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Introduction to Economics –
Is an Economics Degree Right for Me?

What is economics? What are the similarities and differences compared to business studies? How is economics classified within the field of economic sciences? Is an economics degree suitable for me, or might another business degree also fit? Can I study economics at WHU? What career opportunities does economics open up for me? We will answer these and many more questions in the following article.
Three smiling Bachelor students are sitting at their laptops working on a group project on the topic of the basics of economics.

What is Economics?

Definition and significance of economics for society

Rather than focusing on individual companies, economics examines entire economic areas, such as the European Union. In viewing issues that concern the economy, regularities in the production and distribution of goods are examined under economic conditions.

Economics is primarily based on statistics and creates recommendations relating to economic matters. It is a very important factor for political decisions since it addresses topics such as GDP, inflation, taxes, and duties.

Among other things, economics consists of subject matter related to monetary theory and environmental policy. Micro- and macroeconomics, finance, and econometrics are fixed components in discussing the relationship between economic objects.

The Role of Economics in Business Sciences

Economics is part of the subfield of business sciences and plays a central role here. It provides fundamental concepts, models, and theories to investigate economic phenomena and better understand complex relationships at the micro and macro levels.

Goals of Economics

The main goals of economics are:

  • Price stability: Economics controls inflation and ensures price stability.
  • Economic growth: Economics aims to promote economic growth to improve living standards.
  • Fair income distribution: Another goal is to achieve high employment rates and reduce unemployment.
  • External economic balance: Economics also aims to achieve a balanced relationship between imports and exports.
  • Efficient use of resources: A central goal is also the optimal distribution of resources in order to maximize production efficiency.
  • Environmental and resource protection: Promotion of environmentally friendly measures to leave resources for future generations.
  • Welfare maximization: Limited resources should be used optimally to maximize prosperity.

Economics & Business Studies: Similarities and Differences at a Glance

As already explained, business administration and economics are both part of the business sciences. Both courses deal with economic processes and use the same methods and analytical tools, such as statistical analyses, mathematical models, econometric methods, and case studies. Business administration and economics are based on the same economic principles. These include supply and demand, pricing, competition, resource allocation, and decision theory. Both disciplines also have the goal of increasing efficiency. The major difference, however, is that business administration deals with company-related content, and economics looks at the economy as a whole. It examines a complete economic process and the associated laws in a society. The approaches and objectives are different.

Nevertheless, both subareas of the business sciences cover some of the same topics. For instance, economics also focuses on behavior in households and businesses, with issues often overlapping. An economics degree program includes aspects of business administration and vice versa.

Discover the Advantages of Studying Economics

  1. Enhance your analytical skills: You learn to interpret complex economic relationships and gain a thorough understanding of economic theory and practice.
  2. Application to real-world economic problems: As an economist, you have the opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills to solve real-world economic problems. You can participate in economic policy decision-making processes or work in economic research and analysis.
  3. Contribution to society: Economics graduates have the opportunity to make a contribution to society by addressing important economic and social issues. They can participate in shaping economic policy, contribute to solving social and economic problems, and bring about positive changes in economic system.
  4. Diverse career prospects: An economics degree opens up a wide range of career prospects. The diverse career opportunities make economics graduates sought-after specialists on the job market.

Career Opportunities with an Economics Degree

A degree in economics opens up various career opportunities in various industries and sectors. As you have already discovered in the chapter (Economics and Business Studies: Similarities & Differences), you have some overlapping skills and knowledge as both a business economist and an economist, but there are also differences in the fields. There are some professions suitable for business managers and economists, as well as specific jobs tailored to the respective training and expertise. It ultimately depends on your personal interests, skills, and career goals, which career path you choose. Both degree programs offer security for the future.

Jobs suitable for both business managers and economists:

  • Business consulting: Economics and business experts are often employed by business consulting or financial consulting firms to assist companies with strategic decisions and problem-solving. They can be involved in analyzing market trends, assessing competitive strategies, and developing business models to help companies operate more efficiently and achieve long-term success.
  • Banking and financial services: In banks, insurance companies, or other financial institutions, both business managers and economists can work in areas such as risk management, investment analysis, financial consulting, banking, investment banking, and financial analysis. They can contribute to developing complex financial products, analyzing market trends, and assessing risks to support financial decisions and ensure the stability of the financial system.
  • Public sector: Economists, in general, find employment opportunities in the public sector, such as in government agencies, ministries, or international organizations, where they can participate in the formulation and implementation of economic policy. Jobs more suitable for economists: As a Bachelor's or Master's graduate of an economics program, you have diverse career prospects in areas such as economics, politics, finance, and research.
  • Economic policy and government: Economics graduates can work in government agencies and political institutions to support and shape economic policy decisions. They can participate in developing strategies to promote economic growth, combat unemployment, and stabilize the economy. Through their expertise, they can help governments make informed decisions that improve the overall well-being of society.
  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs): Economics graduates can also work in non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that advocate for social justice, environmental protection, and poverty alleviation. They can participate in developing policy recommendations, conducting research projects, and designing programs to improve the living conditions of people worldwide.
  • Economic and university research: As an economics graduate, you have the opportunity to participate in research projects at universities and research institutes. You could work as a research assistant or doctoral student at a university and participate in research projects on various topics in economics. You could conduct both theoretical and empirical research and gain new insights into economic issues.
  • International organizations: In international organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), or the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), economists play a crucial role in analyzing and solving global economic problems. They can participate in developing programs to combat poverty, promote trade and development, and support countries in economic crises.
  • Economic journalism and media: Economists with good communication skills can work as economic journalists, analysts, or commentators in media companies, newspapers, magazines, or online platforms.

 

Salary Opportunities

The salary prospects after an economics degree depend on numerous factors, including your skills, your specialization in economics, your professional experience, the company's location, and the industry. In general, economics graduates have good earning potential, as their expertise in economic analysis, finance, market research, and policy consulting is in demand. However, it is important to note that salaries can vary widely. Entry-level positions may offer more modest salaries, while executives or experts in certain areas can receive very competitive compensation. If you aspire to a position in middle to upper management, ideally, you should follow up your completed bachelor’s degree with a Master's degree to increase your salary prospects and meet the high demands of the private sector, and compete with other candidates. You could turn to professional associations, career fairs, or online resources for more specific salary information.

Study Content: Fundamentals of Economics

The contents of an economics degree program deepen your knowledge in areas such as micro- and macroeconomics and expand your interdisciplinary knowledge through the connection of mathematics, statistics, and social sciences.

Microeconomics

  • Supply and demand: Laws of supply and demand, pricing on markets, elasticities
  • Consumer behavior: Utility maximization, budget constraint, indifference curve analysis
  • Producer behavior: Profit maximization, cost minimization, supply functions
  • Market structures: Perfect competition, monopoly, oligopoly, monopolistic competition
  • External effects and market failures: Externalities, public goods, market regulation

Macroeconomics

  • National accounts (GDP): Measurement of economic performance, income, and expenditures
  • Economic growth: Determinants of economic growth, production function, long-term growth
  • Business cycles and economic policy: Business cycles, monetary and fiscal policy, stabilization policy
  • Labor market and unemployment: Labor market theory, causes of unemployment, labor market regulation
  • International economics: International trade theory, exchange rate regimes, international financial markets

Mathematics and Statistics

  • Public finance: Government spending and revenue, tax policy, debt
  • Environmental economics: Externalities in the environmental area, environmental regulation, sustainable development
  • Industrial economics: Competition policy, market structures and behavior, regulation of industries
  • Development economics: Economic growth and development, poverty and inequality, development policy

Further Specializations

For example, social sciences. In an economics program in the field of social sciences, the focus is on understanding economic phenomena in the context of social structures, political decisions, and social challenges. Students learn to analyze complex problems and develop economic solutions that consider social and political aspects.

Specialization Options

Environmental Economics

Environmental economics applies economic theories and methods to environmental issues and problems. It addresses topics such as environmental pollution, resource scarcity, sustainability, and environmental protection. Students who choose to specialize in environmental economics learn to apply economic theories to well-known environmental problems. These include, for example, environmental pollution, resource scarcity, sustainability, and environmental protection. Economics students analyze the efficiency of various environmental policies, the impacts of environmental standards on the economy, and the incentive mechanisms for environmentally friendly behavior by consumers and businesses. Integrating environmental economics into the economics program enables students to develop a broader understanding of the connections between the economy and the environment.

International Economics

The specialty "International Economics" deals with the economic interactions between different countries and the effects of these interactions on national and international economic systems. In this field, the following topics are studied:

  • International trade theories, financial markets, institutions
  • Developing countries
  • Multinational corporations

Public Finance

Public finance as a specialty deals with the role of the state in the economy, especially in relation to public revenue and expenditure and the regulation of financial markets. Economics students develop an understanding of how state interventions can influence the economy and how economic policy can be used to promote growth, stability, and justice. Within public finance, topics such as public finances, taxation, government spending policy, monetary policy, financial markets, and institutions are addressed.

Requirements and Skills of Future Students

  • Analytical skills, good mathematical understanding
  • Interest in economic sciences
  • Problem-solving competence
  • Communication skills
  • Teamwork
  • Good knowledge of software programs like R, Python, or Stata

Can I Study Economics at WHU?

WHU does not offer a pure economics degree. However, there are two bachelor’s degree programs that include subjects such as business studies and economics. Take a look at the bachelor’s degree programs offered by WHU to find out what suits you. Our programs combine various elements of economic sciences as well as theory and practice. Feel free to learn more about our bachelor's degree programs on the following pages:

  1. Bachelor in International Business Administration: Curriculum
  2. Bachelor in Business Psychology: Curriculum

Suppose you want to combine elements of economics and business administration in your studies. If so, the Bachelor in International Business Administration at WHU might be an option for you. There, you will get to know all areas of business sciences and management before choosing your focus from a variety of specialization modules. Whether brand management, entrepreneurship, or family business, all doors are open to you.

Internships and Study Abroad

Internships during your studies are extremely important to gain work experience.

WHU offers a practice-oriented program in the Bachelor in International Business Administration (degree: Bachelor of Science). Two internships are planned, one of which is in a non-German-speaking country. This allows you to get to know the daily work routine and its challenges early on, preparing you optimally for entry into professional life after graduation.

Tips for Prospective Economics Students

Preparations before the study

  • Attend numerous events at several universities to get detailed information about business courses
  • Decide for yourself which economic study program is the right one! You should be sure whether you are more interested in internal business economic processes and if want to deal with topics like accounting, marketing, and purchasing, or whether you are more interested in macroeconomic processes. Here, topics such as the global economy, the labor market, public debt, and price stability are discussed.
  • Exchange ideas with current students and graduates. On the WHU program pages listed below, you can get in touch with students:

Conclusion to the Guide

If you are still unsure whether you want to study economics, or perhaps prefer business studies or business sciences, then use further information and resources such as online courses, professional journals, or counseling centers. Our bachelor program team members are also happy to inform you about possible business courses at WHU.

Overall, a degree in economics provides a solid foundation for a versatile and exciting career in the world of economics and beyond. It allows you to understand complex economic contexts, develop analytical skills, and contribute to society. However, a degree in business studies also offers you good career opportunities in the business world.