Economics studies how individuals, organizations, and governments pursue their goals and helps us understand the efficiency and equity consequences of those decisions and interactions. The study of economics is much broader than what you might think! We do study markets, inflation, and the macroeconomy, but we also study health, migration, irrationality, history, unemployment, and game theory. We look forward to sharing our passion for economics with you.
If you are interested in economics, you should start with Economics 111/111E and then move on to a mix of core theory and electives classes. The three core courses cover the core substantive material of economics in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics. In contrast, elective classes delve deeply into particular subject areas, such as industrial organization, environmental economics, economic history, or the economics of globalization. You will get the most out of your economics studies if you are learning the core and also delving deeply into particular areas at the same time. It is not essential that you take the core prior to starting electives, nor is it essential that you take the core in any particular order (though it is usually best to start with micro or macro.) After 111, try to take a mix of electives and core courses.
There are many elective courses offered in economics, covering a wide variety of subject areas. The typical economics major will take five or six economics electives. The offerings change from year to year depending on the interests of students and faculty.
- The elective courses numbered in the 200s are colloquially called “lower-level electives.” These courses require only Economics 111/111E as a prerequisite and are most appropriate for students relatively early in their study of economics. They tend to be slightly larger classes with 20 to 50 students.
- The elective courses numbered in the 400s are colloquially called “upper-level electives.” These courses are generally smaller and more intense, require one or more of the core theory courses as prerequisites, and are appropriate for students further along in their study of economics. They tend to be slightly smaller discussion-based classes with 15 to 30 students.
The current economics courses can be found on our courses webpage.
When you declare an economics major:
- You join the community of students and faculty studying economics at Amherst. We think economics is an exciting subject, and we look forward to sharing our passion for it with you! We encourage you to talk with faculty and other students about economic theories and issues outside of class, around campus, and in office hours, and to broaden your engagement with economics beyond your classes.
- You will be matched up with a departmental advisor who can help you navigate the economics curriculum and the liberal arts curriculum in the best way possible for you. This personal advising relationship is important! Remember that it is up to you to make the most of your economics major. Think about the academic and professional goals you wish to achieve, read up on the major requirements and course offerings, and plan ahead.
- You will be included in department events such as seminars, lunches, or guest speakers – keep an eye out for announcements from the department and join us to do economics!
To declare an economics major To process a declaration, an unofficial transcript and a declaration of major form are needed. If you plan to major in economics, you should declare the major as soon as you have made that decision. Economics major declarations should occur by the end of sophomore year, or by the end of junior year at the latest (even for those who are double majoring!) so that we can work together to design your optimal course of study.
**NOTE: F21 declarations can be done in-person or remote. Please see News & Events page for latest details on these options.
The Economics Student Handbook contains a wealth of information about economics at Amherst. If you are an economics major or are considering declaring the major, you should pick up a paper copy in the department office or look at the pdf version using the menu to the left.