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Bachelor’s in Economics

Why Study Economics?

At its best, a college major matches a student’s academic talent and interests with preparation for a rewarding career. In the dynamic 21st century labor market, there are many exciting possibilities, but it can be very hard for anyone to predict how their career will evolve. A bachelor’s degree in economics equips students with a broad and diverse set of skills with the flexibility to match the uncertain future. At the heart of this is gaining an understanding of 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. These 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.

Economic models explain how firms’ decisions will impact their profits, how public policy choices will impact different groups and overall social welfare, why economic activity may shrink in a recession and many other issues. Economics is a very large field of social science, and our major 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 topics may differ greatly across classes, but you’ll find the methods share much in common. 

In the links below you’ll find more information about the structure of our bachelor’s programs in both the Haslam College of Business and the College of Arts and Sciences. You can also explore information on careers for economics majors, and how you can customize your degree plan to match your aspirations.

The Economics Curriculum

The economics curriculum in both the Haslam College of Business and the College of Arts and Sciences is quite flexible, with only four required courses in the major. This flexibility allows you to personalize your training and prepare for a wide variety of careers. Explore the structure of our bachelor’s degree programs, and chart a path that fits you and your goals.

Career Opportunities

Versatility is one of the main advantages of an economics degree — the analytical tools you acquire as an economics major are in high demand at a variety of companies. Our graduates have successfully gone on to pursue careers within banking, politics, nonprofit organizations and government service. Those wishing to pursue further education will find themselves well-prepared for law school or MBA programs. Be sure to ask your advisor about courses to prepare you for a graduate degree in economics as well. 

Salary outcomes are comparable to other Haslam College of Business majors, with an average reported salary of $50,429 for the Southeast region based on post-graduation data from 2020. 

The training and knowledge you acquire as an economics major are in high demand across many sectors. The analytical skills you develop in our program are useful for careers in the banking, finance, research and technology industries. Outside of industry, graduates of the Haslam economics program have also successfully pursued careers in nonprofit organizations and government service. Students wishing to pursue graduate education will find themselves well prepared for MBA programs, law school and advanced degrees in business and economics.

In research and technology sectors, economists employ their statistical and modeling skills to study markets and behavior. They are often called upon to apply these skills along with economic principles to predict the impacts of economic trends and fluctuations. Economists are becoming increasingly important for helping companies make better business decisions and understand their impact on the world.

As an economist, you will bring valuable skills to a nonprofit organization or have the ability to start your own. Most nonprofits are run similarly to private firms with well-paid upper-level positions. If you are someone who thrives on new challenges and values making a difference in society, providing your economic toolset to a nonprofit organization can prove to be rewarding. To explore potential job opportunities in nonprofits, visit idealist.org

Government service affords many opportunities for economics majors. From energy to the environment to the Federal Reserve System, economists are in demand to assist with analysis of economic data. As a research assistant, you may be obtaining, compiling, organizing and analyzing economic data to inform policy decisions. Evaluating alternative policies can improve outcomes for individuals, families, neighborhoods and regions as proposed policies are based on a solid foundation of economic reasoning.

If you are planning to continue your education with a graduate program, an economics degree can provide an excellent foundation upon which to build. Research suggests that an economics degree can lead to higher performance on the LSAT exam, as well as higher earnings beyond. For those preparing for the GMAT, economics majors typically perform better than other social science or business graduates. In sum, the study of economics allows students to successfully navigate a wide variety of careers and experience both personal and professional rewards.

Learn more about Economics Careers

Scholarship Opportunities

The economics department has many types of scholarships available and gave out $37,500 in the last academic year. Depending on scholarship criteria, selection may be based on first-generation college student status, community involvement, academic merit or financial need. See the list below to see which ones you may qualify for:

Beulah Collins Post Scholarship TBD Scholarship recipients are given priority in subsequent years for renewal of award.
Dean Frank B. Ward Memorial Scholarship $1,000 (Haslam College of Business economics major or College of Arts and Sciences economics major): First-generation college student who is a rising junior with excellent academic performance and service to the department.
J. Fred Holly Scholarship $500 (Haslam College of Business economics major or College of Arts and Sciences economics major): Leadership in clubs and civic organizations in the department, university or community.
J. Fred Holly Scholarship in Economics $2,000 (Haslam College of Business economics major, College of Arts and Sciences economics major or public administration major; preferred completion of ECON 381): Economics Department Research Award. Summer research opportunity with faculty and graduate students in the economics department.
Octavia McNair Post Scholarship TBD Scholarship recipients are given priority in subsequent years for renewal of award.
Pearl and Edward Moore Scholarship $2,000 (Haslam College of Business economics major): All-around excellence, outstanding academic performance, service to the department and contributions in the classroom environment.
Ronald Wolf Scholarship $1,500 (Haslam College of Business economics or public administration major): Outstanding all-around performance

For several scholarships above, multiple awards are given. Apply through the general application link for college and departmental scholarships: https://onestop.utk.edu/scholarships/continuing/