Business Economics Provides Competitive Edge

Crystal North's undergraduate degree in economics helped prepare her for her successful career as a contract specialist for the Army Corps of Engineers in Savannah.

“My degree gave me a solid foundation for the job I have now,” she said. “The knowledge that I gained has helped me to understand the big picture behind the budget we work with and the effects of fiscal decisions and processes that take place in the office and on a broader level.”

North, whose favorite undergraduate courses included Microeconomics and Economics of Management, believes economics provides an ideal foundation for jobs in a wide range of fields.

“I would recommend economics as a major because, unlike a general business degree, it gives you specialized knowledge in the field of business and gives you insight into how the world works,” she explained.

In today's highly competitive job market, a B.A. in Economics from Armstrong stands apart as a degree with strong appeal to a wide range of employers. In fact, econ graduates have gone on to enjoy successful careers at Gulfstream Aerospace, Bank of America, market research firms and consulting firms. A number of graduates have attended top law schools, business schools or graduate schools upon graduation. In recent years, Armstrong students have gone on to pursue an M.B.A. at The Citadel, an M.A. at Brandeis University and a Ph.D. in Economics at Clemson University.

Economics majors also have incredible opportunities for internships as undergraduates. Armstrong students gain real world experience with internships at the Savannah Economic Development Authority, Georgia Department of Labor, Merrill Lynch and the City of Savannah's Step-Up Poverty Reduction Initiative.

Leia Pittman, a senior majoring in business economics, appreciates the opportunities for learning beyond the classroom at Armstrong. As a research assistant for the university's Center for Regional Analysis, this successful senior learned more than just facts and figures when she helped research data for Economic Trends for 2012.

“I learned a lot and got to network with top government officials, business leaders and local entrepreneurs,” she said. “It gave me great experience. Plus, I definitely have a deeper understanding of how Savannah works by knowing the demographics about the people who live here and the nitty gritty statistics about housing, transportation and labor trends.”

Economics professor and department head Yassaman Saadatmand says what makes Armstrong's program unique is the fact that it builds upon a strong liberal arts foundation.

“We combine liberal arts with what students need to know in practice to work in the real world,” she said. “We truly offer our students the best of both worlds.”

Economics majors at Armstrong can select between three different tracks: general economics, international economics and business economics. The business economics program, which officially launched in the fall of 2011, emphasizes real world business applications with courses on entrepreneurial discourse, management, finance and marketing.

“We give our students a lot of flexibility and choices,” Saadatmand said. “We have a very strong program with a high success rate for job placement.”

Nicolas Mangee, assistant professor of Economics at Armstrong, believes the Economics major at Armstrong helps prepare students for exciting and important jobs of the future.

“Economics is a tool that enables one to better understand how human decision and action translates into market outcomes,” he said. “Formal study of economics has far-reaching implications for tax policy, environmental policy, financial market oversight, international trade and so on. Simply put, economics helps us to understand how the world works. And, given the current labor market, the applicability of an economics degree for careers in industry, government and academia should not be understated.”

Part of what makes the economics department at Armstrong unique is the faculty members' close interaction with students and their support of student research. A number of students have presented papers with professors at top conferences and published papers with professors in leading journals.

Dozens of Armstrong students have presented papers at the Academy of Economics and Finance on a range of topics from public housing to commercial bank failure. Several undergraduates have won national recognition and top research awards for their projects.

“Beyond the classwork, we work very closely with students on research,” said assistant professor of economics Jason Beck. “The entire department really loves helping students, and that results in a great atmosphere.”