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Though both the College and Wharton offer degrees in economics, the coursework varies greatly.

Credit: Shivanki Juneja

Even though students who study Economics in Wharton and the College technically earn degrees in the same subject, their experiences are far different.

Students enrolled in Wharton can obtain a Bachelor of Science in Economics, focusing on the application of economic principles. On the other hand, students in the College of Arts and Sciences can graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, taking classes about mathematical models and concepts.

Wharton’s B.S. degree promotes “the application of economics and business knowledge,” according to its website. A B.S. in Economics from Wharton gives students more flexibility and allows students to explore other disciplines through the school’s concentrations.

“What is distinctive about Penn is that [Wharton] is more applied and less mathematical,” said Kent Peterman, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

After taking an introductory economics class, Economics 010, which is actually is taught by professors in the College, Wharton students will go on to take two statistics courses, Stat 101 and 102, as well as a business policy course, BEPP 250.

Following the completion of these courses, students have the ability to choose from the school’s more than 21 possible concentrations as a supplement to their economics major.

Essentially, the B.S. in Economics from Wharton encompasses a mere four courses relating to Economics, while the B.A. in Economics requires six economics courses in addition to four economics elective requirements. Two additional calculus courses are required as prerequisites to the major.

Students who graduate with a B.A. in Economics have a greater background in economic theory and the mathematical concepts behind those theories that students who graduate with a B.S. in Economics from Wharton often lack.

Interestingly, Peterman noted that the B.S. and B.A. in economics are the exact reverse of what they are in other schools. At other universities, even those within the Delaware Valley, the system that is currently in place at Penn is nowhere to be found.

According to Temple University’s website, the B.A. in Economics “helps a student understand the economic aspect of current events” and is “good preparation for careers in law and business,” similar to Wharton’s explanation of its B.S. program.

At Penn, the two majors in the two schools are not completely segregated.

“There is a decent amount of overlap in course load,” said Wharton and College junior Julianne Goodman, who is also pursuing a B.A. in Economics from the College.

Goodman also described Wharton’s approach to economics as “mile wide”, as one that doesn’t really go in depth with a lot of disciplines that the College degree concentrates on, while the College economics major is more theoretical.

In terms of long-term prospects, the paths of students who earn B.S. degrees can be different, Peterman said, but often result in similar salaries several years after graduation.

Peterman added that Wharton alumni may go directly into full-time business positions after doing internships during their undergraduate years. College graduates’ degrees in Economics have more varied trajectories, some going abroad to take more courses or independently search for internships.

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