Is Economics Hard? Should You Choose this Major?

Economics is one of the most demanding degrees at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels. But many people are afraid to take it, thinking it is hard to study. Is that really the case? Is economics hard to study?

Yes, economics can be hard because of its inherent complexity in theories, methodological frameworks, and practical applications. You need a deep understanding of quant, supply and demand, scarcity, diminishing returns, and opportunity costs.

But that does not mean it is impossible to comprehend. Thousands of people around the globe are doing their major in economics. So you don’t have to be afraid of it if you are passionate about the subject. The subject has great career prospects.

Survey Data On Major’s Difficulty

Surveys reveal important data on how economics stacks up against other majors.

MajorReported Difficulty (1-5)

Over 60% of economics students agree that the major is moderately difficult, ranking above business but below engineering. That means economics is harder than business, accounting, or finance but less hard than physics, chemistry, or other science subjects.

7 Reasons why Economics is hard?

Here is an exploration of why economics is often perceived as challenging to understand:

1. Abstract Theoretical Constructs

Economics uses ideas like utility (how much satisfaction you get from something), equilibrium (when things are balanced), elasticity (how much something changes when something else changes), and market efficiency (how well markets work). These concepts are really important for understanding economics, but they can be tricky to understand because they’re not always easy to see or touch.

2. Mathematical Rigor

In economics, we use a lot of math to understand complicated economic stuff. We use things like calculus, algebra, and statistics to create models and find answers to economic questions. This math can be tricky, especially if you’re uncomfortable with numbers and formulas.

3. Interdisciplinary Nexus

Economics combines different subjects like social science (studying people and societies), math, and policy analysis (looking at laws and rules). It combines ideas from all these areas to help us understand economics better. This mix helps us see the big picture, but it also means we must understand different ways of thinking and study methods.

4. Dynamic and Evolving Nature

Economic systems always change because markets go up and down, governments make new rules, and technology keeps advancing. This constant change means that economic theories and how we practice things are always evolving. To keep up with these changes, we must always be learning and ready to adapt our thinking and strategies.

5. Simplifying Assumptions and Real-World Relevance

In economics, we often simplify things to make them easier to understand. These simplifications help us explain theories and analyze data more easily. However, these simplified versions may not always match the complexities of how people and institutions actually behave in the real world. This mismatch can lead some people to doubt how well economic theories apply to real-life situations.

6. Policy Implications and Ethical Considerations

Economic analysis greatly impacts how policies are made, and decisions are taken. This means that economics isn’t just about numbers, theories, ethics, and values. When discussing economic policies, we have to consider what’s fair, who benefits, and what’s right or wrong. This adds another layer of complexity to economic discussions and debates.

7. Epistemological Pluralism and Methodological Controversies

Economics includes different ways of thinking and methods for studying, leading to lively debates and disagreements among scholars. Traditional views, like neoclassical economics, and alternative perspectives challenge them. This diversity shows that economic ideas are not set in stone; they can change depending on who you ask and how you look at things. This complexity makes it important for individuals to understand different viewpoints and determine which ones make the most sense based on evidence and reasoning.

Career opportunities in economics

Government: Economists play pivotal roles in governmental bodies, analyzing data to shape policies and evaluate regulatory impacts.

Private Sector: In the private sector, economists are sought after by financial institutions for forecasting market trends and managing risks. Consulting firms rely on economists to provide insights into business strategies and market analysis.

International Organizations: Organizations like the World Bank and IMF hire economists to tackle global economic challenges and provide expertise in development projects.

Academia: Opportunities in academia include research and teaching positions, allowing economists to contribute to knowledge dissemination and mentor future professionals.

Non-Profit Sector: Non-profits focus on economic development and social policy, offering economists opportunities to address pressing societal issues and promote sustainable solutions.

Real-world Applications: Economic principles find applications in diverse fields such as healthcare, environmental sustainability, and technology, demonstrating the versatility and relevance of economics in addressing contemporary challenges.

Job Market Realities

Economics majors face a competitive job market. Yet, with their analytical skills and quantitative training, they stand out. Employers recognize the value of an educational background in economics. High demand exists in finance, consulting, and governmental sectors.

  • Financial Analyst
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Economic Consultant
  • Policy Analyst
  • Data Scientist

Here’s a glimpse at the median salaries for some common jobs held by economics majors:

Job TitleMedian Salary
Financial Analyst$61,000
Market Research Analyst$65,000
Economic Consultant$74,000
Policy Analyst$59,000

Degree related to economics

Degrees related to economics encompass a broad spectrum of academic programs that study economic principles, policies, and applications. Here are several notable degree options:

Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) in Economics: These undergraduate degrees provide a comprehensive foundation in economic theory, quantitative methods, and empirical analysis. Students gain insights into microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics, and various specialized topics within the field.

Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) in Economics: Graduate-level programs offer advanced coursework in economic theory, applied econometrics, and specialized fields such as labor economics, international trade, or financial economics. These degrees often involve research projects or thesis requirements.

Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Concentration in Economics: MBA programs with an economics concentration combine core business administration courses with specialized training in economic analysis, strategic decision-making, and market dynamics.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Economics: Doctoral programs focus on rigorous research and theoretical analysis, preparing students for academic careers or high-level positions in research institutions, government agencies, or international organizations. PhD candidates typically conduct original research and write dissertations on specialized topics within economics.

Joint Degrees: Some universities offer joint degree programs combining economics with other disciplines such as law (JD/MA or JD/PhD), public policy (MPP/MA or MPP/PhD), or international affairs (MA/MA or MA/PhD), providing interdisciplinary training for careers in law, public policy, or global governance.

Undergraduate or Graduate Certificates in Economics: Certificate programs offer focused training in specific areas of economics, such as economic development, environmental economics, or financial analysis, providing valuable skills enhancement for professionals seeking to deepen their expertise in particular areas.

Each degree path offers unique specialization and career development opportunities, catering to diverse interests and aspirations within economics.

Steps to achieve an economics degree

To achieve an economics degree:

1. Research Programs: Look into universities offering economics degrees.

2. Meet Admission Requirements: Submit documents like high school transcripts and standardized test scores.

3. Apply: Complete the application process by the deadline.

4. Take Prerequisite Courses: Some programs may require math or economics courses beforehand.

5. Enroll and Attend Classes: Register for courses with your advisor’s help and attend regularly.

6. Maintain Good Grades: Stay organized and study consistently.

7. Complete Requirements: Fulfill all course and credit requirements.

8. Consider Specialization: Explore options for specializing in econometrics or finance.

9. Graduate: Apply for graduation after meeting all requirements.

10. Celebrate: Enjoy your achievement and look forward to future economic opportunities.

Economics Vs. Other Disciplines

When compared with other subjects, economics blends various fields. At a glance:

DisciplineFocusOverlap with Economics
PsychologyHuman behaviorBehavioral economics studies why we make certain choices.
HistoryPast EventsEconomic history looks at how past events shape current economics landscapes.
MathematicsNumerical analysisBasic math models help explain economic concepts.
ScienceExperimental factsEconomics uses scientific methods to test theories about markets.

Final words

Economics is a tough degree to pursue. But it comes with some amazing rewards. You can have high-paying jobs, do something exceptional in the real world, and do something meaningful. It also has some challenges. If you want to get the rewards, you must embrace the challenges. The dynamic nature of mathematical rigor may make you think twice before taking the degree. But remember that many people are pursuing their career with an economics degree. So why can’t you?

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