Economics Major Necessary at Ivy?

Anonymous321's picture
Rank: Chimp | 3

I'm a freshman at a target (Ivy--not Cornell), and I pretty much don't know anything about the finance world at all. I'm more of a science-oriented person, and I plan on (at least) majoring in neuroscience and perhaps going on to med school; however, I've also taken an interest in economics as I've started learning about life-science consulting (healthcare, pharma, biotech, etc). I guess through that path I'd ideally get an MBA, and I'm only interested because an upperclassman told me it's actually a good mix of hard science and economics instead of totally dry finance/ibanking stuff. I've also heard that consulting is so versatile it can train you well for relatively almost any industry.

How necessary is it to get a second major in econ (just assume I can fit it in) if I want to do this? I ask because here and there I hear people saying you can major in anything at an Ivy and still be a good candidate for consulting jobs (so long as you have a decent gpa). Or would I be wasting my time if econ "is a joke major because it isn't quant enough"? If not econ, is there another popular major among consulting firms (that isn't math)?

Thanks, and excuse my naivety.

United States - Northeast

Comments (9)

May 6, 2011

This and many other basic questions are covered in our FAQs (//, or feel free to run some searches. There are likely 100s of discussions on majors alone.

Good luck,

May 6, 2011
May 6, 2011

No. I would actually recommend engineering- at least at Princeton and Dartmouth where the programs are fairly strong. If you don't get hired into banking, you've always got the GE put-option.

May 6, 2011

at an ivy, at least a third of the spots will go to hot girls who are humanities majors. if you're a white guy and not a jock, make sure you differentiate yourself hard.

you'll have to compete against the crazy asians too. granted they usually dont have a personality, but a lot of higher ups realize that they dont need an analyst they can have a beer with, they just need a monkey

May 6, 2011

Exactly. If you're not a URM or a football player, you've still got to have a niche strategy- even from an Ivy League. The most obvious for a white guy who doesn't enjoy sports is the quant track. That means, physics, math, or Engineering/Comp. Sci. Engineering gives you the best backup plan, so that's why I'm recommending it.

Analytics/Quant Trading looks for exceptional quantitative skills, but you've also got to be good at communicating and relating to folks. If you played a sport in HS and were the mildly nerdy kid on the team, but could still relate to everyone else pretty well, you're probably within the range of personalities they're looking for.

It's not an exact science, but if you grew up in the US/Canada/Australia/UK, you're generally at an advantage even in the quant hiring process.

May 6, 2011

Economics majors are very, very overrated. One has to be interested in and comfortable with the "real world" or more specifically, the business world. But majoring in Economics does not provide that.

One should definitely take a few Ec courses, but beyond that, reading the FT/WSJ/NYT/Economist is more important than overloading on Ec courses (unless, of course, one specifically wants to do economics consulting).

The case method is designed to ensure that people have the raw talent and right way of looking at the world to do well. Having strong credentials is always good. Ceteris paribus, I would pick a hard sciences or applied math major over an Ec major, so long as they have a demonstrated interest in the real world.

Someone who is a humantities major with an absurd GPA will always get an interview, but if it's below absurdly good, then they should have taken a few quant classes and gotten good grades. In my mind, even that's enough to demonstrate quant ability.

By contrast, if someone only took one quant class and got a B or worse in it, and took no more, I will ding them every time, regardless of anything else. That raises both ability and interest issues.

May 6, 2011

NYC, in general, what would you define as "a few Ec courses," beyond intermediate micro/macro, introductory calculus (I and II), and a stats class?

May 9, 2011

NYC, in general, what would you define as "a few Ec courses," beyond intermediate micro/macro, introductory calculus (I and II), and a stats class?

I would think that this should be enough - it demonstrates interest and (assuming decent grades) competence.

Of course, another big area where interest is demonstrated is in the interview process - if an interview wants to chit-chat about current (business-related or otherwise) events, one should know all that inside out.

May 7, 2011