The economy is responsible for the supply and demand of good and services within a society and therefore plays a huge role in its growth and development.1 Consequently, economists are crucial in accurately predicting levels of supply and demand within a market based on industry data and surrounding socio-economic and political trends.
Economists are more than just business people. They are analysts, sociologists, political scientists and communicators. Therefore, students who study economics possess a number of skills that can be transferred to different professions. Are you contemplating post-secondary studies in economics?
If so, here are some of the reasons why economics may be a good fit for you:
• You are curious about how everything – people, business, and government – connects with each other.
• You like solving problems and you do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of it.
• You are able to digest complex ideas/issues and clearly articulate them in layman’s terms.
Economics is considered to be a liberals arts program in most colleges. Students will learn about a wide range of topics from economic theory to market analysis to international government policies to quantitative application to economic analysis.2 The skills which they gain from these studies include verbal and written communication; quantitative and qualitative data analysis; critical thinking; and problem solving. Following the completion of highschool, students can study economics through the following programs:
Bachelor of Arts Degree: This is generally a four-year program offered at most colleges. Following the completion of the program, graduates will have a solid foundation on economic theories as well as quantitative and qualitative methods of data analysis. Jobs available to students with a BA include some junior level economist positions in the government, financial institutions as well as management consulting. Many students often pursue graduate studies – either a Masters or Doctorate degree – to increase their chances of working as an economist in larger government and private sector organizations.
Associate Degree: This is a two-year program offered at community and junior colleges. The program provides a high level overview of the courses compared to those offered in a four-year program. As a result, many students undergo an Associate program as a foundation and transfer these credits towards a Bachelor of Arts degree. An associate degree will not qualify for a position as an economist however; graduates from this program are likely to start their career as a junior level associate at a financial institution.
These programs are available online or on campus, depending on the student’s preference and financial capabilities. Online programs tend to cost less because courses are conducted virtually via video and teleconferences. However, because networking plays a large role in connecting with industry experts and uncovering hidden opportunities in the job market, it is highly recommended to enroll in an on-campus program. Furthermore, depending on the faculty member’s specialization, some schools may place more focus on certain areas of economic studies. Therefore, your area of interest will dictate to which school you apply.
As a result, students are encouraged to contact colleges’ economics department to learn more about their program specializations as well as opportunities to apply for financial aid. High school counselors can also help connect you to the right college representatives for more information.
1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Economists: Occupational Outlook Handbook. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/economists.htm
2. Yale University. Department of Economics http://economics.yale.edu/courses/schedule/undergraduate