You know there are a ton of great reasons to major in economics — the job prospects, the intellectual challenge, and the chance to follow in the footsteps of some of the greatest thinkers of all time.
We at Zippia decided to take a look at the data on the 201 institutions of higher learning in the Tar Heel State to determine which programs offer the best career opportunities for economics majors.
After the dust settled, we’re left with this set of the top colleges for economics majors in North Carolina:
If you go to one of these schools, chances are, you’re not surprised. After all, you know how great you have it. But for the rest of you—keep reading and we’ll get to just why these schools have some of the best economics programs the Tar Heel State has to offer.
Economics is, at its core, the study of choice under constraints. When it comes to identifying the best economics schools we wanted to approach the ranking like economics major would, by looking at data on how schools perform and comparing them to one another.
What better way to optimize your choice?
So with that mind, we looked at the following data from the NCES (National Center For Education Statistics) and College Scorecard data from ED.gov to understnad what econonomics department offer the best career opportunities::
It’s hard to argue with a selective school that features economics and produces strong earning potential for your career.
After we had this data, we looked at the 201 institutions of higher learning in North Carolina. Of which, only 24 offer an economics major.
We then ranked each of these schools from 1 to 24 each of the criteria above with 1 being the best in any given criteria.
Next, we averaged the ranks for each school to create an “Economics Quality Index”. The school with the best score on the “Economics Quality Index”, UNC-Chapel Hill, earned the distinction of being the ‘Best College For Economics’ in North Carolina.
Location: Chapel Hill
Total Enrollment: 17,882
UNC took the top ranking in our analysis of the best economics programs in North Carolina. While it didn’t lead the pack in any one category, it scored in the top quartile for every criteria we looked out.
The school of over 17,000 students finished third overall in the state for earnings six years out of college and for its graduation rate. So you can be reasonably assured of not only graduating on time, but of having a successful career after.
Total Enrollment: 6,501
Not only did Duke lose to UNC in basketball this season, but they end up a close second for having the best economics department — with a strong case that they should be number one overall.
Why is that? Because Duke finishes first in 5 of our 8 categories. Unfortunately, it’s the most expensive college in the mix by a long shot.
Total Enrollment: 1,782
Stephen Curry will be happy to find Davidson at this favorite spot — 3.
OK, maybe I tried a bit hard for that pun, but Davidson is a great school for economics majors. It ranks as having the third-highest mean earnings for its graduates 10 years out, and fourth-best for graduates six years out.
Location: Winston Salem
Total Enrollment: 4,812
Wake Forest is an econ nerd’s heaven — it boasts the largest econ department, on a percentage of students basis, of any school in North Carolina.
It also helps that graduates perform well in their careers, out-earning every school (save for Duke) at the 6 and 10 year mark.
Total Enrollment: 12,178
UNC Wilmington ranks as the fifth best economics program in the state thanks to average or above rankings for all the criteria we examined. But overall, the program in the university’s Cameron School of Business is top notch.
One area of improvement would be to help new graduates out earlier in their career, as the sixth year mean earnings is only average.
Total Enrollment: 5,599
Elon scored very well across the board, actually placing second for the size of its economic department and second for the percentage of graduates with great jobs 10 years out.
So why did it finish relatively low in the top 10? It’s pretty expensive, which gives its graduates a fair amount of debt to deal with.
Total Enrollment: 20,625
East Carolina ranks well because of its relative large economics department (so you can hang out with a bunch of other number geeks), and the proportion of its graduates that are still working 10 years out of college.
Total Enrollment: 21,400
UNC Charlotte excels when it comes to offering econ majors a promising career, as its graduates rank in the top third for earnings 6 and 10 years into their careers.
Total Enrollment: 15,840
Appalachian State broke into the top ten due to a low cost of attendance and a high graduation rate for its students. It also has an above-average size economics department for a school of its size.
Total Enrollment: 14,138
And rounding out the top ten is the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
UNC Greensboro ranks well due to its affordability — it has one of the lowest costs and debt burdens of all the schools we looked at in our analysis.