We offer many electives, covering a wide variety of topics in economics. Each major must take five or six of these courses. 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 our “lower-level electives.” These courses require only Economics 111 as a prerequisite, and are most appropriate for students relatively early in their study of economics. They tend to be slightly larger lecture- based classes with 30 to 50 students in each.
The elective courses numbered in the 400s are colloquially called our “upper-level electives.” These courses require one or more of the core theory courses (300-level courses) as prerequisites. They are appropriate for students a bit further along in their study of economics, primarily (though not exclusively) juniors and seniors. They often tend to be smaller seminar-style classes with fewer than 20 students in each. Classes will often require close reading of the current academic literature, the writing of papers of varying length, and empirical or theoretical exercises.
How Many Electives to Take
The typical economics major will need to take 5 elective courses to complete the major.* At least one of these must be an upper-level elective, but we encourage you to view that as a minimum rather than a maximum. Once you have mastered the core theory of the 300-level courses, it is satisfying to be able to apply that theory in more advanced study of topics in economics in the 400-level courses. To be eligible to enter the honors program, students must complete at least one upper- level elective before senior year. Furthermore, honors students must complete at least two upper-level electives prior to graduation.
If you have any questions about these policies, consult a member of the economics faculty.
* In most circumstances, a student will take 5 economics electives. However, if a student has tested out of Economics 111, they will need to take 6 economics electives to complete the major. An honors student must take 10 economics courses (including Econ 498 and Econ 499), so they will take four of the usual electives plus these two thesis-related courses. If an honors student has tested out of Economics 111, they will need to take five of the usual electives plus the two thesis-related courses.