Business Economics & Public Policy

The Business Economics and Public Policy concentration provides skills and insights that are useful to future consultants, private and public managers, lawyers, economists, political scientists, and policy analysts. The concentration combines elements of economic and political analysis in order to understand the interactions between markets and government activity (public policy and management), political processes (political economy), as well as risk management. Students concentrating in BEPP go on to positions in government, in the private sector (particularly consulting and investment banking) and in the not-for-profit sector. The concentration also provides a firm base for graduate study in law, economics, public policy, and political science.

Students can either take a general program of four BEPP courses or can follow a designated track within the BEPP concentration providing a more focused program in one of three major disciplines: business economics, insurance and risk management, or public policy.

Concentration Advisor

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Is there a particular course that can help determine if this concentration is a good fit?

The core required courses are a great choice. If you are interested in public policy, BEPP 201: Introduction to Business Economics and Public Policy studies the theory and practice behind the major issues in American public policy. If you are interested in business, BEPP 284: Game Theory for Business is an applied course that focuses on game theory, which is a sophisticated tool kit used in a wide range of social sciences, including the study of firm strategy and government regulation. If you are interested in insurance and risk management, BEPP 305: Risk Management provides you with a detailed overview of the field.

What qualities/skills are good to have when going into this concentration?

This concentration is quite analytical, so it would be ideal for somebody who likes to think about problems in a rigorous, methodical way.

What skills or knowledge will students gain from this concentration?

Students learn how to perform economic analyzes, how to analyze complex data from markets and social experiments, and what the major issues in certain areas of business and policy are today.

Economic analysis uses basic principles and models to solve business and policy problems. Economists working for the government and regulators use economic analysis to design policies that advance the common good. Economists working in firms use economic analysis to predict how these policies influence their firms, and how to best react to them. BEPP 201 and BEPP 284 cover the theory for public policy and firm strategy, and BEPP 220: Behavioral Economics covers how to integrate psychology into economic analysis.

Economics also gives students a solid foundation complex data analysis, placing an emphasis on understanding naturally occurring, observational data and in predicting the effects of changes in a market. For example, major online companies typically analyze a combination of experimental data and observational consumer data on browsing and purchase behavior. These companies often employ economists because of their strong training in the analysis of observational consumer data and prediction of consumer responses to changes in company policies. These techniques are covered in BEPP 280.

Finally, the BEPP concentration gets students up to speed with the latest research and most important issues in particular areas. BEPP 201 covers American economic policy, BEPP 203 covers the economics of developing countries, and BEPP 263 covers environmental and energy economics.

What careers will business economics and public policy prepare me for?

BEPP students often go on to work in business and finance, in consulting, in government, and, increasingly, in the technology industry:

  • In finance, major investment banks have economics teams that analyze macroeconomic trends and microeconomic issues in labor markets and particular industries. Smaller financial institutions and hedge funds often have in-house economists doing similar work. Economics is useful in other positions in finance, such as active investing.
  • In consulting, economics students are valued due to their knowledge of firm strategy and strong analytical skills.
  • In government, economists work on both domestic and international policy issues.
  • In the tech industry, all major companies hire teams of economists. These economists analyze data, solve business problems, set prices, design markets, and interact with regulators. The chief data scientists of several major companies are economists, because economics training is particularly useful in the analysis of data on social phenomena and markets.

Student Profile: Sean Egan

1434_seanegan2Why did you choose this concentration?

I chose the BEPP concentration because the classes help give me an understanding of the policies and programs that are present in our communities, debated in political forums, and impact our lives. Understanding these policies and programs has helped me develop informed opinions on policy based on research and results.

What was your favorite course in this concentration and why?

I enjoyed BEPP 201 because the course gave a broad overview of how experts in the field approach policy questions and how the effectiveness of policy is measured or estimated.

What course did you choose to take first in this concentration and why?

I took BEPP 201 first because it was suggested, as it gives a broad overview to the concentration.

What advice would you give to a student who is considering this concentration?

The BEPP concentration classes are nothing like BEPP 250. The concentration classes offer insight into the thought process of policy makers and help you understand their intended impacts on the broader economy from a different perspective. An understanding of how policy is formulated is key to understanding the role government plays in business.

Do you have a second concentration? If so, what is it and why?

I also concentrate in finance. BEPP complements finance well because BEPP offers a different perspective and understanding for the rational behind things like tax policy and demonstrates how policy, such as the ACA or Cap and Trade practices, can vastly change the future of an industry. BEPP can help a business student understand an industry beyond a financial model.

Student Profile: Kelechi Agalaba

kelechi agalabaWhy did you choose this concentration?

I chose to concentrate in Insurance & Risk Management* because I believe that the ability to identify pertinent risks and manage them efficiently to reduce exposure to negative outcomes is crucial to the long-run success of a business. Risk and the uncertainty of consequences is and always will be a constant factor for any corporation, and I wanted to delve more into the subject to learn about how organizations handle this concern.

What was your favorite course in this concentration and why?

My favorite course was BEPP 261: Risk Analysis and Environmental Management. The course goes over the three facets of risk: analysis, perception, and management. I particularly enjoyed this class because we learned about past risk policy tools, both effective and ineffective, and were exposed to real-world risk scenarios and issue.

What course did you choose to take first in this concentration and why?

The first course I took was OPIM 290: Decision Processes, which I chose because I was intrigued by the subject matter. The course goes over the psychology of how people make various decisions, and I thought that this would tie in with my marketing concentration.

What advice would you give to a student who is considering this concentration?

I would advise fellow students to pursue this concentration if they would like to learn more about risk analysis and desire a well-rounded course load that includes finance, operations, and management.

Do you have a second concentration? If so, what is it and why?

My second concentration is Marketing. I chose to concentrate in marketing because of my interest in the brand-management abilities of companies. I have always enjoyed learning about how marketers create personal identities for their products, and what strategies are used to sway consumers to recognize and form a relationship with a product’s brand image.

What concentration-related skills have you used during internships or other work experiences?

My concentration in Risk Management has definitely been utilized during my various past internships. My work experience has required me to engage in data compilation and analysis, represent data graphically or in a concise and understandable manner, and generate reports. I have also learned to be comfortable taking necessary risks while completing assigned projects and tasks.


* As of 2017, the Insurance & Risk Management concentration has been merged into the Business Economics and Public Policy concentration.