Cornell students work on a project.

Major in economics and business

Unlike many colleges, we allow students to integrate the two fields of economics and business into a single, unified major. Economics is the study of decision-making broadly, at the level of nation-states down to the individual level. By contrast, business classes at Cornell focus on managerial and financial decision-making. By emphasizing how decisions are made across many settings, this major prepares you not for one specific job, but for a career, for an entire lifetime of jobs.

The economics and business major emphasizes marketable skills

The development of these skills include oral and written communication, teamwork, critical thinking, and quantitative reasoning. 

  • Economics courses explore the choices people make when faced with scarcity, and the rules, laws, and customs governing those choices.
  • Business courses focus on economic decision making within firms: how managers make decisions, particularly financial decisions, in the face of complexity. 

With Cornell’s economics and business major, you will:

  • Learn multiple ways of framing problems, not just bottom-line calculations.
  • Develop strong writing, teamwork, and presentation skills in small classrooms.
  • Become responsible decision-maker, rooted in a complex understanding of a global community.
  • Become career-ready in emerging and high-demand business fields, while gaining solid preparation for nationally recognized business certifications.
  • Apply mathematical ideas to a range of social and business problems, frequently using real-world business cases or simulations.

Career preparation

Cornell prepares students for their entire careers. Since the business world is characterized by rapid change, fundamental skills in reasoning and quantitative analysis—complemented by a broad-based liberal arts experience—provide the best preparation for long-term professional success.

The department partners closely with the Berry Career Institute to provide internships, off-campus courses, distinguished visitors, research projects, and post-graduate planning. Together, they bring business leaders and policy experts into the classroom to help students apply theory to real world situations.

Internships and fellowships

The Berry Career Institute supports many high-quality opportunities. The following list highlights a few of the locations at which Cornell students have interned or had a fellowship recently.

  • Jacobson Group, Chicago, Illinois
  • Teacher Created Materials, Huntington Beach, California
  • ACA Equitable, La Crosse, Wisconsin
  • Torchmark Corporation, McKinney, Texas
  • Nortek Air Solutions, Eden Prairie, Minnesota
  • Arizona Diamondbacks, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Republican National Committee, Washington, D.C.
  • Amazing Edibles, Chicago, Illinois

Beyond the classroom

As an economics and business major, you might get involved in one of the following groups:

  • Cornell Financial Group—provides an innovative, progressive, and informative atmosphere for its members to learn about investing and to put theory into practice.
  • Omicron Delta Epsilon—the Economics Honors Society.
  • Cornell LEADS (Leadership, Entrepreneurship, And Distinctive Service)—a distinctive leadership program in which students examine the qualities of leadership and its social importance by interacting with leaders from all walks of life.

Economics and business careers

Students who pursue the economics and business major often find themselves in a variety of careers. According to a 2016 study by PayScale, average mid-career salaries for these positions can be:

  • Business analyst, $59,048
  • Credit analyst, $48,218
  • Financial analyst, $58,022
  • Fund accounting manager, $80,932
  • Loan officer, $44,619
  • Risk analyst, $61,670

Benefits of One Course At A Time

Cornell's distinctive One Course At A Time curriculum creates unique opportunities that are outside the reach of most undergraduates at other colleges. Since Cornell students focus on one course, and have no competing academic obligations, they can spend  many hours, or possibly the entire day, interacting with distinguished visitors. The department regularly hosts business executives, best-selling authors, and policy experts in the classroom. 

Off-campus studies

One Course At A Time also makes it easier for classes to travel off-campus. The financial management class takes a three-day trip to the Chicago financial district each year. Students in the economics of sports class travel to Dallas to meet with business executives in major sports organizations, including the Dallas Cowboys. In recent years block-long courses have been taught in Shanghai, Buenos Airies, and Tanzania.