Economics – College of Arts and Sciences Major Guide for 2013-2014

What is Economics – College of Arts and Sciences?

Economics is everywhere, every day.  Sometimes, this is most evident to people after they graduate, and are in their first job. A degree in economics equips you to understand scarcity and market pressures, and to project their impacts.  Economics develops critical thinking skills.

We asked students, “why did you pick Economics as a major?”  Here is what some recent Econ graduates said:  “It has real-life applicability.”  “It teaches you to see the details and the big picture, and to see how they work in sync.” “It’s a long term play– it’s applicable to whatever you want to do.”

Attributes that make people with an economics degree attractive to employers include:  analytical skills, critical thinking skills, and quantitative skills.  An economics education develops the ability to make effective decisions, and the critical analysis the support those decisions.

Economists collect and analyze data, monitor trends, and develop forecasts, and conduct research. They research issues such as economic pressures affecting prices (for example, energy prices, inflation, or interest rates) or employment and output.  Research also assesses trade issues and policy impacts.

Economists apply economic analysis to issues across a variety of fields, such as business, public policy, education, development, and the environment.  Many economists specialize in a particular area of economics.  For example, specializations include industrial organization, public finance, international economics, business cycles and monetary economics.  (The Bureau of Labor Statistics website,, gives you more information.)  Most economists use their understanding of economic forces to advise businesses and other organizations.  They may work for consulting firms, insurance companies, banks, securities firms, industry and trade associations, and government agencies. Some economists working for the private sector may forecast consumer demand and sales for the firm.  Others may look at the impact of state or federal legislation, and project the impact on the firm. Economists may use mathematical models to help predict answers to questions such as the impact of interest rates on key economic sectors, or the effects of tax changes on unemployment rates.  Quantitative skills are valuable in all economics specialties.

Career Opportunities in Economics – College of Arts and Sciences

Businesses and organizations across many industries increasingly are relying on economic analysis and quantitative methods to analyze and forecast business, sales, and other economic trends.  As a result, demand for economists are good in the private sector (especially in research and consulting services).  The increased reliance on quantitative methods for analyzing business trends and policy issues make quantitative analytical skills important.  In your economics program, it is valuable to take coursework on econometrics.

There also is an ongoing need for economists with government.  The government sector employs over 50 percent of economists, in a wide range of agencies at Federal or state and local levels.  The analytical skills from economics also are a good foundation for law school and a career in law.

Salary Trends in Economics – College of Arts and Sciences

Annual salary rates for Economists will vary according to occupation, level of experience, training, location, whether the position is a local, state, or federal government position or a legislative or non-profit position.  People with a Bachelors degree in economics can pursue entry level positions, including jobs with the federal or state government.  An advanced degree often is required for advancement to higher level positions.  With a Bachelors degree in economics, people also get entry-level jobs outside of economics, as Research Assistants, Financial Analysts, Market Analysts, and similar positions in business and finance.

For people with a Bachelors degree, examples of salaries are as follows:  Entry Level Economist $33,000; Economic Research Assistant $33,000; Fiscal Analyst $39,000; Legislative Assistant $29,500
Salaries are higher for economists with advanced degrees.  The overall median salary here is $89,500 (May 2010 data; source is BLS).  For economists in state and local government, the median is $66,500.  For economists in Management, Scientific and Consulting Services, the median is $93,250.

Note: Updated information on nationally compiled salaries is available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (  Search the “Occupational Outlook Handbook,” in the Economist section.

High School Preparation

It is important for students to be well informed when they begin their college careers.  Academic advisors in the College of Arts and Sciences encourage all high school students to 1) enroll in math and foreign language courses throughout their high school career, 2) explore economics and business courses, 3) talk with family and friends about their career choices, 4) network with professionals in the field of interest, and 5) volunteer and participate in their communities.

How to Major in Economics – College of Arts and Sciences

Here is a checklist to get you started on the right track:   1)  Look at the online catalog for a description of courses and requirements. Talk with your advisor in the Economics department.  With your advisor, you can identify courses appropriate for your degree and your career goals.  2)  Use your DARS report to monitor your progress (on University, College and Major requirements).  3) Be diligent in your courses and make good grades.  4)  Visit Career Services early (certainly by the end of your Sophomore year).   Ask them about the variety of career paths within the economics profession.  Take the recommended career inventories to help you target career paths that best fit your individual profile.

Requirements for Economics – College of Arts and Sciences

Economics 201 and Statistics 201 (or their equivalent honors courses, Econ 207 and Stat 207) are the prerequisites to the Economics major in the College of Arts and Science. The Economics major consists 27 upper division hours in economics. It must include Econ 311 and 313, and at least nine hours must be at the 400 level.  The Econometrics course (Econ 381) is strongly recommended to students, and is valuable across a variety of career paths.  Students planning on graduate work in Economics should take Mathematics 141–142.  Talk with your Economics Department advisor about other specific courses that are useful for specific career paths or for graduate school goals.

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

To be competitive in today’s market, students are encouraged to volunteer, intern, or work a part-time job in a field associated with their interests. Internships are competitive.  However, students can negotiate internships with local employers, non-profit agencies, the local Chamber of Commerce, and other organizations. Listed below are sample internship websites to explore:,,,, and  In addition, the Economics Department has a competitive internship program.  Selected students are matched with professional opportunities in economics.  Applications and screening typically occur early in Spring semester.  These internships align well with students between their Junior and Senior year in school.  The econometrics class often is important to potential internship employers.  Writing skills also can be important to employers.

Highlights of Economics – College of Arts and Sciences

Double majors are not unusual in Economics.  Students say, “I intended to get a minor, but I liked the economics classes, so I kept taking more.  Eventually, I decided to double major.” Double majors with Economics cover the spectrum:  Political Science, Finance, Logistics, Psychology, Sustainability, History, and others.

If you do not major in Economics, but still want some emphasis in economics, a minor may be a good solution.  You can minor in Economics by completing Economics 201 (or 207) and 12 additional economics upper division hours.  The coursework should include Econ 311 and 313, and at least one 400-level course.


Ready for the World logoReady for the World

“Ready for the World” is part of a long-range plan to foster a culture of diversity, to best prepare students for working and competing in the 21st century.  Students are encouraged to participate in diverse cultural programs offered.  Visit the Center for International Education web site ( or Ready for the World web site ( for more information on activities.  Students also are encouraged to include study abroad in their academic program.  Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, offers study abroad programs in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, South America, and North America. Program lengths vary from mini-term trips to the entire academic year, and students may choose to fulfill general education requirements, study a foreign language, or take courses within their majors. In addition, UTK offers students opportunities for international internships.

Students are highly encouraged to begin planning early in their academic career. Consult with an academic advisor about the best time to study abroad as well as what courses to take abroad. For more information about program options, the application process, and how to finance study abroad, please visit the Programs Abroad Office website.

Academic Plan and Milestones

Following an academic plan will help students stay on track to graduate in four years. Beginning with first-time, first-year, full-time, degree-seeking students entering in the Fall 2013 semester, UT has implemented Universal Tracking (uTrack), an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones may include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA.

To see a sample academic plan and milestones for this major, please visit the undergraduate catalog.

For More Information

Dr. Jean Gauger
Undergraduate Director
Department of Economics
University of Tennessee
526 Stokely Management Center
Knoxville, TN   37996-0550
Phone:  865-974-3303


The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.