If you are thinking of choosing an economics major then you might be wondering whether or not it will be hard?

This post will show you how hard an economics major will tend to be and what you can do to make your time in the major go as smoothly as possible.

So, is an economics major hard? Economics is not generally considered one of the more challenging majors like a math major but it can still be challenging at times.

The difficulty of an economics degree can actually vary a lot depending on a number of factors and there are a number of things that you can do to make it much easier.

How hard an economics major is

It will depend on the college that you go to

Generally, at the undergraduate level, while they can be challenging at times, economics specific classes will not be too challenging overall.

With that being said, there will be classes, from other disciplines, that you will often have to take. These classes can include math and statistics classes.

The amount of math and statistics that you will have to take will largely depend on the college that you go to. Generally, the more selective a college is the more math-heavy the economics major will be.

Generally, an economics major will include single and multivariable calculus, linear algebra, probability and some statistics classes. Normally, these will be very computational classes without many proofs so they shouldn’t be too difficult to do.

It also depends on what you want to do with it

The difficulty of the major will largely depend on the classes that you choose to take.

If you want to go to graduate school, in economics, then it will be necessary for you to take a lot of math and statistics classes and you will likely need to take more than is required by the degree.

Upper-division math and sometimes stats classes will be very proof heavy. These classes tend to be a step up in difficulty for most students and they require you to make very precise mathematical arguments. Most colleges will offer an intro to proofs class that you should make sure to take before taking a proof-based math class. However, if you want to go to graduate school then having a class such as real-analysis on your transcript will be very beneficial.

If you don’t intend to go to graduate school after getting your degree then it will be less necessary for you to take more math and stats classes. Instead, it would be better for you to take classes related to what you want to do such as finance classes if you want to get into finance.

It will depend on how well prepared you are for it

Another thing to consider is how well prepared you are for the degree already. If you have already taken a number of economics and math classes in high school then you will likely be well prepared for the degree.

Whereas, if you didn’t take many of those classes during high school then it will likely be more challenging for you. However, even then, it should still be manageable for you provided that you are willing to study slightly more.

You will need to study outside of class

While an economics major is not as challenging as the likes of a math major that doesn’t mean that it will be easy. If you intend to get an economics degree it will be necessary for you to study outside of class.

You will often find that there will be many different ways to ask the same problem, in your economics classes, so it will be necessary for you to look at a number of different variations of questions before exams. You will also often find that you will get set a lot of homework to do.

Ways to make an economics major less difficult

There are a number of things that you can do to make an economics major go much more smoothly that I will mention below.

Avoid taking multiple difficult classes at the same time

While it might not always be possible, especially in your junior and senior years, it would help to try to avoid taking multiple difficult classes in the same semester.

If you take multiple difficult classes in the same semester then it will be necessary for you to be studying a lot outside of class during that semester. This could cause you to get stressed, to struggle to keep up with the work and it could hurt your GPA.

If you can it would be beneficial to take the time to plan out your entire degree so that you are able to spread out the difficult classes as much as possible. You will likely be able to do this best by conferring with an academic advisor from the economics department.

Consider the professor

The difficulty of any class in college will largely depend on the professor that is teaching it.

The professor will usually dictate the pace of the class, the amount of homework that gets set, the weighting of the exams and what goes on the exams. Some will tell you that you should know everything from the textbook and others will give you a study guide.

Before choosing the class you can look at the website ratemyprofessors.com to see what other students have said about the professor in the past. Make sure to schedule your classes early since the classes taught by the recommended professors will tend to fill up quickly.

In your junior and senior years you will likely find that classes will only be taught by one professor. In this case, you can either take the class at a later semester, take the class anyway or you can take a different class if it’s not a required class.

Plan the schedule of the classes out in advance

At the start of the semester, something that you should always do to make your classes go much more smoothly is to plan out the semester as soon as you receive the syllabus for each class.

By doing this you will be able to avoid missing any exams or homework, you will be able to know when it will be necessary for you to start revising ahead of an exam and you will be able to spot potentially hectic weeks.

Make sure to always do well on the homework

Another thing that will help you to do much better academically and to keep your GPA high is to make sure that you always do well on the homework.

While the exams will tend to have a high weighting assigned to them the homework will still usually have a weighting of around 20%. This is enough to make up for a poor exam score or possibly to bump you up by a grade boundary.

Doing well on the homework will also help you to do better on the exams since you’ll often find that the exam questions will be very similar to the homework problems.

Read the chapter before jumping to the problems

Often, in an effort to save time, students will jump straight to the homework problems before reading the relevant chapter. The problem with this is that the homework will be harder to do since the questions will be based on what is in the textbook. You’ll also find that you will rote memorize the answers instead of understanding what is going on.

Additionally, the professor will not usually go through every aspect of the book in class, so it will be necessary for you to fill in the details by reading the textbook.

Get help when you need it

It is important to get help when you really get stuck. By doing so you’ll be able to show the professor that you are putting an effort into the class, avoid having gaps in your knowledge before the exam and you will be able to have a higher homework grade.

Despite that, while it is important to get help when you get stuck it is also important to try to figure out the solution yourself beforehand. This means that you should read the relevant chapter, look at tutorials on Youtube and look at any lecture notes that you might have first.

Prepare for the difficult classes before taking them

If you think that a class will be difficult then one option that you have is to study the class, in your own time, before taking it. By doing so you will find that it will be much easier to understand what the professor is teaching and it will be easier for you to understand why they are teaching it.

You can do this by looking for courses on Youtube, Coursera or Edx. Alternatively, you can look for highly-rated books on Amazon or Ebay to work through as well.


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.