Info for Majors

The primary objectives of the economics major are to develop an understanding of how individuals, organizations and societies meet their material needs. The introductory courses present the fundamental principles of economics at a level that is useful for understanding a wide range of social and policy issues. The core theory courses provide a more rigorous grounding in the tools used in analyzing individual choice, the functioning of markets, and the behavior of output, employment, and inflation. The econometrics course familiarizes students with the methods used to analyze economic data, and equip them with the tools necessary to critique and conduct empirical research. The electives draw on the skills developed in the introductory and core courses to gain a richer understanding of specific aspects of economic behavior and public policy.

Given the hierarchical structure of the economics major, students considering the economics major should try to start with ECON 110 during their first year. Since ECON 255 requires a prior statistics course (preferably STAT 201 but STAT 101 is acceptable), possible economics majors should complete the statistics requirement relatively early in their college careers. Students considering the economics major should avoid enrolling in STAT 202 and instead take ECON 255 or talk to a faculty member in the department for curricular advice. Since the 400-level electives typically require at least two of the intermediate core courses (ECON 251, 252, or 255), students are strongly encouraged to complete the core courses by the end of junior year. We prefer that the three intermediate core classes be taken at Williams so students planning on studying abroad as juniors should aim to complete these courses before departure if possible.

Except for those receiving AP, IB, or A-level credit, nine courses are required for the economics major. These are:
Introductory courses
• Economics 110 Principles of Microeconomics
• Economics 120 Principles of Macroeconomics. Prerequisite: ECON 110

Passing the quantitative studies exam or the equivalent is a prerequisite for both classes. Both are suitable for non-majors. Electives numbered 200-299 will require one or both as prerequisites.

Core courses
• Economics 251 Price and Allocation Theory. Prerequisites: MATH 103 and ECON 110
• Economics 252 Macroeconomics. Prerequisites: MATH 103, ECON 110 and ECON 120
• Economics 255 Econometrics. Prerequisites: MATH 103 plus either STAT 101 or 201. The combination of STAT 201 and 346 will satisfy the ECON 255 major requirement, although not all upper-level electives and seminars accept STAT 201/346 as a prerequisite in lieu of ECON 255. POEC 253 may not substitute for ECON 255 in fulfilling the major requirements, although some electives may accept POEC 253 as a prerequisite in lieu of ECON 255.

The three core classes may be taken in any order. All of the 300- and 400-level electives will require at least one of the core classes, and many of the 400-level seminars require ECON 255.

Students must complete at least four economics electives in addition to the introductory and core classes listed above. At least two must be advanced electives numbered 350 to 395. At least one must be a seminar numbered 450-480, and a second seminar may be taken in lieu of a 300-level elective. Enrollment preference for 400-level classes is given to those who have not already taken a seminar. Note that some of the advanced electives may have specific requirements beyond the core economics courses and MATH 103. Juniors and seniors majoring in Economics or Political Economy may, with the permission of the instructor, enroll in 500-level graduate courses given by the Center for Development Economics. These courses can substitute for advanced electives numbered 350-395, unless otherwise noted in the course description.