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morrissey college of arts and sciences


Undergraduate Program Description

The Economics major provides a critical examination of how the economic system works in the United States and throughout the world. The introductory courses, ECON1131–ECON1132, are surveys of economic problems, policies, and theory, and the required courses in micro theory and macro theory, ECON2201–ECON2202, give a deeper analytical foundation. The two required courses in quantitative methods, ECON1151 and ECON2228, develop analytical and empirical research skills. Electives permit further study in a wide range of fields, including money and banking, fiscal policy, international trade and finance, law and economics, public sector economics, economic development, capital theory and finance, labor economics, income distribution, financial econometrics, industrial organization, consumer economics, health economics, history of economic thought, transportation economics, environmental economics, urban economics, political economy, financial markets, real estate, and public policy analysis.

The Economics major provides a general background that is useful to those planning careers in law, government service, and 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.

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The Core

Principles of Economics-Micro and Macro (ECON1131 and ECON1132) satisfy the Core requirements in the social sciences. These are distinct one-semester, 3-credit courses, that are usually taken in numerical order, Micro before Macro, although Macro may be taken first, if necessary. It is possible to take only one of these courses, but the Department strongly recommends a year of Principles for a well-rounded introduction to the U.S. economy and current policy issues.

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Major Requirements

A minimum of 35 credits, consisting of six required courses and five electives, are required for the economics major. The required courses are: Principles of Economics (ECON1131–1132), Economic Statistics (ECON1151), Microeconomic Theory (ECON2201 or 2203), Macroeconomic Theory (ECON2202 or 2204), and Econometrics (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, both Microeconomic Theory (ECON2201 or 2203) and Macroeconomic Theory (ECON2202 or 2204) must 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).

Please Note: All Economics courses counting toward the major and minor are 3-credit courses with the exception of Statistics (ECON1151) and Econometrics (ECON2228), which are 4-credit courses.

The Economics major is designed to be structured. Students should take both ECON1131 and ECON1132 before taking economics courses other than Statistics. Students normally take ECON1131 before ECON1132, although ECON1132 may be taken first. Consult the Department’s web page ( for a discussion of the policies pertaining to advanced placement for the Principles and Statistics courses.

  • Those who begin the major as freshmen should take Microeconomic Theory, Macroeconomic Theory, and Econometrics as sophomores.  Students beginning the major as sophomores would generally take both Theory classes, Econometrics, and an elective in the junior year.
  • Statistics should be taken as soon as possible, preferably no later than sophomore year.

Students should complete at least one 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 a theory course should register for a 2000-level elective that has only Principles as a prerequisite. It is also possible, with permission of the instructor, to take a 3000-level elective concurrently with its Theory prerequisite.

Economic 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 15 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) is required of all Economics majors prior to taking the Microeconomic 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. Candidates for Departmental Honors must take a year of calculus (see below). Students considering graduate work in economics should take additional mathematics courses, about the same number as required for the minor in mathematics.

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Honors Program

The Honors Program presents highly motivated economics majors with opportunities for more individualized and challenging training in economics. Entrance to the program is ideally in the sophomore year, when students with good Principles grades will be urged to consider the Honors Theory sequence (ECON2203–2204) in place of the standard Theory sequence (ECON2201–2202). However, students who have already completed ECON2201–2202 may still be accepted into the Honors Program. Students considering the Honors Program should arrange to take Statistics as soon as possible and then Econometrics (ECON2228). MATH1100–1101, MATH1102–1103 (preferred), or the equivalent are prerequisites for both Honors Theory courses and the Honors Program generally. The honors candidate must complete a 6-credit Thesis (ECON4497–4498) in the senior year under the direction of a faculty member. Honors students take four other electives, at least two of which must be upper-level courses.

The distinction of Honors in Economics may be conferred only 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.

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Minor Requirements

The minor in Economics consists of five required courses and two electives, a minimum of 22 credits. The required courses are: Principles of Economics (ECON1131–1132), Economic Statistics (ECON1151), Microeconomic Theory (ECON2201 or 2203), and Macroeconomic Theory (ECON2202 or 2204). At least one of the two electives must be an upper-level course. At least one of the Theory courses must 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).

Calculus I (MATH1100, MATH1102 [preferred], or the equivalent) is a prerequisite for the Theory courses.

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Economics Concentration for Carroll School of Management Students

All Carroll School of Management students, regardless of their area of concentration, are required to take Principles of Economics (ECON1131–1132) and Statistics (OPER1135 or 1145). In addition, CSOM students may choose Economics as an area of concentration. The concentration consists of four courses beyond the three required courses, for a total of at least 21 credits in Economics. 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 course. Students with a serious interest in economics are encouraged to fulfill all the requirements of the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences major. At least one of the Theory courses must 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).

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Double Majors

Requirements for double majors are the same as those for the major.

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Courses Taken Outside the Department

The Department requires that at least nine of the courses for the major, and five of the courses for the minor and the CSOM concentration, be taken within the Department. Of the two courses that may be taken outside the Department, the following limit applies: A maximum of two electives for the major and one elective for the minor or CSOM concentration. The Theory courses, Statistics, and Econometrics may not be taken outside the Department. Students who transfer from another university may transfer more than three courses towards the major, but must take at least five courses for the major at Boston College. (The transferred courses may include the Theory courses.) All students who wish to receive credit for courses taken outside the Department must contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies, who will determine if particular courses can be counted towards the major, minor, or CSOM concentration. Note, finally, that the limits apply in total to all courses taken outside the Department. For example, a student who is studying abroad and has already received credit towards the major for an elective taken in a summer program can receive credit for one elective taken abroad.

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Economics Internship

ECON1199 Economics Internship, a 1-credit course, is 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 is required to complete an approval form that can be obtained in the Dean's Office of the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences. The form must be signed by the student's supervisor in the organization or agency providing the internship and also by the Department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies. After it is signed, it should be sent to the student's class dean. At the end of the internship, the agency or organization supervisor must provide an evaluation to the Director of Undergraduate Studies. The internship is graded on a pass/fail basis. Credits received through internships cannot be applied to the credits required for completing the major, minor, or CSOM concentration. Only one such credit will be counted toward the 120 required for graduation.

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Information for Study Abroad

There are many good economics programs offered through universities overseas. Students are encouraged to ask their faculty advisors and the Office of International Programs 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; University in Italy; and Melbourne University in Australia.

To ensure that students are able to complete the requirements for the major in time for graduation, we prefer students to have five courses completed before studying abroad: Micro and Macro Principles, Statistics, and Microeconomic and Macroeconomic Theory. Minors and CSOM concentrators should have completed Micro and Macro Principles, Statistics, and at least one Theory course. At a minimum, all students must complete Micro and Macro Principles 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 five 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 Econometrics cannot be taken abroad. This means that students interested in studying abroad must carefully plan their courses for the major. Theory courses must be completed by the end of junior year. For example, students who begin the major sophomore year should take both Principles courses and the Theory course second semester that corresponds to the Principles course taken first semester, and then complete the second Theory course junior year in the semester that they are at Boston College. These students should not expect to be approved for study abroad for their entire junior year.

Those students planning to participate in the Departmental 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.

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