Singapore is known for its great universities, offering world-class degrees in both business and economics (and other programs as well).
Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or someone who wants to climb up the corporate ranks, a business-related degree is a good option.
However, many students have difficulties deciding whether or not to take a business or economics degree.
You might be wondering, which is more theoretical between the two, as well as what your career prospects will be with each. If you’re at such a crossroads, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I’ll try to offer you some useful advice to help you choose between these two similar but also very different subjects.
Breaking Down the Argument
Before I go into the details, let me be clear: for most people taking business, there really is no confusion. For example, if you’re taking business with the intent to specialize in, say, accounting or business administration, then it’s pretty clear a business degree is a right route.
On the other hand, if you’re taking business with a concentration on finance, you might wonder why shouldn’t you just go all-in on economics?
So, the real dilemma here isn’t between business and economics, but rather economics and business with a specialization in finance.
Following so far?
One is More Theoretical than the Other
One of the most common arguments put forth against economics is that it is far more theoretical than a business with a specialization in finance.
To be entirely fair, you will learn plenty of theories in both programs, and not all of these will be applicable in real life. In business finance, you’ll learn theories like the M-M theory (don’t ask me what is that!).
In Economics, you will learn many modules that have no direct relation to finance, such as macroeconomics, the theory of the firm, and even a healthy amount of history.
You also can read paper samples on economics concepts to learn more about them.
Economics is a good option if you are the curious kind and would like to learn about things beyond finance, or aren’t quite decided on which specialization to go for yet.
It will expose you to lots of different topics.
The point here is that you shouldn’t go into any degree thinking you’ll learn nothing but practical real-world stuff right off the bat.
That said, it’s still true that an economics degree would involve a lot more theory than a business degree. Economics deals with a lot more subject matter.
Which is Heavier in Mathematics?
If Mathematics is not your best subject, you might be wondering if Economics or Business (Finance) has a lighter focus on math.
In Economics, many topics use mathematical fields as varied as calculus, statistics, and linear algebra. This course will not be kind to you if you don’t enjoy mathematics.
For Finance in Business, you will take other modules that won’t be so heavy in mathematics, such as writing-based modules. Not everything will be mathematically based.
In that sense, when compared to economics, where nearly every subject is heavy in math, the business school should be a breath of fresh air.
Breaking Down the Curriculum
When doing economics, you will learn many modules that have no direct relation to finance, such as macroeconomics, the theory of the firm, and even a healthy amount of history.
Hence, if you would like to learn about things beyond finance, or aren’t quite decided on which specialization to go for yet, Economics is a good option as it will expose you to lots of different topics.
For Business finance, however, expect to see a lot more modules specialized in finance. We might say that business finance is a derivative of a special branch of economics known as financial economics. It takes the concepts there and applies them to the world of business.
The good thing though, is that Business (Finance) is more practical than economics, as the concepts learned are more applicable in a business context. You may even learn stuff that real professionals use in the workplace!
To start with, your choice of which of the two courses to go for should be made after you’ve already picked a career. But that is what would happen in an ideal world. Chances are it’s still too early for you to decide, and you want something that gives you multiple options.
Economics gives you the broadest range of options. You can work in the finance industry, or do research, or work in a hedge fund, or even work for NGOs which need people with a good understanding of companies and global markets.
With business, your career prospects are narrower but more lucrative. All that financial knowledge you gain will be perfect for the finance industry, and you will likely get job offers at asset management firms, banks, financial regulators, and in the finance departments of companies. Since your training is more rigorous, you are likely to stand out for these jobs against other applicants who took economics.
The real question you should therefore be asking is “do I want to work in the finance industry or potentially elsewhere?” That will tell you which to take. In the end, recruiters will consider many factors when deciding whether to hire you or not, including your GPA, major, extra-curricular activities, and work experience.