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Other Graduate Programs

Business School

Increasingly, business schools emphasize both previous work experience and a broad, well-rounded liberal arts education at the undergraduate level. Hence, many individuals receive their undergraduate degree and work for two years before entering an MBA program.

Students seeking this career path should tailor their undergraduate training to provide both skills valued by employers and adequate preparation for eventual enrollment in business school. Students who attend business schools can seek concentrations in several different fields: accounting, corporate finance, business economics, international business, industrial and labor relations, management information systems, management, marketing, and operations research. A student’s interests will influence the type of courses taken as an undergraduate, as well as the type of employment sought upon graduation. Well-chosen internships and summer positions during one’s college education can provide valuable exposure to potential careers in these fields.

Independent of one’s field of interest, a common core of courses is necessary for both seeking employment in these fields and continuing study at graduate schools of business administration. At a minimum, students should complete both Introductory Macroeconomics (Econ 100) and Introductory Microeconomics (Econ 101), as well as Principles of Accounting (120). These courses will provide an overview of economic analysis. Careers in business increasingly require students to have strong quantitative skills and familiarity with computers. Single Variable Calculus (Math 125) and Econometrics (Econ 209) will provide a sufficient grounding in quantitative analysis for most students. Beyond this core of courses, one’s interests will influence the subsequent set of courses chosen.

For example, students interested in seeking positions in companies involved in East Asia can augment a major in Asian studies with several economics courses. Beyond the set of core courses in economics, completion of Microeconomic Theory (Econ 201), International Trade and the World Financial Systems (Econ 248), International Trade Theory and Policy (Econ 345), and International Finance (Econ 346) provide excellent training in economic analysis germane to conducting business in a global environment.

Students interested in positions in investment banking and consulting are strongly encouraged to major in economics. After completing the introductory courses in economics, these students can select from the following courses: Microeconomic Theory (Econ 201), Macroeconomic Theory (Econ 200), Econometrics (Econ 210), Financial Markets and Investments (Econ 225), Money and Banking (Econ 275), Industrial Organization (Econ 355), and Asset Pricing (Econ 389).

As a final example, individuals interested in advertising, marketing, and sales can augment the core courses in economics with a sampling of courses from the following list: Microeconomic Theory (Econ 201), Econometrics (Econ 210), Science of Strategy (Econ 215), and Industrial Organization (Econ 355).

The demand for individuals with both a solid liberal arts education and exposure to quantitative reasoning and economic analysis is strong. As companies increase their global operations and the non-profit sector seeks individuals with business backgrounds and training, this demand will persist. As a result, enrollment in economics courses that complement one’s career interests increases the value of the liberal arts education received at Vassar and enhances one’s “marketability” upon graduation.

Law School

While there is no single best course of undergraduate study to prepare for law school, economics has proven to be a popular and effective preparation for a career in law.

Regardless of whether one chooses to declare a major in economics, including several pertinent economics courses in one’s undergraduate education provides excellent preparation for law school. In particular, the analytical methods of economic analysis develop the critical thinking skills necessary for success in law school. Moreover, certain legal specialties, such as antitrust law and tax law, require familiarity with economic models of imperfect competition and methods of quantitative analysis. Hence, a common core of economics courses can serve to hone one’s analytical abilities. Specialized interests, such as patent law and intellectual property rights, can be served with the selection of relevant economics courses, such as Industrial Organization (Econ 355).

Completion of a core set of classes in economics, including: Introduction to Macroeconomics (Econ 100), Introduction to Microeconomics (Econ 101), Probability and Statistics (Econ 209), and Law and Economics (Econ 238) is strongly recommended. Beyond these courses, one’s interests should guide additional course selections.

For example, individuals interested in legal advocacy may elect to complete some of the following courses: The Economics of Gender (Econ 204) and Labor Economics (Econ 320). Students with particular interests in labor law and discrimination are strongly advised to augment the above economics courses with Econometrics (Econ 210).

Students interested in corporate law and securities are best served by completing courses from the following list: Microeconomic Theory (Econ 201), Financial Markets and Investments (Econ 225), and Industrial Organization (Econ 355).

At a minimum, students interested in attending law school are strongly encouraged to complete the introductory courses in economics. Interests in particular legal specialties can be served by taking additional field courses in economics. Regardless of one’s undergraduate major, admissions committees at law schools often view applicants with substantial training in economics and formal analytic and quantitative reasoning very favorably. All students planning to attend law school should keep this in mind when designing their programs of study.

Graduate Programs in Public Policy and International Affairs

For students who want to become involved in public policy and international affairs, there are many master's and PhD programs in public policy, international relations, and government. The range of employment opportunities open to graduates of such programs includes: policy-making at the federal and state level; strategic planning for multi-national corporations; and consulting for international agencies.

Most master's and PhD programs of this type encourage prospective enrollees to work for a couple of years in government, public service, or for an agency involved with public programs before applying to a graduate program. Work experience provides exposure to the actual work one will be doing after receiving the graduate degree. It also allows the graduate program to do a more effective job of training the student and demonstrates one’s commitment to pursuing a career in this area.

Students interested in graduate study in public policy or international affairs should construct a program with courses offered in economics, political science, international studies, geography, history, and foreign languages. Most of the top graduate programs in these disciplines require applicants to have completed two introductory courses in economics, as well as a course in statistical analysis. Hence, undergraduate training in economics prepares a potential public policy student well. Students majoring in economics should elect from International Trade (248, 345), Development Economics (273), Public Finance (342), International Monetary Theory (346), and Comparative Economics (367).

Preparation in economics for non-majors would include at a minimum the Introductory Macroeconomics and Microeconomics courses (100 and 101) and International Trade (248).

Both majors and non-majors are strongly encouraged to complement their academic training with summer internships and field work in their chosen area of public policy.