If you are interested in majoring in physics or economics, 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.
|Ease of finding a job||Moderate||Moderate|
|Types of jobs|
you can qualify for
|Difficulty of the|
|Key things to note||Can be difficult to|
get a job with just
Many of the more
jobs require at least
a master’s degree.
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you combine it with
data analysis skills.
|Generally more employable|
than an economics
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Source for economics salary and jobs
There are many things to consider when choosing between the two degrees. There are also alternative degrees that you might want to consider and there are some things you should consider doing when you choose either of the degrees.
Details about an economics degree
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. However, for someone fresh out of college, the average will likely be lower.
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 some statistics, you can qualify for many different types of “analyst” roles. Many of these roles will require the knowledge of 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. It would also help to be able to show projects that show that can make use of R and Python languages in a useful way.
The difficulty of an economics degree will depend a lot on the specific program. Some economics programs will be more 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.
However, an economics bachelor’s degree will almost always be less difficult than an equivalent physics degree. Also, even the more math-heavy econ majors will not be as math-heavy as a physics major and the math in a physics major can be more advanced. Also, the physics classes themselves can be difficult. Whereas, economics classes do not tend to be as difficult.
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
Introductory 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
It is common for economics majors to end up in programming type roles such as with data analytics 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 also 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. At the very least, it would be necessary to take a class in differential calculus, integral calculus, multiple variable calculus, linear algebra and discrete mathematics.
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
Details about a physics degree
Below are some details about a degree in physics.
According to Payscale, the average pay of someone with a bachelor’s degree in physics is $86,600.
However, something to be aware of is that the average pay of someone fresh out of college, with no work experience, will likely be a lot lower than that.
On average, the job opportunities for someone graduating with a physics degree will likely be higher than the job opportunities with a BSc in economics. But, it can still be difficult for physics majors to find jobs and there are alternative degrees that can give better job opportunities such as computer science and engineering.
A physics degree can give access to a wide range of job opportunities. However, a physics degree can be quite general in nature and it can be difficult to find a job with just a bachelor’s degree in physics. However, this will depend a lot on the classes that you choose to take. You can also greatly improve your job prospects by minoring in something more applied such as computer science, completing programming projects and getting summer internships.
Jobs that you could get with a bachelor’s degree in physics could include:
Physics can give good job opportunities if you combine it with more practical skills. Currently, data science is a popular career path for physics majors. If you are interested in data science, it would help to learn programming, data analysis, machine learning to complete data science projects and to take a number of computer science classes including data structures and algorithms.
A physics degree can also be a very difficult degree and you will have to put a lot of time into the degree. A physics degree will involve a lot more math than most economics degrees and the actual physics classes can be difficult. Overall, you should expect the degree to require more time than an economics degree.
You can expect to take math classes such as:
Partial differential equations
In addition you can expect to have the option to take more math classes if you would like. You might also have the option to take some classes from related disciplines such as statistics, engineering and computer science.
You can also expect to take multiple physics classes including:
Introduction to physics
Mechanics and waves
Electricity and magnetism
You can look here to see an example of required classes in a physics degree.
Differences between a degree in physics and economics
Below are some of the key differences between the two degrees.
A physics degree is generally more demanding
A physics degree will be heavier on mathematics than an economics degree at the undergraduate level. Also, the junior and senior-level classes can be very difficult. As a result, you can expect a physics degree to be a lot more difficult and time-demanding than an economics undergraduate degree.
A physics degree should involve more programming
Also, most physics degrees will require that you take some classes from computer science. As a result, a physics degree can better prepare you for programming related job roles than an economics degree.
However, it would still be important to make sure to take additional programming and computer science classes as electives if you want a programming type role. Getting a minor in computer science could also go a long way in improving your job prospects after graduating.
A physics degree can be better for graduate school
Graduate-level economics tends to be much more mathematical than undergraduate economics. As a result, many graduate economics programs actually often prefer math-heavy majors, such as physics, applied math, statistics and pure math, over economics majors.
With that being said, some economics programs can also be very math-heavy. Also, if you are interested in going to graduate school, econometrics would be another major that you may want to consider since econometrics tends to be much more math-heavy than economics.
If you are interested in going to graduate school for economics, it would help to make sure that you are going to be taking the necessary mathematics classes. Often you will find that the math in an economics undergraduate degree is not enough.
Both degrees can give better prospects if combined with a more applied minor
In both cases, supplementing the degree with a more applied minor related, such as finance or computer science, that is related to the type of job you want would help a lot. It would also help a lot to try to complete projects related to the job you are interested in and to try to get summer internships while you are an undergraduate.
It would serve you well to really take the time now to research the types of jobs you think you would be interested in and what sorts of classes you should be taking for those jobs. One thing that could help would be to talk with recruiters for that job role and to ask what they look for in terms of classes, projects, internships and the most common major.
Overall, I would recommend majoring in physics over economics most of the time. This is mainly because the bigger focus on mathematics and also some computer science will help you when applying to jobs and graduate programs if you also choose the relevant electives for that graduate program or job. It would also likely greatly improve your job prospects if you were to supplement it with a minor in computer science.
If you do decide to major in economics, it would help a lot to take some classes in programming and data analysis since it will help you a lot in your job search after graduating. It would also help to consider the type of job that you are interested in and to take the relevant classes for that particular job.