sure as hell didn't learn anything about business skills in class. It is more reasonable to believe that it is the mindset you have as an Economist.

    An Economist thinks of a day as a series of decisions from when he wakes until he sleeps. A fundamental law of Economics is to think at the margin. If something does not benefit you, you will not do it. And so you your goal each day is to make each decision as optimally as you can with respect to your own utility (fancy word for happiness), preferences, constraints (budget, time, effort), and other factors. So I would argue an Economist is making the most out of every day, and is less likely to make dumb decisions because he takes into account cost/benefit. You are mentally applying mathematical formulas to everyday life, and optimizing its benefit to you. It is being drilled into your head to get the most while spending the least. And the further and further you go into economics, you learn more and more sophisticated ways to squeeze every ****ing dollar and hour for everything you can. Obviously this is a great way to think because what applies to you, applies to a business as well.

    Of course this is purely theoretical, but the numbers sure do seem to back it up.
  • grey_syntacticsgrey_syntactics Registered User Posts: 2,342 Senior Member
    Berkeley is the #1 public school in the country, in a pool of thousands of public schools from which employers can choose. I'd call that reason for prestige.
  • iao0918iao0918 Registered User Posts: 766 Member
    I HATE economics. I'm taking microecon honors right now and I don't understand ANYTHING. If I mess up this class Berkeley might rescind the contract.

    What am I even doing in this class? I'm an English major!!
This discussion has been closed.