Information for Prospective Students

What is Economics?

Economics is the study of human energy - how we organize our efforts to get what we want. Market exchange plays a central role in this process, but processes of conflict and coordination that take place outside of markets are also important. Economics contains two broad sub-disciplines:  microeconomics analyzes the individual behavior of households, business firms, and governmental entities; while macroeconomics focuses upon aggregate economic performance of nations and their interdependencies in the global economy.

Should I Study Economics?

Economics at UMass Amherst is a Bachelor of Arts (BA) major that focuses on the study of macro- and microeconomic theory, market structures, economic development, and public policy with an eye toward the development of critical thinking, data analysis, and civic engagement. Although many Economics majors go on to careers in business, the Economics major at UMass Amherst is not a business major and does not offer applied business courses such as accounting, finance, management, or marketing. Students who pursue the Economics major should be prepared to complete two levels of calculus, two intermediate theory courses, and at least one statistics course by the end of their sophomore year.

Before declaring a major in Economics, we encourage you to contrast the costs and benefits of the alternatives available to you. Your personal interest in economics, the ease with which the demands of the major mesh with your skills, and your long-term career goals, all affect the extent to which this major suits you.  Students interested in pursuing an applied business degree are encouraged to explore majors such as those offered in the Isenberg School of Management, Resource Economics, and Communication.  Click here for a downloadable information sheet that explains business-related degree options.

American Economic Association

The American Economic Association has developed a website for prospective college students and current undergraduates describing the field of Economics.  Visit their website at  aeaweb.org/students.