Differences Between Economics Degree Vs. Business Degree

Sep 26, 2019

This article will explain the difference between an economic and business degree, provide information on career outlook, and also clarify the requirements of undertaking either field of study.

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Overview of Economics vs. Business

In and of itself, economics bears a distinguishable meaning from business. Economics focuses on the larger picture, looking at different societies and markets, how they interact and transact under the influence of supply and demand. Business is concentrated on the decision making in and between firms. Both economics and business are highly broad fields that can be further specialized. Detailed information on the similarities and differences of both degrees will be discussed extensively below.

Admission Requirements for Business and Economics Degrees

Because economics programs are typically offered through the school of business, the admission requirements tend to be the same. In order to be admitted to either a business or economics undergraduate program, students must have graduated high school or have been GED certified. For transfer students, there may be several required prerequisites such as management or accounting courses. Many schools look for a student essay, a resume, letters of recommendation, and SAT/ACT scores. Applicants will need to supply transcripts from high school and any previous college work; some schools might require a minimum GPA.

Program Coursework

Both economics and business degrees might sometimes offer similar courses, but to a different depth and extent, as described below.


As a common course for both business and economics degrees, macroeconomics often provides information on the monetary worldview. This type of course commonly provides perspective on inflation, employment, interest rates, and output. Current events in international economies might be discussed as well as the impact of the monetary and fiscal policy.


Complementary to the macroeconomics course in both business and economics, at a more individual level, microeconomics explains supply, demand and the best allocation of resources. Microeconomics pertains to decision-making between individuals and firms. Additionally, microeconomics often analyzes different forms and causes of market failure.

International Finance Management

Pertaining to the economics degree, this type of course usually narrows in on international trade and the effect of firms' sensitivities towards foreign exchange. Multinational operations and corporate finance are often extensively discussed. International finance management might be looked at from the perspective of a manager involved in international transactions.


Econometrics commonly lays the foundation for extensive empirical analysis of economic data. By using data analysis, hypothesis testing, and regression analysis, students will be able to test and forecast economic theories using collected data. Also, methods of dealing with errors in analysis such as the avoidance of heteroscedasticity and autocorrelation will be explained. Econometrics may be considered one of the most crucial quantitative courses in economics.

Organizational Behavior

Commonly found in the business degree, organizational behavior provides the soft skills for dealing with individuals in the workplace. This course often teaches the behaviors and theories of individual participation in their working environment and also how to attend to conflict in the workplace. Motivation theories and organizational culture are typically explored as a pertinent issue in organizations.

Human Resources Management

This sort of course focuses on how human resources are selected, recruited, compensated, and managed in an organization. Health and safety as well as staff training and development are often discussed as well as their link to employee satisfaction. Human resources management ensures that conflict in the workplace is dealt with and that workplace equity is maintained. This course will often be found in the business degree.


Business degrees typically offer entrepreneurship, a course that studies the different roles and definitions of an entrepreneur and guides students through the daily challenges of an entrepreneur. This course can also equip students with the knowledge of handling finances and setting up their own enterprise. Students are often taught how to market and embed technology into their entrepreneurial strategy.

Business Law

Business law usually discusses the role of law in business, use of contracts, the application of ethics, and legal issues between firms. General regulations pertaining to business operations could be explained. Employment requirements and duties might also be studied. Business law is a course usually provided in the business degree.

How to Choose Degrees in Business and Economics

Depending on individual skill-sets, students may be suitable for different programs. Those who are prepared to delve into global, sociopolitical decision-making may opt for economics, while those who are interested in pursuing more specific functioning units or are interested in opening their own firms might choose to take the business degree. Keep in mind that a degree in economics, though it might open more doors for various career trajectories, may require further studies in order for students to be more qualified in the workplace. On the other hand, a business degree may allow easier access to the workforce, but as always, specialization may improve the quality of knowledge.


Those who hold a bachelor's degree in either business or economics more often than most will have business or financial occupations, which according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, has a median annual wage of $68,350 as of May 2018.

Many entry-level jobs for a business degree include management of different departments within an organization; meanwhile, entry-level jobs for an economics degree can include data analysts, financial advisors, economists, or reporters. The following are links to pertinent career possibilities:

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