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Degree: BS, BA

Campus: Columbus

College: Arts and Sciences

Economics answers questions regarding why new companies start up, the causes of high unemployment and what determines interest rates. But economics is far broader. In addition to studying inequality and exchange rates, economists study underground and illegal markets, why people decide to get married and have children, and the economics of sports. Broadly defined, economics is the study of how individuals, businesses and governments make decisions and how the market mediates those decisions across a wide range of domains. 

Economists develop theories to explain how the components of the economy such as individual people, companies and the government operate and interact with one another. They gather data to estimate the relationships among the various aspects of the economy. Based on these analyses, economists predict how people and companies will respond to changes in policies and external forces. These predictions, in turn, help guide private and public decision makers to form appropriate policies. 

Upon admission to the university, students can declare a major in economics within the College of Arts and Sciences. The flexibility of the economics program in the College of Arts and Sciences helps keep options open for students still deciding on a career path while developing strong statistical and writing skills.

The Department of Economics offers a major in economics leading to a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS). The BA is less quantitative and is broader in scope, allowing students to combine interests in other areas of study. The BS program has a stronger quantitative component that prepares students for graduate work in economics and careers in analytical areas of government and business. Both degrees provide an excellent base for graduate work in any of the social sciences or in professional programs such as law or Master of Business Administration.

Students completing either the BA or BS degree are required to take Principles of Microeconomics and Principles of Macroeconomics, one economics writing course, and 15 credit hours of economics elective courses, including six credit hours at the 5000 level. Students in both degree tracks take courses in intermediate microeconomics and macroeconomics, although the BS courses are calculus-based and require a Calculus II or equivalent prerequisite. BA students complete one course of elementary econometrics (for which Statistics 1450 or Economics 3400 is a prerequisite) and Math 1130, 1148 or the equivalent. BS students complete a two-course econometric sequence (Econ 5410 and 5420) for which Statistics 2450 is a prerequisite. Students completing the BS are required to maintain a 2.25 GPA overall and in the major.

The Economics of Immigration is a three-credit spring semester course in which students learn about the opportunity cost for immigrants, the effects of the flow of money, and the loss of labor and human capital on economic growth. Participants meet on campus once a week during spring semester and then travel to Tijuana, Mexico, over spring break. Tijuana is a city of immigrants from all over Mexico and other parts of Latin America, and students will have many opportunities to view immigration issues from various perspectives and apply economic principles they learned in the classroom. Students will help build houses, hear the stories of people in transition, and gain a better understanding of economic choices being faced by individuals, households, communities and nations.

Students can participate in a variety of internships in the private sector, state agencies and federal organizations. In previous years, students have interned with companies such as Progressive Insurance and the Los Angeles Angels. The economics department and Ohio State alumni help students also make connections with prospective employers in order to strengthen job placement and build a network of friends who support undergraduate education and training.

Honors students within the Department of Economics receive instruction from faculty members in six different Honors courses. Almost all Honors students take the BS degree. Students from the Honors Program are well prepared for careers in law, economics and business. Honors students also have been university nominees for the Rhodes, Marshall, Gates, Carnegie Endowment for Peace and Truman scholarship competitions.

Economics students have many opportunities to assist faculty with research. Many of the faculty hire undergraduate students to work on research projects by assisting with data collection, information processing or data analysis. Working with renowned faculty provides a great experience for undergraduate students to see economics in practice. Students also are able to develop one-on-one relationships with faculty members, which can prove especially beneficial when it is time to apply for that first job or to graduate school.

The Department of Economics faculty includes some of the world’s leading researchers in microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics, economic history and experimental economics. 

The Undergraduate Economics Society (UES) is a student organization run by economics majors and advised by a faculty member. The UES provides students with a weekly forum to discuss current economic policy topics and to hear presentations on faculty member research. Representatives of business and government provide students with an important perspective on the role of economic thinking and policy. Students also have the chance to network and make connections in UES for internships and future job opportunities. Representatives from government and the private sector regularly make special visits to campus to recruit economics majors.

Economic analysis is used routinely in business decision making, as a policy-making tool in government, and in legal analysis involving business practices and personal injury cases.

Students have career opportunities in business, government, finance, consulting and education. For example, graduates are employed in banking as loan officers, account officers, credit investigators and trust services. Economics majors also work in the insurance industry as agents, underwriters, claims adjusters and brokers. Training in the field also leads to employment in industry as managers, buyers, economic analysts and consultants. Economics graduates work in the securities field as brokers, researchers and managers. The government sector offers careers in tax, budget and policy analysis as well as legislative support. The economics degree also can lead to teaching positions in the social sciences.

The undergraduate degree in economics provides an excellent base for graduate work in any of the social sciences. It also is excellent preparation for work in professional schools such as law and business administration. Generally, employment as a professional or academic economist requires an advanced degree. 

The mean starting income for students with a bachelor's degree in economics is $61,038 according to a 2018 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the mean annual wage for economists in 2017 at $102,490.

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The department has one of the finest computer labs in the country for conducting economic experiments. In certain experiments, subjects are networked through the computers in simulated economic environments, with the decisions they make determining the rewards they receive—rewards that are paid in real money.

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