Economics is about more than just money. It is about understanding the kinds of decisions people make, and why they make them. If you study economics in the US, you will be able to understand complex and important issues, such as poverty, tax rates, and inflation. You will also come away with many practical tools, like being able to read statistics, make better financial decisions, and avoid logical fallacies. In other words, a degree in economics can be used in nearly every aspect of your life!
Who is suited for a degree in economics?
International students wishing to study economics in the US should feel comfortable reading academic papers, as well as have an understanding of mathematics. Having said that, there is much less math required than in other fields, like engineering, so don't be too worried. A Bachelors of Arts degree in economics typically only requires math up to statistics, while a Bachelors of Science degree typically requires math up to calculus.
Students wishing to study economics should also be comfortable writing papers. Although writing is a relatively small part of the major overall, teachers often assign papers in order to help the students learn to use economic terminology. Because of this, previously unfamiliar terms such as "externalities", "deadweight loss", and "sunk cost" will soon become a part of your everyday vocabulary.
What are the classes like?
Most economics classes require students to take a midterm and final exam along with a final paper. This ensures that the student can not only apply the methods learned in his or her class, but also explain the methods of analysis clearly and properly. Combining mathematics with writing in the course evaluations makes sure that students are able to both critically analyze mathematical problems and express the results clearly. This skill will come in handy no matter what you decide to do with your degree.
Also, keep in mind that each class will have varied requirements from its students. Some classes, such as macroeconomics, microeconomics, and econometrics will be fairly math heavy. Other classes, like social issues economics, require no math at all and will be entirely reading based. This means you can pick the classes which best suit your strengths as a student, and specialize in the areas which interest you the most.
What degree programs are offered?
Many universities offer Bachelor of Arts and Bachelors of Science degrees in economics. The difference between the two degrees is largely the amount of math one has to do to graduate. A Bachelors of Arts degree is going to be based more on analysis and reading, where as a Bachelors of Science degree will be more math-centered. Different employers will want different skills, so it is important to know which is best suited for you and your future career.
Some universities also allow their students to choose between traditional economics and applied economics degrees. Traditional economics is more focused on theory, and puts the student in a good position for graduate school. Applied economics, on the other hand, is more about problem solving, and gives students the skills required to get a full-time job immediately after graduation.
Why study economics in the US?
One advantage for international students studying in the US is that 7 of the 10 best schools of economics in the world are in America. According the study by the website QS Intelligence Unit (www.iu.qs.com) those schools are Princeton, Yale, University of Chicago, UC Berkeley, Stanford, MIT, and Harvard.
Another reason for international students to study economics is that graduates have higher average earnings than any other social science group. A 2011 study done by Georgetown University showed economics graduates in the US earned a median $70,000! Available jobs for someone with a degree in economics include economist, investment banking analyst, data analyst, marketing manager, auditor, teacher and many other business, government, and academic jobs.
Why study economics in the US? Because it is a noble and worthwhile degree, offering skills which foster personal and professional growth. Economic issues apply to everyone, not just the people who understand them. It is important, therefore, to know how these issues effect you and how you can best manage yourself in the light of this knowledge. The United States is one of the best places in the world to learn economics, so the question shouldn't be "why study economics?". Instead, it should be "when can I start studying economics in the US?