What do Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, Oliver Hart, Paul Krugman, and Robert Engle have in common? They are all Nobel laureates who devoted their lives to the study of economics. Economics is what makes the world go round. Quite literally. From historical evidence of ancient civilizations using a barter system for trade to the current slump the world economy is headed towards owing to the Covid-19 epidemic in China, economics has a finger in every pie. Especially today, given the impact of globalization where a single event in a Far East country can lead to consequences that are global in nature, the relevance of the subject hardly needs pointing out. It is no surprise then that economics is one of the most popular major choices among international students today. An inter-disciplinary subject that provides students not just a historical perspective, but a lens through which to observe the present and predict the future, it is also one of the most exciting and stimulating subjects you can take up in college. In this blog, we will help to put you in the right direction with regard to the universities you can consider as an economics major, the courses you could potentially look at and what your future prospects are as an economics major.
Which colleges can I apply to?
Given the popularity of the major and the history, depth, and reach of the subject, its department is considered of great relevance in most colleges. In addition to the Ivy Leagues – Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Chicago, University of California, Berkeley also have world-class economics programs. Some of the liberal arts colleges also offer a strong major in economics, the popular options are Williams, Wellesley, Claremont McKenna, Barnard, Wesleyan and Pomona. The UK also boasts of colleges that have stellar economics departments with the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) leading the pack outside of the US. The University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge have excellent courses in the subject too, as do University of Warwick, University College London and London Business School.
Colleges in Canada too have strong economics majors so if you are considering a wider choice before you make your final pick, you can also consider the University of Toronto, University of British Columbia and McGill University.
What Courses can I take?
Like well-aged wine, the scope and reach of the subject have improved over time. Depending on where your true interests lie, there is a very exciting list of options waiting to be unearthed. Are you an economist who is also a closet techie, for instance? How about looking at the Microcosm of Silicon Valley and Wall Street, a course that is exclusive to Stanford. If psychology is the other subject that sets your brain cells abuzz, consider courses such as Networks and Human Behavior or Behavioral Economics. You are actually spoilt for choice – from taking up courses in Game Theory or Macro or Micro Economic Theory to carving a niche for yourself by directing your economic interests towards a particular area/field of study – you can explore gender, family or addictions (yes!), media or public from an economic perspective. There are courses that specialize in the economics of China, and sectors such as health, private equity, international trade, and e-commerce; the list goes on ad infinitum. It is therefore advisable that you research courses thoroughly before you decide on your applications – which college provides you the courses that are best aligned with your current interests and future plans? Analyze all aspects before making a final choice.
Where can I work? As what?
As an economics graduate, there is a wide array of options and opportunities that open up for you. Accountancy, banking, business, finance, data analysis, public sector jobs to academia and media – the world is your oyster. An Economics major opens up opportunities for lucrative careers in investment banking with large multi-national banks, as well as in financial and business consultancy. You could consider devoting a few more years to education to become a chartered accountant or complement your economics degree with an MBA that will open up various senior-level opportunities for you in banks, financial institutions, and corporates. You can consider jobs such as those of a market analyst, investment analyst, or credit analyst also employed in investment banks and financial institutions as well as private equity funds. You could even consider a degree in law to take up corporate law, which is both satisfying and monetarily rewarding. You could also consider a career as an accountant, auditor, stockbroker, actuary or data scientist. Economists are highly valued by governments for policymaking on a national and international scale. And if writing and glamour beckons, you can even consider working for a financial newspaper, magazine or TV channel.