UW-Milwaukee - Why Study Economics?

Economics is the science of choice! While this statement may be a bit flippant, it also embodies an important principle. In a world where there are scarce resources (for example, time, money, raw materials), economics is the study of how people make choices in the face of scarce resources in order to make people as well off as possible. These choices can be personal (like - Do I go to class or not? Should I eat Ramen noodles tonight or take my significant other out for a nice dinner? Or should I accept a job at one firm or another?) or they can involve crucial public policy questions (like - Do we provide public health care? Should we reform Social Security, and if so, how do we do it? Or do interest rates need to increase?). It is a rigorous discipline, but it is also one that combines many different fields - theory, empirics, math, history, public policy, business decisions, and many others. This is why it is a useful framework for analyzing the choices that we make, both on a small and large scale.

On a practical note, getting a degree in economics is often a lucrative one. A national survey of starting salaries of the Class of 2012 shows that graduates with an economics degree have a starting salary of $54,800, on average, the highest of any starting salaries for business related majors. In fact it is higher than the starting salaries of any social science or non-engineering major. Another study by Dan Black, Seth Sanders and Lowell Taylor that appeared in the peer-reviewed journal, Economic Inquiry, in July 2003 showed that economics undergraduate majors were among the highest paid workers during people's careers, all things equal. This is true even for those who went on and obtained graduate degrees in other fields (like an MBA). The labor market shows that firms value the skills and abilities of economics majors and are willing to pay well for those skills. A 1998 study by Michael Nieswiadomy in the Journal of Economic Education found that economics majors score higher on the LSAT than any other major. Finally, a recent web article on CBS Moneywatch found that Economics is one of the top five paying majors

A question we are often asked is, "What can I do with my Economics Degree?" One of the primary advantages of getting an economics degree is that it is applicable to many different careers. In addition to the obvious careers in economic research and analysis, we find that our economics majors are employed in a wide variety of jobs and for all kinds of employers. For example, check out our Undergraduate Economics Alumni page which has a list of just some of the jobs in which our graduates are employed. Follow this link for more information on careers using an economics degree and what classes correspond to these careers. National data from PayScale.com list popular jobs and salaries for economics majors.

This website has information about the UWM Economics program, but for further information about the Economics as a major please talk with one of our Undergraduate Economics Advisors or look through a special section of the American Economics Association website that has resources and information specifically for undergraduates.