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Your job interviews would likely involve some technical questions, such as: ‘How would you value stocks like Uber or Tesla, which have hardly made any profit?’ ‘How would assets with negative BETAs help your client's investment portfolio?’ ‘Think emails and online videos; Why are they provided free of charge?’ ‘When should a company start charging its customers?’ ‘How would a hike in Ireland's tax rate affect iPhone’s supply chain?’ ‘Why is the fertility rate in Hong Kong lowest in the world?’ ‘Why are interest rates so low and how are asset prices being affected?’ CUHK Economics equips you with the mindset, theoretical frameworks and quantitative skills to answer these questions. We want you to shine in interviews!

Seeing the World through the Lens of Economics

In news media, we encounter headlines related to economic issues every day. The importance and relevance of economics led Michelle Chan (2017 graduate) to pursue an economics major. ‘I was particularly interested in learning about the economic theories and their daily applications,’ she recalled. The Economics programme at CUHK caught her eye as economics has been a signature subject at CUHK since 1963. In 2022, CUHK was ranked 47th in the world in the field of Economics and Econometrics by QS World University Rankings. In RAE2020, CUHK Economics was regarded by some as being the best in Hong Kong.

While most Hong Kong universities have their economics departments housed within business schools, CUHK Economics belongs to the Faculty of Social Science. ‘Economics is by nature a science that analyses human behaviours within economic settings. Business is just one area of application in economics. Economics can be applied to studying issues of fertility, environment, poverty, health, government policy, education, gender inequality, digital revolution, etc. At CUHK, students will find a wide variety of courses that would arouse their curiosity,’ said Prof. Sunny Kwong, chairman of the Department of Economics.

The Economics major programme provides rigorous training on using economic theories and statistical tools to analyse economic issues. Students will acquire techniques, some of which at the cutting edge of the science, to analyze a variety of issues. The aim is to discover new results that hitherto laid hidden in datasets. ‘This mindset—to discover new facts from available data— is central in the study of economics. This is also the motto that we want our students to be imbued with,’ said Professor Kwong.

When asked what she got out of the programme, Michelle said it taught her how to take data seriously. ‘I no longer take figures, numbers, statistics and estimates at their face value. Instead, I was encouraged to explore the meanings behind them. This training makes me feel more comfortable and eager to reveal the hidden messages behind the data. I realize that the use of data to support my arguments and hypotheses is very important.’

To cater to each student’s career aspiration, a maximum of two of the following five concentration areas can be selected:

  • Economic Theory—ideal for those who aspire to becoming an academic economist
  • Financial Economics—for those who would like to work in the finance industry
  • Business Economics—for students interested in the use of economics in business decisions
  • Chinese Economy—the Department boasts a unique team of researchers on the Chinese Economy that is second to none in the world
  • Data Analytics—for students interested in the handling, modelling and analysing of big data

‘We offer a wide range of courses, workshops, seminars, and conferences to enhance our students’ exposure and understanding of various issues. Distinguished scholars worldwide are regularly invited to give lectures, thereby allowing our students to have a chance to meet and interact with them,’ said Professor Kwong.

Michelle has made good use of the many internship and exchange opportunities available. The Census and Statistics Department of the HKSAR Government offers internships exclusively to CUHK economics majors. Dedicated career advice is available at all times. The programme is also in partnership with three prestigious European universities—Utrecht University in the Netherlands, Universität Mannheim in Germany and University of Bath in the UK—in organizing exchange programmes. Together with opportunities by CUHK at large, about a quarter of our students have made at least one overseas trip for exchange studies in recent years.

Like Michelle, students of the Economics programme are typically interested in examining human behaviours and social phenomena. They are committed to learning a coherent and rigorous analytical framework needed for such analyses. To recognize those admitted students with outstanding academic and interview performance, the Department has established admission scholarships for them.

The programme admits around 65 students locally and 30 students from around the world every year. ‘A good proportion of our students goes on to postgraduate studies in economics. Some directly go to PhD programmes in economics in the US and elsewhere. A sizable number of students go to the banking and finance industry. We also have students working in other fields such as property and asset management, shipping, policy think tanks, the government, accounting, law, education, etc. The variety of jobs is vast,’ said Professor Kwong.

Michelle has this insider’s advice to offer: ‘This programme can be easy or hard, depending on your drive to learn and desire to achieve excellence. Most importantly, think about what you want to get out of the programme. Four years of university life is short compared to an entire life, but big changes usually occur in those four years. Since everyone’s need is different, decide for yourself your unique reason to become a part of us.’

Published: Summer 2017
Last Updated: Summer 2022