Major Discrepancies

The results are in, and shockingly, Economics is still the most popular major at Claremont McKenna College. In 2010, 43.92% of the graduating seniors’ majors included Economics.[*] Government came in a distant second place, capturing 16.22% of the popular vote. Together, the two categories claim 60.14% of graduates. Freshman Marco Scola could not believe it: “There are other majors besides Economics? Will they still help me get a job in investment banking?”

As the time to register for fall classes is upon us, students in high pursuit of the perfect major will have to decide whether to take the well-worn and popular route of Economics or branch out. Throughout our childhood, teachers, parents, and D.A.R.E commercials told us not to blindly follow popular trends. On the other hand, there is usually a reason why something is popular. Political analysts understand that if a majority of people vote a certain way, they normally have good reason for doing so. Likewise, economists understand that there are explicit reasons why a product is in high demand. That being said, just because a lot of people have good reason to drive on I-10 at rush hour does not suggest that the experience is a good idea. But enough analogies, let’s look at the facts:

If you go to CMC, chances are that you’re going to major in Economics. Interestingly, the major is also male-dominated. According to the Registrar’s office, last year, 62 men received a degree in Economics as compared with 24 women. Government is also male dominated. The number of men who pursued Government was almost double the number of women who chose the major.  Women, however, make up a majority of the two majors that tie for third.

International Relations and Psychology had an equal number of graduates last year (12.84%). What about dual and double majors? Government and Psychology, interestingly, each had more dual than single major grads. For Economics and International Relations, this is not the case. Leadership edges out Finance for most popular sequence, 33 – 28, with Ethics (2) ironically in third.

The college's mission statement claims it is still a liberal arts college - and for good reason. Nationwide, Physics/Math and Philosophy/Religion majors score on average slightly better on the LSAT, according to a study by Michael Nieswiadomy, a professor of economics at the University of North Texas - even though 4 times as many economics majors take the test. Data from the last five years of testing shows that Physics and Math majors averaged higher scores than Economics majors on the GMAT as well.[†]


The facts remain clear.  Claremont McKenna College is overwhelmingly populated with Economics and Government majors. Although the administration seems reluctant to formally change the name to the "Kravis Day Trade School for Economists and People Who Want to Study Other Things Good Too," the administration maintains that the Economics department is simply too big too fail.

So when you stop in for the required meeting with your academic advisor to get next semester’s classes approved, try to diversify, and think seriously.  Consider taking only 3 Econ courses.


[*] Percentage of all people that received a single, dual, or double majors in Economics, Economics-Accounting, Economics and Engineering, EEP, and PPE