If you are deciding between majoring in economics or computer science, you might want to know more about what each major has to offer. This post will show you the key facts about each major and help you to decide which would be a better degree for you.
At a glance:
|Ease of finding a job||Moderate||High|
|Types of jobs|
you can qualify for
|Difficulty of the|
|Key things to note||Can be difficult to |
get a job with just
a bachelor’s degree.
Many of the more
jobs require at least
a master’s degree.
Becomes a lot more
you combine it with
data analysis skills.
|A very employable|
degree with just a
A well paying degree.
Can give you access to
data science and
machine learning roles
if you choose the right
Source for economics salary and jobs
There are many things to consider when choosing between the two degrees and there are also some important things to be aware of when choosing either of them.
Details about a degree in computer science
Below are some of the key details of the computer science major.
According to Payscale, the average salary of a person with a bachelor’s degree in computer science is $85,235. This makes computer science one of the best paying degrees available right now.
Many of the alternative degrees to computer science will also have high average salaries. However, not only is computer science one of the best paying degrees but it also puts you in a good position with just a bachelor’s degree. On the other hand, many of the alternatives require a master’s degree to be competitive when seeking a job.
Also, many people that get alternative degrees to CS actually end up finding themselves in CS type roles. For example, it is not uncommon for economics majors to find themselves working in programming roles after graduating.
Types of jobs the degree will qualify you for
There are many different types of jobs that a computer science degree will open you up to. These can include:
- Software engineer
- Database administrator
- Data scientist (often requires a master’s degree)
- Machine learning engineer (often requires a master’s degree)
- App developer
- Web developer
- Computer systems administrator
Most CS majors will end up taking jobs as a software engineer which is one of the highest-rated jobs available. When interviewing for these roles, you will be tested mainly on algorithms and data structures that you’ll learn about during your time in the major. Make sure to be very comfortable with algorithms and data structures when interviewing.
Data science is another career that is becoming popular among CS majors. If you want to get a job in data science, it would help to take classes in data analysis and machine learning, to learn Python programming, and to complete data science projects. A CS degree combined with classes relevant to data science should put you in a good position to get data science and software engineering jobs.
It would also help to try to get internships during the summer since that will also help you a lot in getting into big tech companies that have very high salaries.
How difficult it is as a major
Generally, computer science is considered as one of the easier STEM majors. With that being said, the major will require a lot of work, at times, especially once you are done with your freshman year.
When compared with an economics major, most would likely agree that they are similarly difficult. However, this will depend a lot on the two specific programs that you are comparing. Both economics and CS degrees can range from easy to very challenging depending on the specific program.
Types of classes you will study
Classes that you can expect to take include:
You can also expect to take some mathematics classes including:
If your university does not require that you take those math classes, I would strongly recommend that you take them as electives. This is because they are key classes for machine learning and, if you want to go to grad school, they will be important classes to have on your transcript.
Some classes that you might have the choice of taking could also include
Important things to be aware of when taking the degree
Before you start taking the degree, it would be very important to consider what you think you would like to do with the degree. By doing so you will be able to optimize your classes to be suited towards what you want to do after graduation.
If your goal is to get into data science or machine learning type roles, it would be important to make sure to take machine learning classes, to do machine learning projects, to take classes in data analysis and to take some statistics classes. It would also be important to make sure to take calculus and linear algebra as a freshman or sophomore if they are not required in your major.
Whereas, if your goal is to get a job as a software engineer, it would be more important to take classes that focus on algorithms and systems architecture type classes.
If you think that you want to go to grad school, it would be important to take up research opportunities and to take classes related to what you think you would like to research as a grad student. It would also be important to look at what classes graduate schools want to see when accepting CS master’s applicants.
More details about the computer science major
I have written more about the computer science major here and I have written more about how hard you can expect the major to be here.
Details about a degree in economics
Below are some of the key details of the economics major.
According to Payscale, the average salary of a person with a bachelor’s degree in economics is $71,173. So, according to this data, economics does not pay as well at the bachelor’s level as computer science.
This is likely to be because many economics jobs require a master’s degree and economics is not as specific to certain well-paying jobs, at the bachelor’s level, in the way computer science is specific to things such as software engineering.
However, some of the difference is likely to be due to higher salaries in the silicon valley area for CS majors that doesn’t consider the inflated cost of living in the area.
Types of jobs you can get
With a bachelor’s degree in economics you can expect to qualify for jobs such as:
Since economics makes use of a lot of statistics, you can qualify for many different types of “analyst” roles. Many of these roles will require the knowledge of programming in programming languages such as R and Python. While doing an economics degree, it would help a lot to make sure to learn R and Python and to be able to show projects that show that you are able to make use of those languages in a useful way.
The difficulty of an economics degree will depend a lot on the specific program. Some economics programs will be very math heavy and focused on statistics and its use in economics. Whereas, other programs will not even require calculus and will be more focused on broad economic theory.
If you do decide on an economics major, it would help a lot to consider what you want to get out of it and the jobs you are interested in so that you can choose an economics program that is suitable for you.
Types of classes you’ll be taking
As mentioned above, economics programs can vary significantly. However, there are some classes that you can expect to be taking including:
Principles of microeconomics
Principles of macroeconomics
Statistics and probability
Topics in money and finance
Topics in banking
Depending on the program, you might also be required to take mathematics classes including:
Important things to be aware of
An economics major is not as employable, at the bachelor’s level as a CS degree, by itself. As a result, it would be very important to take classes related to the job that you are interested in getting.
It is common for economics majors to end up in programming type roles after graduating. It would help you a lot to make sure to take some programming classes as electives and a CS minor would likely be a very good option. Doing this would open you up to well-paying roles such as software engineering.
In addition, if you are interested in going to graduate school for economics, it would help a lot to make sure to take more advanced mathematics classes since they are often required for graduate economics.
As mentioned above, the classes in an economics degree can vary a lot. It would help to look at the degree sequence for the economics degree program at your university and to make sure the required classes are suitable for the types of jobs you are interested in.
More details about the economics major
I have written more about the economics major here and I have written more about how hard you can expect the major to be here.
Reasons to choose a computer science degree
The key advantage that a computer science degree has over an economics degree is that it is a very employable degree by itself. This is because the degree will qualify you for software engineering roles which are very popular right now and well paid. Whereas, an economics degree needs to be combined with something more applied in order to make it as employable as a computer science degree.
Also, most CS degrees will require many math classes including linear algebra, discrete math and calculus. These classes are usually enough for most mathematical job roles including data science and machine learning.
Reasons to choose an economics degree
While a CS degree does have the better employment opportunities, there are still some reasons why you might want to consider an economics degree.
If you are more interested in getting an analyst type role, an economics degree can be better suited than a CS degree. In this case, it would help to make sure to learn how to program in R and Python, to take some data analysis classes, and to emphasize more on statistical classes in your major requirements.
Overall, my recommendation would be to major in computer science due to better career prospects when compared with an economics bachelor’s degree.
However, regardless of the degree that you choose, it will be very important to make sure that you choose classes related to what you want to do after graduating.