The Wall Street Journal had yesterday an op-ed on the fact that a college degree often does not constitute proof of competency. As I have argued before, many students have no business being in college, but the latter graduate them anyway. This waters down the quality signal of a college degree. The response to this situation by various trades has been to certify themselves the competences of prospective tradespeople. Examples are the bar exam, CPA, CFA, actuarial exams, etc. Should the same apply to Economics?
In most US colleges, an Economics major has only two years of study in that field, hardly worth claiming to be an economist. To make matters worse, many Economics programs feed on the rejects fom business schools, who typically failed out because of low grades in basic Mathematics and Statistics. Hardly the best clientele for an Economics degree. While Economics programs typically dismiss more students than most other programs, they still graduate many that do not have required competences.
A test like the GRE subject test would have been a good start, but this has been cancelled in 2001. The American Economic Association has been thinking about devising some criteria to be voluntarily applied to college curricula, but I think something much more drastic would be needed.