New economics major could open doors

Tiffany Moore

Transcript Correspondent

A new major at Ohio Wesleyan will allow students to use mathematics and statistical models to study economic issues, explore theories, predict the future and lead to a job.

The quantitative economics major will also grant international students the opportunity to extend their stay in the U.S. for an additional two years post-graduation because it is classified as a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program.

With this major, students will be able to pursue career paths in finance, business or government, or continue their education in graduate school. The new program is attracting interest.

Junior Hanna Cao, currently a math and economics major, is one of those students. She said she plans on transitioning to a quantitative economics major and is excited to be able to combine her interest in math and economics.

“I have a great passion for economics and I want to use math as a tool to do research in social sciences in the future. I want to improve and give back to society as a whole,” Cao said.

OWU was able to incorporate this major at no additional cost because no new courses were created. Each course already exists in either the math, economics or computer science department.

Goran Skosples, an associate professor of economics and chair of OWU’s economics department, said the idea for the major came from an article in the Economist magazine, which said some schools are reclassifying their econ majors under quantitative economics mainly because of STEM designation.

“If you graduate in a STEM field you get a two year extension for a total of three years. It’s not guaranteed but you can apply if you have a STEM field,” Skosples said. “That was one of the leading things for us to offer. International students are well aware of this.”

The major will prepare students for graduate school, but would not provide enough math. Mathematical courses fill the first few years of a graduate-level degree in economics, so students should take as much mathematics as they can, he said.

Robert J. Gitter, a Joseph A. Meek professor of economics, said the degree will be helpful after graduation.

“Economics majors do extremely well in the job market, but I think that if you have this degree you’ll be even more marketable,” he said.

Gitter thinks this program could potentially attract around 5-10 students each year.

“I’m looking forward to having even more students in the class that are excited about taking the course,” Gitter said.

According to the OWU website, students will be required to take:

  • Economic theory courses that provide the tools needed for analyzing economic issues.
  • Mathematics, statistics, and computer science courses that provide the skills needed for understanding economic theory and analyzing data.
  • Field courses that apply economic tools to business, social, or specialized areas.