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 Microeconomic Theory and Macroeconomic 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, economics of the family, economics of education, inequality, environmental economics, industrial organization, 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 University’s two Social Science Core requirements. Qualifying Advanced Placement (AP) scores on both Micro and Macro allow to the student to place out of ECON1101 (and later take an Economics elective to replace 1101 to ensure the appropriate number of courses needed to satisfy the minor/major/concentration). For the classes of 2025 and before, qualifying AP exams on both Micro and Macro also satisfy the second Social Science Core requirement. For the classes of 2026 and after, only one Social Science Core requirement is satisfied with the qualifying AP score in Micro or Macro; completing ECON1101 will allow these students to satisfy the second Social Science Core requirement, however.
Requirements for Economics
MCAS Major Requirements
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 (and possibility Statistics and/or Econometrics as well). 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.
Calculus I is prerequisite to both Theory courses. Students can take MATH1102 (preferred) or MATH1101 to satisfy this requirement before enrolling in the Theory courses. The AB Calculus version of the AP exam can also be used to satisfy this requirement. Students with other forms of Advanced Placement (e.g., International Baccalaureate) should consult both the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Economics and Mathematics Departments. 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.
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. Additionally, all intermediate courses (Theories, Statistics, and Econometrics) must be taken through the BC Economics Department. Exceptions are made for transfer students.
The Economics major is meant to be structured. Students should take ECON1101 before taking Economics courses other than Statistics. Students should complete at least one Intermediate Theory course before beginning the electives (the exception to this is ECON2211), although the Department recognizes 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 ECON1101 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.
MCAS Minor Requirements
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.
Please see the Major Requirements above for additional details about the sequencing of classes, prerequisites, etc.
MCAS Economics Honors Program
The Honors Program in Economics provides solid preparation for students planning to attend graduate school in economics as well as for those planning advanced study in other fields. For those students planning to enter the workforce directly after graduation, the program will develop the research, analytical, and writing skills that employers desire. The program offers highly motivated students the opportunity for an individualized and challenging curriculum. Upon successful completion of the program students are awarded their Boston College degrees with the designation "Honors in Economics."
An unofficial 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 of Economics and Calculus I 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. Both Honors Micro Theory and Honors Macro Theory will be offered each semester.
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.
Students considering becoming honors candidates should take Statistics as soon as possible and should take Econometrics immediately following. Such students are also encouraged to complete the Calc I requirement with MATH1103.
Honors candidates must complete a 6-credit Honors Thesis (ECON4497–ECON4498) during their senior year. Three of these credits will count as an upper-level Economics elective; the other three credits are general university electives. Departmental permission is required for registration in ECON4497 Honors Thesis Seminar. Candidates must submit a thesis proposal approved by a faculty member who agrees to serve as thesis advisor in the spring of the junior year. In addition, they must have completed the Calculus I and Econometrics requirements and have a GPA of at least 3.5 in Economics courses at the end of the junior year. Students who did not take Honors Theory (ECON2203–2204) must have a GPA of at least 3.5 in their Theory courses.
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.
CSOM, Economics Concentration: Class of 2023 and Beyond
For CSOM Classes 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 (BZAN/OPER1135 or ECON1151). The CSOM classes of 2023 and 2024 may chose Economics as an area of concentration. The concentration consists of five additional courses: Microeconomic Theory (ECON2201 or 2203), Macroeconomic Theory (ECON2202 or 2204), Econometric Methods (ECON2228), and two electives, at least one of which must be an upper-level (3000) course.
As for statistics, CSOM students who have already taken BZAN/OPER1135 prior to declaring an Economics concentration, please be advised that ECON1151 is distinct from that offered in CSOM. As such, students should consider taking ECON1151, but if not, CSOM students will have to also take ECON1158 (Statistics for Computing in Stata)—a 1-credit, pass/fail course that will teach you the software used in Econometric Methods. Students should consult with the professor of ECON2228 if they would like to take ECON1158 simultaneously. If the professor doesn’t allow this, you will need to take ECON1158 before enrolling in ECON2228.
Students with a serious interest in Economics are encouraged to fulfill all the requirements of the MCAS major.
Please see the Major Requirements above for additional details about the sequencing of classes, prerequisites, etc.
For CSOM Classes of 2025 and Beyond
Beginning with the class of 2025, Economics is no longer be an area of concentration for students from CSOM. The MCAS Economics major is, however, a possibility for CSOM students, as is the MCAS Economics minor.
Requirements for double majors are the same as those for the major.
Courses Taken Outside the Department
General Department policy is that students may apply external credits to no more than three courses for the major. External credits are any college level credits taken outside the MCAS. This includes summer session(s) at BC or another institution, study abroad programs, and/or courses through Woods College of Advancing Studies (WCAS). Classes that can be taken outside of the Economics Department at BC include the equivalent of ECON1101 and two electives. Three electives are allowed for students who enroll in a year-long study abroad program. All intermediate courses (Theories, Statistics, and Econometric Methods) must be taken through the BC Economics department. Exceptions are made for transfer students, however.
All external courses need the syllabi approved by the Director of Undergraduate Study to determine if the course will count towards their study of Economics. Lists of pre-approved courses abroad and through the WCAS are listed on the Economics website.
The same rules apply for CSOM concentrations.
Information for Study Abroad
There are many opportunities for students to take elective courses at the many varied institutions partnered with BC. The Department of Economics encourages students to take advantage of global engagement and education, and it will work with students to help make it happen.
The Office of Global Education (OGE), located in Hovey House, coordinates study abroad opportunities and can provide detailed information about specific programs. OGE helps plan and coordinate students’ study abroad semester or year from beginning to end: from offering advice about various programs; applying to and planning the course of study at whatever program the student may choose; and transferring credits and grades back to BC when the student return after having successfully completed their studies abroad.
To ensure that students are able to complete the requirements for the MCAS Economics major or minor in time for graduation, all students must have completed Statistics and either Micro or Macro Theory before studying abroad. The Department strongly recommend that both Theory courses and Econometric Methods are completed before studying abroad as well, as those courses must be taken no later than the junior year.
The following requirements must be met for a course to transfer back credits towards the major or minor:
1. MCAS Economics majors and minors and CSOM Economics concentrators must earn at least a B- in at least one of the Intermediate Theory courses before going abroad.
2. Micro Theory, Macro Theory, Statistics, and Econometric Methods cannot be taken abroad.
3. Classes to be taken abroad must be approved for content. The Director of Undergraduate Studies for Economics will determine if the course counts as a lower-level (2000 level) or upper-level (3000 level) elective. As a general rule of thumb, lower-level courses require Principles of Economics (ECON1101) as a prerequisite. Upper-level electives require Micro and/or Macro Theory, at a minimum, as prerequisites. Please send a detailed and complete course syllabus to the Director of Undergraduate Studies as a WorkFlow. Courses taken from abroad that count towards your MCAS Economics major, minor, on concentration must be similar to what you could take at BC in the Economics Department.
4. The course must have the appropriate number of credit hours. OGE determines the course credit hours. If you have questions about the number of credit hours a course has, please check with the Academic Operations Administrator.
5. The student must receive a C- or above in the course (if taken in an external program) to receive transfer credit at BC.
6. Students cannot have exceeded the limit of courses that can be taken outside of the Department. General Department policy is that students may apply up to three external courses or 9 credits (e.g., AP exams, summer session at BC, WCAS, study abroad). Students can take one introductory course (e.g., ECON1101) and two electives outside of the BC Economics Department. Students studying abroad for an entire year are allowed an extra elective, however. All intermediate courses (Theories, Statistics, and Econometric Methods) must be taken through the Economics Department at BC. Exceptions are made for transfer students. In general, for single semester abroad programs, students may take a maximum of two courses abroad; for full-year programs, students may take a maximum of three courses abroad. Students who have previously taken summer courses, those with AP credits, etc. should discuss their individual situations with the DUS. Please note that it is not always possible to take more than one elective abroad, so careful planning is required.
7. A course must generally be a 3-credit course to qualify, but students may combine two 2-credit-hour courses to count for one elective, or three 2-credit-hour courses to count for two electives. The Department collects a list of classes it has approved and will share it with students. Student Services and OGE also have copies of this list. Therefore, if a course you take is on the list, it will automatically be placed on your degree audit when Student Services receives the grade from the host university, assuming the student has met all of the other requirements listed above.
Economics majors, minors, and concentrators must contact OGE to apply for study abroad and to plan their semester or year abroad. Those planning to participate in the Honors Program are strongly advised to identify a thesis topic and a faculty supervisor before going abroad, especially if the student will be abroad during the spring semester of their junior year. Very tight deadlines during the fall semester of senior year make this advance planning essential. Students who are considering doing Ph.D. work in Economics or related disciplines should plan their programs abroad with particular care.