Economics Major

Goals for the Economics Major

Our majors should attain

  1. a basic understanding of economic principles
  2. an ability to engage in critical reasoning
  3. competency in making written and oral arguments

Our majors should attain skills that enable them to be more informed and engaged citizens. Economics majors will understand fundamental economic principles, apply those concepts to evaluate arguments, and construct oral and written arguments of their own. A basic understanding of economic principles means students will identify situations in which scarcity of resources requires that individuals, firms and societies make trade-offs, and recognize the opportunity costs embodied in those choices. Students will analyze efficiency and equity in market outcomes, the role of government in a market economy, the costs and benefits of international trade, the challenge of stabilizing the macroeconomy, and the factors that raise the long-term growth rate of the economy. Students will also assess the logic of an economic argument by applying both analytical and quantitative tools, for example by using empirical evidence to support or reject a proposition. Finally, having demonstrated command of core concepts in economics, and an ability to judge the logic that undergirds economic proposals, students will produce oral and written presentations that demonstrate their competency.

Requirements for the Economics Major

The economics major consists of a minimum of nine units.  The major must include courses in microeconomics (ECON 101 and ECON 201), macroeconomics (ECON 102 and ECON 202), and statistics (ECON 103 and ECON 203), as well as at least two 300-level units taken at Wellesley (ordinarily not including ECON 350ECON 360, or ECON 370). One semester of mathematics at Wellesley at the level of MATH 115 or above is a prerequisite for ECON 201, ECON 202 and ECON 203. QR 260/STAT 260 and QR 309/STAT 309 can be counted as major electives. Students need not complete ECON 103 if they have completed STAT 160, STAT 218, PSYC 105 or PSYC 205. However, they must take an additional Economics elective to complete the minimum requirement of nine units in the major.

Choosing courses to complete the major requires careful thought. All majors should choose an advisor and consult them regularly. Students are also advised to consult the department handbook, which deals with a variety of topics including preparation in mathematics, desirable courses for those interested in graduate study in economics, and complementary courses outside economics. Students interested in economics and its applications in international relations might want to consider the interdepartmental major in International Relations-Economics.

Honors in Economics

The department offers students two honors programs. Under program I, a student completes two semesters of independent research (ECON 360 and ECON 370) culminating in an honors thesis. Under program II, a student completes one semester of independent research (ECON 350) related to previous 300-level course work, and then submits to an examination in economics that includes the topic covered in her research project. Ordinarily, a student is expected to complete all of the core course work and one 300-level course before enrolling in the honors program. Admission to the honors program requires students to have a GPA of 3.5 or higher in their economics courses above the 100 level. All honors candidates are expected to participate in the Economics Research Seminar (ECON 380), for which they receive 0.5 units.

Transfer Credit in Economics

In order to obtain credit for any economics course taken at another institution during the summer or academic year, approval must be obtained in advance from the department’s transfer credit advisor. In general, courses from two-year colleges will not be accepted at any level. Courses taken elsewhere normally will not be transferred at the 300 level. ECON 201ECON 202, and ECON 203 should ordinarily be taken at Wellesley. Transfer students wishing to obtain transfer credit for economics courses taken prior to enrollment at Wellesley should contact the department's transfer credit advisor.

AP and IB Credit in Economics

AP credit:  Students who receive a 5 on the AP Microeconomics exam can place out of ECON 101. Students who receive a 5 on the AP Macroeconomics exam can place out of ECON 102 (although we encourage such students to take ECON 102 since a full semester of college macroeconomics will typically cover more material). Students cannot use AP Statistics to place out of ECON 103. AP credits do not count towards the minimum number of major or minor units.

IB credit:  Students who receive a 5, 6, or 7 on higher-level IB courses can place out of ECON 101 and ECON 102, although the department recommends that students place out of those courses only if they receive a 7.