The Economics major provides a critical examination of how the economic system works in the United States and throughout the world. The introductory courses are surveys of economic problems, policies, and theory; and the required courses in micro theory and macro theory give a deeper analytical foundation. Electives permit further study in a wide range of fields, including money and banking, international trade and finance, public sector economics, economic development, capital markets, inequality, industrial organization, environmental economics, and computational investing.
The economics major provides a general background that is useful to those planning careers in law, government service, or business as well as those planning careers as professional economists. Professional economists work as college teachers, as researchers for government agencies, businesses, and consulting firms, and as administrators and managers in a wide range of fields.
The B.A. in Economics has been classified as STEM (CIP Code 45.0603: Econometrics and Quantitative Economics). Students in STEM degree programs can apply for a 24-month STEM extension of F1 Optional Practical Training (OPT).
The Core Courses
Principles of Economics (ECON1101) is a 4-credit course, with 3 hours of lecture and a 1-hour discussion section. This satisfies one of the two required social science Core courses. Qualifying AP scores on Micro Principles or Macro Principles can be used to satisfy the remaining social science Core course requirement. It is possible to waive this requirement entirely with qualifying AP scores on both Micro Principles and Macro Principles AP exams, but the Department strongly recommends taking Principles of Economics at Boston College for a well-rounded introduction to the U.S. economy and current policy issues. Some Enduring Questions and Complex Problems courses, available to first-year students, are offered by Economics faculty. They satisfy the Social Science Core, but they do not count toward Economics major requirements.
Principles of Economics I/Microeconomics and Principles of Economics II/Macroeconomics (ECON1131 and ECON1132) satisfy the Core requirements in the social sciences. They are not open to students in the Class of 2023 and are no longer being offered.
Requirements for Class of 2023 and Beyond
Major Requirements: Class of 2023 and Beyond
A minimum of 36 credits, consisting of five required courses and six electives, are required for the economics major. The required courses are: Principles of Economics (ECON1101), Economic Statistics (ECON1151), Microeconomic Theory (ECON2201 or 2203), Macroeconomic Theory (ECON2202 or 2204), and Econometric Methods (ECON2228). At least four of the six electives must be upper-level courses, i.e., 3000-level courses that have a theory prerequisite. In addition, Microeconomic Theory (ECON2201 or 2203), Macroeconomic Theory (ECON2202 or 2204), Statistics (ECON1151), and Econometric Methods (ECON2228) should be completed by the end sophomore year unless a student starts the major after their first year. All students must have the five required courses completed by the end of junior year. Exceptions to this requirement may be granted at the discretion of the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
All Economics courses counting toward the major and minor are 3-credit courses with the exception of Principles of Economics (ECON1101), Statistics (ECON1151), and Econometric Methods (ECON2228), which are 4-credit courses.
With the exception of Math for Economic Analysis (ECON2211), students should complete at least one Intermediate Theory course before beginning the electives, although we recognize that those who start the major late may not have time to follow this sequence precisely. Students who need to take an elective before completing an Intermediate Theory course should register for a 2000-level elective that has only Principles as a prerequisite. It is also sometimes possible, with permission of the professor, to take a 3000-level elective concurrently with its Intermediate Theory prerequisite.
Economics electives are taught in two formats: the traditional lecture format, with enrollments up to 50, and a smaller writing-intensive format, with enrollments capped at 20 to 25 depending on the size of the writing component. Students are urged to take advantage of the writing-intensive courses and to check with the Department before the registration period to learn which courses will be offered in which format.
Calculus I (MATH1100, MATH1102 [preferred], or the equivalent—e.g., Advanced Placement), is required of all Economics majors prior to taking the Microeconomic Theory and Macroeconomic Theory courses. Any student with a serious interest in economics should take at least one full year of calculus, MATH1100–1101, MATH1102–1103 (preferred), or the equivalent. Students considering graduate work in economics or related fields should take additional mathematics courses: about the same number as required for the minor in mathematics.
Honors Program: Class of 2023 and Beyond
The Honors Program presents highly motivated economics majors with opportunities for more individualized and challenging training in economics. Entrance to the program ideally occurs in either the second semester of freshman year or first semester of sophomore year when the student with good Principles and Calculus grades will be urged to consider the Honors Theory sequence (ECON2203–ECON2204) in place of the standard sequence (ECON2201–ECON2202). If students prefer to take Honors Macro Theory first, after completing Principles of Economics, that is allowable. However, those students who have already completed ECON2201 and/or ECON2202 with excellent grades may also receive honors in economics by successfully completing a senior honors thesis.
The AB Calculus version of Advanced Placement will be accepted as one semester of calculus, and the BC Calculus version will be accepted as two semesters of calculus. Students with other forms of Advanced Placement (e.g., International Baccalaureate) should consult the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Students considering becoming honors candidates should take Statistics as soon as possible and should take Econometric Methods (ECON2228) immediately following.
Honors candidates must complete a 6-credit Honors Thesis (ECON4497–ECON4498) in the senior year; 3 of these credits count towards the completion of an upper-level elective.
The distinction of Honors in Economics may only be conferred upon those students completing an Honors Thesis. A letter grade less than B+ on the Honors Thesis would be considered a deficiency to the conferral of Honors in Economics. A higher letter grade supports the conferral, but does not in itself assure that the distinction shall be conferred. GPA and the rigor of the courses taken will be considered. The conferral is the sole responsibility of the Honors Committee.
Minor Requirements: Class of 2023 and Beyond
The minor in Economics consists of five required courses and two electives, a minimum of 24 credits. The required courses are: Principles of Economics (ECON1101), Statistics (ECON1151), Microeconomic Theory (ECON2201 or 2203), Macroeconomic Theory (ECON2202 or 2204), and Econometric Methods (ECON2228). At least one of the two electives must be an upper-level (3000) course.
There is a one-semester calculus prerequisite to be completed before taking either Intermediate Theory course: MATH1102 (preferred), MATH1100, or Advanced Placement. Students considering graduate work in economics or related disciplines should take additional mathematics courses.
Students should consider the following recommendations about course sequencing before declaring the minor. Students take ECON1101 and Calculus I before taking either Intermediate Theory course. With the exception of Math for Economic Analysis (ECON2211), students should complete at least one Intermediate Theory course before beginning the electives. We recognize that scheduling constraints may make this difficult. Students who need to take an elective before completing an Intermediate Theory course should register for a 2000-level elective that has only Principles as a prerequisite. It is also possible, with permission of the professor, to take a 3000-level elective concurrently with its Intermediate Theory prerequisite.
Economics Concentration for Carroll School of Management Students: Class of 2023 and Beyond
For Class of 2023 and 2024
All Carroll School of Management students (CSOM), regardless of their area of concentration, are required to take Principles of Economics (ECON1101) and Statistics (BZAN1135). In addition, CSOM students may choose Economics as an area of concentration. The concentration consists of four courses, i.e., at least 12 additional credits, beyond the two required courses. The four additional courses are Microeconomic Theory (ECON2201 or 2203), Macroeconomic Theory (ECON2202 or 2204), and two electives, at least one of which must be an upper-level (3000) course. Students with a serious interest in economics are encouraged to fulfill all the requirements of the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences major. Specifically, if students take BZAN1135 in lieu of ECON1151 (Economic Statistics), students are encouraged to take a 1-credit class, Statistical Computing: Programming Stats (ECON1158) before/while also completing Econometric Methods (ECON2228). At least one of the Theory courses should be completed by the end of the junior year. Exceptions to this requirement may be granted at the discretion of the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
For Class of 2025 and Beyond
Beginning with the class of 2025, Economics will no longer be an area of concentration for students from the Carroll School of Management (CSOM). The Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences (MCAS) Economics major is, however, a possibility for CSOM students, as is the MCAS Economics minor.
Requirements for Class of 2022
Major Requirements: Class of 2022
A minimum of 39 credits, consisting of six required courses and five electives, are required for the economics major. The required courses are: Principles of Microeconomics and Principles of Macroeconomics (ECON1131 and ECON1132), Economic Statistics (ECON1151), Microeconomic Theory (ECON2201 or 2203), Macroeconomic Theory (ECON2202 or 2204), and Econometric Methods (ECON2228). At least three of the five electives must be upper-level courses, i.e., 3000-level courses that have a theory prerequisite. In addition, Microeconomic Theory (ECON2201 or 2203), Macroeconomic Theory (ECON2202 or 2204), and Econometric Methods (ECON2228) should be completed by sophomore year unless a student starts the major after their first year. All students must have the five required courses completed by the end of junior year. Exceptions to this requirement may be granted at the discretion of the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Students in the class 2022 may substitute ECON1101, Principles of Economics, for ECON1131/ECON1132. They must then take six elective courses, four of which must be at the 3000-level.
For information related to the Honors Program, the Minor, and CSOM Economics concentrators, please see the Requirements for the Class of 2023 and Beyond section with the appropriate changes made for ECON1101 vs. ECON1131 and ECON1132.
Requirements for double majors are the same as those for the major.
Courses Taken Outside the Department
Students are permitted to transfer in external credits from summer study, study abroad, and any coursework taken outside the MCAS Economics department. WCAS, study abroad through OIP, and BC Summer Study are all considered external. The maximum number allowed for majors is two courses and one course for minors. Nine out of the eleven required courses for majors must be taken through the department. Six out of the seven required courses for minors must be taken through the department. Students transferring in from another university may transfer in more courses depending on their class year. However, at least five of the courses towards the major must be taken with the MCAS Economics department at Boston College.
The Theory courses (ECON2201 or 2203), Statistics (ECON1151), and Econometric Methods (ECON2228) may not be taken outside the department.*
All external courses need the syllabi approved by the Director of Undergraduate Study to determine eligibility for transfer. Lists of pre-approved courses abroad and through the Woods College of Advanced Studies (WCAS) are listed on the Economics website.
The same rules apply for CSOM concentrations.
*Exceptions can be made for transfer students.
ECON1199 is a 1-credit-hour course available for any student who wishes to do an internship with an agency or organization that requires a Boston College connection as a condition for offering the internship opportunity. A student who wishes to enroll in ECON1199 must complete an approval form that can be downloaded or obtained from the Office of the Associate Deans of Arts and Sciences. The form must be signed by the student's supervisor in the organization or agency providing the internship and then by the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Economics department. After it is signed, it should be sent to the student's class dean. At the end of the internship, the supervisor must provide an evaluation to the Undergraduate Program Specialist. The internship will be graded on a pass-fail basis. Internship credit does not reduce any other course credit required for completing the major.
Information for Study Abroad
There are many excellent economics programs offered through universities overseas. Students are encouraged to ask their faculty advisors and the Office of International Programs (OIP) for details about the quality of various programs. Schools with strong programs in economics include the London School of Economics and University College London in England; Trinity College and University College Dublin in Ireland; Pompeu Fabra University, Universidad Complutense, and Universidad Carlos III in Spain; University of Paris Dauphine in France; Bocconi University in Italy; and the University of Melbourne in Australia. Some programs require a full-year commitment, which requires careful planning in order to complete major requirements.
To ensure that students are able to complete the requirements for the major in time for graduation, all students must have completed Statistics and either Micro or Macro Theory before studying abroad. (We strongly prefer that both theory courses and Econometrics are completed before studying abroad.) Minors and CSOM concentrators should have completed Principles of Economics, Statistics, and at least one Theory course. At a minimum, all students must complete Principles of Economics and one Theory course to be approved for study abroad. To be eligible to transfer back credits for the major, minor, or CSOM concentration, students must earn at least a B- in at least one of the Theory courses before going abroad.
Department policies on study-abroad courses are as follows:
- Up to two of the electives that are required for the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences Economics major may be taken abroad. Minors and CSOM concentrators are limited to counting one elective from abroad towards their degree requirements.
- The prerequisite restrictions on upper-level and lower-level electives taken at Boston College apply to courses taken abroad.
- Electives previously transferred from outside the Department, such as from a summer program, reduce the number of electives that can be transferred from study abroad.
- Microeconomic and Macroeconomic Theory, Statistics, and Econometric Methods cannot be taken abroad. This means that students interested in studying abroad must carefully plan their courses for the major. Theory courses and Econometric Methods must be completed by the end of junior year. For example, students who begin the major in sophomore year should take Principles and Statistics in their first semester, and one of the Theory courses in the second semester, and then complete the second Theory course and Econometric Methods junior year in the semester that they are at Boston College. These students should not expect to be approved for study abroad for the entirety of their junior year.
Those students planning to participate in the Department’s Honors program are strongly advised to identify a thesis topic and a faculty supervisor before going abroad. Very tight deadlines during the fall semester of senior year make this advance planning essential.
Students should meet with their advisors to plan their semester or year abroad. Students who are considering doing Ph.D. work in economics should think ahead and plan their programs abroad with particular care.