New Major Surges in Popularity

Jacob DeCarli '22, Managing Editor

The popularity of the Quantitative Economics major has “surpassed expectations” of the economics department,  According to Associate Professor of Economics and department chair Anthony Underwood. The Quantitative Economics major was split off from the more general Economics major last year.

Although the Quantitative Economics major was first offered to all students in Fall 2018, there were a few students who were in the major before 2018. In an article published in The Dickinsonian on Sept. 13, 2018, 10 students declared quantitative economics as their major. As of September 2019, there 62 quantitative economics majors representing 39 percent of the economics department. 

Out of 48 possible majors, quantitative economics ranked no. 21 of popular majors among the class of 2019 with 14 graduates. According to Registrar Mary-Ann Leidigh, the office is still collecting data on the major, and due to its recent inception, no trends are immediately apparent.

Professors within the economics department did not foresee this spike in numbers of quantitative economics majors. Underwood said the department expected “25-35%” of students to major and explained that these numbers represent the classes of 2019 and 2020. However, Underwood said the projected numbers for the classes of 2021, 2022 are projected to be higher. “We may stabilize closer to 40%-50%,” Underwood said about the number of current quantitative economics majors in both classes. The class of 2022 still has until the end of the year to declare their majors, so the data is not yet complete. 

The quantitative economics curriculum differs from the regular economics curriculum. According to the Dickinson College website, students focus their attentions on “econometric and mathematical modeling of economic issues.” Students who major in quantitative economics graduate with a STEM degree. Additionally, international students are eligible to “stay in the U.S. for three years after graduating,” according to the website. 

The curriculum of the regular economics major provides more benefits to some students. Ava Larson ’20 is a double major in International Studies and Economics and explained she did not have time to take more mathematical classes for quantitative economics. Larson also explained that she took classes in her sustainability concentration and she was “able to cross between majors and take electives like environmental econ[omics],” she said.

Jasmine Jia ’22, an international student from China, said she wanted to major in quantitative economics to attain a STEM degree for “opportunities to get a job in the United States in 3 years after graduat[ion].” Jia also explained that her quantitative economics background will provide her with opportunities to pursue various career fields in “economics, operating analysis and finance,” she said. Aboody Rumman ’20, shared the same sentiments with Jia about skills for various career fields and said the major “leaves you with a more applicable skill set for today’s jobs than the other Econ major.”

Underwood noted that the quantitative economics major is more popular among international students. “Of the 62 current QECON majors, 60% are international students as compared to only 25% of the 95 current ECON majors,” Underwood said. However, the popularity goes beyond international students wanting a STEM degree. “Students increasingly want the training in economics, policy, and political economy,” Underwood said, “as well as the technical skills increasingly expected by both potential employers and graduate schools.