At first glance, the field of business and the study of economics seem almost identical. After all, they both study the activity of exchanging products and services. On top of that, there is an overlap in terms of the career choices you will have after you graduate. However, the coursework and study material for each degree are very different, with the subject of business being studied in business schools, and the field of economics being studied in schools that focus on social sciences. So, what exactly are the main differences between the two?

The Scope of the Discipline

The field of economics is concerned with concepts that have a wide scope in the world economy, while business studies tend to focus on developing skills that can be used in practice. You could say that one field has a theoretical focus, while the other is focused on the application of those theoretical concepts.

A business degree also uses a more interdisciplinary approach in order to teach those skills. For example, business training may include elements, concepts, and notions from fields as varied as psychology, economy, finance, information systems, and sociology. This will help the student develop an in-depth understanding of how a business operates in the real world.

Career Prospects

There is a lot of overlap in terms of starting career options for both degrees. However, the trajectory over time diverges. Initially, graduates from both sides will go on to work in sales, data analysis, consulting, or a variety of entry-level business jobs. However, as the graduates advance in their careers, they will choose different long-term paths.

One of the major differences in this regard, and one that can be noticed from the onset, is that business majors tend to start their careers upon graduation, while economics students will often choose to continue their studies and earn a master’s degree or a PhD. The field of economics, since it is much more theoretical in nature, is better suited for research work and work in academia.

So, while a subset of economics graduates will enter the job market in similar positions to business graduates, the skills and knowledge gained during their studies will differ and cause a divergence as they advance in their careers.

Putting Things into Perspective

To apply a math-related analogy to the two disciplines, you could say that economic studies are more akin to pure mathematics, while business studies are more similar to the field of physics. Economic studies form the theoretical backbone that helps us understand the world of business, and research in the area of economics affects the entire business world on a macro level. On the other hand, an economics major does not have the practical, real world applicability of a business major. Business is a subset of the discipline of economics, but it will provide you with the skill set that can be applied directly in the real world.

Earning a Business Degree in Chicago

A business degree is an excellent choice for individuals interested in the practical application of economic principles. If you are more action oriented, and if you are interested in the mechanisms of a business rather than the mechanisms of an economic system, business studies are the right choice for you. At Robert Morris University, we’ve been serving the educational needs of our students for over 100 years. We offer several business programs and degrees that can be tailored to meet your particular situation, expectations, and budget. Contact us today if you would like to find out more.