At its heart, economics is a social science that seeks to explain human behavior. Far from being limited to questions of the demand and supply for goods and services, economics seeks to answer questions spanning a wide range of issues. These include poverty, discrimination, crime, pollution, education, international trade, taxation, natural resource management, and many other areas. Unlike the study of business management which focuses on improvements for a single firm or industry, economics takes a societal view that examines the impact of decisions or policies on individuals, households, businesses, taxpayers, the environment, and the country or the world as a whole.
In order to examine the impacts of policies from a societal view, economic analysis relies on a highly quantitative analytical method that requires knowledge of microeconomic and macroeconomic theory, mathematical modeling, statistics and logic. Graduates who have mastered the “economic way of thinking” are prepared to move on into successful careers. Our majors have gone on to careers in law, business, finance, foreign service, government, consulting, education, and research. For those wishing to pursue graduate school, economics majors tend to score very well on entrance exams. Nationwide, economics graduates tend to score better than majors from business management, political science, international studies, psychology and virtually every other field of study on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), Law School Admission Test (LSAT), and the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Many of our majors have successfully completed graduate school in these areas.
Students planning to major in economics must take ECN 111, 112, 211, 212, 215* and five additional economics courses at the 200-level or above. Students are strongly encouraged, though not required, to take MAT 109 or BUS 109 prior to taking ECN 215. Students will fulfill the writing in the major requirement (W3) by taking ECN 215.
In addition to the required courses, students must complete the Senior Capstone Experience, which is fulfilled by writing a thesis or passing comprehensive exams.
*Note: For seniors graduating with the class of 2017 - students are required to take either ECN 215, MAT 109, or BUS 109.
Students who wish to minor in economics must complete ECN 111, 112, and four economics courses at the 200-level or above.
Social Science Distribution Requirements
Students who elect to use economics to fulfill their social science distribution requirement with only one course from economics can choose from ECN 111, 112, or 117. If students want to fulfill their social science distribution requirement with two courses from economics, they may take ECN 111 and 112, or they may take either ECN 111 or 112 and any one of the following courses (Some of the courses below require 111 or 112. See individual course descriptions for prerequisites.):
ECN 117 Introduction to Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
ECN 218 Economic Development
ECN 219 Labor Economics
ECN 312 Public Finance
ECN 317 Environmental Economics
ECN 318 Natural Resource Economics
ECN 320 Econometrics
ECN 411 International Finance
ECN 415 Government and Business
ECN 416 Law and Economics
Internships through The Washington Center
Students who major or minor in economics have the opportunity to undertake an internship in Washington, D.C. through The Washington Center (see www.twc.edu). During this semester-long program, students may attend hearings, conduct policy research, draft correspondence, monitor legislation, lobby members of Congress, or write analytical reports depending upon their placement. In addition, students attend an evening seminar selected from a variety of topics offered during the semester. Finally, students participate in lectures, site visits, small group discussions, briefings, and other required events designed to help them understand the connection between their academic and professional goals and the special educational opportunities available through living and working in Washington, D.C. Students earn 16 credits for this internship during the semester (eight toward upper-level economics courses and eight for general electives). If students undertake an internship during the ten-week summer program, they earn eight credits. Four of the eight credits will be applied as an upper-level elective for the economics major and the other four credits will be applied towards general electives.
Regional Concentrations, Individual Projects, and Secondary Teaching Certificates
Students who major or minor in economics may pursue a regional concentration. These concentrations are administered through the International Studies Program, but students are not required to major in International Studies. Current regions of study include African Studies, Asian Studies, European Studies, Latin American Studies and Near Eastern Studies. More information about the requirements for these concentrations can be found in the International Studies Program section in this catalog.
In addition to the regional concentration, the department encourages activities outside the classroom by helping interested individuals find suitable projects and programs whether they be independent studies, cooperative research projects, study abroad, or internships outside of the Washington Center Program. In many cases, upper-level academic credit may be earned through these activities.
Economics majors may earn a secondary teaching certificate in social studies. Students interested in a secondary teaching certificate should inform the chairs of both the Economics and Education Departments as early as possible in their college careers.
- Principles of Macroeconomics
An introduction to principles of economic analysis, economic institutions, and issues of economic policy. The course examines factors determining national income, price, and employment levels as well as the international position in the U.S. economy.
- Principles of Microeconomics
An introduction to the principles of economic analysis, economic institutions, and issues of economic policy. Principal topics covered include commodity and factor price determination under various market structures, and resource allocation and income distribution through a pricing system.
- Introduction to Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
Environmental and natural resource economics focuses on the economic sources of environmental problems and natural resource use in a market economy and the evaluation of the alternative policies for dealing with these problems. This analysis extends to the examination of regional issues (local air and water pollution, recycling programs, and fisheries) and global issues (climate change and waste disposal). The course is intended for students not planning to major in economics.
- Intermediate Macroeconomics
The course reviews the measurement of national income and examines modern and classical theories explaining the determination of national income, employment, price, and growth levels. Prerequisite: Economics 111.
- Intermediate Microeconomics
The course examines modern and classical theories of demand and supply, and analyzes market equilibrium, general equilibrium, and criteria for welfare maximization. Prerequisite: Economics 112.
- Data Analysis
An introduction to applied statistical methods, including descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing, analysis of variance, and linear regression. Students study questionnaire design, sample selection, and data analysis techniques using SPSS or other software packages. Students also design their own online survey and analyze the results. Students are strongly encouraged, though not required, to take MAT 109 or BUS 109 prior to taking ECN 215.
- Economic Development
This course introduces students to issues related to economic development and growth among poor countries. The topics include measurement of development, poverty, inequality, population growth, the role of markets and government, population, trade, and the role of institutions. Students will also compare the success or failure of poverty alleviation strategies in different countries. Prerequisite: Economics 111 or 112.
- Labor Economics
This course combines theoretical modeling and basic empirical analysis to study the market for labor. We use models of labor supply and labor demand in different market settings to examine differences in earnings, labor-force participation, and unemployment. We study the effects of education, technological change, information, immigration, and government policies on earnings and employment.
Prerequisite: (Economics 112) and (Math 109 or Economics 215).
- Public Finance
An examination of the role of government in a competitive market economy and the effects of tax and expenditure policies at the federal, state, and local levels on the allocation of resources and the distribution of income and wealth. Prerequisite: Economics 111 or 112.
- Money and Banking
An examination of banking institutions, techniques of money management, theories of the demand for money, and the influence of money on economic activity. Prerequisite: Economics 211.
- Regional and Urban Economics
An examination of the economic factors influencing the growth of urban concentrations, their size, and their functions. The course studies the problems of transportation, housing, segregation and discrimination; poverty; crime; the various ecological factors affecting cities, including pollution, congestion, and urban decay; and the financing and provision of public services, including planning, zoning, and the special problems of inner cities. Prerequisite: Economics 112 and 212.
- Environmental Economics
This course is a survey of the application of economic analysis to environmental problems. Analysis will focus on: policy options available to lawmakers and citizens, methods for assigning value to the environment, and air and water pollution and the laws meant to control these problems. Prerequisite: Economics 112.
- Natural Resource Economics
This course surveys the economic theory behind, and the management of, renewable and non-renewable resources including fisheries, minerals, timber, water, and biodiversity. Analysis of management options is at the local, regional, and national levels. Analysis includes trade-offs of policies and the effect of property rights regime on resource use. Prerequisite: Economics 112.
This course introduces the statistical tools that economists use to test and quantify their theories. Regression analysis is used to evaluate relationships between economic variables. The results are interpreted with the help of concepts like causality and significance. Prerequisite: (Economics 111 or Economics 112) and (Math 109 or Economics 215).
327, 328, 329.
An integrated three-course unit for students spending a semester at the Washington Center. Students receive 8 elective credits in Economics and 8 general elective credits.
- Washington Center Internship
A full-time, semester-long internship in Washington, DC, with a federal agency, non-profit organization, or private firm. Depending upon interest and internship placement, students may attend hearings, conduct policy research, draft correspondence, monitor legislation, lobby members of Congress, or write analytical reports. Students will create an in-depth portfolio of their internship experience. 12 credits. This course is normally open only to juniors and seniors.
- Washington Center Seminar
Washington Center Interns participate in an evening seminar selected from a variety of topics offered during the semester. Students engage in class discussion and may also research seminar topics, prepare written assignments, and take examinations. Required of and limited to students enrolled in Economics 327. Three credits.
- Washington Center Forum
Washington Center Interns participate in lectures, site visits, small group discussions, briefings, and other required events designed to help them understand the connection between their academic and professional goals and the special educational opportunities available through living and working in Washington, DC. Evaluations of these experiences are included in the student portfolio. Required of and limited to students enrolled in Economics 327. One credit.
- International Trade
The principles that govern world trade and investment and the factors that determine the direction of international trade will be discussed. The gains from trade, the basis for trade, and the arguments for and against protection will be examined. The effects of various policies that obstruct the free flow of trade will be analyzed. The influence of international trade on economic development will also be studied within the contexts of both developed and developing economies. In addition, the regional and international organizations that are designed to influence or promote the orderly functioning of the international trading system will be described. Prerequisite: Economics 111 and 112.
- International Finance
The course examines foreign exchange markets, the concept of the balance of payments, and exchange rate determination. The cases for fixed and flexible exchange rates are presented. The various mechanisms for achieving domestic and international equilibrium and stability, in terms of employment, prices, and growth, are discussed. The evolution of the international monetary system and current international economic problems are analyzed. Prerequisite: Economics 111.
- Government and Business
An exploration of the economic, political, and legal aspects of antitrust, regulation, and public enterprise. Major topics include: monopolies, mergers, industry structure and performance, various restrictive practices such as collusion and exclusion, and the role and nature of public enterprise in the United States and abroad. Prerequisite: Economics 111 and 112.
- Law and Economics
This course describes how rules, e.g. property rights or contract law, should be designed to encourage economic efficiency. The human response to the prices imposed by laws on different kinds of behavior is analyzed. Applications to land use legislation, consumer products liability, the criminal justice system, and medical malpractice are included. Prerequisite: Economics 112
194, 294, 394, 494. Selected Topics in Economics
The topics covered by this course vary from term to term as dictated by student and faculty interest. Course topics have included the history of economic thought, American and European economic development, mathematical economics, African economic development, and other topics not specifically covered in other economics courses. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.
190, 290, 390, 490. Internship
195, 295, 395, 495. On-campus Research
196, 296, 396, 496. Off-campus Research
197, 297, 397, 497. Independent Study in Economics
The topics covered through independent study vary as dictated by student and faculty interest.
SCE. Senior Capstone Experience
All students are required to complete the Senior Capstone Experience. This can take the form of a senior thesis or comprehensive exams. In the case of the thesis, students are required to begin their research in the spring semester of their junior year and submit a thesis proposal in September of their senior year. Students who choose to take the comprehensive exams instead must pass the microeconomics, macroeconomics, and field exams. For the thesis or for the comprehensive exams, students will receive a letter grade.
Courses offered in the Washington College Abroad Programs
This course examines fundamental economic concepts; comparative economic systems; demand, supply, and market equilibrium; elasticities of supply and demand; production and costs; price and output determination under competitive and monopolistic conditions; and the structure and development of the South African economy. Note: this course may not be taken with Economics 112. Offered at Rhodes University, South Africa.
- Intermediate Microeconomics
This course examines the theory of consumer behavior; production theory and costs; theory of imperfectly competitive markets, theory of income distribution; general equilibrium and social welfare, with attention given to South Africa. Note: this course may not be taken with Economics 211. Offered at Rhodes University, South Africa. Prerequisite: Economics 112.
- Development Economics
This course examines broadly the development problem; mainstream approaches to economic development; cumulative causation; technological constraints and unemployment; market imperfections; macroeconomic theory and policy. Note: this course may not be taken with Economics 218. Students must complete a second term (i.e., half-course) within the Economics Department to gain credit for the course. Two credits; four credits for successful completion of both terms. Offered at Rhodes University, South Africa. Prerequisite: Economics 111 or Economics 112.
- South African Economy
A comprehensive survey of the problems and challenges facing the South African economy. Students must complete a second term (i.e., half-course) within the Economics Department to gain credit for the course. Two credits; four credits for successful completion of both terms. Offered at Rhodes University, South Africa. Prerequisite: Economics 111 and Economics 112.
- The Making of the European Economy
Examines the process of European economic integration on a micro- and macroeconomic scale, covering both theory and policy analysis of the integration process. Includes visits to businesses and government agencies, supplementing course material with presentations of business executives, practicing economists, and financial experts. Offered in the London program only, both fall and spring semesters. Prerequisite: Economics 111 or Economics 112.Three credits.
- Analysis of European Economic Performance
Taught in conjunction with Economics 322, but utilizes more economic theory and entails more difficult exams and a more sophisticated paper. Offered in the London program only, in the fall semester. Prerequisite: Economics 212 Intermediate Macro and one of the following: Economics 215 Data Analysis I or Economics 211 Intermediate Micro. Three credits.
- International Economics
This course undertakes an analysis of international trade; balance of payments structure and concepts; foreign exchange markets; and the history of the international monetary system. Students must complete a second term (i.e., half-course) within the Economics Department to gain credit for the course. Two credits; four credits for successful completion of both terms. Offered at Rhodes University, South Africa. Prerequisite: Economics 111 and 112.