Skip to main content

The Job Market and Preparing for Graduate Study

What do Econ majors do after graduation?

Some majors go directly to grad programs -- primarily in Law or Finance -- but most go to work. The largest employer of Econ grads is the financial-services industry -- including Wall Street, mutual-fund companies, accounting firms, and so on. But Economics provides good preparation for a wide variety of careers beyond financial services, with recent grads going into purchasing, marketing, operations management, government service, journalism, and lots of other fields. Others work for a few years, then complete an MBA program. Among majors within the Arts College and the ILR school, Economics is one of the best, jobwise -- in terms of your chances of finding career-track employment and in terms of starting pay. 

Class of 2017 Job Placement Statistics

To provide a sense of what our majors do immediately after commencement, we conducted a survey.  Out of 188 January 2017, May 2017, and August 2017 graduates, 168 responded to the survey (89.36% of the graduating class). 
Of these respondents 77.38% said they were employed or obtaining further schooling.  Here is the breakdown by the type of employment and type of further schooling:
22.31% in Finance
27.69% in Consulting
13.08% in Banking
9.23% in Another Business Field
1.54% at a Not for Profit Organization
1.54% in Government
11.54% are Attending Graduate School
3.08% are Attending Law School
1.54% are Attending Medical School
8.45% stated “Other”
Of the students attending graduate school, some of the degrees they will pursue include:
PhD in Economics
PhD in Operation Research and Financial Engineering
Master of Accounting
Master of Business
Master of Computational Social Science
Master of Engineering in Operations
Master of Finance
Master of Financial Engineering
Master of Professional Studies in Information Science
Master of Public Administration
Of the students attending graduate school, some of the institutions they will attend include:
Boston University
City University London
Columbia University
Cornell University
Northwestern University
Princeton University
University of Chicago
University of Texas at Austin 
Of the students who are employed, some of the companies and organizations they will be working for include:
21 X Media Group
A.T. Kearney
Amazon (Alexa, Software Development)
American Eagle Outfitters
American Express
Analysis Group
Aon Hewitt Actuarial Consulting
Axtria: Data Analytics Consulting
Bain & Company
Bank of America Merill Lynch
Capital One
CEB: Best Practice Insights and Techonology
City Year
Clad Network, Inc
ClearBridge Compensation Group
Cornell Investment Office
Cornerstone Research
Credit Suisse
D.E. Shaw & Co.
Deutsche Bank
Elmcore Group
Fortuna Auction
Goldman Sachs
Graham Partners
Green Street Advisors
Group One Trading
Guggenheim Investment Banking
Highgate Hotels
Houlihan Lokey
Indus Valley Parnters
JP Morgan
Kroll Bond Rating Agency
Macquarie Group
Mizuho Bank
NERA (National Economic Research Associates)
Nomura S&T
RBC Investment Banking
TD Ameritrade
The Boston Consulting Group
The Brattle Group
The Dui Hua Foundation
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York
The Federal Reserve Bank of D.C.
USAA – Federal Savings Bank
Wells Fargo
ZS Associates


If I want to get a job on Wall Street, will an Economics degree provide good preparation, or should I be looking at undergraduate business programs?
Cornell Econ BAs have been quite successful in landing Wall Street jobs, partly because corporate recruiters have high regard for the Econ major at Cornell (and for Econ programs more generally). The major provides a rigorous grounding in analytical techniques, and instills a method of thinking that serves Econ BAs well in a wide range of careers, including those on Wall Street. Experience suggests that many recruiters are looking for these broader problem-solving skills. On the other hand, the major itself does not provide the "nuts and bolts" -- specific business-related skills such as accounting, marketing, and so on. Taking courses in these areas (outside the Econ major) might clinch a job for you, after your Econ major gets you in the door. Getting into Finance

I want to go on to a graduate program in Economics. Which math courses should I take?
Bare minimum: Math 2210-2220 (Linear Algebra and Multivariate Calculus). Recommended: Math 3110 (Real Analysis). And for econometrics, take Econ 3130-3140.

What can I do to increase my chances of getting admitted to a good PhD program?
Take lots of math and do well on the math section of the GRE exam, by preparing for it and re-taking it if necessary. Get strong letters of recommendation; in order to do so, you might consider working on a research project with a member of the Economics Department (Econ 4999) or selecting some of the more advanced Econ courses, with small enrollments. Apply to graduate programs that match your interests and strengths. If you are not a native speaker of English, make sure you demonstrate your command of spoken English (since the programs to which you apply may require that you work as a TA).

I want to go to Law School. Should I major in Economics?
Yes. Economics is a popular undergrad major for Law School aspirants. Each year, several graduating Econ majors go directly to law schools, and others work for a few years and then enter law school. "Economics and the Law" has become an established field of study (represented on campus by Professor George Hay, an economist who teaches at Cornell). Also, check this out!

Related Links

Main Office
Department of Economics
404 Uris Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, N.Y. 14853
Phone: (607) 255-4254
Fax: (607) 255-2818