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Economics Degree vs. Accounting Degree: What’s the Difference?

Economics and accounting certainly have some overlap within the broad field of finance, but they are quite different as well. Learn about the differences between an economics degree and an accounting degree, along with the various career paths you may pursue with each degree.

A hand on a calculator as if to show an accountant making some financial calculations; this is one job you may attain with an accounting degree rather than an economics degree

If you like to work with numbers, you may find that you would thoroughly enjoy a career in economics. Or maybe accounting would be more in line with what you want to do in your professional life.

Not quite sure what the similarities and differences are between the two? Answering that question first involves understanding what each of the fields does. Let’s begin with economics.

What Economics Entails

When we say ‘economics,’ we’re really talking about human behavior as it relates to resources. In addition to money, this also includes the decisions we make in regard to our raw materials, our land, and even labor.

So, earning your bachelor’s in accounting degree entails learning what drives our responses economically. It also involves gaining a better understanding of the ways people respond when these resources are limited.

There are varying levels of economics. Microeconomics studies the economic behaviors of individuals and families, as well as businesses and organizations. Macroeconomics is more focused on actions taken by nations or even global economies.

Economics is highly theoretical. It says, “If this happens in the economy, then people, businesses, or nations will likely do that.”

Conducting this type of analysis helps determine what type of response is necessary. This could involve producing or consuming more resources. Transferring resources is another option to consider.

Economics impacts public policy, global trade, and more. So, earning your economics degree prepares you to analyze each so a decision can be made about how to best proceed.

Defining Accounting as a Field

In bachelor’s in accounting degree programs, students learn more about financial reports, audits, and the laws regarding taxation. This discipline deals with real numbers and how specific dollars come in and go out of a home, business, or organization.

Essentially, accounting is a bit more specialized than economics. It relies less on theoretical data and more on cold, hard facts. Accounting is also more technical.

When earning your accounting degree, you learn how to find the information that determines the financial status of a person, business, or other entity. You also learn how to report these numbers to regulatory agencies in accordance with legal policies and procedures.

A large part of accounting involves understanding local, state, and federal tax laws. This helps your clients or employer make better decisions to improve their financial health.

Economics Degrees vs. Accounting Degrees: Curriculum Differences

Because the fields of economics and accounting differ, the curriculum for these two degrees is different as well.

For example, at Saint Leo University, if you major in economics, you will take courses such as Intermediate Price Theory, International Economics, Money and Banking, and Behavioral Economics.

You can also minor in economics, which involves taking Principles of Macroeconomics and Principles of Microeconomics.

Accounting majors, on the other hand, take courses such as Intermediate Accounting, Cost Accounting, Auditing, and Individual Federal Income Taxes. Saint Leo University’s accounting degree students are also required to take International Accounting, Financial Statement Analysis, and Accounting Information Systems.

Career Options with an Economics Degree vs. Accounting Degree

With an economics degree, you can work as an economist. In this role, you would be responsible for collecting and analyzing data as it relates to the economy. You would also be looking at the latest trends or challenges that exist in regard to resources.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that some federal agencies hire entry-level economics professionals with a bachelor’s degree. Other agencies may require that you have a master’s degree or PhD to work in an economist role.

Other career options with a bachelor’s in economics include data analyst, financial planner, financial consultant, and financial risk analyst. With an economics degree, you can also work as a bank officer or business consultant.

If you choose to get a bachelor’s in accounting degree instead, you can obtain your certification and work as a certified public accountant (CPA). In this role, you would spend your days preparing financial forms for individuals, businesses, and organizations. You would also be tasked with helping them make decisions based on their current financial status and goals.

Plus, you can take your accounting degree and work as an auditor, IRS investigator, financial analyst, tax accountant, or bookkeeper. Accounting courses also prepare you for higher-level job roles such as controller and chief financial officer.

Which Is Best for You?

Once you have a clearer understanding of the differences between economics and accounting, it becomes easier to decide which degree is more in line with what you want to do in your career. Do you want to spend your days analyzing behaviors regarding resources, or would you prefer to record, report, and analyze a person’s or business’s income and expenses?

Saint Leo University offers both a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting. Each of these undergraduate degree programs prepares you to work in your desired field.

And if you’re still unsure which is best for you, our caring and compassionate staff can help you decide. We can help you turn your love for numbers into a lifelong career that provides the opportunities and advancements you want most. Contact our admissions office today to learn more.

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