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College of Letters & Science


Admission to the Major
Requirements for the Major
Option A: Economics
Option B: Economics—Mathematical Emphasis
Requirements for the Major in Economics
Requirements for the Major in Economics—Math Emphasis
Directed Study
Honors in the Major
Internship in Economics
Topic Areas
Preparation for Ph.D. Programs in Economics

7238 Sewell Social Science Building, 1180 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706; 608-262-6925; www.econ.wisc.edu

Professors Brock, Corbae, Deneckere, Durlauf, Engel, Hansen, Hendricks, Kennan, Porter, Sandholm, Scholz, Seshadri, Smith, Staiger, Taber, Walker, West, Williams, Wolfe, Wright; Associate Professors Lentz, Rostek, Sorensen, Weretka; Assistant Professors Aradillas-Lopez, Bianchi, Bilir, Gregory, Fu, Fukushima, Gandhi, Houde, Navarro-Lozano, Penta, Quint, Roys, Serrano-Padial, Shi; Affiliated Faculty Chang, Chinn, DeLeire, Kamata, Montgomery, Ortalo-Magne, Samak, Schechter, Smeeding, Wallace

Undergraduate advisors in the major: 7238 Social Science Building, see Undergraduate Home on the department website.

Career development coordinator: see Undergraduate Home on the department website.

Faculty diversity liaison: Contact the department.

A major in economics gives students a greater understanding of how people, businesses, and governments respond to their economic environment. Many of the issues that fill the newspapers—jobs, wages, taxes, the cost of living, inequality, pollution, poverty, and economic growth—are, in fundamental ways, economic issues. The daily decisions of businesses and consumers are largely economic. Economists seek to understand the decisions of businesses, consumers, and current economic issues by developing a systematic and thorough understanding of precisely how the economic system operates, including the mechanisms by which resources are allocated, prices determined, income redistributed, and economic growth promoted.

The analytical method of economics recognizes that various choices are open to a society in solving its economic problems. Students are often attracted to economics as a discipline precisely because they want to understand the decisions of people and businesses and to better understand and evaluate economic policy. To begin to approach these issues as an economist requires an understanding of economic theory, empirical methodology, and an understanding of the institutional details and advanced practice gained from intensive study of specific subfields of economics. Consequently, the undergraduate economics major is organized around a progression of courses that first provides a broad introduction to economics, then develops the theoretical tools that provide the foundation of modern economic thought, and finishes with advanced courses designed to provide greater in-depth knowledge of specific fields (such as labor markets, industrial organization, international economics, public finance, banking and finance, macroeconomics, microeconomics, and econometrics).

An economics major is valuable in the job market because the major is designed to train people to think analytically and clearly about a wide variety of issues. This skill is valued by many employers. An economics major is also good preparation for graduate work in a number of areas: business, law, public policy, economics, public administration, industrial relations, international relations, urban and regional planning, and environmental studies.

Admission to the Major

  1. Completion of two (2) Econ courses on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus with a 2.000 GPA.
  2. A 2.000 GPA in all Econ courses and other major coursework taken at UW–Madison
  3. Completion of one (1) calculus course
    • For Option B, Math 221 or higher is required

Requirements for the Major

The department offers two major options:

Option A: Economics provides a well-rounded major in economics that is valuable for employment following graduation, or subsequent graduate work in business, law, public policy, and related disciplines.

Option B: Economics—Mathematical Emphasis provides students with the mathematical and statistical background needed for in-depth study of the analytical aspects of economics. Its requirements are designed to prepare students for graduate study in economics and related fields, or for careers as professional economists in business or government.

All majors (Options A and B) must fulfill the following requirements:

  1. 2.000 GPA in all Major and Economics courses
  2. 2.000 GPA in Upper Level major courses, as designated by program.
  3. 15 upper-level credits in the major, in residence
  4. 15 credits in the Economics subject, on campus (in residence and not through study abroad)

Students should consult DARS for detailed analysis of degree progress for this major. DARS is the document of record and must show all requirements completed before a degree with this major can be awarded. DARS lists courses acceptable to meet these major requirements. DARS is available in the Student Center and from the student's academic advisor or dean's office.

Requirements for the Major in Economics

  • Declaration of the Option A major
  • Calculus: Math 211 or 221, or higher
  • Statistics: Econ 310 or Math 309
  • 30 credits of economics course work to include:
    • Microeconomics and macroeconomics: Econ 101 and 102, or 111
    • Intermediate economic theory: Econ 301 and 302
    • Two advanced economics courses taken on campus (in residence, not via study abroad)
    • Additional credits in advanced economics and applied economics

*Honors in the Economics Major is available only for the Math Emphasis (see below).

Requirements for the Major in Economics—Math Emphasis

  • Declaration of the Economics, Math Emphasis major and option
  • Mathematics: Math 221, 222, 234 and either Math 320 or  340 OR Honors Calculus: Math 275, 276 and 375
  • Statistics: Econ 310 or Math 309
  • 30 credits of economics course work to include:
    • Microeconomics and macroeconomics: Econ 101 and 102, or 111
    • Intermediate economic theory: Econ 301 and 302 (or Honors Econ 311 and 312)
    • Introductory econometrics: Econ 410
    • Three advanced economics courses taken
    • Additional credits in advanced economics and applied economics

Note: Two courses from econometrics and advanced economics must be taken on campus (in residence, not via study abroad).

Honors in the Economics Major—Math Emphasis

  • Declaration of Honors in Economics, Math Emphasis major and option
  • 3.300 university GPA (all courses taken at and through UW–Madison)
  • 3.500 GPA in all Econ courses taken at and through UW–Madison
  • Honors intermediate theory: Econ 311 and 312
  • Tutorial in research project design: Econ 580
  • Thesis or capstone (choose one track):
    • One-semester honors thesis: Econ 581, or
    • Two-semester honors thesis: Econ 681 and 682
    • Capstone: Econ 521 and one graduate course: Econ 700 and higher

Course Lists: Lists of acceptable courses may change; all courses are subject to availability.

Advanced Economics: 390-014, 390-015, 410, 411, 412, 432, 435, 441, 448, 450, 451, 458, 464, 467, 468, 475, 503, 508, 521, 522, 548, 580, 623, 665, 666

Applied Economics: 300, 306, 315, 320, 322, 325, 330, 337, 343, 352, 355, 364, 365, 366, 390, 420, 421, 426, 427, 431, 440, 449, 453, 456, 459, 460, 461, 462, 465, 466, 470, 471, 472, 473, 474, 477, 478, 501, 502, 504, 524, 539, 552, 557, 567, 628, 629, 641, 658, 663, 671, 675

Directed Study

Directed study (Econ 698 or 699) enables advanced students to pursue economic topics not covered in the regular course offerings. A student interested in directed study should prepare a research proposal and/or reading list; specific course requirements are arranged with an instructor who agrees to supervise the directed study project. Enrollment requires consent of instructor, a GPA of 3.00 or above in economics, completion of the intermediate economic theory courses and at least one advanced elective, and completion of the department's Directed Study form, available in 7238 Social Science.

Honors in the Major

Honors in the Major in Economics is designed for students who are capable of performing at a high level and wish to gain the best possible undergraduate training in economics. Honors in the Major is particularly appropriate for students interested in pursuing graduate work in economics, but the rigorous training it provides in research and analytical methods of economics is valuable to a large variety of employers and for graduate study in a number of fields.

Internship in Economics

Students can earn 1 credit for approved internships appropriate to the study of economics under course number Econ 228. Students must enroll for Econ 228 in the same semester/session in which the internship is granted. Students should work a minimum of 100 hours per term.

Prerequisites: declared economics major with GPA of 2.2 or higher in the major; completed at least four economics courses at UW–Madison; completed at least one intermediate theory class.

Topic Areas

The following list of courses by topic area indicates the wide range of interests encompassed by the discipline of economics. Courses may be listed more than once.  Both Advanced and Applied courses are included.

International Economics, Economic Growth, Development: 365, 435, 448, 462, 464, 467, 473, 474, 475, 477, 666
Theory: 411, 412, 521
Applied Methods: 410, 525, 580
Public Finance, Labor, Health, Education, Applied Microeconomics: 441, 448, 450, 451, 525, 548, 623
Industrial Organization, Pricing: 458, 467, 468
Macro and Monetary Economics, Economic Growth: 330, 412, 435, 475, 503
Business, Finance, Real State, Transportation: 306, 325, 478, 300, 320
Economic History: 465, 466, 524
Comparative Economics: 365, 467, 552, 629
Urban and Land Economics: 306, 343, 420, 440, 478
Environmental and Resource Economics: 337, 343, 431, 449
Agricultural and Applied Economics: 421, 426, 427, 431, 462, 474, 477
Research Methods Seminar: 580
Experimental topics courses: 390

Preparation for Ph.D. Programs in Economics

Students interested in pursuing graduate study should pursue Option B (mathematical emphasis) and augment the standard curriculum with higher-level mathematics and statistics courses. These may include: Math 421, 431, 521, 522, 632; Stat 309-310, 609. It is important to consult early in the second year with the undergraduate advisor and/or the faculty member that directs the undergraduate program to design a plan of course work.