Sometimes considered a very jock-y/bro-y major, economics is one of the most popular majors for undergraduates. Econ is often one of the most misinterpreted areas of study, since a lot of students go into this major thinking this will make them the ‘big bucks’ or a ‘straight shot to Wall Street’. Some students also think of economics as ‘the major that teaches you finance, investment banking, and how to do that thing where rich people make more money from money’. Ready to bust some myths? Here’s the low-down on economics:
What is Economics?
Economics is a social science major, defined by the American Economic Association (AEA), as “A study of how people choose to use resources.” What does this mean? In the most basic sense, economics looks at demand and supply for resources. Demand is defined as a consumer’s desire for a product or resource and supply is, well, the supply of said product or resource. While that is a broad, broad, BROAD understanding of what economics is, there are a lot of subfields. Here are some:
Macroeconomics tends to look at the economy as a whole and tries to answer questions such as ‘How is the current state of the economy and what policies can be placed to improve it or make it more efficient?’ Other topics such as inflation, trade performance, and employment or unemployment are also discussed in this subfield.
Microeconomics focuses on the individual and firms in the market. The subfield tries to understand the decision making process behind individuals as well as the effects of these individual decisions on the supply and demand curve of a market.
3. Game Theory
One of the most interesting subfields is game theory, the study of decision making. It involves understanding how people interact and the understand of strategical thinking.
What careers can I get as an Economics major?
Economics will develop and hone your skills in critical thinking, decision making skills, critical analysis, as well as problem solving, thus opening a door to a large array of careers you can enter. Here’s a small sampling:
- Academia (Professor, Researcher)
- Financial Analyst
- Investment Banking Analyst
- Market Research Analyst
- Real Estate Investor
What colleges/universities have good economics programs?
Below are a few well-known economic programs for their faculty and departments. In addition, AEA provided this very comprehensive list of economic departments on colleges and universities in the United States and Puerto Rico.
- Amherst College – Economics
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – Economics
- Northwestern University – Economics
- University of California, Berkeley – Economics
- University of Chicago – Economics (Steven Levitt, the author of Freakonomics, is a UChicago Economist!)
- University of Michigan, Ann Arbor – Economics
- Swarthmore College – Economics
How about study abroad options?
If you are student who did not want to go to a undergraduate business school, or you want to learn how economics is taught in a different geographic setting, below are great programs to look into:
- London School of Economics (LSE) – The General Course: A Year Abroad
- University College London (UCL) – Economics (Fall or Spring Semester/Year)
- Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) – Global Economics (Semester)