What Is Business Economics?

The Definition of Business Economics

What is business economics? Business economics is the application of economics principles to businesses in the real world. Introductory business economics uses economic theory and basic math to analyze consumers, companies and countries. The practical benefit of such studies is knowledge that can be applied to improve business results outside of the classroom. 

How Economics is Typically Taught

Although there are a number of schools that teach business economics, the vast majority of universities and colleges are teaching the more theoretical Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and Principles of Economics courses to their students.

In these schools, most students study microeconomics and macroeconomics in a typical lecture setting, watching their instructors present powerpoint slides at the front of the classroom. Using this lecture format, instructors present economic theory and some illustrative business or policy choices that decision makers face.

Often, the university economics department will standardize presentation formats for introductory classes.  These classes tend to be large with many lectures at the larger schools exceeding 300 students.  In these lectures, it is difficult for instructors, who usually have little practical business experience, to provide meaningful context to students using their standardized PowerPoint presentations in classrooms.*

empty economics classroom

Business Economics At Harvard University

Moving out of the traditional classroom described above, Harvard’s online extension school offers a Business Economics certificate that includes the traditional university Microeconomics and Principles of Economic courses. A minimum “B” grade is required in four courses at a cost of $11,600.

Another example of a business-oriented online economics course is Harvard Business School’s Economics for Managers.  This single course costs $1,600 USD.

The course consists of approximately 60 hours of material delivered over an eight-week period, in a  “synchronous learning” format.  Students complete the coursework on their own time but must meet regular deadlines. 
Harvard Extension School Shield

Harvard Extension School Shield

What Is Taught in Business Economics and Managerial Economics Courses

Continuing with the Harvard Economics for Managers example, the course covers:

  • Developing effective pricing strategies
  • Benchmarking costs compared to competitors through relative cost analysis
  • Applying conjoint analysis to understand what features customers value most
  • Understanding the power of network effects to drive demand
  • Identifying sources of competitive advantage through differentiation
economics students in large classroom

Practical Business Skills for Employees, Entrepreneurs and Students

Econblox, in comparison, segments its content into a Consumers and Companies course, a Countries course, and a networking and career development practicum.  Course topics and practical training address a wider audience of motivated employees, entrepreneurs, executives, and students who want to develop essential basic business skills. These courses take micro and macroeconomic theories outside the classroom, applying them in the real world.

  • Market forces, supply, demand, and equilibrium
  • Consumer choice, behavior, and underlying drivers
  • Factors affecting pricing
  • Optimizing pricing
  • Factors affecting pricing
  • Producer behavior
  • Factors affecting pricing
  • Costs of production
  • Labor markets and hiring decisions
  • Taxes
  • Market structures and competition
Business economics in aerospace

The Econblox Business Economics - Countries course covers:

  • Measuring the economy
  • Time value of money
  • Unemployment
  • Inflation, price levels and growth
  • Interest rates and bond prices
  • Money, banking and monetary policy
  • Government spending and taxation
  • International trade and currencies

The practicum course includes online learning and counseling that applies to the students’ industry interests and the practical aspects of business networking.

All of the topics covered by these courses are delivered using short, professionally-produced animations and video.  Students learn at their own pace. This contrasts with either live synchronous video learning or long-form lecture-capture videos, typically offered by most online economics and business economics courses.

Business Economics Certifications

Recognizing that many of the economic theories taught to undergraduates could be very profitable in their Executive Education Schools, universities began offering executives premium-priced courses such as “Managerial Economics” courses and increasingly, “Business Economics” courses. 

Designed for managers at larger corporations with big budgets, many of these Executive Education certificate courses offer short training sessions of two to three days at a cost that is unaffordable for most. For example, such courses cost $3,000 to $5,000 USD at MIT.

In contrast, Econblox’ Business Economics Specialist accreditation courses are built for a wide range of entrepreneurs, executives, employees and students that want lower costs. The three course BESt™ package is offered at an all-in price of $995 USD - an average cost of about $333 per course.

Why University Economics Courses Are So Expensive

Whether they are internationally acclaimed schools such as Harvard, Stanford and MIT or mainstream universities, all these schools are constrained by high fixed costs and their need to not cannibalize their most profitable products, including Executive Education.

Stanford’s 2019-20 operating budget of $6.8 billion USD illustrates one extreme of the U.S. experience. Most of Stanford’s costs are fixed or semi-fixed. Salaries and benefits account for 62% of the school’s annual operating budget. That works out to an astonishing $210,000 of annual salaries/benefits for each of Stanford’s 20,000 students

University courses are expensive

Another North American example is the University of Toronto, a world-class university with an annual budget of $2.77 billion CAD.   According to the school’s 2019-20 operating budget, 59% of the budget is consumed by faculty and staff salaries/benefits.  At this university, that represents an annual cost of $20,400 for each of its approximately 80,000 full-time equivalent students.

Stanford, Harvard, and MIT are great brands but most people do not have the money, time or the minimum qualifications to attend these schools, including their online versions. 

These wealthy schools have numerous sources of income, in addition to tuition, nevertheless it is simple to see why these schools have such high tuition costs for both their traditional and online courses.  

The high cost/high price strategy contrasts with Econblox’ delivery model which deploys technology and professional short videos to realize the lowest fixed costs possible.  Staff support is organized to meet individual student needs and development, not the content delivery itself.

Choosing the Best Business Economics Course for You

To choose the best business economics course, you need to evaluate what you want to achieve from the course.  If you are seeking a big brand certificate, meet the school requirements, have completed the application, and you have few budget and time constraints, you should consider the traditional school or executive learning experience. 

If you do not have such resources and want to quickly leverage business skills to advance your emerging career, you should consider a learning program like Econblox’ Business Economics Specialist program.  The program emphasizes building practical business skills that convert into better business results, better jobs, and higher salaries.

*based on Toteflix Inc. surveys and interactions with thousands of educators, administrators and students between 2010 and 2020.