BA and BS Economics for Prospective Students - FAQs

What is the difference between a BA and a BS Economics major?

At George Mason University, regardless of whether a student earns a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Economics, the standard bachelor degree requires 120 credit hours (some students may or may not require additional credits/requirements if they add a second major, a concentration, or a minor). Most undergraduate students take an average semester load of 15 credit hours, or five 3-credit courses per semester. 

The BA in Economics is designed for students with a strong interest in the liberal arts. It is appropriate for those who prefer a less quantitative degree program than the BS in Economics and may be especially appropriate for students planning to attend law school, graduate programs in business or public administration, or MA programs in International Development Economics.  Students can pursue a general BA in Economics or a BA with a concentration in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. The BA Economics requires a foreign language within the Mason Core requirements, as well as other liberal arts courses.

The BS in Economics is designed for students who desire a more technical program than the BA, one with a stronger emphasis on economic and quantitative analysis. It is especially appropriate for students who anticipate a career as an economic analyst in government, consulting, trade associations, or other private sector positions that emphasize economic research and analysis. The requirements are also appropriate for students planning postgraduate education in economics or more quantitative business administration programs. Students can pursue a general BS in Economics or a BS with a concentration in Managerial Economics, or Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

You will find more detail and required courses for both the BA and the BS Economics degrees on our Economics department website, and within the Mason Catalog.

What is the difference between a concentration and a minor?

The difference between a concentration and a minor is that concentration coursework relates to one’s major, whereas a minor can be in any other field to accompany a major. A minor is a secondary academic specialization which allows students to expand their academic degree program into other areas.


A concentration focusses on a specific subject or area of study within a major. For example, with the Managerial Economics concentration, students enroll in courses related to managerial economics, economics, and business to accompany their BS Economics degree. All three subjects relate to managerial economics, hence the concentration in that particular area of study. 


George Mason University offers a broad selection of minors. A minor can be in any academic area of study, often students select minors to supplement their major. Economics majors may pursue a minor in business, global systems, finance, data analysis, global affairs, statistics, international comparative politics, etc. 

Adding a minor to a degree plan allows a student to enhance their resume or increase their application’s effectiveness when applying to graduate school.

Student Academic Advising Support

The Economics Advising Team supports First Year and Transfer students from the moment of their acceptance into Mason, during their Mason orientation, and throughout their academic experience.

First Year Students

First year students (students entering Mason directly from high school) will benefit from advising guidance to assist them with planning their first semester course registrations, and determining how AP, IB or Dual Enrollment credit may be applied to Mason Core or major requirements. First year students can determine how AP, IB, or Dual Enrollment credit might be applied to their Mason degree plan at the Mason Admissions Office Transfer Credit website.

Transfer Students

Transfer students (students from other colleges or universities, or students transitioning to Mason from community college) are supported with advising guidance to assist them in navigating how to maximize their transfer credit from other institutions, and to assist with fulfilling degree requirements to ensure students meet anticipated graduation timelines. Transfer students can determine how credits from Virginia Community College System credit might be applied to their Mason degree plan at the Mason Transfer Credit Matrix.

Transfer students may also benefit from resources available at Mason Academic Advising.