Monday 5 May 2014

Minor in Economics

Stephen Franks makes the case for ensuring that your BA include a Minor in Economics. He doesn't put it that way directly, but it's the best possible solution to this problem:
I would be surprised if any employers have a definitive interest in a BA degree holders' specialist knowledge even where they have decided that a BA is sufficient. It is perhaps nice to think that the graduate has acquired the polish of some minimum familiarity with our civilisation's accumulated self awareness. General knowledge may reflect and stimulate comprehension of events and people (perhaps?). But if the graduate proves to have that store of information it will commonly be a bonus, not the object of preferring a degree holder.
Employers may look to see what the BA  job-seeker has studied nevertheless. But more often than any teacher might want to know, it is probably just to see whether the degree contains anything that might have tested for rigour, objectivity, or ability to write. If all the subjects are of the social science/basket-weaving/tell-us-your feelings-and-fashionable-political-prejudices variety, or are otherwise notorious for low standards, the degree may be termed useless. But that is not because of greater need for the intrinsic knowledge of the subjects. It is simply that the choice of subjects is thought to be indicative of the fineness of the sieve. What is most likely to be taught and examined more rigorously?
Economics is generally known for having a tight sieve. Major in your passion! But add Economics as a minor to demonstrate your competence and to gain a far better understanding of your major, whether it be history, political science, philosophy....

I note that I started off in undergrad as an Arts major mixing history, political science, French, and economics. I continued with history, pols and Econ at 200-level, then went double-honours Econ/Pols before heading to grad school. I might not have added economics had I not worried about employability with a single-major Pols degree. I added Economics instrumentally, but came to love it.

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