Economists analyze how people make choices. This statement may seem very simplistic, but it captures the most fundamental aspects of the economics discipline. The range of issues and circumstances that shape peoples' choice are vast and complicated, so economists use conceptual tools to focus on the most important decision-making factors and to predict typical outcomes of peoples' interactions. Economists also use empirical tools to test theory, analyze data, and inform ongoing decision-making. Policymakers in both government and business rely on economists for research findings and advice.
At the undergraduate level, students can learn about the methods of analysis that economists use and about the various fields of inquiry where economists have been most productive. Principles courses introduce students to both the methodology and the fields and thus provide a foundation for both the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Science curriculums. In the BA track, students learn how economics is applied to various real-world problems, as well as, the fundamental methodological tools. In the BS track, students focus more attention on the methodology of economic analysis, which requires more emphasis on quantitative skills than the BA. For a full description of the two tracks, look at Degree Requirements. For information on how to become an economics major look at Declaring the Major.
Employers and many graduate programs look favorably upon applicants with an economics degree because of the “critical thinking skills” learned and practiced in the sequence of economics courses taken by majors. After graduation ECON majors often pursue careers in business, banking and finance, government, law, or international relations, while others go on to graduate study in a wide range of disciplines. For more information, see Internships and Career Exploration and Preparing for Graduate School.
Taking courses is not the only way to learn economics, so check out the ECON Undergraduate Blog for additional opportunities. If you are interested in exploring the type of economic research activity pursued by professional economists with PhDs, you should consider the Honors program offered by the Economics Department for our most talented majors.
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