Economics Degree - Useless & Impractical?

People often say that studying economics is excellent preparation for a career in finance and the business world in general. Is this really true?

I've taken introductory courses in micro and macro, and they are nowhere near as useful or relevant as my finance and accounting courses. Maybe I need to take some higher level courses, but I fail to see how economic theory (utility maximization, demand/supply, labor markets, etc) is relevant to the world of finance.

Comments (34)

Apr 24, 2012 - 5:08pm
Rupert Pupkin, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The intro classes are a waste of time, but are necessary to build upon for the upper level courses. Depending on which upper level courses you take, they can be beneficial. I would suggest taking international macro classes. Micro is boring and very narrow in scope. At least with macro you get to look at more big picture things that somewhat come into play in the financial markets.

Apr 24, 2012 - 5:17pm
asiamoney, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Economics teaches you to think analytically, and is especially interesting in some upper level courses (as mentioned above). Finance seems to be more focused on the nuts and bolts of what you'll be doing in a finance career, but a lot of that can be learned anyways when you start work.

Apr 24, 2012 - 5:24pm
aempirei, what's your opinion? Comment below:

My undergrad offered an Eco/Fi major. Kind of the best of both worlds.

My name is Nicky, but you can call me Dre.
Apr 24, 2012 - 5:32pm
BigTalkinWalker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Macroeconomics is useful for reading articles and understanding the big picture.

Micro is useless, but you really learn to think analytically in the class.

Apr 24, 2012 - 5:50pm
MrBroadway, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I agree with Asiamoney, all or most of the stuff you learn in finance class can be learned when you start working. Economics focuses more on the decision making and the choices that companies face in the market place.

Full disclosure I am an Econ major

Apr 24, 2012 - 6:15pm
chicandtoughness, what's your opinion? Comment below:

One word: econometrics. You will learn to dissect data like no other.

Currently: future neurologist, current psychotherapist Previously: investor relations (top consulting firm), M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM)
Apr 24, 2012 - 11:07pm
aempirei, what's your opinion? Comment below:
MrBroadway:
econ is one of the top 10 earning degrees
False.

Degrees off top of my head that would earn more starting out:

Petroleum engineer Chemical engineer Electrical engineer Materials science engineer Aerospace engineer Computer engineering Nuclear engineer Physics Applied mathematics Computer science Actuarial science

And I'm sure there are plenty more.

My name is Nicky, but you can call me Dre.
Apr 24, 2012 - 11:32pm
rooster3t, what's your opinion? Comment below:
aempirei:
MrBroadway:
econ is one of the top 10 earning degrees
False.

Degrees off top of my head that would earn more starting out:

Petroleum engineer Chemical engineer Electrical engineer Materials science engineer Aerospace engineer Computer engineering Nuclear engineer Physics Applied mathematics Computer science Actuarial science

And I'm sure there are plenty more.

Those would be called engineering degrees, but thanks for being a douche canoe.

Apr 25, 2012 - 12:45am
swagon, what's your opinion? Comment below:
aempirei:
MrBroadway:
econ is one of the top 10 earning degrees
False.

Degrees off top of my head that would earn more starting out:

Petroleum engineer Chemical engineer Electrical engineer Materials science engineer Aerospace engineer Computer engineering Nuclear engineer Physics Applied mathematics Computer science Actuarial science

And I'm sure there are plenty more.

entreprenoorer mogul record exec rapper baller pro baseball player MLB 1st baseman Shaq

all those jobs pay better 2

Best Response
Apr 25, 2012 - 5:41am
leveredarb, what's your opinion? Comment below:
aempirei:
MrBroadway:
econ is one of the top 10 earning degrees
False.

Degrees off top of my head that would earn more starting out:

Petroleum engineer Chemical engineer Electrical engineer Materials science engineer Aerospace engineer Computer engineering Nuclear engineer Physics Applied mathematics Computer science Actuarial science

And I'm sure there are plenty more.

Why are so many people on here obsessed with starting salary? Do you plan on only working for one year? Are you just incredibly short sighted? Whats the deal?

Anyone can pick up a finance/accounting book and learn the basics, the analytical skill set and especially data interpretation (this bit is huge, econometrics is a failed pseudo science trying to quantify things that inherently cannot be quantified, but damn it teaches you to think about statistics and relationships twice) that economics teaches you is alot more valuable.

Apr 24, 2012 - 11:39pm
BigBucks, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Engineering, Accounting, Finance, Econ, and Compsci are probably the highest avg starting salary degrees out of undergrad. Majors like Physics/Biology/Math etc. often need graduate school to get the best jobs in those fields (this applies to econ as well if one is going the govt/academic/research route).

Apr 25, 2012 - 12:49pm
Mr. Mengfan, what's your opinion? Comment below:
financen00b:
People often say that studying economics is excellent preparation for a career in finance and the business world in general. Is this really true?

I've taken introductory courses in micro and macro, and they are nowhere near as useful or relevant as my finance and accounting courses. Maybe I need to take some higher level courses, but I fail to see how economic theory (utility maximization, demand/supply, labor markets, etc) is relevant to the world of finance.

Econ teaches you to think both quantitatively (economic maths are much more advanced than undergrad finance maths)and qualitatively, and it's the capstone of sociological studies.

Undergraduate business school is basically a trade school where you learn how to do things but you don't learn how to think. I had a great advanced economics professor who told us (I went to an undergraduat business school btw) business students that anyone can learn how to balance a balance sheet- credits and debits? big f'king deal- it's in economics where you can really tell who's got intellectual horsepower.

the irony is that at most schools with business programs, many of the brightest business-oriented students go into the business program b/c that's where recruiters target, leaving the economics program full of lazy frat-guys.

if you want to do investment banking, you don't need to know accounting/finance before showing up to work on your first day- you just need a discplined mind that knows how to think.

please notice that I am talking about "undergraduate" finance course. Finance at a masters level (masters, not MBA) is much more rigorous, involves heavy maths, and does in fact teach you to think- basically it's economics applied to financial markets.

in short, studying an academic discipline that teaches you to think is one of the most useful and practical things you can ever do for yourself.

Apr 25, 2012 - 12:49pm
Mr. Mengfan, what's your opinion? Comment below:
financen00b:
People often say that studying economics is excellent preparation for a career in finance and the business world in general. Is this really true?

I've taken introductory courses in micro and macro, and they are nowhere near as useful or relevant as my finance and accounting courses. Maybe I need to take some higher level courses, but I fail to see how economic theory (utility maximization, demand/supply, labor markets, etc) is relevant to the world of finance.

Econ teaches you to think both quantitatively (economic maths are much more advanced than undergrad finance maths)and qualitatively, and it's the capstone of sociological studies.

Undergraduate business school is basically a trade school where you learn how to do things but you don't learn how to think. I had a great advanced economics professor who told us (I went to an undergraduat business school btw) business students that anyone can learn how to balance a balance sheet- credits and debits? big f'king deal- it's in economics where you can really tell who's got intellectual horsepower.

the irony is that at most schools with business programs, many of the brightest business-oriented students go into the business program b/c that's where recruiters target, leaving the economics program full of lazy frat-guys.

if you want to do investment banking, you don't need to know accounting/finance before showing up to work on your first day- you just need a discplined mind that knows how to think.

please notice that I am talking about "undergraduate" finance course. Finance at a masters level (masters, not MBA) is much more rigorous, involves heavy maths, and does in fact teach you to think- basically it's economics applied to financial markets.

in short, studying an academic discipline that teaches you to think is one of the most useful and practical things you can ever do for yourself.

Apr 25, 2012 - 1:07pm
oreos, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Am I the only one who preferred Micro.?

"After you work on Wall Street it’s a choice, would you rather work at McDonalds or on the sell-side? I would choose McDonalds over the sell-side.” - David Tepper
Apr 25, 2012 - 1:14pm
Cola Coca, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Oreos:
Am I the only one who preferred Micro.?

Micro was interesting at the introductory level, but it's a load of crap at the higher levels. Only thing interesting there is behavioral econ for me.

Macro is interesting once you get the hang of it because you start to understand all the relations, and models should be intuitive at that point.

Apr 25, 2012 - 2:12pm
Bonus, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Guys, we have to make a distinction between European and US system/curriculum. As far as I have seen in Europe (where I live), having a pure Econ degree is not likely to increase your chances in getting into IBanking. In fact I believe if you have decent quantitative skills it would be more likely to move in trading, hedge funds etc. Otherwise you might a have a slightly more uphill battle to fight.

BTW In my BSc in Accounting & Finance we had mandatory: Statistics I, II, Mathematical Calculus and Econometrics (for Finance orienation) and Advanced Econometrics, but optional. Plus, we applied some of these in other courses like Risk Management. International Finance was also a mandatory course (loved it). In short, yes you do learn a load of econometrics and statistics in Accounting Finance degrees in Europe (not a privilege for Econ classes only).

Colourful TV, colourless Life.
  • 2
Apr 25, 2012 - 5:39pm
canas15, what's your opinion? Comment below:

dude, econometrics. especially financial econometrics. nothing like it.

May 2, 2012 - 1:23am
Abdel, what's your opinion? Comment below:
canas15:
dude, econometrics. especially financial econometrics. nothing like it.

This.

By the way guys, Halbert White (white test) recently died at age 61 (cancer).

RIP to that great man.

Apr 25, 2012 - 8:28pm
bears1208, what's your opinion? Comment below:

To the guys having bitch fights over how much a degree is worth: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/18/what-the-top-1-of-earners-majored-in/

Economics is only below biology for top 1%ers. That said, the average engineering student will make more than the average econ student.

Now, getting on to things that actually matter. No, econ is not useless. In fact, I find it to be pretty interesting. But, it is a risk if you do it at a non-top school. An econ major from a target/semi-target generally gets the same benefit as they would a finance degree with the right internships and what not. But, what I do see, is that when you start recruiting at state schools and what not you see that companies would much rather see accounting/finance. Now, investment banks still won't care, but that F1000 that you are interviewing for (which is the best a lot of these kids can hope for) would much rather see a practical skill with accounting/finance.

  • 2
Apr 25, 2012 - 11:40pm
aempirei, what's your opinion? Comment below:
bears1208:
To the guys having bitch fights over how much a degree is worth: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/18/what-the-top-1-of-earners-majored-in/
For all the shit "Finance" majors get, they make up nearly 3% of all the 1%ers and 5% of all Finance majors make it to the 1%.
My name is Nicky, but you can call me Dre.
Apr 26, 2012 - 10:54am
Ariesprince, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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DR
Apr 30, 2012 - 4:35pm
canas15, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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