ECONOMICS: INFORMATION FOR NEW STUDENTS
Amherst College Department of Economics
Information for Spring 2015
Economics 111: An Introduction to Economics
The Structure of Economics 111/111E
For Spring 2015, Economics 111 will be taught in 5 separate sections of about 30 students each. Each section covers the same material but meets on its own schedule. Students should work with their advisor to choose a section that fits nicely into their schedule.
Each section of Econ 111 has only a limited number of spots. If a section is closed, you should choose another section that still has space. If you decide to try to wait for a spot to open up in a closed section, you should get on the waiting list maintained in the Economics Department Office. Please note that there is no guarantee a spot will open up.
Please note: Economics 111E offered by Prof. Sims includes additional environmental applications. Enrollment preference for this section will be given to students interested in Environmental Studies. Not offered Spring 2015.
Available Sections for Spring 2015
An Introduction to Economics
ECON 111-01: MW 2-3:20 PM; T 1-1:50 PM
ECON 111-02: WF 2-3:20 PM; TH 9-9:50 AM
ECON 111-03: MW 8:30-9:50 AM; T 1-1:50 PM
ECON 111-04: TTH 10-11:20 AM; W 11-11:50 AM
ECON 111-05: TTH 1-2:20 PM; W 1-1:50 PM
Students who display sufficient knowledge of elementary economics may have the option of passing out of Economics 111/111E if they wish. Such students may go directly into advanced courses, though we generally recommend that students pursuing this strategy start with a 200-level economics elective. Students have several options for exhibiting sufficient proficiency in elementary economics:
- Proficiency Examination in Economics: pass the exam given by the department. (see details below)
- Advanced Placement Exam: a grade of 4 or 5 on both the micro and macro portions of the AP Exam.
- International Baccalaureate: a grade of 6 or 7 on the higher level International Baccalaureate.
- A-levels: grade of "A" on the A Levels.
If the College does not have a record of your successful completion of one of the alternative options, please provide documentation to the department.
The Proficiency Examination in Economics is given each year at the beginning of the Fall semester. If you are interested in taking the Proficiency Exam, please contact Jeanne Reinle (firstname.lastname@example.org) to arrange a time.
The Economics Major and Economics Courses
The Economics Major
The economics major consists of a total of nine full-semester courses in economics, including:
- An Introduction to Economics (111/111E)
- 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 electives numbered 200-290 and two electives numbered 400-490
There are also additional major requirements, which include:
- At least two of the electives must be upper level electives (numbered 400-490)
- Mathematics 111 or equivalent is also required
- Honors students must take a total of ten economics courses
- 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.
If you are interested in economics, you should start with Economics 111/111E and then move on to a mix of electives and core theory classes. Keep in mind that most majors take additional classes in mathematics and related social sciences. We encourage interested students to peruse the Economics Student Handbook and the department’s information in the Course Catalog. Both are available online or in hard copy (you can pick up a paper copy of the Handbook in the department office). If you need further details, look in the Catalog and the Handbook, or come ask us.
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 lecture-based classes with 30 to 50 students. The elective courses numbered in the 400s are colloquially called “upper-level electives.” These courses are 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.
All economics majors must complete the sequence of three 300-level core theory courses covering the three core areas 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. Each core course is offered in a regular version and an advanced version. 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).
Please note: In order to register for a core theory course or 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.