Apart from personal preferences and talents, curricular and career choices are often influenced by the economic environment.
For many students the necessity of paying back student loans is a rather grim reality.
Such economic aspects often seem to induce students to choose majors in the professional schools.
The promise of challenging, exciting and well-remunerated careers accessible with degrees from some of the professional schools does seem a powerful enticement.
But it may be useful to check some facts: according to the 2013-14 Salary Report from , starting salaries for economics majors are almost $1,000 higher than for finance majors, $6,000 higher than for international business majors and almost $10,000 higher than for marketing and communications majors.
After 15 years of experience these differences are magnified, with economics majors being about $6,000 ahead of finance majors.
While economics seems to dominate most other majors in terms of average or median salary, this domination becomes even more pronounced when considering not the mean or median, but the 90th percentile or 95th percentile of the earnings distribution.
The punch line is easy — good students can expect the economics major to be an extremely financially rewarding experience.
I am certainly not suggesting at all one should chose a major only because of monetary concerns.
The economics department offers a variety of foundational courses like game theory and econometrics that enable students to tackle many interesting problems as well as courses that focus on exciting fields such as labor markets, international trade or economic growth and development.
Economics stresses rigorous data analysis and interpretation in light of behavioral theories. This combination of behavioral theories and data analysis allows a powerful study of many issues such as environmental issues, public health problems international affairs such as the refugee issue, just to name a few.
Economics can be combined with many other majors in the sciences, the other social sciences, mathematics, statistics, informatics, business or public policy.
So before you decide a professional school is the best option in your pursuit of an exciting, challenging, rewarding career, think again.
Professor and Chair of Department of Economics