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All academic programs offered at the UM help students develop valuable transferable skills. As a social science, Economics is concerned with people in their roles as economic decision makers. Economics majors examine economic systems and the problems that arise within these systems in the use of physical or human capital. A strong grounding in both the theoretical and applied aspects of economics allows students to use their knowledge to predict future economic behavior, and provides a basis for proposing economic policy.

Economics concentrators gain knowledge of economic institutions and an understanding of complex economic systems and develop powerful analytical skills, a strong quantitative background, and clarity and precisions of expression.

Related fields include Political Science, Public Policy, History, Philosophy, Mathematics, Statistics, and Business.


Problems-Solving Skills

Assessing needs
Defining problems
Reviewing/evaluating goals
Relating theory to practice
Projecting/forecasting results
Applying quantitative analysis
Generating solutions
Evaluating policies

Research / Analytical Skills

Testing an idea/hypothesis
Applying statistical methods
Analyzing results
Computing data
Generating/developing ideas
Designing projects

Communication Skills

Writing reports/articles
Writing proposals
Reading and interpreting reports /statements
Speaking persuasively
Explaining ideas/goals
Justifying a position

Financial Skills

Performing cost/benefit analyses
Manipulating numerical data
Tabulating figures
Creating and evaluating financial reports/statements
Developing budgets


Employers seek out individuals who can demonstrate excellent verbal and written communication skills, teamwork and interpersonal skills, initiative, and a strong work ethic. Student organizations and campus employment offer valuable opportunities to add to the skills you are developing in your classes. Most concentrations sponsor specific student groups like an undergraduate organization or an honor society. Other options include study abroad, off-campus employment or volunteering in the community. Finally, a summer internship may be the best way of all to test out a career field and develop marketable skills.


Economics concentrators develop both general and technical skills applicable to a wide range of careers. For example, research and analytical skills may be equally useful whether working as an investment banker, urban planner, or technical writer.

Michigan economics graduates have gone on to successful careers in business, government, law, and education.  Many concentrators go on to graduate or professional school. The list below is a sample of careers undertaken by Economics graduates.

Financial Skills

Commodities broker
Bank management trainee
Trust administrator
Investment banker
Federal Reserve Bank Economist
Financial planner
Retail buyer
Actuarial assistant
Strategic planner
Tax auditor

Research / Analytical Skills

Research associate / assistant
Financial analyst
Economic forecaster open book icon
Credit analyst
Securities analyst
Consumer business analyst
Risk analyst
Business analyst
Operations analyst
Market research analyst
Process analyst
Foreign trade analyst
Information analyst
Budget office assistant
Legislative assistant
Claims examiner

Problem-Solving Skills

Regional / urban planner open book icon
Housing development aide
Lawyer open book icon
Higher education administrator open book icon

Communication Skills

Technical writer
Journalist / columnist
Loan counselor
Sales representative
Public relations media planner
Advertising copywriter
College instructor open book icon
K-12 teacher
Educational television advisor

 open book icon = Further Study Required

For more career information, see O*Net at


Prerequisites: ECON 101 and 102 and MATH 115, each completed with a grade of C or better. One of the Honors alternatives to MATH 115 may be substituted for MATH 115. MATH 120 may not be substituted for MATH 115. MATH 116, 121, 156, 185, 186, 215, 216, 255, 256, 285, 286, 295, or 296 may be substituted for MATH 115.

To declare an Economics major, schedule an appointment with an Economics Department advisor. Students must complete the prerequisites to the major before declaring and must have a GPA of 2.0 or better in the major.

Students with a serious interest in the study of economics are strongly encouraged to continue the study of calculus beyond MATH 115. MATH 116, 215, and 217, or their Honors alternatives, are recommended for students with an interest in quantitative economics. Note that MATH 116 (Calculus II) is a prerequisite for ECON 451 and that MATH 215 (Calculus III) and MATH 217 (Linear Algebra) are prerequisites for ECON 453.

General requirements: An economics major must include a minimum of 29 credits, distributed as follows:

  1. Core Economic Theory:
    1. ECON 401, completed with a minimum grade of C– or better
    2. ECON 402, completed with a minimum grade of C– or better

    ECON 401 should be elected before ECON 402.

  2. Core Statistics and Econometrics:
    1. STATS 250 or 426, or ECON 451, or ECON 453; completed with a minimum grade of C– or better
    2. ECON 251, or ECON 452, or ECON 454; completed with a minimum grade of C– or better

    Students with a serious interest in economic research should elect the advanced sequence, ECON 453 and 454. These courses aim to develop deep, foundational understanding of the empirical methods used in economics. This sequence will be especially useful to students intending to apply to doctoral programs in economics or finance.

  3. Electives: 15 additional credits in upper-level (300 and 400 level) ECON courses, including at least nine credits in courses with ECON 401 or ECON 402 as a prerequisite.

    ECON 401 and 402, and ECON 250, 251, 451, 452, 453, and 454 do not count toward the elective requirement for the major.

All students intending to major or minor in economics are urged to complete the core requirements in economic theory and in statistics and econometrics before the second term of the junior year.

Ann Arbor campus requirement: Any courses for themajor can be taken outside the Ann Arbor campus of the University should be approved in advance by an economics department advisor.

At least 12 credits in the major, including ECON 401, ECON 402, and at least three of the credits in upper-level economics electives in courses with ECON 401 or ECON 402 as a prerequisite, muste be taken at the Ann Arbor campus.

Honors Plan

Qualified students are encouraged to consider an Honors plan in Economics. The standards for admission are a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5 and evidence of outstanding ability in economics. Application is made and admission is granted to the Honors plan during the first term of the junior year.

Honors majors are required to complete the requirements for a regular major in Economics. An Honors plan must include ECON 451 and 452, or ECON 453 and 454. In addition, Honors majors must complete a senior Honors thesis. The senior Honors thesis includes original work completed by the student under the direction of a faculty advisor and the Director of the Honors Program in Economics. Honors majors are given priority in election of one section of ECON 495 (Seminar in Economics).

Department of Economics

Undergraduate Office
238 Lorch Hall

Newnan Advising Center
1255 Angell Hall


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The Career Guide series was developed by the University of Michigan Career Center, Division of Student Affairs, in cooperation with the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. ©2011 Regents of the University of Michigan