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“I’m interested in business. Why should I major in economics?”

Economics, a comprehensive liberal arts major, teaches students to critically analyze almost anything, whereas professional school training typically focuses on a narrower skillset of applied practices. For example, economics students learn how to think about the way all markets work and the principles that guide them. In contrast, a marketing class might study how a cereal company figured out the demand for its product through a detailed case study. If cereal companies are hiring that year, those particular marketing majors might get the job, but in the long run, by understanding the fundamentals about any market, economics majors will have broader skills for many possible jobs. It’s no surprise, then, that the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reports that economics majors earn higher starting salaries than business majors, and that gap has been growing over time.  (

Thinking about advanced degrees? About 1/3 of students in top MBA programs majored in economics in college, 1/3 in engineering, and 1/3 in everything else. Economics majors outscore every other major on the LSAT and place 3rd on the MBA entrance exams. Business majors typically score at the bottom. The reason? These entrance exams test logic and analytical skills, such as figuring out the general principle behind a problem or given situation.

Students (and society) are very literal. They think that to go into “business,” they must major in “business” and if they study “economics,” the only occupation open to them is “economist.” But what businesses really want is to find people who can problem solve and communicate. 

Economics is enjoying surging popularity with college students, especially at the nation’s most elite institutions. Economics is the top major at Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Stanford and the Universities of Pennsylvania and Chicago; second at Brown, Yale and the University of California at Berkeley; and third at Cornell and Dartmouth.”

– The Wall Street Journal  (1998, November 30)

Declare your major today!

The Economics Department at the University of Oregon, located in the College of Arts and Sciences, features a dedicated group of faculty, staff and students who lead the field in current economic issues. We are also one of the fastest growing departments at the University due to the relevance of our subject matter and reputation for excellence in teaching and scholarship.

As a member of the University of Oregon community, you have the right to learn, work, and live in an environment free of discrimination and hate. We all have a responsibility to maintain an environment free of prohibited harassment and discrimination. Resources are readily available here on campus for all students, faculty, and staff: