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Commerce degree with computer science or math/statistics? (1 Viewer)

blyatman

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As long as your undergrad degree is somewhat related, it doesn't really matter all that much. A math major would cover most bases. Very few jobs require a masters, because most coursework masters degrees in Australia are pretty useless. Either way, if you do need it, getting into a masters degree isn't hard.
 

blyatman

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Haha nah I only diss the postgrad aspect of Aus uni's. In regards to an Aus master's being useless: it's not a blanket statement and depends on the context, e.g. to become a registered psychologist, you need a master's in psychology, same with being a registered architect. However, master's degrees in science and engineering are generally pretty useless; they're more geared towards those who don't have a background in engineering, rather than for those who want to specialise in a particular field, so it's more suitable for say, a science graduate who wants to become an engineer. At USYD, the coursework master's students sat in the same lectures and tutes as the undergrad students - literally the only thing different was their course code under which they enrolled. Generally speaking, graduating with honours for Eng/Sci is considered sufficient.
 

sida1049

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You studied economics but dropped it, correct? May I ask why and what was it like before you dropped? How similar/different is it to HSC economies if you took it? I was considering majoring in economics or finance within my Commerce degree (of course, too early to tell but I already don't see myself studying marketing/administration/HR, leaving me with the more quantitative majors).
I dropped economics due to administrative reasons. When I first enrolled into uni I was under B. Sci (Adv Maths)/B. Arts, and I wanted to triple major in maths, stats and economics. Since I was going for the advanced "pre-honours" economics stream at USYD, I had to take more classes, and 2.5 years into the degree, I realised that to finish my triple major, I would need to exceed the number of credit points I usually would have, and USYD is very very strict about that (apparently it causes issues with CSP). Had this not been an issue, I would have continued. In fact, I was only two courses short of an economics major! I've technically done enough economics here to amount to an economics minor, but due to more technicalities, I can't make it official (and I wouldn't want to - I'm going for an IT/comp sci minor now).

Real university/academic economics is very different to HSC economics. HSC economics is very art-sy, essay-based, handwavy and not rigorous. Economics at university, especially at the academic level, feels more like an applied mathematics discipline (or applied statistics, should you study econometrics). At the university level, economics students study economic models. One of the first models you will see in first year is the Solow-Swan model, which as you can see, is a simple equation and studied through basic calculus. Since I'm a maths person, I personally found decision theory and game theory to be the most interesting part of economics, especially at an advanced level, particularly areas like mechanism design, auction theory and social choice. USYD offers a "pre-honours" stream for second and third year economics, where the courses are much more interesting, has significantly more mathematical rigour and is designed to prepare students for economics honours.

However, apart from decision/game theory, I personally lost some interest in economics. Firsty, economics isn't actually that useful for employment. You'll quickly realise that these models are often very theoretical/academic with limited applications to the real-world, and that often the job of an economist is to look at data using basic statistical tools, which is far less exciting than academic economics. I'd even argue that maths skills are much more sought-after in the job market than economics skills. Also, unless if you're studying economics at an advanced level, the content can feel dry. The maths in economics is very simple in first and second year (and often in third year too) because many students who enter into university economics simply aren't ready for maths. For this reason, HSC economics is a very poor representation of real economics.

I realised after first year that I'm simply way more interested in maths, for which my interest have only grown over the years, so I'm pursuing a career in that instead.

Also, notice that I studied economics under B. Arts rather than B. Economics or B. Commerce. I did this for a very good reason: I wanted to avoid the boring compulsory professional development and business units (particularly that of commerce). Not only would they be an absolute chore for me to study, but also they would take up space in my degree that I could instead spend on courses that are far more interesting for me. It sounds like this might be relevant for you too, so this is definitely something you should factor into your decision.

Data science is indeed the field that appeals to me so far, though I'm concerned if undergraduate degrees is enough as I heard Data Scientists usually hold Master's Degrees.... bit too early for me to think about though but just a drawback I've considered so far.

I would like to avoid teaching though as much as I can, it doesn't really appeal to me.
I have friends who studied mathematics/statistics/comp sci in an undergrad degree, and have job offers in data analysis roles.

I suspect the reason why many data scientists have masters degrees is simply because that undergraduate degrees for data science didn't exist for them as an undergrad, or that they switched to data science after undergrad (this is the case for someone I know, who studied psychology in undergrad before switching to data science after).

Regardless, if data science is something that appeals to you, computer science and statistics are relevant majors. Mathematics majors are also often sought after by data science roles. If you are unsure and you can only stick with one science major, maths is still a good bet (if you haven't decided yet), simply because it's easier for a mathematician to (self-)study comp sci or statistics, than the other way around.
 
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Drdusk

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There's actually a degree now at UNSW called Bachelor of Data Science and Decisions.

I would've actually done data science but they wouldn't let me combine it with Physics.
 
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TeheeCat

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As long as your undergrad degree is somewhat related, it doesn't really matter all that much. A math major would cover most bases. Very few jobs require a masters, because most coursework masters degrees in Australia are pretty useless. Either way, if you do need it, getting into a masters degree isn't hard.
Yup, I decided to pursue a math major. I also thought it would be better to go into the industry after earning my bachelor's degree and if I needed additional qualifications, then I would go pursue Master's degree. My main priority is to get a job after graduating from uni after all.


Real university/academic economics is very different to HSC economics. HSC economics is very art-sy, essay-based, handwavy and not rigorous. Economics at university, especially at the academic level, feels more like an applied mathematics discipline (or applied statistics, should you study econometrics). At the university level, economics students study economic models. One of the first models you will see in first year is the Solow-Swan model, which as you can see, is a simple equation and studied through basic calculus. Since I'm a maths person, I personally found decision theory and game theory to be the most interesting part of economics, especially at an advanced level, particularly areas like mechanism design, auction theory and social choice. USYD offers a "pre-honours" stream for second and third year economics, where the courses are much more interesting, has significantly more mathematical rigour and is designed to prepare students for economics honours.

However, apart from decision/game theory, I personally lost some interest in economics. Firsty, economics isn't actually that useful for employment. You'll quickly realise that these models are often very theoretical/academic with limited applications to the real-world, and that often the job of an economist is to look at data using basic statistical tools, which is far less exciting than academic economics. I'd even argue that maths skills are much more sought-after in the job market than economics skills. Also, unless if you're studying economics at an advanced level, the content can feel dry. The maths in economics is very simple in first and second year (and often in third year too) because many students who enter into university economics simply aren't ready for maths. For this reason, HSC economics is a very poor representation of real economics.

I realised after first year that I'm simply way more interested in maths, for which my interest have only grown over the years, so I'm pursuing a career in that instead.

Also, notice that I studied economics under B. Arts rather than B. Economics or B. Commerce. I did this for a very good reason: I wanted to avoid the boring compulsory professional development and business units (particularly that of commerce). Not only would they be an absolute chore for me to study, but also they would take up space in my degree that I could instead spend on courses that are far more interesting for me. It sounds like this might be relevant for you too, so this is definitely something you should factor into your decision.
Thank you again for your detail insights! I had no idea economics at university levels was really different (I figured it would be more mathematically based due to models, but that it isn't too much of a problem for me since I lean more on the mathematical side as well).

I'm more curious about @bolded part however: This was a path I never considered even once because I just can't see myself studying under the subjects offered by the Arts faculty (the political/historical stuff is something I really want to avoid), and the structure of one confuses me quite a lot since it's so... broad and overwhelming with lots of choices available.

Are there compulsory units for undertaking Bachelor of Arts? If so, what are they (again, I just really want to avoid the historical/political subjects!).


There's actually a degree now at UNSW called Bachelor of Data Science and Decisions.

I would've actually done data science but they wouldn't let me combine it with Physics.
I've noticed that degree too, along with Business Analytics degree offered by UTS/MACQ but I don't want to consider them especially since they are fairly new courses. Also there's that possibility that along the way, I may discover that Data Science isn't for me and I want to avoid limiting my career options if that ever happens. I know people change university courses all the time but as much as possible, I would prefer to avoid that. As such, I've decided to pursue commerce/math degree since they've been around longer + wider career opportunities available hopefully.
 

sida1049

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I'm more curious about @bolded part however: This was a path I never considered even once because I just can't see myself studying under the subjects offered by the Arts faculty (the political/historical stuff is something I really want to avoid), and the structure of one confuses me quite a lot since it's so... broad and overwhelming with lots of choices available.

Are there compulsory units for undertaking Bachelor of Arts? If so, what are they (again, I just really want to avoid the historical/political subjects!).
Back when I did B. Sci/B. Arts, my Arts degree had no compulsory units at all! This meant I could literally take whatever I want to my hearts content, and I could avoid anything in Arts I wasn't interested in without repercussions. For example, I took the advantage of my Arts degree to study Philosophy of Mathematics, which would be harder to fit into any other degree. The only thing you need to graduate in B. Arts at USYD is to (a) complete an Arts major (e.g. economics), (b) complete an additional minor or major, and (c) do sufficiently many Arts units. Nowadays, there is (d) an additional requirement of 12 credit points of OLE units, however from what I've heard they are a bludge and pretty easy to do (I'm also sure there are maths/stats/economics/philosophy OLE units, so that helps).

If you are considering an Arts degree, have a look at the list of subject areas and units. It's large and you have many to choose from. Apart from eocnomics, since you're a maths person, you can consider various units from philosophy (e.g. Philosophy of Mathematics, Nonclassical Logic, Logic and Proof, Logic and Computation, Democracy and Voting, Probability and Decision Theory), econometrics (which is statistics applied to economic data), and possibly even linguistics, which has applications in computer science. You don't have to do anything political nor historical at all.

[I should probably mention here that one weird quirk about USYD philosophical logic courses is that they are offered in rotations each year. For example, philosophy of maths was offered last year but not this year, while logic and proof was not offered last year but offered this year. It might have something to do with a shortage of philosophers of logic, dunno.]

That said, if your main pursuit is mathematics, then B. Science is the best way to go. Assuming you go to a suitable university, you could possibly get a second comp sci or statistics major/minor in your Science degree. (Additionally at USYD, you can combine it with an advanced studies degree to take a second major from outside the Science faculty, e.g. economics. If you want to do this at another uni, you'd need to combine B. Sci with a suitable degree.)
 

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