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.

To declare an economics major 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. You must complete these steps to declare your economics major:

  • Have an email or other documentation from your current academic advisor approving your economics major declaration.
  • If you would like a particular member of the economics faculty to be your advisor you must contact them and discuss being added to their roster. Only with faculty approval can you be added to a requested professors roster, otherwise you will be assigned a department advisor.
  • Submit an "Intent to Declare Economics" Google form.
  • Log on to Workday to select "Add Program of Study." 

The Structure of the Economics Major

The economics major consists of a total of nine full-semester courses in economics, including:

  • An Introduction to Economics 111/111E. Students placing out of Economics 111/111E must take one additional economics course to replace it.
  • Three core theory courses in Microeconomics (300 or 301), Macroeconomics (330 or 331), and Econometrics (360 or 361).
  • At least five other courses in economics, usually three or four electives numbered 200-290 and one or two electives numbered 400-490.

There are also additional major requirements, which include:

  • In order to declare the economics major, a student must have earned at least a B in Economics 111/111E or at least a B- in a 200-level economics elective offered at Amherst College.
  • At least one of the electives must be an upper-level elective (numbered 400-490). Please note that there is no minimum required number of lower-level electives numbered 200-290.  For example, a student can satisfy the elective requirements by taking only upper-level electives.  
  • Mathematics 111 or equivalent is also required (as determined by the Math department.) The advanced core courses (301, 331, 361) require additional math courses.
  • Honors students must take a total of ten economics courses. Two of these courses must be upper-level electives, which does not include the thesis seminar in the fall of senior year.

The Core: All majors must complete the sequence of core theory courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics: ECON 300 or 301, 330 or 331, and 360 or 361. We would like to provide some guidance regarding the core sequence.

  • To ensure appropriate preparation, students must attain a grade of B or better in ECON 111/111E or a grade of B- or better in an elective (numbered 200-290) before taking a core theory course. Entering students who place out of ECON 111/111E may register for a core course with the consent of the instructor.
  • These courses can be taken in any order, but it is recommended that a student take either ECON 300/301 or 330/331 before enrolling in ECON 360/361.
  • It is not generally advisable to take more than one of the core theory courses in a given semester.
  • Students should make every effort to complete the sequence of core theory courses by the end of the Junior year, or at the very latest by the end of the 7th semester (usually the fall semester of senior year). Failure to do so jeopardizes a student’s chances of graduating with an economics major. Only in truly exceptional circumstances will exceptions be made to this rule.
  • A student who receives a grade of F in a core theory course must retake that core theory course. A student who receives a grade of D in a core theory course may not count that course towards the major and must take ECON 390 (a special topics course focusing on that area of core theory) and receive a grade of C- or better in that special topics course.
  • The core theory courses must be completed at Amherst. In cases where there is compelling pedagogical rationale, a student may be permitted to substitute one or two non-Amherst courses for the core courses.  Such exceptions require a discussion with the Economics major advisorFollowing the discussion, exceptions may be requested by completing and submitting this Petition Form to the department Chair. Requests will be considered only if the request is submitted prior to initiating the course work.   

Comprehensive Exam: Each candidate for a degree in Economics is required to pass a written comprehensive examination that is typically taken at the beginning of the spring semester of the senior year.  This is one reason why it is important to finish the three core classes by the end of the junior year.

Credit for Five College Courses: To receive elective credit for five college economics courses, the course must have an Economics 111/Introduction to Economics prerequisite.  Please check with your advisor if you have questions about specific courses.

Credit for Study Away Courses: Courses taken abroad may be used as elective courses.  Such non-Amherst courses must be taught in an economics department, and the student must receive one full Amherst College course credit for the work.  For more detailed information, see the "Study Away" section in the left-hand column of this page.

Pass/Fail Courses: ECON 111/111E may be taken on a Pass/Fail basis only by seniors or second semester juniors, and only with the consent of the instructor. Other departmental courses may be taken on a Pass/Fail basis at the discretion of the instructor. Majors may not use the Pass/Fail option in a course used to satisfy a major requirement.

Transfer Credit: Students who transfer to Amherst and wish to receive credit towards the major requirements for previous work must obtain written permission from the Department Chair.

Requirements for Declaring an Economics Major

In addition to the requirements described above, students must attain a grade of B or better in Economics 111 or a grade of B- or better in an Amherst College economics elective (numbered 200-290) before being allowed to register for a core course (numbered 300-361) or to add the economics major.  Entering students who pass out of Economics 111 may register for a core course with the consent of the instructor.