NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Economics Courses All The Rage At Colleges

November 30, 1998

At the nation's most prestigious colleges and universities, economics is the top major -- after trailing history, English and biology for many years. Demand for an economics degree at public universities and second-tier colleges is growing too, but at a slower pace.

  • Economics is tops at Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Stanford and the Universities of Pennsylvania and Chicago; second at Brown, Yale, and the University of California at Berkeley; and third at Cornell and Dartmouth.
  • At most public universities and second-tier colleges, business management is still more popular than economics.
  • So while the number of bachelor's degrees in economics awarded to students at the top schools is rising, the number of economics degrees awarded overall remains below the peak reached in 1990.
  • Academics report that interest in economics has traditionally risen and fallen with the health of the finance industry.

Also, in some states, children as young as five are being taught economic concepts and ideas, according to the National Council on Economic Education. By the time these students reach college, the subject is easier to grasp than it was for earlier generations.

"Economics, as it's taught at Yale, is not an ideological subject," says that school's Prof. Merton Peck, deputy chairman of the economics department. "We don't talk about whether capitalists are greedy but rather about the benefits of, say, a fixed exchange rate."

Source: Tristan Mabry, "Economics Enjoys a Bull Run at Colleges," Wall Street Journal, November 30, 1998.


Browse more articles on Education Issues