Why You Should Major (or at least minor) in Economics

What do you want to be later in life? Do you want to get into business, finance, law, or medicine? Maybe you’d like to go to graduate school. The point is no matter what you want to do in life, economics can help you. Don’t believe me?

I will address some specific majors and then make a statement to the general college student population of other majors. If you don’t know what it is that you’ll want to do later, be sure to read all of the article. Even if you do know what you’d like to do, you might find some of the information helpful.

Business/Finance Majors/Aspiring MBAs

Before you start making any assumptions about me, I’d like to let you know what my major was when I started at BYU-Idaho: Business Management: Finance. My career aspiration was to work as an analyst at an investment bank. J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and Merrill Lynch were the places I really wanted to work. After a while, I really wanted to work either with an investment bank or for a technology firm. These tech firms were Intel, Google, Microsoft, and Apple. In fact, I also thought it would be fun to even have an option to work at Nike in Hillsboro, Oregon. Either way, economics would give me the edge that I need to be competitive in the workplace.

If you’re a business major other than finance, I strongly urge you to at least minor in economics. I say this because economics, as nasty as you might find it, actually helps you by giving you analytical skills that many other people don’t have. Sometimes, there will be charts that you’ll have to look over. Don’t tell me that you won’t. You will. Economics doesn’t only help you quickly spot errors and important information, it gives you an understanding so clear that you can explain the data more simply than your colleagues can.

If you’re a finance major (please note that reading the accounting major section may benefit you) within the business college at your school, you might want to change your major. There’s nothing wrong with being a finance major. As I said earlier, I was a finance major when I transferred to my new school. However, I’d like to let you know that I switched my major to Financial Economics within the first two weeks of school. Financial Economics is a degree in economics, but it uses the tools of finance so that you can work in banks and investments. This way, you would have the tools of not only finance and business at your disposal, but you would have the extremely useful tools of economics.

If you’re interested in exploring financial economics, be aware that it’s a very rare major to have at almost any university or college as an undergraduate major. Usually, when a school offers it, it’s a master’s degree. My school, BYU-Idaho and Columbia University are the only two colleges that I know that have it. And believe me, I’ve looked high and low. If your school does not have financial economics, you might want to look into either a major in finance with a minor in economics or vice versa. As you might have figured, I would vouch for you to major in economics with a minor in finance since all you really need are the tools of finance.

Whichever you choose as your major/minor combination, understand that the tools of economics can help you in many business scenarios such as: When to have sales at a store, if you should raise or lower your prices of a good or service, or whether or not your business plans are feasible. Even if you’ve got no interest in economics, I urge you to at least get a minor in it. Especially if you want to go into the finance world. You, and your future employer, will be thankful you did.

 

Accounting Majors

Do you want to be an accountant or get into business consultation? Much of the time with accounting and finance majors, they would much rather get into business consultation. The fact of the matter is that business consultants are using many of the tools used in economics. Does any accounting class actually tell you when you should close your business? So far, my accounting classes haven’t told me when I should do so other than “when your business starts to lose too much money.” Well, how much money is too much money? Economics tells us when we should do so by looking at a very simple graph.

Just so we’re clear, I’m not saying you shouldn’t take any accounting courses. In fact, I wish more schools would require their economics majors to take some accounting. BYU-Idaho does that. But the fact of the matter is that there is always more than just balancing the books. Accounting is much more than just balancing the books, sure. I would still say that it would be smart for those still wanting to major in accounting to strongly consider a minor in economics.

As was mentioned earlier to the business and finance majors, economics is great for analytical skills. You may not be dealing with very many charts, but economics can help you with forecasting as well as the business scenarios listed above. Economics, in this sense, helps you offer much more than just accounting. It helps you understand businesses and consumers better so you can better help your clients.

 

Aspiring Lawyers

Believe it or not, there is a Law and Economics program popping up at graduate schools nowadays. Economics is filled with tools that allow you to analyze legal areas such as torts, contracts, property, and crime. Vanderbilt University’s Law and Economics program. BYU-Idaho is offering it this next year as a course, but not a degree. I’m confident that this will become a recurring course, that is, if enough students show interest in it. Even if you think that something else would be better for a major, I urge you to take a law and economics course if your school offers it. I do not know how common or uncommon it is to have undergraduate courses to prepare you for such work in graduate school.

Another area of interest that aspiring lawyers might be into is behavioral economics. This is economics and its use in why people make decisions. Why did people decide to save money after 15 years of the attitude that screamed, “Spend spend spend!?” Behavioral economics goes over this. Maybe you’re more into why certain business decisions were made. Game theory would be great for understanding this. Actually, game theory would also help you out in determining whether or not you, your firm, or your clients are making the best possible legal decisions.

Do you want to be an environmental lawyer? You would love environmental economics.

If you’ve been reading this whole time, you’ll notice a recurring theme throughout the article: Economics will always help you in the long run with analytical skills. Not only that, but you’ll be quite sharp and able to swiftly make the right decisions in your legal profession.

 

Aspiring Doctors

Organic chemistry, medicine, and billing. Economics actually helps out with the analysis and quantitative methods involved with medicine. Believe it or not, there is actually a field called health economics. It’s actually more about health administration; focusing on the markets and government policies that shape healthcare and the access thereof.

Maybe I’m just biased because I understand economics fairly well.To be honest, it’s probably because economics makes you repeat the process so many more times than a normal math class would. But when I take math classes that are geared towards science and engineering, I get lost and confused. As they say, if you can’t teach someone else how to do the math you claim to know so well, you don’t really know it at all. Economics professors also know how to make math a little easier to understand.

Doctors need to figure out solutions to illnesses. Sometimes, they do research that takes careful analytical skills. Economics can help you with that too. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t use economics to better understand things like the supply of medicine and the demand of healthcare.

 

Those Majoring in the Arts

Live performances, acting, and culture! As a music major, drama/theater major, or cultural studies major, you can use economics to better understand things like the artist’s labor market, human capital, and the market for art. To be completely honest with you, I don’t really understand things like this. However, Wikipedia does explain this better.

 

All Other Majors

You might not think that economics applies to you or your studies at all. But I think that you could learn a lot from economics. The economic perspective actually helps you understand how to make better decisions in your life. This perspective allows you to take your unlimited wants and treat your scarce resources with care. Why wouldn’t anybody want such a powerful life skill?

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