Alumni and Careers
What can I do with an economics major (or minor)?
Just about anything, thanks to the systematic approach it brings toward analyzing a wide variety of situations. Economics is one of the most versatile and useful majors because it hones your analytic and critical thinking abilities while you learn about the global economy—an international system that results from the aggregation of practical decisions made by households, firms, and governments in our nation and abroad.
Arguably the most practical of the liberal arts, economics enables you to logically structure problems of choice—including choice under uncertainty—and to acknowledge the various financial, legal, social, and transitory considerations that constrain us. You will learn analytic tools to enable you to solve puzzles and see through common myths while applying these tools to real world, current events found in the newspapers and other media. Your subsequent understanding of the interactions of laws and government policies with personal and business decisions provides a solid foundation for either finding a job or graduate study.
Unlike many disciplines, which require advanced study to land a job in the field, economics prepares you to step into entry positions upon graduation, as well as enabling you to apply for jobs that require either a liberal arts degree or a business-related degree. Economics graduates typically work in one of four areas:
- Business (private sector)
- International research
- Academic research
In the private sector, economists prepare forecasts and analyze a variety of economic relationships for their employers in industries such as financial services, insurance, health care, and manufacturing, as well as for trade associations, labor unions, and nonprofit organizations. Economics majors often go into investment banking or consulting for business and government in a variety of areas, including management, antitrust, the environment, etc.
The government hires economists to use economics models and national and international economic data to guide current policy at a wide variety of agencies, including the Department of Justice (antitrust division), the Federal Trade Commission, the State Department, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce (including NOAA, NMFS, and the Bureau of the Census), the Federal Reserve System, and the Treasury.
International organizations such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, European Union, and Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development employ economists to gather and analyze international data.
Finally, academic and research economists (usually those holding a PhD) teach and/or conduct (and publish) research at colleges, universities, and think tanks around the world. They may be called upon to provide expert testimony to courts or Congress. For those interested in graduate study, an economics degree is well respected by top graduate programs in business, law, medicine, public policy, and of course, economics. To prepare for the rigor of graduate or professional school, students often choose a major or minor in economics to complement concurrent study in mathematics, government, history, psychology, or sociology.