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Economics – College of Arts and Sciences Major Guide for 2015-2016

What is Economics – College of Arts and Sciences?

Economics is everywhere, every day. This sometimes is most evident to people after they graduate, and are in their first job. A degree in economics equips you to understand scarcity and market forces, and to project their impacts. Economics develops critical thinking skills.

We asked students, “why did you pick Economics as a major?” Here is what some recent Econ graduates said: “It has real-life applicability.” “It teaches you to see the details and the big picture–and to see how they work in sync.” “It’s a long term play– it’s applicable to whatever you want to do.”

Given its broad applicability, a degree in economics aligns with a variety of career pathways.  Economics majors may go on to work in the business sector (financial firms, consulting, and other).  Others work for industry or trade organizations, or with the government.  Some  work as research assistants (RA) —with a corporation, the government, a legislature, or with a public policy organization.  One recent graduate now is working as an RA with an energy reseach organization.  Another works on international development issues.   A third worked for a political party, projecting voter behavior.

In general, most economists use their understanding of economic forces to advise businesses and other organizations.  Often, economists gather and analyze data, in support of larger decision-making.  Economists working for the private sector may monitor trends and develop forecasts (consumer demand, sales, impacts of a new competitor moving into the area, and other).  Other economists study the impact of state or federal legislation, and project the impacts. Economists may use mathematical models to help predict answers to questions such as the impact of tax changes on business activity, households or the broader economy.  Quantitative skills are valuable in all economics specialties.

Many economists specialize in a particular area of economics. For example, specializations include industrial organization, public finance, international economics, business cycles and monetary economics. (The Bureau of Labor Statistics website,, gives you more information.)

Career Opportunities in Economics – College of Arts and Sciences

Businesses and organizations across many industries increasingly are relying on economic analysis and quantitative methods to analyze and forecast business, sales, and other economic trends. As a result, demand for economists is good in the private sector (especially in research and consulting services). The increased reliance on quantitative methods for analyzing business trends and policy issues mean quantitative analytical skills are important. In your economics program, it is valuable to take coursework on econometrics (statistics tied to economics).

There is an ongoing need for economists with government. The government sector employs over 50 percent of economists, in a wide range of agencies at Federal or state and local levels.

As noted, attributes that make people with an economics degree attractive to employers include: critical thinking skills, analytical skills, and quantitative skills.  An economics education develops the ability to make effective decisions, and to use critical analysis the support those decisions.  For people interested in law school, the analytical skills of economics are a good foundation for law school and a career law career.

Salary Trends in Economics – College of Arts and Sciences

Annual salary rates for Economists will vary according to occupation, level of experience, training, location, whether the position is a state or federal government position, or a position with a non-profit organization.  People with a Bachelors degree in economics can pursue entry level positions, including jobs with the federal or state government. An advanced degree often is required for advancement to higher level positions. With a Bachelors degree in economics, people also get entry-level jobs outside of economics, as Research Assistants, Financial Analysts, Market Analysts, and similar positions in business and finance.

Overall, for people with a Bachelors degree, examples of salaries are as follows: Entry Level Economist $34,000; Economic Research Assistant $33,000; Fiscal Analyst $39,000; Legislative Assistant $30,000.
Salaries are higher for economists with experience and advanced degrees. The overall median salary here is around $90,000 ( source is BLS). For economists working in state and local government, the median is $67,000. For economists in Management, Scientific and Consulting Services, the median is $94,750.   (Note: Updated information on nationally compiled salaries is available at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Search the “Occupational Outlook Handbook,” in the Economist section.)

In a survey of recent University of Tennessee economics graduates, people listed starting jobs that included Financial Analyst, Junior Business Analyst, Account Representative, and Research Assistant.  The average salary reported was $45,000, with a range from $30,000 to above $60,000.  Students with a strong economics foundation, good motivation, strong empirical skills, and strong writing and presentation skills matched up with the higher end of the salary range.  Some students’ career goals took them on to law school or graduate work in economics.

High School Preparation

It is important for students to be well informed when they begin their college careers. Academic advisors in the College of Arts and Sciences encourage all high school students to 1) take math and foreign language courses throughout their high school career, 2) explore economics and business courses, 3) talk with family and friends about their career choices, 4) network with professionals in the field of interest, and 5) volunteer and participate in their communities.

How to Major in Economics – College of Arts and Sciences

Here is a checklist to get you started on the right track: 1) Look at the online catalog for a description of courses and requirements. Talk with your advisor in the Economics department. With your advisor, you can identify courses appropriate for your degree and your career goals. 2) Use your DARS report to monitor your progress (on University, College and Major requirements). 3) Be diligent in your courses and build a strong foundation for yourself. 4) Visit Career Services early (certainly by your sophomore year). Ask them about the variety of career paths within the economics profession. Take the recommended career inventories to help you target career paths that best fit your profile.  5)  Within your economics major, the sooner you identify your area of particular interest in economics, the better.  This gives you more time to take classes that line up with your career goals and interests.

Requirements for Economics – College of Arts and Sciences

Economics 201 and Statistics 201 (or their equivalent honors courses, Econ 207 and Stat 207) are the prerequisites to the Economics major in the College of Arts and Science. The Economics major consists 30 upper division hours in economics. It must include Econ 311 and 313 (the intermediate micro and macroeconomics classes), and at least twelve hours of 400 level courses.  Alternatively, students can take Econometrics and nine hours of 400 level classes.  The Econometrics course (Econ 381) is strongly recommended to students, and is valuable across a variety of career paths. Talk with your Economics Department advisor about other specific courses that are useful for your interests and career goals.  Students planning on graduate study in Economics should take Math 141–142, and talk further with their Economics advisor for other useful courses.

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

To be competitive in today’s market, it is valuable to volunteer, intern, or work a part-time job in a field associated with their interests. Internships are competitive. However, students can negotiate internships with local employers, non-profit agencies, the local Chamber of Commerce, and other organizations. There are a variety of internship websites to explore (for example,  Career Services has internship listings, as well.  In addition, the Economics Department has a competitive internship program. Students selected are matched with professional opportunities in economics. These internship positions are well suited to students between their Junior and Senior year in school. The econometrics class is important to several potential internship employers. Employers often list writing skills as important in hiring decisions.

Highlights of Economics – College of Arts and Sciences

Double majors are not unusual in Economics. Students say, “I intended to get a minor, but I liked the economics classes, so I kept taking more. Eventually, I decided to double major.” Double majors with Economics cover the spectrum: Political Science, Finance, Logistics, Psychology, History, and others.

If you do not major in Economics, but still want some emphasis in economics, a minor can be a good solution. You can minor in Economics by completing Economics 201 (or 207) and 12 additional economics upper division hours. The coursework should include Econ 311 and 313, and at least one 400-level course.


Ready for the World logoReady for the World

“Ready for the World” is part of a long-range plan to foster a culture of diversity, to best prepare students for working and competing in the 21st century.  Students are encouraged to participate in diverse cultural programs offered.  Visit the Center for International Education web site ( or Ready for the World web site ( for more information on activities.  Students also are encouraged to include study abroad in their academic program.  Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, offers study abroad programs in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, South America, and North America. Program lengths vary from mini-term trips to the entire academic year, and students may choose to fulfill general education requirements, study a foreign language, or take courses within their majors. In addition, UTK offers students opportunities for international internships.

Students are highly encouraged to begin planning early in their academic career. Consult with an academic advisor about the best time to study abroad as well as what courses to take abroad. For more information about program options, the application process, and how to finance study abroad, please visit the Programs Abroad Office website.

Academic Plan and Milestones

Following an academic plan will help students stay on track to graduate in four years. For first-year, full-time, degree-seeking students, UT has implemented Universal Tracking (uTrack), an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones may include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA.

To see a sample academic plan and milestones for this major, please visit the undergraduate catalog.

For More Information

Dr. Jean Gauger
Undergraduate Director
Department of Economics
University of Tennessee
526 Stokely Management Center
Knoxville, TN   37996-0550
Phone:  865-974-3303


The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.

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