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.

We have also created a brief Advising Hub that condenses some of the most essential information about economics at Amherst into one short read. You can find it on the menu at the left.

To declare an economics major please see Amy Johnson in the Economics Department Office (306A Converse Hall). To process the paperwork, an unofficial transcript and declaration of major form are needed.

Major Program

A major in economics comprises a sequence of courses that begins with Economics 111, a survey of current economic issues and problems and an introduction to the basic tools essential for all areas of economics. Economics 111 is a requisite for all other courses in economics; and for many courses there is no other requisite. After completing Economics 111 a student may enroll in any of a variety of applied courses. Students may be excused from the requirement of taking Economics 111 if they demonstrate an adequate understanding of basic economic principles. Four specific ways of being excused from the Economics 111 requirement are:

  1. Attaining a grade of 4 or 5 on both the macro and micro portion of the Advanced Placement Exam;
  2. Passing a placement exam that is given by the department typically at the beginning of each semester;
  3. Attaining a grade of 6 or 7 on the higher level International Baccalaureate in Economics.
  4. Attaining a grade of A on the A levels.

In addition to Economics 111, all majors must complete the sequence of core theory courses:  Economics 300 or 301, 330 or 331, and 360 or 361.  These courses can be taken in any order, but it is recommended that a student take Economics 300/301 or 330/331 before enrolling in Economics 360/361.  In addition, it is not generally advisable to take more than one of the core theory courses in a given semester.

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. First, 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 consent of the instructor. Second, 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. Third, it is not generally advisable to take more than one of the core theory courses in a given semester. Fourth, 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. Fifth, 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. Sixth, 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 advisor. Following the discussion, exceptions may be requested by written petition to the Department. Requests will be considered only if the request is submitted prior to initiating the course work. 

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

Credit for Study Abroad 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 Abroad" section in left-hand column of this page.

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.

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.

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 consent of the instructor. 

**Covid-19 NOTE: For F20 all declarations will be handled remotely. Please fill out and submit this Google Form with required documents to begin the declaration process**