Economics vs business degree: similarities and differences

Sheffield International College student Zaipeng

When it comes to economics vs business, selecting the right degree for you can be a challenge, particularly when the fields seem to overlap. This blog aims to simplify that choice, by examining the similarities and differences between these two sought-after subjects.

For aspiring entrepreneurs, analysts, and even the business leaders of the future, understanding each degree’s unique offerings, as well as similarities, is essential to help you plan the first steps into a new career.

What is an economics degree?

An economics degree in the UK is an undergraduate or postgraduate academic programme that focuses on the study of economic theories, principles, and practices. It provides students with a broad understanding of various economic concepts, such as microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics, and international trade.

In the UK, economics degrees are offered as Bachelor of Science (BSc) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) programmes, with a duration of three to four years. By studying at the International College and getting the required grades, you can progress to a range of degrees, such as the Economics with Finance BSc (Hons), Economics and Politics BA (Hons) and Economics and Mathematics BSc (Hons).

Postgraduate economics degrees in the UK include the Master of Science (MSc) programme, which allows students to specialise in a particular area, such as development economics, financial economics, or environmental economics.

Economics degrees teach you how to make informed judgements and analysis on both the local level and on a larger scale worldwide. Students get the opportunity to research and learn about the way markets function, diving deeper into some of the bigger issues in modern economies.

There is more to economics than just maths, as well. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to investigate the human aspect of economics, dealing with areas like public health spending and other sectors which directly impact people’s day to day lives.

Once you’ve obtained your economics degree, you’ll be able to focus on a particular area or sector that interests you. Whether that’s working with private companies, local organisations or even governments, your vast knowledge of economics can take you anywhere.

Similarities between business and economics degrees

Business and economics degrees have more in common than you think.

Both involve the study of markets, finance, economic analysis, management, and strategy. Pursuing either degree, you will learn how to analyse and interpret data, conduct research, and make decisions based on your findings. Economics and business degrees emphasise the importance of quantitative analysis, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.

Graduates from both fields have a wide range of career opportunities in industries such as finance, consulting, marketing, and government. While there are some differences between the two subjects, they have many things in common and provide you with a solid foundation for success in the business world.

Differences between business and economics degrees

What you learn on a business degree can lead you to several different fields, from marketing to leadership. But if you want to get a little deeper into the why and how, a degree in economics might be what you’re after.

Business is the more practical side, where you’re focused on generating profit and how that can be achieved. Economics, however, is more theory-based and looks into recognising patterns, analysing trends and predicting what might happen in the future.

Career options in economics

Why study economics, then? Economics graduates have a wide range of career options available to them, as the skills and knowledge gained are highly valued across various industries.

One potential career path for economics graduates is to become an economist, where you can work for private businesses, government agencies or non-profit organisations.

Another option is to become a product manager, where you can use your analytical skills to develop and manage products and services in different industries. Data analysis is also a popular career path for graduates, working to help businesses and organisations make informed decisions based on data insights that you provide.

If you are keen to pass your knowledge and skills onto the next generation, becoming an economics teacher can also be a fulfilling and rewarding career.

At the University of Sheffield, opportunities to develop employment and personal skills are embedded throughout the University’s curriculum. This includes a strong emphasis on data analysis from year one, where you will learn to analyse real-world data.

You can also get involved in the Sheffield Economics Employability Development (SEED) scheme: a series of careers events and opportunities to further develop your skills for employment.

Other possible career options* include:

  • Assistant Economist
  • Audit and Accounts Trainee
  • Business Tax Analyst
  • Finance Trainee
  • Graduate Financial Analyst
  • Health Economist
  • System Economist

With so many career paths available, economics graduates can find employment in diverse fields, with plenty of ways to make meaningful contributions to society.

Study at the University of Sheffield International College

The University of Sheffield International College helps prepare international students for UK degree study at the University of Sheffield. Benefit from a wide range of programmes and gain the skills and knowledge you need to progress to a world top 100 university (QS World University Rankings 2023).

Our International Foundation Year in Business, Social Sciences and Humanities is a great first step towards a successful career in economics, preparing you for your chosen undergraduate degree at Sheffield.

Benefit from a team of supportive staff, a welcoming international community and improved English language and subject knowledge, all while settling into your new home in the UK. It’s the perfect way to begin your international study journey.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are three reasons to study economics?

  1. Allows you to understand how markets and economies function.
  2. Get insight into how policies can affect economic goals and outcomes.
  3. Develop analytical and problem-solving skills that can be used in a wide range of careers.

What skills do you learn in economics?

Through studying economics, individuals can acquire valuable analytical, problem-solving and critical reasoning skills, as well as improve their ability to communicate effectively and work with data.

Which career is best for economics?

There is no one "best" career for economics; the skills and knowledge gained from studying economics can be applied to a wide range of professions!

Some common career paths for economics graduates include roles in finance, consulting, government, non-profits, and teaching. The best career for economics will depend on your personal interests, skills, and goals.

92% of economics students

who graduated were in employment or further study 15 months after leaving the University (2019/20 Graduate Outcomes survey, UK undergraduates).