What is Economics?

Economics is a very large field of social science, but at its heart of the attempt to understand how people, firms, governments and other actors make decisions, and how these decision makers interact with each other in markets and elsewhere. Both theoretical models of behavior and rigorous data analysis build this understanding. Economic models explain how a business’s decisions impact their profits, how public policy choices impact specific groups and overall social welfare, why economic activity may shrink in a recession, and many other issues.

Career Opportunities

A bachelor’s degree in economics at UT offers a wide scope for students to choose their courses and fields of concentration. One student may chart a path to gain a deep understanding of business strategy while another focuses on how public policy impacts the environment, health and inequality. The tools of economics are valuable in jobs as diverse as consumer marketing, political advocacy and sports analytics. Perhaps even more importantly, they provide a framework for understanding our ever-evolving society.

The analytical skills you develop in our program are useful for careers in the banking, finance, research and technology industries. Our graduates have successfully gone on to pursue careers within banking, politics, nonprofit organizations and government service as well as furthering their study in MBA programs, law school and advanced degrees in business and economics. Research suggests economics majors have higher performance on the GMAT than other social science or business graduates and higher LSAT scores.


Graduates employed or pursuing higher education


Average economics graduate salary 

Job Examples


Economists analyze complex issues relating to how money flows through society by combining advanced statistical methods with factors like political stability or environmental sustainability to impact policy. They often work in academia, government, or think tanks.

Median Salary: $114,000


Economics analysts use strong quantitative skills to gather and interpret data to identify broad economic trends and market conditions that might impact business decisions. They often work for private companies, regional governments, or financial institutions examining taxes, employment levels, inflation, energy costs, etc.

Median Salary: $106,750

Economic Development Specialist (non-profit)

Plans, designs, and implements economic development strategies, which might include liaising with community members, fostering local business growth, identifying market opportunities for business and community leaders, etc. Typically part of a local government, business incubator, or non-profit focused business growth in a specific sector like tourism or the environment.

Median Salary: $70,815**

Research Assistant (government)

Research assistants obtain, compile, organize and analyze economic data to inform policy decisions. Their evaluations help improve policy outcomes for individuals, families, neighborhoods and regions, and economic analysts are in demand in government agencies ranging from energy to the environment to the Federal Reserve System.

Median Salary: $43,000**

*All salaries not marked with ** are based on information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.
**Based on data from Salary.com from the Knoxville, Tennessee area

Majoring in Economics

One can major in economics through either the Haslam College of Business or the College of Arts and Sciences, and each have only four required economics courses. Apart from these courses, students have flexibility to personalize their training and prepare for a wide variety of careers within range of economics curriculum.

Ivan Delgadillo

Scholarship Opportunities

The Haslam College of Business awards more than $5 million dollars annually in scholarships to students. Awards include college and departmental scholarships. Each year, students should apply to be considered for college and departmental scholarships through the university’s Continuing Undergraduate Student Scholarship application. 

Scholarship criteria is varied and may be based on a student’s need, academic merit, engagement in student organizations and research, and overall profile.