Department of Economics {College of Business}

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Undergraduate Program

Why Major in Economics?

If you would like to understand wealth, poverty, growth, trade, money, jobs, income, depression, recession, prices, monopoly -- and study the nitty gritty of what makes the world work from day to day -- then you will surely be fascinated with the field of economics. Economics concerns all of us. Some of the important questions we try to answer are: Why do we have so much unemployment in a nation as rich as the United States? How is it that unemployment and inflation occur together? What causes inflation? Why are some nations rich and some poor? Why do nations trade? Who determines how much money is circulating in the economy? Is the stock market important? Why don't we grow faster? What can we do about energy or environmental pollution?

Economics is the study of the allocation of scarce resources among competing uses, either through conscious public policy or through market forces. It is essentially the science of choice in a world of scarcity. The analytical skill of economists is useful in evaluating alternative methods of achieving society's goals and objectives and in formulating strategies and policies that will help to achieve these objectives.

Economics falls somewhere between the practical and the theoretical; we deal in theories, but there are many economists who use these theories to advise governments and large corporations. The best known and most powerful of these are the economists who form the Council of Economic Advisors, trying to give the President of the United States some help in steering the American economy. To understand how they think, you should take some economics courses and perhaps even major in it, if you like your initial exposure.

Even though Economics is in the social sciences, we have a natural connection with the College of Business. A student may wish to Minor in Business Administration. The other social sciences include such departments as Political Science, History, Sociology, International Relations, Geography, Anthropology, and Psychology. The study of economics involves a little bit from all of these; that is what makes the subject so interesting. At the same time, our connection with the business world is never forgotten.

An undergraduate degree in Economics is an excellent preparation for entry level jobs in both business and government. In addition, economics is one of the best majors for students intending to enter a master of Business Administration program because the economics major will develop both analytical skills and the broad liberal arts background which good graduate business schools are looking for in their applicants. For the same reason, economics is one of the best undergraduate preparations for law school.

Beyond the entry level jobs, a graduate degree might be required. Many of our students who have received the M.A. degree in Economics have received good jobs within the government sector. A teaching position in a university will require a Ph.D. degree.

Because San Francisco State University is an urban university, there is great variety in the age of students. This is particularly important in a topic such as economics, with its roots in the practical world. Students and teachers can share their experiences. Many students hold part-time or full-time jobs, and more than 30 percent of the economics classes are held at night in order to accommodate them. Our major may be completed solely with night classes scheduled each semester.

Computer literacy is essential in the workplace. Computerized economic analysis is in high demand but short supply. The Economics Department at SFSU has one of the best equipped microcomputer labs of any university in the California State University system. By completing the courses required for the economics major, students will develop a significant level of computer skills. Further development is possible through more advanced courses.

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