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Economics | Courses | Faculty

Thompson Hall

Degree: Bachelor of Arts

Contact: Kevin Crocker, Chief Undergraduate Adviser
Office: 1034 Thompson
Phone: (413) 545-0954

Contact: Jacqueline Brown-Hazard
Office: 1032 Thompson
Phone: (413) 545-0855

Chair of Department: Professor Gerald Epstein. Professors Badgett, Bausor, Boyce, Flaherty, Folbre, Friedman, Heim, Katzner, Kotz, Pollin, Rao, Resnick, Skott; Associate Professors Ash, Lee, Saunders; Assistant Professors Basu, Dube, Githinji, Kurtulus, Razmi.

The Field

Economics attempts to understand the economic choices of individuals, families, firms, and other institutions. For example, how do parents allocate time and other family resources? How do firms decide what to produce and whom to hire? Economists also attempt to understand the workings of the economy as a whole. What causes inflation, unemployment or inequality? How do regulation and deregulation of industries affect product prices and quality? Why does the cost of medical care rise faster than other costs? Economists have developed a body of principles and methods which help them to think about these problems. The study of economics is the study of those principles and methods, and their application to questions such as those mentioned above.

Economics majors all take courses in two basic areas of economics: microeconomics and macroeconomics; and in statistics and mathematics, which are useful tools in the study of economics. The remaining courses are chosen by the students themselves, in accordance with their interests and career objectives. Every student takes at least four courses of his or her choice in Economics; these can be courses in methods or courses in applied areas. Every student also has the option of substituting a five-course collateral field composed of courses taken outside of Economics for two otherwise required courses in Economics, as described in “The Major,” item 7; and “The Collateral Field Option.” Examples of such fields are: history, international relations, business management, and political science.

The Department of Economics has faculty representing a wide range of specialties within economics, and a wide range of approaches to economics. All members of the faculty, which includes many internationally known scholars, teach undergraduate courses and are accessible to undergraduate students.

The Major

Although some first-year and transfer students are admitted directly into the Economics major upon entering the university, students who wish to change their major to Economics must successfully complete three predictor courses: ECON 103 Introduction to Microeconomics, ECON 104 Introduction to Macroeconomics, and either MATH 127 Calculus for the Life and Social Sciences I or MATH 131 Calculus I before being admitted to the major. Students wishing to major in Economics should meet with an undergraduate adviser in Thompson 1032 or 1034.

Course requirements:

1. ECON 103, Introductory Microeconomics, ECON 104, Introductory Macroeconomics. These two courses can be taken in either order, or simultaneously.
2. One of the following: MATH 127 or MATH 131.
3. One of the following: MATH 128 or MATH 132.
4. One course in statistics chosen from the following list: RES-ECON 211, RES-ECON 212, STATISTC 240, STATISTC 501, STATISTC 515.
5. ECON 203 Intermediate Microeconomics, ECON 204 Intermediate Macroeconomics. The prerequisites for ECON 203 are ECON 103 and MATH 127; the prerequisites for ECON 204 are ECON 103, 104 and MATH 127. As the prerequisite for ECON 203 and 204, MATH 131 may be substituted for MATH 127.
6. The Junior Year Writing requirement is normally fulfilled by taking a course with a W suffix (for example, ECON 305W).
7. Either of Options A or B.
Option A: Six upper level courses in Economics, numbered 300 or above, other than ECON 383. One course in Resource Economics chosen from a list of courses obtainable from the Undergraduate Office may be substituted for one of the six courses.
Option B: Four upper level courses in Economics, numbered 300 or above, other than ECON 383; and five courses comprising an approved collateral field. Those who wish to offer a self-designed collateral field (i.e., a field which is not a pre-approved minor or certificate program) should submit a proposal to the Undergraduate Program Director as early as is feasible.

1. No course required for the major may be taken Pass/Fail, except for MATH 131, MATH 132, and STATISTC 515; any of those courses may be taken Pass/Fail.
2. A grade of C or higher must be earned in each course presented to fulfill the requirements of the Economics major, excluding the three initial predictor courses, and courses comprising the collateral field of Option B. If Option B is chosen, the GPA in the courses comprising the collateral field must also be 2.000 or higher.
3. No more than one independent study course may be counted toward the requirement of four (six in Option A) upper-level courses. Students may choose any one of the following for that purpose: ECON 396, 496, 499Y, 499T or 596.
4. Students majoring in Economics must also satisfy the requirements of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
5. One course in Resource Economics chosen from a list available from an undergraduate Economics adviser in Thompson 1032 or 1034 and at the department website may be used as one of the required upper-level Economics courses under either Option A or Option B.

The Collateral Field Option

An acceptable collateral field must consist of at least five courses which taken together form study of a field or area in which economic principles are relevant or which encompasses material relevant to the study of economics. This requirement may be met in any one of the following ways:
1. completion of any major in addition to Economics.
2. completion of any minor in a university department or program.
3. completion of any certificate in a university department or program.
4. completion of a group of five courses chosen by the student and approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies in accordance with the following rules:
a) The proposal presented by the student must, in the judgment of the Director of Undergraduate Studies, satisfy the criterion of relevance to economics set forth in the requirement, and form a coherent set of courses. The student is responsible for presenting a convincing case for the proposed course of study.
b) No course in the Economics Department may be used to satisfy simultaneously the requirements of a collateral field and another requirement of the major. (This does not prohibit satisfying General Education requirements with courses taken for the collateral field or for any other requirement for the major.)

Note: Students who may do graduate work in economics at some later time are strongly urged to elect MATH 131-132 rather than MATH 127-128, to elect STATISTC 515 for the statistics course, and to take STATISTC 516 and MATH 233 as electives. They should also consult their adviser and/or the Director of Undergraduate Studies about the choice of courses.

Education Abroad

International Programs, tel. (413) 545-2710, provides information about study in other countries. Majors have studied at institutions in Australia, Denmark, England, Ethiopia, France, Ireland, Poland, South Africa, Spain and many other countries.

Career Opportunities

A substantial majority of economics majors seek employment after graduation. Placements typically include managerial, sales, and staff positions in many different sectors of the economy, including manufacturing, banking and finance, advertising, insurance, communication, wholesaling, retailing, social service, government, and non-profit institutions.

A number of graduates go on to graduate work, some immediately after graduation and some after several years of work experience. The largest number enter M.B.A. programs, the second largest number law school, and the third largest go on to graduate work in economics. A few do graduate work in other fields; these are typically students with second majors or minors in another discipline.

The Minor


Any two of the following courses: ECON 103 (Microeconomics), 104 (Macroeconomics), 105 (Political Economy).
One of the following: MATH 127, MATH 131.
One of the following: MATH 128, MATH 132, or one course in statistics chosen from the following list: RES-ECON 212, STATISTC 240, STATISTC 501, STATISTC 515.
Three Economics courses numbered 200 or above; at least one of these must be ECON 203 or ECON 204.

1. A GPA of 2.000 or higher in the set of all courses required for the minor must be attained.
2. No course required for the Economics minor may be taken Pass/Fail, with the exception of MATH 131, 132.
3. Neither practicum nor independent study courses may be counted toward the minor in Economics.
4. At least two of the five required Economics courses must be taken in the Economics Department at this university. The remaining courses may be taken at other institutions provided that they are comparable in level and content to those offered here.

Economics | Courses | Faculty