Majors and Minors

Economics Major | Economics Minor

General Distribution Requirement

All courses in the economics department count toward the general distribution requirement in social science with the exception of  ECON 110, ECON 113, ECON 210, ECON 256ECON 353, ECON 358 and internships, independents, and preceptorships. Topics courses will be considered for general distribution on a course-by-course basis, and approved at the discretion of the department chair.

General Education Requirements

Courses that meet the general education requirements in writing, quantitative thinking, internationalism and multiculturalism will be posted on the Registrar’s web page in advance of registration for each semester.

Additional information regarding the general distribution requirement and the general education requirements can be found in the graduation requirements section of this catalog.

Honors Program

The economics department participates in the Honors Program. Eligibility requirements, application procedures and specific project expectations for the economics department are available from either the department office or the Director of Academic Programs.

Topics Courses

ECON 194, ECON 294, ECON 394, ECON 494

Topics courses offered in recent years have included: Introduction to the American Economy, Economics of Education, Health Economics, Quantitative Macroeconomic Analysis, and Deals. Information on topics courses to be offered in 2012–2013 may be obtained from the department office, and will be posted as part of the class schedule prior to registration.

Course Numbering

The logic behind the departmental numbering of courses is as follows: courses in the 100s have no prerequisite; courses in the 200s have ECON 119 as the sole prerequisite; courses in the 300s and 400s have prerequisites other than ECON 119 (and sometimes ECON 119 as well). The 300 level courses that are required for both a minor and major in economics are ECON 361 (Intermediate Microeconomic Analysis), Economics ECON 371 (Intermediate Macroeconomic Analysis) and ECON 381 (Introduction to Econometrics). Some or all of these courses are required for the 400 level courses. Some of the intermediate level electives (e.g., ECON 342, Economics of Poverty in the US) require ECON 119 and a 200-level course, but not all do. The category of 600s is reserved for independent projects, internships and preceptorships.

The distinction between Group A and Group B elective courses is made on methodological grounds. Group A courses are more theoretical, mathematical and abstract. Theorizing about human behavior in Group A courses, either formally or informally, generally starts with the assumption that people are rational (either fully or quasi) and that they attempt to maximize some objective function (utility, profit, etc.) subject to constraints. If the course is more empirical in nature, hypothesis testing takes center stage. Group B courses generally fall under the category of business courses and while these courses are very important for our undergraduate economic majors, they are not central to the liberal arts economics core.

Policy on Grades

In order to be accepted into a 300-level course in the sequence, a student must have received a grade of C– or higher in any 200-level prerequisite.

Independent Study

The department offers independent study options in the form of independent projects, internships, preceptorships and Honors independent projects. For more information contact the department and review the Curriculum section of the catalog.

Economics Major

Major Requirements

The major in economics requires 1) a minimum of nine economics courses, 2) the department's capstone experience, and 3) two required courses in mathematics. Of the nine economics courses four are required courses: ECON 119 - Principles of Economics, ECON 361 - Intermediate Microeconomic Analysis, ECON 371 - Intermediate Macroeconomic Analysis, and ECON 381 - Introduction to Econometrics. Three of the remaining five courses must be from Group A (see Economics Major graph) and include: one course at the 200 level plus two courses above that level, at least one of which must be numbered above 400. The final two courses can be exclusively from Group A or Group B or some combination of the two groups. Approved study-away economics courses  fall into Group A and students can count up to two of these for the major. Similarly, approved business courses not taken at Macalester fall into Group B and students can count up to two of these toward the major requirements.

Minimum grade of a C- is required for a course to count towards the economics major.

The capstone experience requirement in economics may be satisfied by any one of the following: (a) an approved course in the 400s; (b) an approved topics course; (c) an independent project that includes a major paper; or (d) an honors thesis. (This capstone experience is in addition to the eight courses within the department required for the major and is to be undertaken during the senior year.)

The capstone experience can be satisfied either by taking an additional 400 level course that is both from Group A and has been designated as a capstone course, conducting an approved independent study, or completing ECON 444 - Honors Seminar and an honors thesis.

Math courses required for an economics major are 1) MATH 135 - Applied Multivariable Calculus I or MATH 137 - Applied Multivariable Calculus II and 2)  MATH 155 - Introduction to Statistical Modeling. The department recommends that students take MATH 137when possible.

Topics courses, which by college convention carry the number ECON 194, ECON 294, ECON 394, or ECON 494, may be taught at all levels of difficulty. Those topics courses for which only ECON 119 is prerequisite are the equivalent of 200 level courses for purposes of fulfilling the major requirements. Those for which a 200 level course is prerequisite are the equivalent of 300 level courses. Those for which ECON 361, ECON 371, and/or ECON 381 are prerequisite are generally classified as the equivalent of 400 level courses. Information on these classifications is included in Topics course descriptions or may be obtained from the department chairperson.

Economics Minor

Minor Requirements

The minor in economics requires a minimum of six courses within the department and either MATH 135 - Applied Multivariable Calculus I or MATH 137 - Applied Multivariable Calculus II. The department recommends students take MATH 137 when possible. Neither MATH 135 nor MATH 137 may not be taken on an S/SD/NC ("Pass/Fail") basis. The following three courses within the department are required: ECON 119, ECON 361, ECON 371. The minimal number of three electives is subject to the following constraints: a) one must be in the 200s; b) neither of the other two may have a number below 300 and only one of them may have a number in the 600s. Two of the electives must be from Group A courses.