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Business vs Economics Degrees: How do I choose?

Choosing the right degree can be difficult, no matter what kind of career you’re hoping to pursue. When it comes to a career in the corporate world, the decision becomes even harder, often because of the vast array of business related courses available. With so many courses out there, choosing the best one for you can be difficult. Below we examine the difference between business and economics and discuss some of the considerations you’ll need to explore before deciding which path is best for you.

By Grant Longstaff. Published 14 February 2024.

You could be forgiven for thinking business and economics are the same. But, whilst they both exist within the same work related arena, there are some differences. By better understanding these you’ll be better equipped to figure out what kind of work suits you and your personality.

What is a business degree?

Any business degree aims to provide a broad understanding of working within an organisation. They can cover everything from business administration to management, and all in between, providing you with the knowledge and skills needed in the corporate world. Because business is so wide ranging you’ll often find degrees specialise in a particular aspect, for example, administration, finance, human resources, or marketing, to name a few. We offer a range of undergraduate business degrees, and each has tailored modules to reflect a particular aspect of business.

What is an economics degree?

Economics is a social science, and during a degree in the subject you would study the consumption, distribution and production of goods and services. You’ll use the skills gained to identify trends by analysing data and examining the behaviour of how these goods or services are used. It’s worth noting most, if not all business degrees, will include some teaching on economics as it is a fundamental part of any organisation. For instance, our business degrees include modules such as Economics for Business.

What are the main differences between the degrees?

As you’ve probably gathered the main difference between business and economics lies in their focus. In economics, much of the learning will be based in theory. You’ll analyse data and explore theories and concepts like resource allocation, statistics, and business cycles. Business degrees tend to be more practical, their multifaceted nature building the essential skills required in the day to day operation of an organisation. For some students the narrow focus of an economics curriculum could be too prescriptive. Whereas business degree module choices are likely to be more expansive and allow you to tailor your learning to a greater extent.

What are the similarities between the degrees?

Of course, there will be places where the degrees intersect. Business students will need to understand market trends, pricing strategies, and analyse sales data for example. Similarly, economics students will need to explore how business decisions, management practices and marketing strategies can influence the operation of a company. No matter which discipline you choose to study you’ll need a working knowledge of the basic principles of the other.

Also consider the skills developed throughout the degrees. Skills such as problem solving and decision making are huge requirements for running a successful business. How and why these skills are applied might differ, but fundamental competencies such as these are useful in many jobs and a variety of workplaces.

What are the benefits of studying economics?

Studying economics provides a deeper understanding of concepts such as empirical research, microeconomics, and macroeconomics. You’ll develop strong analytical and mathematical skills and become a critical thinker.

What are the benefits of studying business?

We’ve already discussed how business degrees can offer a more holistic view of an organisation by looking at the fundamental principles and dynamics of business operation. The knowledge and skills you’ll gain by studying business can develop attributes such as intuition, creativity, communication, time management, and much more.

When it comes to choosing the best course for you it’s important to thoroughly research exactly what the course covers. Look at the modules available. What ones offered interest you? Which will further your career? Consider those courses which focus in on the discipline which appeals to you and ensure you pick the course that best suits your goals, personality, and skillset.

It’s also worth looking beyond the course. What else does the university offer? Our focus on employability is one of the many reasons students choose to study with us. And, in addition to graduating with their degree, some business students are also given the chance to qualify for a Level 5 Certificate Management and Leadership from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

What jobs can you take with a degree in business or economics?

Both subjects will provide graduates with a multitude of career options, no matter which you choose to study, and to explore them all would be impossible. It’s also worth noting that whilst the roles could differ, the industries across which both economics and business students could work reach far and wide. Everything from banking and finance, local or national government, tech startups, and charities to established multinational corporations can require the skills and knowledge of business and economic graduates. You can explore some of the possible business career options which might be open to you on our Career Finder pages.

How does the salary compare between careers in business and economics?

Unfortunately, when it comes to a sector as huge as business, salary comparison is extremely difficult. No matter which discipline you study – business or economics – your salary will be determined by a number of factors. These include your role, the industry you work in, where you’re based, and your experience. Salaries can increase with career progression, gaining more experience, professional development, and further education.

Ultimately, the choice between business and economics comes down to you. Your individual interests and career aspirations. Take the time to figure out what it is you’re passionate about and take the necessary steps to achieve your goals. No matter what you decide, it will be your commitment and hard work which decides your level of success.


Whether you’re looking for a career in finance, management, human resources, or marketing, we have you covered with our range of undergraduate business degrees.