There are three elements of the core theory of economics: microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics. Microeconomics addresses the behavior of individuals and firms, developing theories to understand how these actors make decisions in a variety of market situations. Macroeconomics takes a more top-down approach, studying the behavior of the economy as a whole, through analysis of aggregate supply and demand, growth, inflation, and unemployment. Econometrics completes the economist’s basic toolbox, developing statistical and mathematical tools to test economic hypotheses using empirical data.

All majors must complete the sequence of core theory courses covering these three areas.  These will indeed form the core of your study of economics.

Things to keep in mind about the core theory courses:

  • You must complete Math 111 (Calculus) before taking any of the core classes.

  • You must complete Econ 111 with a grade of B or better before taking any of the core classes.  If your grade in Econ 111 was below a B, you must complete an economics elective with a grade of B- or better before taking any of the core classes.

  • The core courses can be taken in any order, but it is recommended that a student take Economics 300/301 (Micro) or 330/331 (Macro) before enrolling in Economics 360/361 (Metrics).

  • It is not advisable to take more than one of the core theory courses in a given semester.

  • You should complete the core by the end of your junior year. There are two reasons for this.  First, once you complete the core nearly all of the upper-level electives (400-level courses) will be open to you.  Second, the economics comprehensive exam occurs in the first weeks of the spring semester of senior year and you must complete the core before that.

  • 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.

  • You must take the core at Amherst College.

The Core Theory Courses

We offer two versions of each of these core theory courses: regular and advanced.  Each student takes either the regular or the advanced of each subject (but not both regular and advanced). Hence, there are six core theory courses:

o Microeconomics

  • Econ 300: Microeconomic Theory

  • Econ 301: Advanced Microeconomic Theory

o Macroeconomics

  • Econ 330: Macroeconomic Theory

  • Econ 331: Advanced Macroeconomic Theory

o Econometrics

  • Econ 360: Econometrics

  • Econ 361: Advanced Econometrics

Regular Core Theory Courses

The regular versions of the core theory courses are offered in every semester.  Each class generally has around 40-50 students and includes weekly or twice-weekly problem sets, occasional quizzes, and three or four exams.  Mathematics 111 (Introduction to Calculus) is a prerequisite for all of the regular core theory classes.

Advanced Core Theory Courses

The advanced versions of the core theory courses are offered once per year, either in the fall or the spring.  In recent years, advanced micro and advanced metrics have been offered in the fall and advanced macro in the spring, though this may change from year to year.  These classes have more extensive mathematical prerequisites. The additional prerequisites (in addition to those listed above) are:

  • For Advanced Microeconomics: Mathematics 121 (Intermediate   Calculus) and Mathematics 211 (Multivariable Calculus) or equivalents

  • For Advanced Macroeconomics: Mathematics 121 (Intermediate Calculus) or equivalent

  • For Advanced Econometrics: Mathematics 211 (Multivariable Calculus), and Statistics 111 (Introduction to Statistics) or Statistics 135 (Introduction to Statistics via Modeling) or equivalents

Each advanced core theory class generally has around 10-20 students and includes weekly or twice-weekly problem sets, quizzes, and three or four exams. These courses are recommended for students who are more mathematically-inclined, for those who are planning to do an honors thesis, and for those who are considering applying to economics Ph.D. programs after graduation.

If you have any questions about these policies, consult a member of the economics faculty.