What does an Economics Professor do?

wiseGEEK Writer

An economics professor normally has at least a master’s degree or doctorate in the study of economics and tends to spend a lot of time teaching. Most are employed by community colleges or larger universities, and a few may work in untraditional environments, such as online schools. Range of job responsibilities can be diverse, but frequently include teaching, research, publication, student advising, and perhaps sitting on a number of different committees.

In larger universities, economics professors teach fewer classes, and focus instead on conducting research.
In larger universities, economics professors teach fewer classes, and focus instead on conducting research.

The amount of teaching the economics professor does may reflect certain employment environments. Great focus is placed on this in especially community colleges or when professors hold adjunct and lecturer jobs. In such positions, the job may solely focus on the teaching and advising of students. Emphasis on research or publication could be minimal unless the economics professor is pursuing this on his or her own time.

In larger universities, professors tend to teach fewer classes and are often given time to research and publish. Those hired on the tenure track are expected to spend a significant time on private studies that will turn into published books or articles. This doesn’t mean these professors don’t teach, and obviously the economics professor at a larger university is expected to instruct students well in either the basic or finer points of the subject.

Many professors also work with students who are majoring in economics. They may advise them on what courses are required to fulfill a major and make recommendations on electives that will appeal to the students or represent fundamental learning opportunities. When advising graduate students, some economic professors also become part of thesis or dissertation committees that will determine whether students receive an advanced degree.

Additionally, many grad students have opportunities to teach lower level classes or to be directly employed by some economics professors. Professors may supervise teaching or research. They also may determine which students to hire and fire, and try to incorporate methods of teaching or supervision that confer greater learning opportunities to the student.

Most departmental schools have a number of smaller departments or committees. These could decide things like admission policy, and how to improve current curriculum. An economics professor might serve on different committees, some in a temporary and others in a more permanent capacity. Such work could involve attending meetings with other faculty and making decisions for which that committee is specifically responsible.

Economics professors may extend their reach outside of the university setting. When they publish books or articles, what they say could be of tremendous importance to other communities like those of the business and finance worlds. Professors could choose to give lectures to wider audiences or they might be asked to consult with a variety of private groups if their ideas are popular.

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