Economics offers a flexible yet consistent framework for understanding key issues facing the economy and society—from globalization of international trade and finance to global warming. The major and minor in economics offer students an opportunity to learn the key elements of this framework and provide them with ample opportunities to apply it to a wide range of key economic issues. The Ph.D. program enriches the intellectual community in economics with opportunities for undergraduates to take advanced courses not typically available to undergraduate majors.
Since it first attempted to explain the growth and wealth of nations more than two hundred years ago, economics has evolved into a modern social science that combines a coherent analytical framework with careful analysis of information to understand how economies work and develop, and the consequences of economic policies and policy change. It applies the basic logic of individual choice and market forces to explore the tradeoffs inherent in addressing many of the key concerns on today’s agenda: ensuring rising living standards in developed and developing countries, assessing the impacts of international trade, and identifying the wisest use of scarce environmental resources, among many others.
The major in economics builds on the expertise the student develops in the introductory courses. It combines a solid background in the core of economic analysis with a wide range of applied courses that investigate fields of economics and important topics. The capstone experience, honors program, internships and study abroad offer opportunities for majors to acquire research experience, apply economics in government or business and deepen their understanding of economic issues.
The economics major provides skills that are highly valued in a number of careers and graduate programs. The economics major emphasizes developing skills of careful thinking and analysis in combination with the application of those skills in practical settings. Law schools welcome the background economics provides in logical thinking. Government agencies and graduate programs in public policy or economics appreciate the systematic approach to understanding the economy offered by economics. Business schools and businesses find the facility the economics major acquires in analytical thinking and quantitative methods of analysis attractive.
Study Abroad and Internships
A number of study-abroad programs and internships offer important opportunities for students in economics. Each year, a select group of juniors majoring in economics attend the prestigious London School of Economics for a full year of study. Many majors take advantage of study-abroad opportunities elsewhere as well. Economics majors receive major credit for participation in the London Internship program, which places students in government or business internships in London; the Washington Center program, which places students in internships designed to acquaint them with policy making at the federal level; and the Washington Semester program. Other internships can be arranged through the Clark Internship Office under ECON298. They offer students an opportunity to apply economic analysis in governmental, social service, or business settings. Although internships are taken for Clark credit, they do not count towards the 10 required courses in the major. Your faculty adviser can provide you with the departmental guidelines for internships in economics.
The requirements for the major include 13 courses: five required core courses in quantitative methods and economic theory; five elective courses in economics; and three related courses in fields outside of economics (one of which is to be in mathematics). A course including a capstone experience must be taken during the senior year. Majors must have a grade-point average of 2.0 for the 10 required economics courses, and a grade of no lower than C- in the five core courses.
Upon declaring the major, students also choose an adviser from among the economics faculty. Students are encouraged to use their initial meetings with their adviser to develop a program that meets their interests and goals. For example, a student concerned about environmental change and developing countries may combine course work in Environmental Economics (ECON 157 or ECON 257 ) with Population Economics (ECON 247 ) and Economic Development (ECON 128 or ECON 228 ). Students planning on graduate work in economics should consult their adviser early on. Graduate work in economics demands strong mathematical skills, including calculus and other courses in math.
The Undergraduate Economics Handbook provides many detailed suggestions on how students can tailor their major to their interests and career goals including a worksheet for planning the program in the major.
The five core courses provide students with a common language and a common set of skills that ensure preparation for study of the subfields of economics in the elective courses. They also enhance the student’s understanding of economic analysis. ECON 010 provides an introduction to the economic way of thinking using a comparative approach. First-year students may elect a first-year seminar (ECON 100 ) that provides an in-depth look into key economic issues, such as international economic relations or population, in place of ECON 010 . Either of these courses is the prerequisite for all 100-level courses and ECON 011 . ECON 011 provides an overview of the key analytical tools of economics and is the prerequisite for 200-level courses.
Courses in intermediate microeconomics (ECON 205 ) and intermediate macroeconomics (ECON 206 ) deepen the major’s understanding of the economic analysis of individual and firm choices, markets, and the economy as a whole. Course work in statistical analysis (ECON 160 ) acquaints students with how information can be used to confront hypotheses suggested by basic economic analysis. A minimum grade of C- must be earned in each of the required core courses.
The five economics electives and the three related courses provide the student with the opportunity to pursue more focused interests within the major. Courses at the 100-level, generally provide students with an in-depth look at economic institutions and policies. Courses at the 200 level, which require completion of ECON 011 , provide a more comprehensive introduction to the economic literature of an area. Economics majors are required to take at least three of their electives at the 200 level.
Elective offerings include such fields as international trade and finance, economic development, monetary economics and labor, as well as topical courses in areas such as environmental economics, the economics of population, economic history and the economics of sport.
Students are encouraged to group their electives around their own particular interests. Brochures available from the department provide detailed suggestions on the appropriate economics electives and related courses for students with interests in international economics, development and the environment.
Economics majors must complete three courses that are offered outside of the economics department, which are related to the goals of the economics major. Some courses that will satisfy the related course requirement include management courses in accounting, finance, management and information systems (MIS) and operations management, computer-science courses, some courses in economic geography, and mathematics above the level of introductory calculus.
Other courses can meet this requirement provided they complement the program a student has developed. For example, many courses in international development would provide background for a student who has taken Economic Development (ECON 128 or ECON 228 ), or a student with an interest in economic policy may want to take additional courses in government. The departmental faculty adviser can provide suggestions for related courses of this type.
At least one mathematics course at the level of pre-calculus (MATH 119 ) or calculus MATH 120 or MATH 124 ) is required. Calculus is recommended for all majors.
A capstone course, taken during the student’s senior year is required. This offers an opportunity to draw upon the skills and background acquired during the previous years of study. The capstone courses allow students to acquire in-depth knowledge of a topic of interest using a combination of economic analysis and empirical research. The capstone course counts as one of the five economics electives.
There are three ways of meeting the capstone requirement:
- Participation in the honors program
- 200-level economics research course.
- Independent study course. For students unable to meet the capstone requirement through (a) or (b), arrangements can be made for individually directed research work.
Students must submit the capstone declaration form with the instructor’s signature to the Economics Department when enrolling in a course that they have designated as their capstone. In the semester in which you take your capstone course, you will be required to present a poster at the Economics Department Capstone Poster session which is held on the last Monday of each semester.
Economics majors with outstanding academic records (a GPA of 3.4 in economics courses, 3.0 overall) may apply to pursue departmental honors. To receive departmental honors, a student must successfully complete an honors thesis. Prospective candidates for honors should develop a proposal for the thesis and identify a faculty supervisor during the second semester of the junior year. During the fall of the senior year, the students will enroll in ECON297 Honors. The student then writes a thesis under the direction of a faculty supervisor. During the spring of the senior year the thesis is evaluated by the department for possible departmental honors.