If you are deciding between majoring in economics or statistics, 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||Moderate/Good|
|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.
|Generally more employable |
than an economics
degree by itself.
But, still not as
employable as alternatives
such as a CS degree.
Very employable if
you combine it with
a more applied minor
such as computer
Also employable if
you combine it with
data analysis skills.
Source for economics salary and jobs
As you can see from the table, there are many similarities between the two degrees. However, there are many things to consider when choosing between the two degrees.
Details about a statistics degree
Below are some key details about the statistics major.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for mathematicians and statisticians will rise by 33% by 2026. This is mainly due to the surge in data that companies have been receiving in recent years that they need people with mathematical and statistical skills to make sense of.
According to Payscale, the average pay for someone with a bachelor’s in statistics is $69,767.
Something to consider is that many of the more statistical and well-paid jobs, such as a data scientist or machine learning engineer, will often require a master’s degree.
Types of jobs the degree will qualify you for
Since statistics is used in many different fields, a stats degree will open you up to many different job opportunities.
However, many of the jobs that stats majors tend to seek such as a quantitative researcher or machine learning engineer often require a master’s degree (but not always). They can also require more specialized knowledge that you might not get in a statistics degree. This is why it would help to make sure to choose your classes according to the job you are most interested in.
With that being said, even with just a bachelor’s degree there will be many different jobs that you will qualify for.
However, statistics is a general degree that is not specific to a certain type of job in the way something such as computer science is. This means that you should take courses from the field that you want to enter and do internships and projects in that field as well in order to be competitive when seeking a job.
For example, many stats majors go into software engineering after graduation. If you want to qualify for software engineering jobs then make sure to take a data structures class and an algorithms class and try to get some internships as a software engineer while in college.
Another popular path for statistics majors to take is of data science. In that case, it would help to take classes related to machine learning, data analysis and programming.
Before choosing your electives I would strongly recommend that you consider what you want to do after college and make sure to take classes related to that.
Examples of jobs that you could qualify for with a master’s in stats could include:
- Machine learning engineer
- Data scientist
- Quantitative researcher
Examples of jobs that you could qualify for with a bachelor’s in stats could include:
- Financial analyst
- Insurance underwriter
- Data analyst
- Software engineer
- Market researcher
- Actuary (requires lots of stats classes)
With that being said, there are some people that have gotten data science and machine learning jobs with just a bachelor’s. It would greatly improve your chances if you were to make sure to complete machine learning and data science projects and to do internships in those fields as an undergrad. It would also help to take computer science classes in your electives, especially data structures and algorithms.
Types of classes you will study
As a statistics major you can expect to take the following classes:
In addition, you will be able to choose more specialized statistics classes as well as classes from related disciplines such as mathematics and computer science.
How difficult it is as a major
The statistics major is generally considered as being a difficult major. Most people would agree that it is harder than most economics majors but easier than a math major. Some of the more advanced classes can be proof-based which are usually much harder than the more computational classes but you might not have to take those classes depending on your specific program.
Some things to consider about the major
A Statistics degree can open up many different possible avenues for yourself and can be a very good degree when combined with a more applied minor. This is because the statistics taught in a stats major is useful in a wide variety of fields but you will need to supplement it with some field-specific coursework so that you are able to show that you can apply the statistics to those fields.
A very good combination would be to major in statistics and to minor in computer science. Doing this would open you up to job roles such as data science, machine learning engineer, data analysis and software engineering.
More details about the statistics major
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.
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. 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 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
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.
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
Differences between a degree in statistics and economics
Below are some of the key differences between the two degrees.
A statistics degree is more mathematical
A statistics degree will be heavier on mathematics than an economics degree at the undergraduate level. Some of the later statistics classes will even be proof-based. As a result, you can expect a stats degree to be more difficult.
A statistics degree should involve more programming
Also, most statistics degrees will require that you take some classes from computer science and most will involve the use of the R programming language. As a result, a statistics degree can better prepare you for programming related job roles than an economics degree.
Statistics 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 prefer statistics majors over economics majors because of the heavier math used in a stats degree.
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.
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 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 statistics 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. It would also likely greatly improve your job prospects if you were to supplement it with a minor in computer science. A degree in statistics combined with computer science, machine learning and data science classes as well as projects in software engineering, machine learning and data science would be one of the most employable combinations to get right now.
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.