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College of Arts and Sciences Major in Economics

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 theory, labor economics, industrial organization, environmental economics, law and economics, and econometrics.

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.

Department Objectives for its Majors

Overview of the Major

There is a calculus co-requisite to be completed before taking Intermediate Theory:

One semester of calculus is also a prerequisite for ECON2228, Econometric Methods.

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 graduate work in economics or related disciplines should take additional mathematics courses, roughly the equivalent of a minor in mathematics.

The Economics major is meant 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. Statistics should be taken as soon as possible, certainly no later than sophomore year.

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 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 40, 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.

General Department policy is that students may take no more than three courses for the major outside the College of Arts and Sciences.

Subject to Departmental approval of the specific course, these courses may be taken: Transfer students who have taken economics courses at their previous school should meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies to discuss their individual situations.

The Department recognizes advanced placement based on AP, IB or similar coursework for Principles of Microeconomics and Principles of Macroeconomics. Please consult the Boston College Bulletin or the University's web site for information on policies and qualifying scores. Students who have earned advanced placement are not required to take the corresponding Boston College introductory course (ECON1131 or ECON1132) However, they are still required to complete eleven courses for the major by taking additional elective courses.

The requirements for students who double major in Economics and another Arts and Sciences major are the same as for the major.

Principles of Economics: Micro (ECON1131) and Macro (ECON1132)

These courses, which fulfill the University Social Science Core requirement, are the introductory courses to the major. Each is offered every term, and we recommend that they be taken in numerical order. However, ECON1132 may be taken first to accommodate schedule constraints.

Principles is offered in two formats. There are several large lecture courses of about 250 students that also meet in small discussion sections once each week. All the remaining sections are regular classes meeting twice (TTh) or three times (MWF) weekly, with an average class size of 35.

Despite the different formats, the courses are reasonably standardized. All instructors use one of the more analytical texts on the market. The level of difficulty and coverage is very similar across sections. The courses are test and problem-set oriented. Students can expect one or two midterm exams and a comprehensive final exam.

There are no specific prerequisites for either Principles course, but all Principles instructors assume that students understand the fundamentals of high school algebra and geometry, in particular the algebra of a straight line, and are able to read graphs. Students lacking these fundamentals should take a remedial mathematics course prior to registering for Principles.

Economic Statistics: Standard (ECON1151) and Econometric Methods (ECON2228)

A one-semester statistics course (ECON1151) is required of all majors. The statistics course is a 4-credit course. It covers probability theory, random variables, sampling, estimation, hypothesis testing, and an introduction to regression analysis. All students taking Statistics for credit toward the Economics major or minor must take the course in the B.C. Economics Department. CSOM Economics concentrators should take the Statistics course offered through the Carroll School.

A one-semester Econometric Methods course (ECON2228) is required of all majors. This course is a semester of regression analysis and is offered both semesters. It is the pay-off course in statistics for Economics majors. It is a four-credit course which focuses on how economists analyze data to test various theories. All students taking Econometrics (ECON2228) for credit toward the major must take the course in the B.C. Economics Department. One semester of calculus is a prerequisite for ECON2228. An elective course in Financial Econometrics (ECON3327) is usually offered in the spring semester, with ECON2228 as a strict prerequisite.

Microeconomic Theory: Standard (ECON2201) and Honors (ECON2203)
Macroeconomic Theory: Standard (ECON2202) and Honors (ECON2204)

Micro and Macro Theory are one-semester courses that are required for all majors, minors and CSOM concentrators. Both theory courses must be taken in the B.C. Economics Department. Several sections of each are offered each term and they may be taken in either order. Normally, students will have completed both Principles courses before taking either Theory course, although we will allow students who start the major late to take Principles and Theory concurrently, e.g., a student who has completed ECON1131 may take ECON2201 concurrently with ECON1132. There is a prerequisite of one semester of calculus, as described above.

Economics majors must complete both intermediate theory courses by the end of their junior year. Minors and CSOM concentrators must complete one of these courses by the end of the junior year. Exceptions to this policy may be granted by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

The Honors sections of Theory should be taken by students planning to participate in the Honors Program, as a substitute for ECON2201 and ECON2202, and by all students considering graduate work in Economics. They are designed for students who have an aptitude for theory, have done well in Principles, and have had one year of calculus (MATH1102-1103 [preferred], MATH1100-1101, or the equivalent). Department permission is required to register for the Honors sections of Theory.

All Theory sections are test and problem-set oriented, with one or two midterm exams and a comprehensive final. Choice of text is up to the individual professors.

Economics Electives

The department offers a wide variety of electives covering the major fields in economics and also reflecting the research interests of the faculty. Courses at the 2000-level require Principles and/or Statistics as prerequisites. Courses at the 3000-level require one or both Theory courses. Some upper-level electives may have additional requirements. Consult the course listings for specific information on course content and prerequisites.

Writing-Intensive Courses

Each semester, the Department will offer several electives in a writing-intensive format, with lower enrollments and a significant writing component. These courses provide excellent opportunities to develop writing skills and to get to know a professor more closely. Consult the course listings each semester for up-to-date information on which courses are being offered in this format.

Independent Study (ECON2299, ECON3399)
Senior Thesis Research (ECON4497)
Advanced Independent Study (ECON6601)

Independent Study provides students with the opportunity to explore in depth a topic that has been introduced in an existing department elective or to do research in an area that is not covered by the current elective offerings. A written proposal must be developed in consultation with a faculty member who has agreed to supervise the project and submitted to the Director of Undergraduate Studies for approval prior to registration.

ECON4497 is open to students who participate in the Department's Honors Program, and ECON6601 is open to students doing Scholar of the College projects. In each case, students should consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies prior to registration.

Students may count only one independent course toward the electives required for the major.

Internships (ECON1199)

ECON1199 is a one-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 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 Director of Undergraduate Studies. The internship will be graded on a pass-fail basis. Internship credit does not reduce any other course credit required for completing the major.

Graduate Courses

Juniors or seniors with exceptional records and with good mathematical backgrounds are invited to take one or more courses offered in the Ph.D. program (courses numbered in the 7000's and 8000's).

Study Abroad

There are many good economics programs offered through universities overseas; students are encouraged to ask their faculty advisors for details about the quality of various programs. Schools with particularly strong reputations in economics include the London School of Economics, University College London, and Queen Mary in the United Kingdom; Trinity College Dublin in Ireland; Pompeu Fabra and Madrid Complutense in Spain; Bocconi University in Italy; and the University of Melbourne in Australia. The Office of International Programs coordinates the study-abroad option and can provide more detailed information about specific programs.

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 Micro and Macro Theory. Minors and CSOM concentrators should have completed Micro and Macro Principles, Statistics, and one Theory course. At a minimum, all students must complete Micro and Macro Principles and one Intermediate Theory course. To be eligible to transfer back credits, A&S majors, A&S minors and CSOM concentrators must earn at least a B- in at least one of the Intermediate Theory courses before going abroad.

Subject to Department approval of the specific courses, electives taken through study-abroad programs may fulfill requirements for the major. In general, students may take a maximum of two courses abroad, although students who have previously taken summer courses, courses in the Woods College and students who have advanced placement should discuss their individual situations with the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Neither Intermediate Theory courses nor Econometrics can be taken abroad for major credit. Note that the Department policy on upper- versus lower-level electives applies to courses taken abroad.

The Department has collected a list of courses from universities throughout the world that we accept for credit towards the A&S major, CSOM concentration, and minor. For electives, the list also indicates whether the course is accepted as a lower (2000) or upper (3000)-level elective. The list is updated periodically. See Preapproved Courses. Student Services also has a copy of this list. Therefore, if a course you take is on the list, it will automatically be placed on your audit when Student Services receives the grade from the host university.

In Summer 2014, the Department will offer a new elective ECON3388, Economic Policy Analysis in Turbulent Times: Europe and Turkey, a seminar course held in Berlin and Istanbul. This course counts as a four-credit-hour economics elective, and is cross-listed with the International Studies program. Please see the Department website or the OIP's website for details.

Economics majors must contact the Office of International Programs to apply for study abroad and to plan their semester or year abroad. Economics minors and students completing the CSOM Economics concentration should also contact the Office of International Programs to ensure that they are eligible to transfer elective courses taken abroad for credit toward their program. Those planning to participate in the 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 who are considering doing Ph.D. work in economics or related disciplines should plan their programs abroad with particular care.