Bachelor’s in Economics Program Guide

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By Whitney Sandoval

Published on November 18, 2020

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A bachelor's degree in economics prepares graduates to enter the job market with desirable critical thinking and analytical skills. Because the field includes a diverse course of study, economics graduates can seek a career in a variety of areas, including business, finance, and banking.

Employment opportunities for graduates are available in private and public industries, such as with nonprofit agencies, healthcare organizations, and law firms. According to PayScale, the median salary of a professional with a BA in economics is about $74,000.

Find out more about what courses graduates complete while earning an on-campus or online bachelor's degree in economics, how to pick a degree program, and employment opportunities for graduates.


What Is Economics?

Economics is an interdisciplinary field focusing on the tradeoff between supply and demand. Those who study economics seek to understand trends — especially around production and consumption — on a small (microeconomics) or large (macroeconomics) scale. Economics also attempts to answer questions related to the spending habits of individuals and communities.

What Are the Best Bachelor's in Economics Programs of 2020?

#1 Florida International University Miami, FL
#2 University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT
#3 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR
#4 Utah State University Logan, UT
#5 Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA
#6 Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO
#7 Washington State University Pullman, WA
#8 University of West Georgia Carrollton, GA
#9 North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University Greensboro, NC
#10 University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Honolulu, HI

Should I Get a Bachelor's in Economics?

Graduates of a bachelor's program in economics develop a strong understanding of how the habits of people impact various aspects of spending, finances, and supply and demand. Those who enjoy studying numbers and patterns may be drawn to economics, although an economics program focuses on more than just numbers.

Along with learning mathematics and statistics, graduates foster deep critical thinking skills that are highly desirable, including the ability to:

Communicate and relay information and solutions to a variety of audiences Interpret information to make informed, data-driven decisions Understand the relationship between two items Apply a methodical framework to logically work through problems

A bachelor's degree in economics prepares graduates to pursue various occupations. One possible position is financial analyst. According to the BLS, the 2019 median pay for financial analysts was $81,590 annually, and the number of jobs available in this field are projected to grow 5% from 2019 to 2029 — faster than the national average for all occupations.

What Will I Learn in an Economics Program?

A bachelor's in economics program begins with a heavy mathematical and analytical foundation. Although each college program has variance, courses may cover topics like consumer economics, money and banking, and health economics.

Because economics is a broad discipline, many colleges offer concentrations for those pursuing an on-campus or online bachelor's degree in economics. This allows students to focus on an area of interest. Popular concentrations include international economics and behavioral economics.

Courses

Consumer Economics

Introducing the theories behind consumer economics, this course emphasizes the decision-making process of consumers and how those decisions impact the economy. Along with theory, students learn the history of consumer policies and the consumer protection agencies designed to protect consumers.

Applied Game Theory

In this course, students are introduced to game theory and learn how those concepts apply to economic principles. Examining how individual and group decisions impact others, learners practice applying elements of game theory across different scenarios.

Money and Banking

Beginning with the history of money and financial institutions, this course delves into banking and financial markets within the U.S. economy. Students learn about the Federal Reserve and the role of the federal government in monetary regulation and policy.

Health Economics

Learners are introduced to theories around the economics of health and healthcare. Covering health insurance, the demand for healthcare, and medical spending, this course examines the health market and how healthcare policies can impact that market.

Urban Economics

This course focuses on urban area development, the growth of cities, and the economics surrounding these concepts. Looking at the price of properties in different areas, housing markets and availability, and poverty, students learn about the relationship between economics, policy, and where people live.

Concentrations

Financial Economics

This concentration provides a deep understanding of mathematical and economic concepts. Students learn how to analyze financial markets and make informed financial decisions. A strong knowledge of calculus and computer programming is useful.

Public Policy

Focusing on the relationships between the government, citizens, and policy, a concentration in public policy studies trends in finances, government regulations, and different public programs. Students learn how to argue whether or not policy can have a positive or negative impact on a group.

International Economics

A concentration in international economics allows students to apply macroeconomics on a global scale. Appealing to students interested in the global economy and policy across different countries, studying international economics prepares learners to work for government agencies or international organizations.

Behavioral Economics

Featuring courses like game theory and consumer economics, a concentration in behavioral economics focuses on understanding the motivation behind consumer actions. Learners study the effects of psychological, cultural, and other influences to understand how these factors drive the market.

Healthcare and Health Policy

For those interested in healthcare and health policy, this concentration applies the theories of economics to the health industry. Students are introduced to health economics and learn how the application of those theories impacts decisions around healthcare and health policy.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Economics?

Individuals who earn a bachelor's in economics degree are suited for a variety of careers, including economist, financial analyst, and accountant. Students who major in economics develop important analytical and mathematical skills, along with refined critical thinking abilities. This diverse skill set allows graduates to seek career opportunities with organizations in just about any sector.

Careers

Financial Analyst

Researching, writing reports, and presenting are key aspects of a financial analyst's job. A financial analyst seeks out investment opportunities in the form of stocks, bonds, and other resources and reports those findings to businesses or individuals.

Market Research Analyst

Market research analysts use information related to the market and data trends to research and report on how the economy may affect the success of certain products or services. Utilizing problem-solving and critical thinking skills, market research analysts present their findings and solutions to clients or companies.

Actuary

The statistical analysis and mathematical skills developed in a bachelor's in economics program prepare graduates to become actuaries. Using these skills, actuaries predict the possibility of problems such as illness, death, and fires, usually for insurance companies.

Management Consultant

Graduates of bachelor's in economics programs learn the analysis and research skills necessary to become a management consultant. Analyzing the causes of business problems and presenting possible fixes to these problems is a major component of being a management consultant.

Accountant

Accountants oversee the financial accounts of businesses. Along with managing the financial books, accountants prepare taxes and make sure companies follow financial protocols and best practices. Accountants can work for a variety of employers, including nonprofits, healthcare agencies, and international businesses.

How to Choose an Economics Bachelor's Program

Are all bachelor's in economics programs the same? The simple answer is no. When choosing a program, it is important to note that students can earn a bachelor of arts degree in economics or a bachelor of science degree in economics. Both prepare graduates for similar careers, but there are some differences.

A bachelor of arts degree in economics features a more qualitative focus and highlights the social implications that surround supply and demand and the economy. Alternatively, focusing more on quantitative economics, a bachelor of science in economics analyzes cause and effect in the economy by examining the math and statistics around it.

Prospective students also have the option to join a traditional in-person program or pursue their bachelor's in economics degree online. Some students prefer in-person instruction, while others may enjoy the added flexibility of an online program.

How to Get Into an Economics Bachelor's Program

When applying to a bachelor's in economics program, look at each school's application requirements. Although requirements may differ slightly, most programs have a minimum GPA requirement and many ask applicants to submit their ACT or SAT scores.

Along with an application, transcripts, and test scores, colleges may also require a personal essay and/or letters of recommendations. Although there aren't any special requirements for a bachelor's in economics program, it is important for applicants to highlight experiences that are relevant to the program. For instance, applicants may include a letter of recommendation from a mathematics teacher.


How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Economics?

Earning a bachelor's degree in economics in a traditional program takes full-time students four years, with programs requiring at least 120 credits. Credits include general electives and core requirements, as well as program-specific courses. Students' coursework may look different depending on whether they're pursuing a BA or a BS.

Prospective students interested in increased flexibility may find an online bachelor's in economics program to be a better fit. Some online programs offer accelerated tracks that allow students to graduate in less than four years.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Bachelor's in Economics?

The average tuition and fees for a bachelor's degree cost $9,000-$35,000 a year, depending on a student's residency status (in state vs. out of state) and whether they are pursuing a degree at a private or public institution.

Prospective students can cut costs by going to an in-state school or pursuing an online degree in economics from a school that offers in-state tuition prices for out-of-state distance learners. Since the average annual cost of tuition and fees is higher at private colleges, students looking to save money should investigate public college options.

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