Why Study Economics?

Preparing you for an ever-changing world

The study of economics helps people understand the world around them. It enables people to understand people, businesses, markets and governments, and therefore better respond to the threats and opportunities that emerge when things change. Economics majors are well-positioned in an ever-changing world because they have problem solving and analytical skills that allow them to succeed in variety of career paths—law, risk management, actuary, finance, foreign affairs, public administration, politics, policy analysis, health administration, entrepreneurship, market analysis, journalism, and unknown careers of the future.

The breadth and flexibility of an economics degree prepares students to adjust to unexpected changes and take advantage of unexpected opportunities. A study by LinkedIn (PDF, 43 KB) found that college graduates change jobs and careers about four times in the first ten years after graduation. With its wide-ranging applications, economics is a great choice in an ever-changing world.

Providing you with the knowledge and skills that employers want

Economics, at its core, is the study of how to evaluate alternatives and make better choices. It develops critical-thinking and problem-solving skills to make good decisions. It develops analytical skills to examine data to support good decisions. These skills are desired across careers in the public and private sectors. An annual study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) consistently finds that employers want the skills gained from studying economics—the ability to make decisions, solve problems, obtain and process information, analyze data, and write and speak effectively.

Ensuring your successful future

No matter what the future holds, an economics major helps people succeed. Understanding how decisions are made, how markets work, how rules affect outcomes, and how economic forces drive social systems will equip people to make better decisions and solve more problems. This translates to success in work and in life.

Though economics majors enjoy relatively high starting salaries, the key indicator of the value of an economics major is long-term success and lifetime earnings. A recent study (PDF, 194 KB) finds the lifetime earnings of economics majors outpaces other business major, social science majors, and even general engineering majors. Another study (PDF, 1.2 MB) finds that lawyers with an undergraduate degree in economics earn $10,000 more annually than other lawyers. And an analysis of S&P 500 CEOs (PDF, 289 KB) showed that economics majors are more likely to become a CEO than any other major.

Enabling you to contribute to the greater good

Economics provides the primary framework for public policy analysis. The major equips people to understand the fundamental policy issues that shape market and social outcomes. An economist understands the immediate issues like tradeoffs, benefits versus costs, market failure, public finance, but also understands the broader issues of generational impacts, welfare impacts, and inequality. Economics majors are equipped with the language and skills to engage in public policy debates and act to advance economic and social progress.

Preparing you for graduate school and law school

Economics imparts clear reasoning and logical thinking. This not only helps people do well personally and professionally, it helps prepare students for graduate programs and law school.

Law school? Studies show (PDF, 60 KB) that economics majors consistently have one of the highest average LSAT scores among all majors. Economics majors also have law school acceptance rates considerably higher than most majors, including pre-law programs.

MBA? Economics majors possess the broad perspective and problem-solving skills that top MBA programs value, and studies show (PDF, 143 KB) they have the highest average GMAT score among all business majors.

Graduate programs? Economics provides a strong foundation for graduate study in economics, public policy, political science, sociology, among others. Students interested in pursuing a graduate degree in economics should consider a minor in math.

Enhancing other majors

Economics can be a valuable complement to most other majors. The breadth and flexibility of an economics major can be an invaluable way for people to diversify when paired with a more career-specific business major like accounting, marketing, finance, or computer information systems, and even more so when paired with a non-business major like computer science, healthcare management, journalism, environmental science, building science, or design.