Department of Economics {College of Business}

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FAQ - Undergraduate Program

On this page you can find answers to frequently asked questions about our undergraduate program.

What can I do with an economics major?

The economics major at San Francisco State is a liberal arts degree and, as such, it is intended to give the student a firm grasp of basic economic theory while allowing you to pursue a broad education. With a liberal arts degree, you can also study other subjects that interest you or pursue other courses which you need for your future profession. Economics majors from San Francisco State have done just about everything in the past. Here are a few of the things you might want to do:

  • Pursue a career in business or government
  • Start your own business
  • Go to graduate school in economics, business or any other field
  • Go to law school.

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I've heard I have to know a lot of math to do economics?

You do have to know some mathematics to do economics. Our curriculum includes statistics and some basic calculus that you need to know. Many majors start out with no math background and do very well. Some students struggle, but find that they have learned a great deal in the end.

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Do I need computer skills?

The department has a computer lab where we teach you some of the basic skills and show how computers are used in analytical and empirical work in economics. You will find that even if you don't use the specific software that we use in your future work, the basic skill and familiarity will be invaluable to your future.

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Can I get a job with an economics major?

Yes. The job you get depends on your skills and the job market. Most of our majors end up working in the private sector, often in the banking or financial services sector, where a knowledge of economics is invaluable.

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Is an economics major better than a business major?

That depends. An economics major is more flexible and many of our students go on to work for private businesses. In general, employers look upon an economics degree as just as good (or better) than a business degree though some knowledge of accounting and finance may be useful. If you want to know some of the basic principles of finance or accounting you can take those courses in addition to an economics degree, or you can get a minor in business. Most MBA programs prefer an undergraduate degree in economics to one in business. However, our degree is more theoretical and less nuts-and bolts orientated than a business degree. You have to decide what you want.

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Will someone with an undergraduate degree in business get a better job than I will with an economics degree?

That's unlikely. Economics majors have their own strengths and with a solid background in economics you should do just as well.

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Can I major in something else as well, like international relations?

Yes. We have a number of students who double major in many different departments.

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What are employers looking for?

We have brought a number of visitors to campus to talk about job openings in the private sector. Surprisingly, they all agree on that they want students with a broad educational background who can write well, analyze problems and pick up new material rapidly. Most also want some mathematical literacy and computer knowledge is extremely valuable in the workplace. We believe an economics major can prepare students well for these challenges. With a bachelors degree you are likely to be in a job where a multitude of skills will be necessary.

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Can I go to graduate school with a BA in Economics?

Of course. A significant number of our students go on to pursue masters degrees and Ph.D.'s in economics, business, public policy and other fields. Admission to graduate schools, especially Ph.D.'s is very competitive, so you have your work cut out for you.

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Can I minor in economics?

Yes. We have a very active minor.

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