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Why Economics at UC Merced?

There are many good schools offering degrees in economics, but there are some real advantages to enrolling at UC Merced. Here are some of the distinctive opportunities at UC Merced:

  • You will work with and be taught by tenure-track professors for most of your classes, instead of teaching assistants or part-time lecturers, even when you are a freshman.
  • We offer small classes relative to other state schools.
  • Our faculty regularly hire talented undergraduates to assist in their research to a much greater degree than other state universities.
  • Our faculty are actively involved in research that is important and very relevant to today’s world, and we love sharing that research with students.
  • We have a low teacher-student ratio in economics and we take pride in getting to know our students. This makes for a better learning environment and allows us to write much more detailed recommendation letters and advise students on their careers in a more personalized way.

Economics: A Way of Thinking

Perhaps the most important benefit of studying economics is learning how to “think like an economist.” Economists study how scarce resources are allocated so that well-being is maximized. Whether the resource that is being allocated is income, time or a precious commodity, there is always some tradeoff involved. Individuals, businesses and governments face these tradeoffs in countless ways everyday. The most important thing students learn from studying economics is how to identify, measure and understand the essential elements of this tradeoff.

More than Just Money

Many people have the impression that studying economics is the same as studying business. While economics can be applied to business opportunities, it can be applied to many other interesting questions and issues. Here are just a few examples of the kinds of questions explored by UC Merced economics faculty:

  • Did safe government jobs hurt private employers during the Depression?
  • How did New Deal programs affect health, crime, employment and migration during the Depression?
  • How do physicians and hospitals respond to new regulations?
  • How long should someone take a training or education program before looking for a job?
  • Do universities really promote local economic development?
  • Are college rankings accurate?
  • Does immigration reduce the amount of offshoring firms do?
  • Why do nondrinkers earn less than drinkers?
  • What are the effects of anti-trust laws on the size and number of firms in a market?

Opportunities as a UC Merced Economics Student

UC Merced economics majors have had great success not just at Merced but in other study programs. Recently, economics students have:

Careers in Economics

Because students with a degree in economics develop strong analytical and quantitative skills, and the ability to  effectively solve complex problems, studying economics is excellent preparation for many careers in business, law, management consulting, education and public service. Businesses of all types and sizes, financial institutions, consulting firms, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, as well as graduate business and law schools actively seek graduates with bachelor’s degrees in economics. In addition, many of our students will go on to do graduate study in economics, law, public policy or business. 

Graduates in Economics Will Be Able To:

  • Clearly formulate important questions related to public policies or economic performance.
  • Use economic models to understand and predict the outcomes of changes in the economic, policy, or legal environment.
  • Understand how institutions, governments, and individuals interact in a market setting and how this determines economic outcomes.
  • Be able to analyze data using sophisticated econometric models to test theories and predict outcomes.
  • Effectively communicate questions, tradeoffs, and empirical findings in both academic and non-academic settings, orally and in formal written work.

Starting Salaries

The salaries economics graduates earn, not only at the beginning of their careers, but also throughout their lifetimes, illustrate the value of an economics degree.

The starting salaries of recent college graduates differ by major course of study. Economics consistently ranks as one of the top undergraduate majors in terms of starting salary. In 2019 average starting salary for Economics majors was slightly more than $58,900.

The American Economic Association

The American Economics Association has an interesting page about economics for undergraduates, including detailed information about the types of careersundergraduates typically enter (including data like salaries and average LSAT scores by major), links to popular book in economics, as well as advice on graduate school admissions.