Each year many Ivy Central students choose to study economics when they apply to college, and they are not alone, economics is one of the most popular subjects in colleges and universities around the world. Students tell me that what they like about the subject is that it breaks out of the STEM or humanities debate, by having one foot firmly set on each side of the divide. Other reasons people like it is that they feel it teaches them to better understand the real world, which in turn provides a good platform to enter the world of work in a broad number of careers.
So what is it like to study economics at university and what can you do with your degree when you’ve got it? Read on to find out.
What is economics?
Economics has been described as being the study of the world’s most powerful force: money. Money plays an essential part in so many aspects of our life, so understanding how it is used and the decisions that are made about how it is used is what economics is all about. By making predictions and understanding historical trends, economics seeks to transform the world by tackling problems like poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Economics is studied in two main strands:
Microeconomics is the study of how individual parties (people, groups, and businesses) use their wealth.
Macroeconomics looks at the bigger picture, entire economies. The unemployment, inflation, and monetary challenges of cities, countries, and continents.
What do you study if you choose an economics major?
As with many degree subjects you should expect to start your studies in economics by mastering the essentials of economics during your first year. This will normally include classes examining the principles of macro and microeconomics, along with concepts of economic modelling, fiscal and monetary policy. You should also expect to do courses in calculus and statistics.
Having gained this underpinning knowledge you will be in the position to follow courses that link to your specific interests by choosing tracks such as international economics, personal finance, public finance, business economics, economic development, population studies, economics in education, or something else that interests you.
At the end of your studies, you will be awarded either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in Economics. The first will have a greater study in the social sciences, such as psychology and sociology while the Bachelor of Science will place a greater weight on maths, statistical analysis and economic theory.
What careers can you go into?
Careers in economics are as diverse as they come, with job roles covering everything from food and agriculture to business, banking and politics. The analytical and problem solving skills you will have developed during your studies are in demand across many career areas throughout the global labour market.
Examples of careers where a degree in economics is an advantage:
· Business and Financial Consulting
· Policy Analyst
· Data Analysis
· Financial Planner
A degree in economics can also be a good start into careers such as law, journalism, politics and business.
Who should study economics?
Students who do well studying economics at university, and enjoy it tend to be people with a strong background in maths, most courses will require you to have studied maths to a high level at school. Economics will draw on your ability to think through problems in an analytical manner and critically assess topics of interest. Having a passion for current affairs is also a good indicator of somebody who will enjoy studying economics.
What colleges are good for economics?
As one of the most popular subjects for study in higher education, it is no surprise that most colleges and universities will offer some form of economics degree. According to the QS World Rankings, the top economics programmes are to be found at
· Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
· Harvard University
· Stanford University
· Princeton University
· University of California, Berkeley
· London School of Economics
· University of Chicago
· Yale University
· University of Oxford
· University of Cambridge
Alternatives to economics
If you are interested in economics you might also want to consider degrees in:
· Business Administration
· Accounting and Finance
· International Relations
· Maths or Statistics