Sunday, September 5, 2010

Advice for Freshman and Sophomores

Here is an article by Greg Mankiw talking about what he views as the most important college classes.  Mankiw is an Harvard economist and highly respected in the field.

I completely agree with his assessment. From my experience the most marketable students leaving college are those with a math/econ/finance background. This background prepares you for nearly any job in business (especially those interested in finance, investment banking, or economics), actuarial careers (what is an actuary), or graduate school (law, MBA, masters, or doctorate).  For those not wanting an advanced degree economic majors do fair well in their careers (here is a link showing the highest paying majors and here's another).

At Gonzaga one could complete the bachelors of science in economics. This would entail 45 credit hours including both principles of micro and macro, intermediate macro, advanced micro, econometrics, economic thought, two additional econ electives, the calculus sequence, linear algebra, statistics, and one additional math or economics elective. At this point it makes sense to take two additional math courses (one 400 level), one class will count for the economics degree and the second course will complete the mathematics minor. In addition to the economics degree it is necessary to have a background in accounting and finance. You're in luck, you can combine the economics degree with a minor in analytical finance. To complete the analytical finance minor, one would need two classes in accounting and three classes in finance. In all, the analytical finance minor is 21 credit hours, but this includes principles of micro and macroeconomics. To put this in perspective those choosing to complete the finance concentration will only take five classes, but generally lack the background in mathematics.

Now can you complete these requirements within a four year period. You will need to complete 62 credits in the core for the University and College of Arts and Sciences. Fortunately, economics 201 and 202 will count for the six credits needed in social science and math 157 and 159 will count for the three credits needed in math for both cores. This reduces the core to 50 credit hours. The economics major is 45 hours, the mathematics minor is 6 additional hours, and the analytical finance minor adds 15 additional hours. In all, a bachelors of science in economics, minors in mathematics and analytical finance will take 66 hours. Including the additional 50 hours needed to satisfy core requirements means you will have completed 116 of the necessary 128 hours. Because your major is in the college of the arts and sciences, 104 of 128 hours for graduation need to be within the college. This is satisfied by taking one additional course within the college. Of the 116 hours taken to satisfy major, minor, and core requirements 101 credits will be taken in the college of arts and sciences. After taking one more course you are still left with 8 credit hours of your choosing. Here is where you can take activity courses or any other elective course. Additionally, you can spend a semester in Florence and still be able to complete the degree in four years!

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