Econ minor adds value to Business, other degrees

Adam Senn

Business major Adam Senn added skills with an Economics minor. / Marc Studer

By Douglas Esser
Adam Senn returned to college after working 20 years at a small electronics distributor, looking to change careers and start working in finance. He majored in Business at the University of Washington Bothell with concentrations in Finance and Management Information Systems (MIS).

But that’s not all: When he graduates in June 2019, Senn also will receive a minor in Economics.

“When I heard about the econ minor, I tried to find a way to work it into my schedule. I figured it would be not only interesting but also relevant to finance,” Senn said. “The econ minor fits into something I'd like to do.”

Expanded education

One of the courses Senn took for the minor was Risk Modeling, taught by Camelia Bejan, associate professor in the School of Business. It uses probability and statistics, together with economic modeling, to understand risk exposure. For example, students learn how to evaluate the price of a stock or the return on a portfolio.

Econometrics, a course taught by Xiahua Anny Wei, assistant professor, also uses probability and statistics to quantify economic relationships to inform decisions. It’s especially useful in business analytics and data science.

“Even if you're not thinking about a career in business,” Senn said, “the econ minor gives you techniques you can use in any field.”

To borrow economic wording, an Economics minor adds value.

Accruing benefits

The minor was launched in 2017, after the number of economists in the UW Bothell School of Business had grown to half a dozen.

“Having reached a critical mass, we were able to bring our expertise into the classroom and offer a variety of economics courses to our students,” said Bejan,  who said everyone contributed to the minor. These faculty colleagues include Wei; Juan Camilo Gomez, associate professor; Alejandro Francetich, assistant professor; Steve Holland, professor; and Codrin Nedita, lecturer.

The UW offers a major in Economics in Seattle but no minor, Bejan said. “And we knew there was a demand for the minor.”

The minor is particularly a good complement for Business majors concentrating in Finance and MIS, like Senn, or in Accounting and Marketing, Bejan said. Having some economics expertise also opens up career options to students in Mathematics, Computer Science, and Law, Economics & Public Policy.

“More importantly though, learning how to think like an economist brings, in my opinion, the highest benefit, irrespective of the career path,” Bejan said. “It helps people make better decisions by having a deeper understanding of the trade-offs involved and by appreciating the power of incentives to shape behavior.”

A solid start

Economics is one of three minors in the School of Business. The others are Business Administration and Retail Management. In two years, 56 students have graduated with the Economics minor, and currently there are 48 more enrolled.

Wei hopes the minor will help build demand for an Economics major. A lot of students are realizing how useful the skill sets will be, she said. “Based on what I see, I think there’s a solid demand for economics from our students and the job market.”

Going back to school was a challenge, Senn said, but it’s been helpful having faculty who want him to have a profitable experience. “If you're apprehensive, you're not alone,” he said. “They really want to make sure you succeed.” 

Senn is also glad he added the minor in Economics. 

“If you're comfortable with math and this is a field of interest for you,” he said, “it's definitely something you should pursue because it's really been rewarding.”

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