What is Economics?
Economics examines the allocation of scarce resources and the consequences of those allocations. Tradeoffs are a necessary part of the interactions between consumers, businesses, and countries. Broadly, microeconomics focuses on how individuals or firms reconcile their preferences with constraints — that is, what they want to do with what they are able to do. Macroeconomics studies broader trends, including the determinants of national income and the business cycle. Economics also provides a framework for thinking about problems that affect nearly every part of life.
Why Major in Economics?
Economics is the key to understanding a vast array of policy issues. While the traditional view of economics is as a dry subject, the methods of economics are used to study disparate issues like health policy, education, traffic management, charitable giving, energy policy, national security, poverty, and many others. More importantly, economics provides a rigorous structure for decision-making, whether on academic topics or day-to-day activities like how to divide roommate expenses or allocating time between studying and partying. Economics teaches how to think about problems, a skill that is essential in any profession.
Economics majors acquire an invaluable skill set that prepare them well for their post-graduate careers. The combination of critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, problem solving, and communications differentiate them from other majors and make them especially attractive to employers. Many influential politicians and business leaders have an economics background.
Economics majors tend to be among the most highly paid. In 2010, surveys showed that economics majors had among the highest starting salaries, behind only some engineering and science professions. More importantly, high mid-career median pay indicates that economics majors tend to advance quickly. Careful academic research shows that "the most lucrative college major is economics." Another research paper entitled "Economics: A Good Choice of Major for Future CEOs" shows that "the share of graduates who were Economics majors who were CEOs in 2004 was greater than that for any other major, including Business Administration and Engineering."
Economics provides a versatile foundation for a broad set of careers and graduate studies. While consulting, banking, and research are common paths for economics majors, many organizations value economists for their problem-solving abilities. Professional sports teams employ economists to forecast ticket prices or even calculate optimal strategies. Nonprofits, think tanks, and media outlets also hire economists, and numerous government agencies rely on economists for analysis.
Why Major in Economics at Texas A&M?
After getting a firm foundation in the principles of economics, upper-level courses focus on topics that have important applications. These classes usually have fewer than 35 students and include courses on poverty and inequality, the economics of gender and race, public economics, labor economics, antitrust and regulation, environmental economics, financial economics, decision-making and game theory, international trade, and others. Additionally, special topics classes are offered frequently, taught by experts in those fields. Recent offerings include courses on contemporary economic issues, the economics of education, and energy economics and policy.
The Department of Economics participates in the honors program, and we offer honors courses each semester or academic year (excluding summer terms). Budget permitting, we plan to offer honors sections of Micro and Macro Principles (ECON 202 and 203) each Fall and Spring, and sections of Intermediate Micro and Macro (ECON 323 and 410) at least once each academic year. The minimum GPR requirement to enroll in honors courses is a cumulative average of 3.5. First-semester freshmen enrolling in honors classes must have graduated in the top 10% of their high school class and present a composite score of at least 1250 on the SAT (critical reading plus math with at least 570 on each), 28 on the ACT composite (with a minimum of 27 English and 27 Math), or be a National Merit Finalist, National Achievement Finalist, or National Hispanic Scholar. First-semester transfer students are considered for honors classes on an individual basis.
Economics faculty have won numerous teaching awards, including the Montague-Center for Teaching Excellence Scholar Award (Stephanie Houghton), the Student-Led Award for Teaching Excellence (Brit Grosskopf and Steven Puller), the Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching (John Allen, Richard Anderson, and Dennis Jansen), and the Department of Economics Teacher of the Year in Outstanding Instruction (Jeffrey Edwardson).
Economics majors also have access to research opportunities. A number of undergraduates work side-by-side with faculty on cutting-edge research, some of which has been published in peer-reviewed journals. Prizes are given for outstanding undergraduate research, a new course on research methods is being offered, and the department is preparing a formal research program.
The Economics Society, a student-run organization, is a valuable resource for majors. The Society hosts presentations by employers, graduate programs, and former students to give insight on opportunities both at A&M and after graduation. Department faculty occasionally discuss their research or present on timely policy topics. The Society also organizes socials and other networking events.
What do students say about us?
"Majoring in Economics at Texas A&M has not only allowed me to gain a broad understanding of business and government, but it has also helped me discover aspects of both that I'd love to incorporate into a career. Taking classes on the behavior of international markets and economic development pushed me to study abroad and gain international exposure while in college. With these experiences and the analytical skills developed as an Economics major, I feel well-prepared and extremely excited to join Accenture, a Fortune Global 500 consulting company, after graduation."
"I chose economics as a major because I found it interesting, but it ended up giving me a skill-set that prepared me to do anything with my degree. There is a great faculty here and the variety of courses allowed me to tailor my education towards my career goals. I will be using knowledge gained in econometrics and an energy economics course as an investment banking analyst in the energy group at Wells Fargo Securities."
"Being at a tier one research institution I've been able to conduct economic research as an honors research fellow. Texas A&M and the economics department's support of undergraduate research has provided me with the opportunity to demonstrate my skills set and stand out to employers and graduate programs. After I graduate, I will be working for the advisory practice of a Big Four accounting firm. I think the qualitative and quantitative analysis that I have learned through my economics courses and research, along with the problem solving nature my economic training as an economics major, made me an appealing candidate and has helped prepare me for consulting."
"I graduated from Texas A&M with a bachelors of science in economics. Now, with the help of my former A&M professors, I'm working on my Ph.D. in economics at the University of Virginia. Apart from being a stepping stone into graduate level work, my economics education at Texas A&M has helped me think critically about the decisions governments and people make, and how these decisions have a profound effect on my life. Everyday, I find myself using the ideas I learned in class to solve real-world problems that many other people have trouble understanding."
"Many people assume a degree in Economics is narrowed to careers in the stock market or corporate America, however, I am proof that an Economics degree can be applicable and beneficial in many different fields of work. The Economics Department provides such a broad range of classes, giving me an opportunity to explore a variety of career options. The Economics of Education class sparked my interest to pursue a career in Educational Reform. Due to the support of my A&M professors, I will be teaching middle school math at YES Prep Charter School, where I plan to continue to work towards reforming our nation's public education system. Studying Economics has not only inspired me, but also prepared me with valuable skills and problem-solving techniques that I will continue to utilize throughout my life. "
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. How do I declare a major in Economics?
Incoming freshmen can declare economics as a major during their orientation and will be processed accordingly. For currently enrolled students to declare economics as a major, you need to consult with one of the economics undergraduate advisors. Their offices are in the Allen Building. If you have over 95 hours, you will have to go to the College of Liberal Arts, Office of Undergraduate Advising, located in 202 Coke Building.
1a. How do I transfer into Economics/How do I change majors?
To transfer into Economics you must have completed ECON 202, ECON 203 and either finite math (MATH 166 or 141) or calculus (MATH 131, 142, 151, 171), have a 2.0 or better GPR, and have completed less than 90 hours. We're happy to meet with you to discuss the major requirements but you will not be able to transfer in until you have the prerequisite courses.
2. What are the requirements to major in Economics?
A student's degree plan, his or her path to graduation, is defined in the university catalog. Each year the university issues a new catalog and requirements sometimes change. Consult your catalog number for specific requirements for both your major and for all core requirements to graduate.
Complete university catalogs are available online at http://www.tamu.edu/admissions/catalogs/.
Or view current catalogs for Economics: B.A. Degree, B.S. Degree
2a. Should I pursue a B.A. or B.S. in Economics?
A B.A. in Economics requires 14 hours of foreign language. A B.S. requires more math, ECMT 463 and ACCT 210.
2b. I want to go to graduate school in Economics. What courses do you recommend?
Among economics courses, we recommend taking honors intermediate micro (ECON 323), econometrics (ECMT 463), and choosing from electives from classic fields of study such as public economics (ECON 412), labor economics (ECON 418), industrial organization (ECON 425), international trade (ECON 452), game theory (ECON 459), and math economics (ECON 460). You might also consider financial economics (ECON 445) and forecasting (ECMT 475).
We also recommend strong math preparation. This includes a good introductory calculus sequence, plus choices from such courses as several variable calculus (MATH 221), linear algebra (MATH 323), differential equations (MATH 308), mathematical statistics (STAT 414) or mathematical probability (MATH 411), and (MATH 220).
Students interested in future graduate study in economics or related fields are strongly encouraged to seek advice as early as possible to best plan their coursework to prepare for the rigors of graduate work.
3. I am currently an Economics major and want to change to another major in Liberal Arts. How do I do that?
You need to figure out what the requirements are for the major you are interested in either by contacting an advisor in that department or clicking here (a list of majors and their change of major requirements). If or after you have fulfilled the requirements for that major then you fill out a change of major request form, located here, and bring it to the advisor of the major you want to change into for them to approve it and change your major in the system.
4. I am currently an Economics major and want to declare a minor. How do I do that?
You need to get a "Minor Approval" form either from your advisor or the advisor of the department you wish to minor in. The advisor from the department you wish to minor in needs to approve and sign the approval form, and then you are to bring the form to an economic advisor to be added to your degree plan.
5. I am not an Economics major but I want to declare a minor in Economics. How do I do that?
To declare a minor you need to get a "Minor Approval" form signed by an economics advisor. After the form is signed you take it back to your advisor to be added to your degree program. The Mays School has its own approval form that you need to get from your Mays advisor but the economics department has a generic form that will work for most other colleges.
6. What are the requirements to get a minor in Economics?
To qualify for an economics minor, a student must take 15 hours of economics. You must take ECON 202, ECON 203, ECON 323 and 6 hours of upper level economics (300/400 level). To apply for an economics minor, you need to consult with one of the economic undergraduate advisors.
7. What is the Business Economics Certificate? How do I get this?
The Business Economics Certificate (BEC) is an innovative program designed to prepare the student for a successful career in a rapidly changing economic environment. The certificate combines an Economics major in the College of Liberal Arts with the Business minor in the Lowry Mays College of Business, integrating the skills taught in business courses with the fundamentals of economics.
The BEC builds on the fundamental principles taught in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and statistics. The required course for the BEC, economic forecasting, provides the student with the knowledge, breadth, and flexibility to grasp opportunities and challenges in a fast-changing world. This forecasting course will build upon the foundational principles of ECMT 463, the required prerequisite. Two elective courses in applied economics permit BEC majors to develop knowledge and skills in such areas as financial economics, regulatory policy, strategic behavior, and personnel economics. Combined with the business foundations courses, the BEC curriculum prepares the student for success after graduation.
Upon completion of the certificate requirements, the student will be awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics, as well as the Business Economic Certificate and a minor in Business.
8. I am a transfer student and will major in economics. I want to get transfer credit for economics courses I took at another university. How do I do that?
If the courses are not automatically showing up on your degree evaluation (found on the Howdy Portal) then you need to come see an economic advisor to have them fill out an adjustment form for those courses.
9. How do I double major or get a double degree?
Students sometimes choose to pursue more than one major. Students must declare the double major or double degree no later than the semester in which they will complete 95 credit hours, must have a cumulative GPR of at least 3.0 at the time of declaration, and must have completed 9 hours in the second major with a GPR of 3.0 or above. Transfer students who enter with junior classification must file for the double major or double degree no later than the end of their second semester in attendance.
Once the student has declared a double major or double degree, it is important for the student to regularly confer with advisors in both major departments and the Dean's Office of Undergraduate Advising. Students should also have degree audits run for both majors or degrees, preferably at 90 hours.
Students may pursue a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science simultaneously, but not two bachelor of arts or two bachelor of science degrees. (These students should pursue a double major). Students seeking a second degree from the College of Liberal Arts will have to meet more stringent conditions and seek approval from the Dean. At the minimum, they must demonstrate at least a 2.5 GPA/GPR in the proposed major, based on at least 9 hours of course work. Students concurrently enrolled in another college must meet the requirements set by both colleges.
Candidates for a double degree must have been in residence at least two academic years and must complete all essential work of the second curriculum not covered in the first. To qualify for the double degree, the student must complete a minimum of 30 semester hours more than the higher of credit hours required for either degree.
To declare a double major or double degree, an economics major should go the College of Liberal Arts, Undergraduate Advising Office, located in 202 Coke Building.
10. I want to graduate at the end of this semester. What do I have to do?
Undergraduate and graduate students planning to graduate at the end of the current semester may file applications for degrees online (found on the Howdy Portal). This online application system will be accessible 24 hours a day, every day, until the final deadline. The application for degree requires payment of the $40 diploma fee.
Students who are permitted to apply after the initial deadline will be charged an additional $50 late application fee per degree. Late applicants may not receive their diplomas on graduation day due to the length of time needed for printing. Arrangements will be made for these diplomas to be picked up or mailed.
11. How/where can I get help with my Economics courses?
See the instructor during office hours. If the course has a T.A., see the T.A. during office hours. The Department runs a tutoring lab in Allen 3002. Hours are posted on the tutoring lab page.
12. I want to hire a tutor. How do I do that?
If you want to hire a private tutor, the Department has a list of students who have indicated they are willing to provide tutoring services. Please contact Brandi Blankenship (also in office Allen 3035AA). There are also a number of tutoring services available in the local community.
13. How can I check my degree evaluation?
Degree Evaluation (previously Degree Audit): Degree evaluations can be viewed on the Howdy Portal. Going to this website will allow you to track your progress and determine remaining coursework to fulfill degree plan requirements. Often adjustments are needed to clean-up your degree plan; don't wait until the semester in which you plan to graduate to come in to have this done. It's best to do this at the beginning of your senior year when you're within 30 hours of graduation. Furthermore, if a course transfers "by title", a course description and course syllabus may be required for the processing of your substitution request. For your petition to be completed in a timely manner, note the importance of bringing this information to the advising office.
14. What are writing intensive courses? How many do I have to take?
15. What is the joint 5-year Program with the Bush School?
The Economics Department, in conjunction with the Bush School of Government and Public Service, now offers a joint degree program that enables students to receive both their Economics undergraduate degree and a Master of Public Service and Administration (MPSA) graduate degree or a Master of International Affairs (MPIA) graduate degree in five years. More information can be found here, or contact the economics advisor or Bush School advisor, Kathryn Meyer (Phone: 979-862-3476).
16. What careers are available to people who major in Economics?
Texas A&M University has a Career Center that is an integrated source of career opportunities for individuals and talent for employers. The Center promotes career learning throughout the entire period of a student's involvement with Texas A&M University by providing career information and facilitating employment connections. We conduct our business responsibly by emphasizing innovation, customer service, and team work. The number for the Career Center is 979-845-5381.
More information on careers for economics majors is available here.
17. Can I get credit hours for an internship?
As of right now, this is not possible.
For more questions, visit the Undergraduate Advising FAQ.
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