Undergraduate Frequently Asked Questions

Below are frequently asked questions from students interested in majoring in economics. If you don’t find the answer to your question, please consult an advisor. For advising in SBS, contact Sarah Simpson (sarahsimpson@email.arizona.edu) or 520.621.6224; for advising in Eller College contact the Office of Undergraduate Programs, ug_advisor@eller.arizona.edu, 520.621.2505, or meet your advisor.


What is the difference between the Business Economics and Economics majors?

The two majors are offered in two different colleges. Students can earn a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree through the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences or a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (B.S.B.A.) degree with a major in Business Economics through the Eller College of Management.

Students must qualify for Advanced Standing to be admitted as upper-division students to the Eller College; no such requirement exists for SBS. The general requirements for each college also differ somewhat. For example, Eller students must achieve proficiency in a second language at a two-semester level whereas SBS requires a four-semester level of proficiency. All SBS majors select a minor from a wide range of disciplines while Eller majors take a required core of business courses.

Students in both majors must complete a minimum 30 units in economics with a very similar set of core courses which includes ECON 332, 361, and 276 (or 339 for SBS majors). Business Economics majors are required to also take ECON 407 and 453, while these two courses are only potential electives that SBS students may choose to take. In short, the essential difference between the two majors is not in the economics education that students receive but rather in the other degree requirements.

What advantages does one of these majors offer over the other?

The choice of one major over the other is often dictated by a student’s interests and career goals.

The SBS Economics major offers students a greater degree of choice in designing an overall curriculum (e.g., students can choose to minor in over a hundred different disciplines).

On the other hand, the more structured format of the Business Economics major provides excellent preparation for students who prefer training in the various functional areas of business.

One of the two majors can serve the interests of any student interested in studying economics. Students should consult with one of the faculty advisors for guidance and suggestions related to their specific objectives and interests.

What are the Advanced Standing rules?

All students, regardless of college or major, are eligible to take all economics courses for which they have the necessary prerequisites, except ECON 300 and 330.

During the fall and spring semesters ECON 300 and ECON 330 are open only to students who have acquired Advanced Standing status in the Eller College of Management. Students without Advanced Standing are eligible to take these two courses only during the summer and winter sessions.

All majors offered through the Eller College, including the Business Economics major, require students to attain Advanced Standing status. Current requirements for Advanced Standing include the completion of specific foundation courses, a specified minimum GPA, etc. Advanced Standing is not required for the Major in Economics in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

I want a Business degree but cannot attain Advanced Standing; what can I do?

One option is to major in economics via the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and minor in General Business. This combination of major and minor would result in an SBS degree that is "fairly close," in terms of coursework, to an Eller College degree with a major in Business Economics.

The Eller College structured General Business minor for SBS students requires completion of MIS 111, ACCT 200, ECON 200, and BNAD 301, 302, and 303. ECON 200 cannot be used for both the Economics Major and the General Business Minor. Thus, as a substitute for ECON 200, for the general Business Minor, students can take either ACCT 210 or an additional economics class (except ECON 300 or 330) that will not be used for the Economics Major.

Is it possible to double-major in the Eller College? ... in the SBS College?

Yes. While it requires more effort on your part, it is possible to double-major (i.e., completing requirements for two separate majors) in either the Eller College or the SBS College. In Eller, for example, a number of students double-major in Business Economics and Finance. Similarly, various double-majors involving economics are routine in SBS.

Which economics classes should be taken "early"?

Following the completion of ECON 200 or 201a-b or 210, it’s important for you to take ECON 332, 276, and especially 361 as early as possible in your plan of study. These three courses form the core for both the Business Economics and the SBS Economics major and provide the foundation for many of the upper-division courses that students will have to complete for their major. Since MATH 113, 115a-b or 124 or 125 is a prerequisite for ECON 332 and 361, students should structure their coursework to complete this prerequisite as early as possible.

What mathematics courses should I take?

MATH 113, the calculus course taken by the majority of our SBS majors, provides sufficient preparation for ECON 332 and 361. However, students who are proficient and have a strong interest in mathematics are encouraged to take MATH 124 or 125 in lieu of MATH 113 since these alternatives provide more substantial preparation in calculus.

A few economics electives (e.g., ECON 411 and 421) require a minimum of two semesters of calculus. The entry point for this begins with MATH 124 or 125 (followed by MATH 129). All Eller College students are required to take MATH 115a-b which is accepted as a prerequisite for ECON 332 and 361.

What economics courses are available during the summer sessions?

The following undergraduate economics classes are typically offered during the summer sessions:

Presession: ECON 200, 210, 276, 300, 330, 361, and 442.
Session I: ECON 200, 201a, 201b, 276, 300, 330, 332, 382, and 443.
Session II: ECON 200, 201a, 201b, 276, 300, 330, 435, and 460.

What courses will help me get the best possible job after graduation?

There is no “one size fits all” answer to this question as necessary skill sets vary by job type. Clearly, many positions require very specific training. Economics offers an obvious advantage, compared to many other majors, due to the vast array of jobs in the business, financial, etc., sectors of the economy (just as, say, a nursing degree offers an advantage for many healthcare sector positions).

This is reflected, in part, by the higher starting salaries for our majors compared to most other Eller and all other SBS majors. In any event, students will maximize their opportunities by demonstrating a consistently high level of performance in whatever courses are taken. It’s also important to note that the benefits derived from a college education extend beyond preparation for a future career.

How should I prepare for graduate study in economics?

Students who contemplate graduate study in economics should select a good portion of their elective courses for the major from those that focus on economic theory and the methods of the discipline (e.g., ECON 411, 418, 421, 431, 432, etc.). More importantly, students should take as many courses in mathematics as possible including MATH 129, 215, 223. Such students may also take an upper-division statistics class taught by the Department of Mathematics in place of ECON 276 or 339.

While a major in economics is not necessarily required for admission to graduate study in economics (or related fields such as finance), a strong background in economics and mathematics provides the optimal preparation.

How should I prepare for an MBA program?

MBA programs generally do not require a particular undergraduate major or the completion of specific courses (except that many programs require one or two semesters of calculus). By the same token, majors in Business Economics and Economics have a head start on many of the topics that are covered in MBA programs.

It is also important to note that while applicants with very high grades and GMAT scores and considerable undergraduate internship, co-op, or work experience can be admitted into MBA programs immediately after the completion of an undergraduate degree, most MBA programs prefer to admit individuals who have a minimum of 2 years post-baccalaureate work experience (MBA students currently average between 6 and 7 years of work experience).

How should I prepare for law school?

Like MBA programs, law schools do not require particular undergraduate majors or courses. Thus, there is no specific pre-law major at the University of Arizona and most other major universities. Since the study of economics provides students with an excellent opportunity to develop their analytical and reasoning skills, majors in this discipline (whether Eller College or SBS students) tend to be particularly successful in law schools. If you are contemplating law school, you should select a good number of elective courses which require substantial amounts of writing so as to cultivate your expository skills.

Is it possible to enter medical school with an economics major?

Yes. There is no specific pre-med major at The University of Arizona and most other major universities. While all medical (dental, etc.) schools require the completion of a minimum set of core science classes at the undergraduate level, no specific undergraduate major is required for admission. Nevertheless, economics students nationwide have been quite successful at gaining admission into medical programs.

What are the primary factors that graduate programs seek in applicants?

High grades, high GRE scores (GMAT for MBA, LSAT for Law school, and MCAT for medical school), and strong letters of recommendation. In addition, various degree programs may also stress participation in extra-curricular activities, volunteer community service, work experience, and so forth. Students are encouraged to consult with a faculty advisor for guidance in planning a course of action that will maximize their graduate opportunities as early as possible.

How can I receive updated information on course offerings, internships, etc.?

The Department maintains two e-mail listservs, one for Business Economics majors and one for Economics majors. Messages concerning courses, job opportunities, internships, scholarships, club meetings, etc., are posted on a regular basis.

The University automatically updates the listservs at the start of each academic year based on students’ official major status (students who double-major are arbitrarily listed under one of their majors by the University for such purposes).

Students who change majors in mid-year or mid-semester are not automatically added to the listservs. Thus, Business Economics or Economics majors who wish to but are not receiving listserv e-mail messages should leave their name and e-mail address at the front desk in the Department’s main office, McClelland 401, to be immediately added to the relevant listserv.

For more information, please contact us.