If you are deciding between majoring in economics or finance, 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:

Payscale reported
average pay
Ease of finding a jobGoodModerate
Types of jobs
you can qualify for

Financial analyst
Data analyst
Investment analyst
Financial advisor
Credit analyst
Data analyst
Business analyst
Operations manager
Financial analyst
Actuarial analyst
Difficulty of the
Key things to noteMost finance jobs
require long working

Can qualify for a number
of jobs with just a bachelor’s

High potential pay at the
senior levels.
Can be difficult to
get a job with just
an economics
bachelor’s degree.

Many of the more
lucrative economics
jobs require at least
a master’s degree.

Becomes a lot more
employable if
you combine it with
programming and
data analysis skills.

Also, more employable
if combined with a
minor in finance.
Source for finance salary and jobs
Source for economics salary and jobs

There are many things to consider when deciding between the two degrees. Also, there are other things to consider if you do decide to major in either of them such as what classes you should take.

Details about a finance major

Below are some details about the finance major.

Average pay

According to Payscale, the average pay of someone with a finance degree is $71,737 and the hourly rate is $20.64 dollars.

When compared with most other degrees, a finance degree usually comes out on top in terms of pay. A finance degree also has a high ceiling in terms of potential pay for senior-level positions.

Types of jobs you can qualify for

A bachelor’s degree in finance can qualify you for a number of different jobs that have good pay. This is not something that can be said for many other degrees where a master’s degree is often required to be competitive in the job market.

With that being said, some jobs, such as investment banking, will be very hard to get into if you do not have a degree from an ivy league university or an ivy league equivalent university.

Jobs that you can qualify for with a finance degree can include:

  • Financial analyst
  • Data analyst
  • Investment analyst
  • Accountant
  • Financial advisor
  • Credit analyst
  • Budget analyst

Something to consider about the jobs you will qualify for is that they are often reported as being stressful jobs. This is likely to be due to high working hours, high levels of competition, some of them being commission-based and the fact that you will be dealing with other people’s money.

With that being said, the major does have a below-average unemployment rate, so you should not have too much difficulty finding a job, there is good pay, and finance jobs are expected to grow by more than the average across all jobs.

Difficulty of the major

A finance undergraduate degree can have some moderately difficult classes. However, there will not be many math-heavy classes. This can also be said for an economics major. With that being the case, you can expect finance and economics majors to be similarly difficult.


Classes you can expect to take in the major can include:

  • Microeconomics and macroeconomics
  • Personal finance concepts
  • Project management
  • Accounting
  • Fundamentals of marketing
  • Principles of business
  • Corporate finance
  • Managerial accounting
  • Other upper-level finance courses as available

Details about an economics degree

Below are some of the key details of the economics major.

Current pay

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:

Data analyst
Business analyst
Operations manager
Financial analyst
Actuarial analyst

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. 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.

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
Intermediate microeconomics
Intermediate macroeconomics
Introductory statistics and probability
Political economics
Topics in money and finance
Topics in banking

Depending on the program, you might also be required to take mathematics classes including:

Linear algebra
Discrete mathematics

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

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 finance degree

A bachelor’s finance degree should qualify you for a lot of good-paying jobs. Whereas, many of the more desirable economics jobs will require a master’s degree.

If you enjoy competitive environments, a finance degree could suit you well since many finance jobs are competitive in nature since you will be competing with your peers and other financial firms that provide the same service. Also, finance does have very high potential pay in the long run since senior-level positions can pay very well. Additionally, if you prefer customer-facing roles, a finance degree could be better for you than an economics degree since many, but not all, finance jobs are customer-facing.

However, finance jobs tend to require long working hours and the jobs often have low job satisfaction ratings. Before choosing the degree, it would help to consider what sort of working environment would suit you the most and what you would find satisfying personally.

Reasons to choose an economics degree

When compared with finance, many of the jobs that an economics degree can qualify you for, such as data analyst, will have lower working hours and be less stressful. However, many of the jobs an economics major will qualify for will also be jobs that a finance major will qualify for that can be demanding jobs in terms of time and energy.

Also, if you are interested in going to graduate school for economics, an economics degree would be more appropriate. However, in this case, it will be important to make sure to take extra math classes and to cover at least linear algebra and multivariable calculus.

When compared with a finance degree, an economics degree will usually not qualify you for as many jobs at the bachelor’s level. With that being the case, if you do decide to get an economics degree, it would help to make sure to take classes related to the job you are interested in, to complete projects related to the job and to try to get summer internships. Getting a minor in computer science would also help to broaden your job opportunities significantly.


I created and currently manage College Corner. I received a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. My goal is to help current students do better in college and to help future students plan for college. You can read more about me and my website here.