Economics Vs Finance Degree

What makes an economics degree different from a finance degree? Read on to learn about how each degree is used, the courses commonly required, the kinds of careers each can lead to, and more. Schools offering Economics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Comparing and Contrasting Economics and Finance Degrees

When it comes to business-related degrees, there are several that deal directly with money, and two of the most prominent are economics and finance. While these programs may seem similar, the truth of the matter is that these degrees can differ substantially in terms of coursework and their real-world applications. Economics is usually considered a science that analyzes the conditions that may affect the allocation of resources and projects possible changes to see how they will impact governments, industries, businesses, or even individuals. Finance is similarly future-oriented; however, finance typically relates to the management of assets and business decision-making that maximizes profits. Economists can work in government, non-profits, or business, while finance is more business-oriented, although there can be some overlap with institutions such as banks.

Degrees in Economics Degrees in Finance
Program Content Allocating resources, efficiency, individual and organizational behavior Investment, stock analysis, and risk management
Degree Type Bachelor of Art/Science, Master of Art/Science, Master of Economics, Doctor of Philosophy Bachelor of Art/Science, Bachelor of Business Administration, Master of Art/Science, Master of Business Administration, Master of Finance, Doctor of Philosophy
Typical Courses Macroeconomics, calculus, econometrics Investments, corporate finance, financial modeling
Career Options Economist, budget analyst Financial manager, financial analyst, personal financial advisor
Potential Median Salaries (2018)* $104,340 for economists, $76,220 for budget analysts $127,990 for financial managers, $85,660 for financial analysts, $88,890 for personal financial advisors

Source: * US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Overview of Economics Degrees

Bachelor's degree programs in economics place an emphasis on analyzing an entire market, evaluating how that market is distributing resources and ways in which it might be improved. Students need a solid understanding of advanced mathematics, such as calculus and statistics, in order to understand and create models and charts representing their predictions and observations. Economics is split into microeconomics, which studies particular industries, policies, and markets, and macroeconomics, which looks at the dynamics of entire economies for states, nations, or the world. Econometrics applies that knowledge of statistics to describing economic situations. Economics is much more of an academic discipline and can serve as a good choice for individuals planning to attend law school or obtain graduate degrees. Since microeconomics can focus on particular industries, economics is also well suited to double majors. Many careers in economics are likely to require higher degrees, such as master's degrees for economists.

Master's degree programs in economics often have similar coursework but at a more advanced level. Graduate students in economics programs learn how to handle data using computers, such as in econometrics courses, and analyze economies at both the micro- and macro- levels. Programs may also tackle international commerce and the interactions between two different economies. It is also possible to earn a PhD in Economics, which has some overlap in coursework with the average master's degree program. PhD students may need to choose an area of concentration and must produce a piece of original research in the form of a dissertation in order to be awarded the degree. Master's students may also be faced with the choice of specialization or even have to complete a thesis paper, particularly in Master of Science programs. Both master's and doctoral degrees in economics tend to lead towards more academic, research-based careers, with PhD programs being the most academic-oriented option.

Overview of Finance Degrees

A bachelor's degree program in finance teaches students how markets function so that they can handle investments intelligently. To that end, students of finance still usually take courses in calculus and micro- or macroeconomics. Undergraduate finance degree programs also frequently have a focus on general business, particularly if it's a concentration in a Bachelor of Business Administration program, so classes in areas like marketing, accounting, and management may feature prominently. Finance programs may have concentrations available as well, offering specializations in risk management, which analyzes the likelihood of problems that may result from actions taken by individuals or businesses to aid in decision-making, and insurance, an industry designed around managing risk. One of the main uses of finance is to combine all of these areas in order to predict future performance of assets based on market conditions, then recommend courses of action that will maximize profits, be it through investments or commerce.

Master's degree programs in finance may be found as stand-alone degrees, such as the Master of Finance, or as a concentration in a Master of Business Administration program. Business applications are a key focus of both programs, with MBAs in Finance being slightly heavier on general leadership and business courses, which prepare finance students for managerial roles within finance. Programs deal heavily in theory as well as practice, with courses like corporate finance or investment management. Finance students at the master's level may be able to choose concentrations as well, in areas like corporate finance or financial engineering. PhD programs in finance also exist, although they lead almost exclusively to research careers, in contrast to the more professionally oriented master's degree programs.

Other Fields Related to Economics and Finance

Students considering majors in economics and finance may also be interested in some other similar disciplines within the world of business.

Accounting

Accounting plays a significant role in finance, as it relates to keeping financial records used to handle budgets, assets, and debts. While finance and economics professionals use data to make predictions about the future, accounting primarily deals with data to determine a group or individual's present monetary circumstances. Accounting also deals heavily with mathematics and statistics, and frequently accounting programs include coursework in finance and economics.

Business Analytics

While the economics, finance, and accounting fields work with money, business analytics is a discipline that takes the mathematical and statistical elements and applies them other areas of business. Business analytics professionals create models using data from market research, finance, and other sources to aid in decision-making for companies in a similar way to economics and finance.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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