Double major in economics?

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westinghouse60
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Double major in economics?

Postby westinghouse60 » Tue Apr 19, 2011 11:16 pm

Hi everyone,

This is a question which I've been considering for some time. Essentially, I have only a few classes left for my major in political science to take over the summer and my next two semesters in college. I have also taken most of the core classes for a major in economics as well, and I will likely be able to graduate with a double major on time. My only reservation is that, if I decided to double major in economics, it would require I take 9 additional hours in a foreign language, which I am quite adverse to. I hated it in high school, it seems like a waste of time given that I'm already a double major, I'll have to take near the maximum course load my remaining time in college, and there is possibility of lower than average grades hurting my overall chances of law school admission (for example, 3 B's in these 9 hours would hurt me quite a bit).

I understand that double majoring will do little to improve my admissions chances at any given school, so my decision concerning a double essentially breaks down to this: will an undergraduate degree in economics have any intrinsic value once I have a JD as well? I know that an undergraduate degree in a hard science such as chemistry, etc can be beneficial even after graduation from law school, while on the other hand a degree in English or history probably will not be. As I understand it, economics as a disciple falls somewhere between the social sciences and hard sciences. I also have to consider, should I be unable to find employment in the legal profession even with a JD, employment opportunities which make use of a degree in economics are likely to be better than those opportunities afforded by having a degree in political science alone.

Further complicating all of this is that, should I not be admitted to the schools I think are worth paying sticker, my contingency plan is to apply for a masters or Ph.D in economics, which would be far less expensive (I would consider re-applying to law school after that and some time off for work). Admission to these types of programs doesn't require an undergraduate degree in economics per se, but rather they require upper level economics courses (which I have taken) and upper level math courses (which I have not). Obviously, if I had an advanced degree in economics, whether or not I had an undergraduate degree would be completely moot. I've done extremely well in all my economics courses (I think I have an A in every course but one) and I feel that taking all these upper level economics courses would have been a waste if I didn't officially double major.

I know this is a lengthy post, and TLS probably isn't the absolute best place to ask this, as it entails conjecture concerning the value of a degree outside the legal discipline. But I need to make a decision whether or not to officially declare as a double major in the near future, and I've been unable to receive any meaningful advice from college advising staff, professors, people involved in each profession, etc. Any help or advice is greatly appreciated.

rundoxierun
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Re: Double major in economics?

Postby rundoxierun » Tue Apr 19, 2011 11:20 pm

Yeah.. get it for the employment opportunities alone. Any entry-level job description that "requires" a business degree will usually take an econ degree as well.

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ladybug89
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Re: Double major in economics?

Postby ladybug89 » Wed Apr 20, 2011 1:06 am

An economics degree under your belt would definitely be useful if law school doesn't work out. But since your current primary goal is law school, the impact on that should be given the higher priority. Basically, how likely is it that you'll get Bs in those language courses? Is it just that you hate them, or that you aren't good at them? If you just hate them, you should suck it up (in any case, foreign languages are good for you! and potentially useful!) But if you're actually bad at them it's probably better to protect your GPA -- it's like, by trying to strengthen your back-up plan, you might actually make it more likely that you'll be forced into it. if that makes sense.

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westinghouse60
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Re: Double major in economics?

Postby westinghouse60 » Wed Apr 20, 2011 1:25 am

ladybug89 wrote:An economics degree under your belt would definitely be useful if law school doesn't work out. But since your current primary goal is law school, the impact on that should be given the higher priority. Basically, how likely is it that you'll get Bs in those language courses? Is it just that you hate them, or that you aren't good at them? If you just hate them, you should suck it up (in any case, foreign languages are good for you! and potentially useful!) But if you're actually bad at them it's probably better to protect your GPA -- it's like, by trying to strengthen your back-up plan, you might actually make it more likely that you'll be forced into it. if that makes sense.


TBH it's fairly unlikely. It was my worst subject in high school as well as my least favorite, but with law school applications in the near future, I'd like to think I could get through them with A's/A-'s with enough work. The only unknown is how the department operates here. I have yet to take a foreign language class in college, and some departments have really strict grading policies, like only 95+ is an A, subtracting a letter grade for more than 3 absences, etc.

But this is pretty much the advice I needed, thanks to both of you.

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ladybug89
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Re: Double major in economics?

Postby ladybug89 » Wed Apr 20, 2011 1:30 am

Ugh, I hate those stupid high-schooly absence policies. that aside, good luck to ya! are you applying this fall or taking time off?

Sean1269
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Re: Double major in economics?

Postby Sean1269 » Wed Apr 20, 2011 1:44 am

Legal jobs requiring econ degrees are not as common as legal jobs wanting hard sciences but they're out there. DOJ Anti-trust division in Los Angeles strongly recommends a background in economics, preferably in industrial organization/game theory.

An econ background will help in law school, it's by no means necessary, but the rationales for a lot of laws revolve around what is most economically efficient, so it helps to have some working knowledge of it.

In my job hunt for my first year, it was a good talking point, but make sure you have a good reason why you are going from "econ" to law rather than business school or finance school...that has come up every time.

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spacepenguin
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Re: Double major in economics?

Postby spacepenguin » Wed Apr 20, 2011 10:11 am

Also, in terms of your contingency plan, an econ degree isn't really necessary. Grad programs for econ prefer a very strong background in mathematics (differential equations, proof based linear algebra, probability, and real analysis were strongly recommended) and some functional knowledge of econ, but by no means is a major in it necessary.

So do the double major if you think you can keep your GPA up and you think you'll enjoy it, otherwise, screw it.

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ladybug89
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Re: Double major in economics?

Postby ladybug89 » Wed Apr 20, 2011 11:58 am

spacepenguin wrote:Also, in terms of your contingency plan, an econ degree isn't really necessary. Grad programs for econ prefer a very strong background in mathematics (differential equations, proof based linear algebra, probability, and real analysis were strongly recommended) and some functional knowledge of econ, but by no means is a major in it necessary.

So do the double major if you think you can keep your GPA up and you think you'll enjoy it, otherwise, screw it.


True. But if you don't end up doing the major, make sure you have great recommendations from your econ professors (that's kind of all that grad schools really care about)

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westinghouse60
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Re: Double major in economics?

Postby westinghouse60 » Wed Apr 20, 2011 7:44 pm

ladybug89 wrote:Ugh, I hate those stupid high-schooly absence policies. that aside, good luck to ya! are you applying this fall or taking time off?


Its always the easier classes that have them too. In harder classes, the professors don't care if you come or not, they know you'll fail if you don't. And I'll be applying this fall.

Sean1269 wrote:Legal jobs requiring econ degrees are not as common as legal jobs wanting hard sciences but they're out there. DOJ Anti-trust division in Los Angeles strongly recommends a background in economics, preferably in industrial organization/game theory.

An econ background will help in law school, it's by no means necessary, but the rationales for a lot of laws revolve around what is most economically efficient, so it helps to have some working knowledge of it.

In my job hunt for my first year, it was a good talking point, but make sure you have a good reason why you are going from "econ" to law rather than business school or finance school...that has come up every time.


Yeah, I took a class in economics and law as an elective, and its what convinced me to double major. I can't say I have a good rationale for it aside from I find it more interesting than most business classes however.

spacepenguin wrote:Also, in terms of your contingency plan, an econ degree isn't really necessary. Grad programs for econ prefer a very strong background in mathematics (differential equations, proof based linear algebra, probability, and real analysis were strongly recommended) and some functional knowledge of econ, but by no means is a major in it necessary.

So do the double major if you think you can keep your GPA up and you think you'll enjoy it, otherwise, screw it.


The math prerequisites are another reason why the 9 hours of low level foreign language seem unnecessary. I went to the head of the econ department and asked if I could take them instead (TBH I'd rather take Calc II and III than Beginning Spanish, I dislike it that much) but apparently there's no way around it. Leave it to my school to require that instead of the prerequisites to the corresponding graduate school of a major :roll:




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