Have you been thinking about studying USYD Economics? Perhaps you’re not too sure whether this degree is for you. 

We’ve spoken with Jeffrey Khoo, a Bachelor of Economics (Honours) graduate to hear all about the pros and cons of this degree!

If you want to know more about the degree in terms of subjects, majors, assessments and culture, check out what it’s like studying a Bachelor of Economics at USYD here.

Now, let’s jump into the pros and cons of Economics at USYD!

Why should you study an Economics degree at USYD?
Top 3 Pros of an Economics Degree
Top 3 Cons of an Economics Degree
Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make
Things to Know Before Starting USYD Economics
What Makes this Degree Different
Motivations for Studying USYD Economics
Potential Career Paths

Why should you study an Economics degree at USYD?

It’s a common misconception that Economics is entirely Mathematical, and while it is heavy on the Maths side, it also requires you to think about social constructs and interactions.

USYD Economics - Quote

You’ll also find that graduating from a USYD Economics degree will give you an upper hand with your job search, as many alumni end up in roles within the Reserve Bank and the Treasury!

Top 3 Pros of an Economics degree

#1: A variety of topics covered

One of the great things about Economics is that you can expect to look at a whole lot of different topics! This includes areas of study like experimental economics and behavioural economics.

Jeffrey said, “Most people just think Economics is just GDP, and the stock market, and inflation, but as you move into second and third year, you get to study a range of diverse topics. For example, I studied things like international trade, looking at the political economy and how the economy came to be.”

#2: It’s analytical

For some this may sound like a con! But if you’re someone who likes to think about concepts in depth to understand it, Economics could be for you.

For instance, learning about experimental and behavioural economics looks into “how psychology factors into people’s decisions and how we might not actually be as rational as the economic model suggests.”

“It’s very analytical in the sense that you need to break down situations in great detail and identify what’s the important part of a situation,” Jeffrey said. 

#3: It looks at social issues

On a similar note, Economics does look at social issues!

“Even though there’s maths and statistics involved, you never lose sight of why you’re doing that, and we are doing this to benefit society,” Jeffrey said, 

Don’t lock yourself into a mentality where Economics is purely mathematics, because it is a social science which involves a lot of application to social situations and concepts. The applicational aspect of this degree makes it really clear as to why you’re learning different formulas and statistics as you can see how it relates to a real life situation.

 

Top 3 Cons of an Economics degree

#1: The mathematics can become difficult

Jeffrey said, “It can be a little difficult to become familiar with the mathematics and the thinking behind economics. It’s definitely doable to come into an Economics degree without maths experience and without doing economics previously.”

You might find that by second and third year you’ll have a better understanding of how to think about Economics, but then become more challenged by the mathematical side of things. 

#2: There are a lot of core units

There’s quite a few core units that you need to do and it can be limiting, especially if you want to do a lot of electives or you’re doing a double degree,” Jeffrey said.

In a Bachelor of Economics at USYD you need to complete 72 credit points of core program units throughout the degree. This is in addition to the core units for your chosen major and or minor; which doesn’t provide much flexibility for a range of electives. 

#3: Lack of diversity

“I think the cohort should be more diverse. From what I’ve noticed, there’s not a lot of women taking higher level economics — there tends to be quite a few more men,” Jeffrey said. 

The lack of diversity within Economics at USYD is also reflective of many workforces involving Economics. So if you’re female, don’t feel reluctant to take on Economics!

Any regrets? 

Jeffrey said, “I think the regret is going a little too much with the flow and not trying to question the assumptions which the models are based on.

“I think sometimes in economics you get so caught up in trying to learn the theory, you’re trying to get this model into your brain and you forget to stop and think, ‘Does this actually work?’, ‘Am I making any assumptions that might not be true in the real world?’”

What do you wish you had known before starting USYD Economics? 

It can be quite an intense degree as there is quite a fair bit of content involved that you need to get your head around, and it requires a certain way of thinking… But once you’re used to it you can apply it to any situation,” Jeffrey said.

What makes this degree different from the ones offered at other universities? 

The Economics faculty at USYD is said to have incredible teachers, “…not just in the sense that they do interesting research, but they will go out of their way to help you and explain the content. They’re just really good at breaking down what can be a complex concept,” Jeffrey said.

Further, if you’re considering taking on Honours later down the path, USYD provides a pre-honours stream that supports you throughout second and third year to prepare you for Honours. 

Jeffrey said, “I think USYD is one of the best programs for Economics Honours, at least in NSW because you get tailored guidance in the pre-honours stream. That whole program is really well structured and the coordinator is really helpful.

I feel like I got a premium experience from second year in choosing to do Honours, so that’s a huge plus of USYD in particular.”

What inspired you to choose USYD Economics?

I did it [Economics] in high school and I liked it! I found that it appealed to my interests, my analytical thinking, and the social focus.

Economics is at its core a social science, and all it is is Maths and statistics applied to social and human problems. So, although it has a bad rep of being quite narrow in just thinking about money and markets, I think that it’s really something that has a much broader appeal than it might seem,” Jeffrey said.

What are the possible career paths?

USYD Economics - Careers

As you might’ve not realised, studying Economics actually provides you with a broad range of knowledge, so there are a huge number of different industries and jobs positions that you could find yourself in! 

Your career options can also vary depending on your choice of major or area of specialisation. This includes, but is not limited to:


Nandini Dhir is a Content Writer at Art of Smart and is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts (majoring in Marketing) and a Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Media and Communications), as a Dalyell Scholar, at Sydney University. She enjoys covering local issues in her area and writing about current events in the media. Nandini has had one of her pieces published in an article with the Sydney Morning Herald. In her free time, Nandini loves doing calligraphy, ballet, and sewing, or is otherwise found coddling her cats.