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Social Science Division

Economics Major

What is Economics?

A good working definition of economics is the study of individuals and societies allocating scarce resources to satisfy unlimited wants. Economists do not attempt to establish society's goals, but rather examine the consequences of trying to achieve them. The goal of economists is similar to those of the social scientists explaining how humans interact with each other in a dynamic world. However, the major distinction between economics and the other social sciences is the economics approach usually emphasizes deductive reasoning. This foundation of theoretical models and empirical knowledge is used to gain a greater understanding of a wide variety of topics. In fact, this economic way of thinking also gives students the analytical training and tools to grapple with many issues generally considered to lie outside the confines of economics, such as those usually studied in law, sociology, political science, history and philosophy. Economics is a problem based social science that deals with some of the most serious issues confronting society (e.g., deficits, poverty, inflation, unemployment, economic growth, energy, pollution, military spending, etc.) as well as individual problems (e.g., wages, cost of living, taxes, voting, etc.). The discipline of economics draws upon the traditional liberal arts such as history and philosophy; natural sciences, such as mathematics and physics; and social sciences, such as political science, sociology, and psychology. The interdisciplinary nature of economics lies at the heart of an institution that stresses the liberal arts. In the last few years, economics programs have seen enrollments grow steadily. The economics major is now almost 2% of the national total. The popular attraction may be due to the flexibility the major offers in career options or it might be the perception that majoring in economics will improve a graduate's job prospects.

Objectives of the Major

The faculty is deeply committed to teaching our students economic theory the backbone of "the economic way of thinking." Once students have an understanding of the theory, they apply techniques to systematically assess private and social decisions. In addition to sharpening analytical skills, the faculty assist students in refining their writing, research and oral presentation skills.

Unique Aspects of the Major

The economic major requires 9 lower division units (3 courses, 2 of which satisfy general education requirements) and 28 upper division units (7 courses). This allows a great deal of flexibility for those interested in the major, including those who wish to double major. In the past, many students have double majored in Economics/Political Science, Economics/Business Administration, Economics/History, Economics/Journalism, and Economics/Mathematics. In addition, most upper division courses have a low student/faculty ratio.


The economics major provides several options pertaining to career goals. This allows the flexibility to change career plans without adverse consequences. There are sufficient opportunities within the major that changing majors "mid stream" would not cost time or units. Again, the power of the economic way of thinking applied over a wide spectrum of topics that allows this amount of flexibility in career choices.

Career Opportunities in Business

Since the major stresses methodology and problem solving techniques rather than rote memorization, job recruiters are especially attracted to economics graduates. The broad analytical training received by undergraduate economics majors is desired by many large corporations. Individuals with training in economics have become problem solvers. They have learned how to identify particular problems and provide alternative solutions. Economics majors have also learned specific skills that will enhance their performance in managerial decision making; for example: demand theory and estimation, production, and cost theory, analysis of market structure, antitrust policy, government regulation of business, capital budgeting, inflation, unemployment, determination of interest rates, and international economics. Many majors go into business. A Marquette University survey concluded that 41% of economics majors were working in business six months after graduation, while another 18% went into business after going to graduate school. A person with a bachelor's degree in Economics (depending on minor fields) would be "marketable" in a wide range of areas, including: public administration, management training and internships, sales, real estate and property appraisals, financial analysis, insurance, product management and others. The diversity of occupational areas demonstrates the broad applicability of the analytical skills developed in the major.

Major Requirements

Course IDCourse NameUnits
Lower Division (9 units)
ECON 210 Introduction to Microeconomics 3
ECON 211 Introduction to Macroeconomics 3
MATH 140 Calculus for Business and Economics 3
Upper Division (28 units)
ECON 310 Introduction to Statistics and Econometrics 4
ECON 320 Intermediate Microeconomic Theory 4
ECON 321 Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory 4
Electives - Choose at least four of the following:
ECON 410 Applied Econometrics 4
ECON 412 Money and Banking 4
ECON 421 Public Finance 4
ECON 425 Industrial Organization 4
ECON 426 Economic Analysis of Legal Institutions 4
ECON 427 Labor Economics 4
ECON 428 Behavioral Economics 4
ECON 429 International Trade and Finance 4
ECON 434 Urban and Regional Economics 4
ECON 442 Comparative Economic Systems 4
ECON 524 The Economics of Sports 4
ECON 526 American Economic History 4

Program Learning Objectives

A student who completes the Economics major should be able to:

  • Relate the core intuitions of economics – scarcity, marginal analysis, incentives, specialization and trade, and the coordinating function of prices – to economic and social phenomena, in order to produce sound economic analysis.
  • Use formal (mathematical) theoretical models to illustrate economic concepts.
  • Collect and analyze empirical data to distinguish trends and test economic theories.
  • Produce basic analyses of consumer choice, using it to generate insights into consumer behavior.
  • Produce basic analyses of market structure and firm behavior, using it to generate insights into firm behavior and market regulation.
  • Explain and apply the foundational insights of the economics of micro and macro policy.