Updated on Wednesday 27 February 2013
An undergraduate degree in economics teaches you how to analyze data and clearly explain what you have learned. Because of this, your classes will require you to apply mathematical theories as well as write papers. This combination of analysis and exposition will allow you to apply your skills to many different types of jobs immediately after graduation.
International students who are interested in getting an undergraduate degree in economics will need a broad range of skills, such as being able to think analytically, write clearly, and apply abstract theory to real world problems. The reward for all your hard work is that when you graduate, you will be ready to seek out a well paying career right away. Or, if you wish to further your education and increase your job opportunities even more, you can attend graduate school and get a masters or Ph.D.
As an economics major, you will have several required math classes. These requirements vary from college to college, but they tend to include calculus and statistics at the very least. You will also have some classes, like microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics, which require you to use skills you have learned in your math classes and apply them to economics problems. International students planning on attending graduate school may also consider taking more than the required amount of math. This will help you get a head start on the largely math-based economics classes offered in graduate school.
Writing is another important part of getting an undergraduate degree in economics. Being able to use statistics to solve complex economics problems does not mean as much if you are unable to clearly express what you have done and why it matters. Because of this, being an economics major means you will have to write clear and concise academic papers which utilize the terminology you have been taught in your classes. Along with writing the occasional essay, international students will also be expected to take tests with multiple choice, short answer, and essay questions which test both your math and vocabulary knowledge.
Core economics classes vary too, but will almost always include microeconomics, macroeconomics, and a choice of different electives requirements. The elective classes range from many various subjects, like environmental economics, sports economics, urban and regional economics, public finance, and even economics and philosophy. There are too many classes to list, and the electives will vary drastically from one college to another. The idea behind having so many different types of electives is twofold. First, it allows students to experience the breadth of topics the field covers. Second, students can discover what subjects interest them most and give them ideas for what sort of work they would be interested in or what topics they would like to study further in graduate school.
International students who are interested in getting a job immediately after obtaining their undergraduate degree in economics should consider doing an internship. This will give you first hand knowledge of what it is like to work as an economist, financial analyst, or whatever career you are interested in pursuing. The best way to find out what organizations in your area are hiring interns is to go speak with your college's career advisor. These advisors are a great source of information about employment and internship opportunities and are there to help you.
When you near graduation, you may have to complete a senior thesis. The details of this thesis will be discussed with a professor, and it will take up a large part of your time during your senior year. The topic is usually something that you can come up with yourself, which means you have the chance to really make it something that you are interested in. Also, the thesis will give you a good preview of what it is like to be in graduate school.
Being an economics major requires undergraduates to learn a lot of different skill sets. While many majors focus almost exclusively on writing or math, economics combines both in such a way as to prepare you for whatever your future plans may be. Whether you plan on attending graduate school or going to work immediately afterwards, you will be prepared for almost anything your future throws at you with your undergraduate degree in economics.