Requirements

Economics Major

There are seven required courses for the major:

Required Courses
Core
ECON 2555Microeconomics1
ECON 2556Macroeconomics1
ECON 2557Economic Statistics1
Select three advanced topics courses numbered in the 3000s, at least one of which must be designated as a seminar (course number higher than 3500).3
Select one additional course in economics numbered 2000 or higher.1

Either ECON 1050 Principles of Microeconomics and Quantitative Reasoning or ECON 1101 Principles of Microeconomics serve as prerequisites for ECON 1102 Principles of Macroeconomics and, because these are prerequisites for most other economics courses, most students begin their work in economics with these introductory courses. Prospective majors are encouraged to take at least one core course by the end of the sophomore year, and all three core courses should be completed by the end of the junior year. Advanced topics courses have one or more of ECON 2555 Microeconomics, ECON 2556 Macroeconomics, and ECON 2557 Economic Statistics as prerequisites. 

All prospective majors and minors are required to complete MATH 1600 Differential Calculus or its equivalent prior to enrolling in the core courses. (A math placement into MATH 1700 Integral Calculus or higher counts as satisfying the MATH 1600 Differential Calculus requirement.)

Economics Minor

Required Courses
ECON 2555Microeconomics1
or ECON 2556 Macroeconomics
Select two additional courses numbered 2000 or higher.2
Select one of the following: a1
ECON 2557
Economic Statistics
MATH 1300
Biostatistics
MATH 1400
Statistics in the Sciences
MATH 2606
Statistics
PSYC 2520
Data Analysis
a score of four or five on the Advanced Placement Statistics exam

Economics and Finance Minor

Required Courses
ECON 2555Microeconomics1
ECON 3401Financial Economics1
One upper division course from ECON 2556, ECON 2557, or 3000–4001 b1
One course in the finance range: ECON 2400–2499, 3402–3499, or 3600–3699 b1
Select one of the following: c1
ECON 2557
Economic Statistics
MATH 1300
Biostatistics
MATH 1400
Statistics in the Sciences
MATH 2606
Statistics
PSYC 2520
Data Analysis
a score of four or five on the Advanced Placement Statistics exam

Because ECON 2555 Microeconomics is a prerequisite for ECON 3401 Financial Economics and other upper-level economics courses, prospective minors are encouraged to complete ECON 2555 Microeconomics by the end of their sophomore year.

Interdisciplinary Major

The department participates in an interdisciplinary major in mathematics and economics. See the Interdisciplinary Majors.

Additional Information and Department Policies

  • Normally, no more than two courses taken at another college or university may be counted toward economics major or minor requirements with departmental approval.
  • Economic courses numbered 1000 to 1099 (with the exception of ECON 1050 Principles of Microeconomics and Quantitative Reasoning) do not fulfill departmental requirements or serve as prerequisites for higher-level courses.
  • An independent study can be used to satisfy no more than one major requirement; an intermediate independent study can satisfy a 2000-level elective, or an advanced independent study can satisfy a 3000-level non-seminar.
  • Similarly, an independent study can be used to satisfy no more than one elective course requirement in either the economics minor or the economics and finance minor. 
  • To fulfill major or minor requirements, courses must be taken for letter grades and a C- or better must be earned.
  • In order for a course to serve as a prerequisite for a required course, students must earn a C- or better, or CR (credit), if taken Credit/D/Fail. 
  • Economics majors cannot also minor in economics or economics and finance. 
  • The statistics courses that count toward the minors that are from outside economics may double-count toward the economics minors. 
  • Students who aspire to advanced work in economics, e.g., an honors thesis and/or graduate study in a discipline related to economics, are strongly encouraged to master multivariate calculus (MATH 1800 Multivariate Calculus) and linear algebra (MATH 2000 Linear Algebra) early in their careers. Such students are also encouraged to take MATH 2606 Statistics instead of ECON 2557 Economic Statistics as a prerequisite for ECON 3516 Econometrics. The ECON 2557 Economic Statistics requirement is waived for students who complete MATH 2606 Statistics and ECON 3516 Econometrics. Students should consult the Department of Economics about other mathematics courses that are especially useful for advanced study in economics.
  • Students who do honors enroll in ECON 4050 and then ECON 4051 the following semester. However, a successfully completed honor's project is only worth one 3000-level non-seminar credit.

Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate (AP/IB)

Students who received a score of four or five on the Microeconomics AP exam are eligible to receive credit for ECON 1101 Principles of Microeconomics, and students who received a score of four or five on the Macroeconomics AP exam are eligible to receive credit for ECON 1102 Principles of Macroeconomics. Students who received a minimum score of six on the Economics IB exam are eligible for placement into courses requiring either ECON 1101 Principles of Microeconomics and/or ECON 1102 Principles of Macroeconomics, and will receive one general credit. Students who received a score of four or five on the Statistics AP exam have the option to use that score to satisfy the statistics requirement for either minor. No credit is awarded for AP or IB scores in economics if student is placed into or elects to take ECON 1050 Principles of Microeconomics and Quantitative Reasoning​. In order to receive credit for AP/IB work, students must have their scores officially reported to the Office of the Registrar by the end of their sophomore year at Bowdoin and must not also have taken ECON 1101 Principles of Microeconomics or ECON 1102 Principles of Macroeconomics respectively. In  order to receive credit for pre-matriculaion exams, students must have their scores officially reported to the Office of the Registrar by the end of the sophomore year.

Information for Incoming Students

The major in economics is designed for students who wish to obtain knowledge of the theoretical and empirical techniques of economics, and to learn how these techniques complement other perspectives learned at Bowdoin. The major provides an opportunity to learn economics as a social science, to study the process of drawing inferences from bodies of data and testing hypotheses against observation, and to apply economic theory to social objectives, including those that are not obviously "economic" in nature. Economics as a way of thinking is broadly useful to many students who are interested in a wide range of individual goals and social concerns (pursuit of "The Common Good").

Economics addresses the functioning of economic institutions (i.e., financial markets, labor markets, corporations, government agencies), and current policy issues: determinants of the pace and nature of economic development; the allocation of health-care services; impacts of urban policy and the design of cities; the advantages and disadvantages of government spending and debt; the tendency toward poverty and its alleviation; human impacts on the environment and ways of addressing them; environmental justice; the effects of globalization and technological change on various groups across society; arguments for and against deregulation; the economics of racial and gender injustice, etc. The major is a useful preparation for graduate study in economics, law, business, finance, or public administration, but majors have also gone on to medicine, environmental policy, education, agricultural work, computer science, non-profit work, and many other fields.

The Economics department will provide an initial course placement for all first-year students, based on each student’s responses to the previously required Math Questionnaire, Quantitative Skills (QS) assessment tool, and their submitted AP information. Based on previous math experience and the answers to some of the questions in the QR assessment and Math Questionnaire, students will be placed in one of the following gateway courses for Economics: ECON 1050 Principles of Microeconomics and Quantitative ReasoningECON 1101 Principles of Microeconomics; ECON 1102 Principles of Macroeconomics; or a 2000-level elective of their choosing.

Students who have questions about their placement, or who wish to register for a first Economics course that is different from their original placement, will need to email the Economics placement coordinator Rachel Connelly. If students have not officially submitted AP/IB scores, then that information has not been considered and their placement may need to be adjusted.

ECON 1101 Principles of Microeconomics has multiple sections offered each semester and is the standard gateway course into the department. ECON 1101 Principles of Microeconomics serves as a prerequisite for ECON 1102 Principles of Macroeconomics and several additional 2000 level electives.

ECON 1050 Principles of Microeconomics and Quantitative Reasoning covers all the material in ECON 1101 Principles of Microeconomics in a more supported Quantitative Reasoning (QR) environment. Just as with ECON 1101 Principles of Microeconomics, ECON 1050 Principles of Microeconomics and Quantitative Reasoning serves as a prerequisite for ECON 1102 Principles of Macroeconomics and several additional 2000 level electives. The main difference from ECON 1101 Principles of Microeconomics is a required weekly lab taught by QR faculty in conjunction with the Economics faculty member assigned to the course. In Academic Year 2022-2023, ECON 1050 Principles of Microeconomics and Quantitative Reasoning will be taught in the spring. Students placed in ECON 1050 Principles of Microeconomics and Quantitative Reasoning who are interested in majoring in economics should be assured that it is fine to wait until the spring to begin taking Economics classes and are encouraged to take MATH 1050 Quantitative Reasoning in the fall. Students who take MATH 1050 Quantitative Reasoning in the fall and do well in that course can then take either ECON 1101 Principles of Microeconomics with a prerequisite override of their placement or ECON 1050 Principles of Microeconomics and Quantitative Reasoning in the spring. Students who find they need more practice with QR concepts are encouraged to choose ECON 1050 Principles of Microeconomics and Quantitative Reasoning in the spring even after taking MATH 1050 Quantitative Reasoning.

Students who have taken AP Microeconomics and received a 4 or 5 will receive college credit for ECON 1101 Principles of Microeconomics and will be placed in ECON 1102 Principles of Macroeconomics. They are discouraged from retaking ECON 1101 Principles of Microeconomics; if they nevertheless wish to take ECON 1101 Principles of Microeconomics, they will forfeit their economics AP credit and will need a prerequisite override from the instructor.

Students who have taken AP Microeconomics and AP Macroeconomics and received a 4 or 5 on both, as well as students who received a minimum score of 6 on the Economics IB exam, should have received a placement that reads “any 2000-level elective”. For these students, ECON 2001 Economic Policy or ECON 2304 Economics of the European Union are the appropriate classes if they want to get started right away with economics. If students with these high AP/IB scores are adamant about taking ECON 1101 Principles of Microeconomics or ECON 1102 Principles of Macroeconomics, despite not being the recommended path, then they will forfeit their AP economics credits and will need a prerequisite override from the instructor. With rare exceptions, students wishing to start immediately with ECON 2555 Microeconomics  or ECON 2556 Macroeconomics should wait until the spring term. Students seeking that exception should see the Economics department placement coordinator Rachel Connelly.

In fall 2022 the Economics Department will offer three other courses designed for first years. While these courses do not count towards the major, they will provide first-year students an alternative entryway into the discipline. These course are: ECON 1013 The Moral Economy, ECON 1018 The Art of the Deal: Commerce and Culture, and ECON 1099 Using “Big Data” to Investigate and Suggest Solutions to Economic and Social Problems.


This is an excerpt from the official Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook. View the Catalogue