For any enterprise to run its operations efficiently and maximise revenue or profits, it is crucial those driving these metrics to have a keen understanding of its internal functioning as well as the environment it operates in. Economics, Management and Finance (EMF) graduates have rigorous training in doing just that, and this gives them a competitive edge, making them highly sought after by eminent employers.
Courses structures and combinations: Economics, management and finance are deeply interconnected areas of study. That is why high-quality undergraduate programmes that specialise in one of them will also tend to offer students the option to choose some electives, and thus acquire skills, in at least one of the other two. In fact, hybrid, or dual-degree, programmes such as economics and finance, economics and management, business economics and accounting and finance, are becoming increasingly popular due to their multi-disciplinary nature, a programme characteristic that is not the need of the hour but is also very exciting for students.
Not only do students have the option to learn the core aspects of one of these particular fields, including mathematics, statistics, and accounting, but they can choose from diverse electives like econometrics, microeconomics, macroeconomics, corporate finance, asset pricing, valuation, marketing, human resource management, e-business and psychology. This opportunity to gain substantial knowledge in an array of fields is making these hybrid programmes a preferred choice, giving the conventional Bachelor’s (BA/BSc) degree programmes in economics, commerce and business administration a run for their money.
A dual specialisation also works well where school-leaving students are not certain about the choice between two disciplines or have more than one subject they are passionate about. Exposing themselves to multiple disciplines at the undergraduate level often helps them make an informed decision with regards to specialising in one or the other for postgraduate study or work.
Study destinations: Higher education institutions in India, as well as abroad, offer programmes combining economics, management and finance. Some of the top international names in the field are Harvard, Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Chicago and Yale in the US, and The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Cambridge and Oxford in the UK, and their graduates have been some of the finest minds in these fields.
In India, there are some prominent institutions that offer EMF programmes, including University of Delhi, University of Calcutta and University of Mumbai. Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) have also launched multiple offerings in the EMF domain. While these schools are top-ranked within the Indian education spectrum, they are often found lacking when compared against international standards. Some private sector institutions have tried to plug this gap in the last decade by collaborating with leading international players, and enjoy substantial prestige and value as a result.
Career outlook: While the focus on experiential learning in EMF courses holds a deep pull, the strongest argument in favour of these disciplines for students, as well as parents, is still arguably the host of career options in these domains, most of them offering above-average pay.
These careers include management consulting, entrepreneurship, research (economic, financial or market) and academia, which cut across these disciplines. For economics and finance graduates, there are plenty of technical opportunities, such as in actuarial science, investment banking, private equity, public policy, development work, central banking and financial services. Finance and management graduates are widely sought in strategy, corporate finance, audit and accounting, while economics and management graduates pursue successful careers in marketing, human resource, business analytics and operations, to name but a few paths.
EMF graduates, owing to their extensive quantitative as well as qualitative training, are also in great demand in the rapidly booming fields of data science, business analytics and related areas. The roles in these areas involve the application of statistical and programming knowledge to drive better decision-making, and it is in this latter art that EMF graduates tend to have an edge. Needless to add, EMF knowledge also equips students peerlessly for entrepreneurship.
In sum, therefore, EMF graduates enjoy a wide gamut of career choices, as well as a fairly future-proof skill-set, keeping pace with the industry demand, thus making these discipline ever more popular choices for undergraduate study.
(Jitin Chadha, Founder and Director, Indian School of Business and Finance)