The goal of the economics major is to equip our students with the tools of this science and, perhaps most importantly, instill in them an analytical approach known as the "economic way of thinking."
Randall Bartlett, Robert Buchele, Deborah Haas-Wilson, Roger Kaufman, Mahnaz Mahdavi, James Miller, Roisin O'Sullivan, Nola Reinhardt, Thomas Riddell, Elizabeth Savoca, Susan Stratton Sayre, Charles Staelin, Andrew Zimbalist
The major in economics comprises the five courses in the basis and five additional courses in economics. At least one of these five courses must be either a Smith 300-level course, a seminar taken at one of the other Five Colleges, or a two-course honors thesis. The S/U grading option is not allowed for courses counting toward the major. An exception may be made in the case of ECO 150 and 153.
I. The Basis
All majors must successfully complete (or pass out of):
- ECO 150 and ECO 153 (either one may be taken first)
- ECO 220 (formerly 190), ECO 250 and ECO 253 (advisably as soon as possible after the introductory courses)
Requirements: The five courses in the core: ECO 150 and 153 or their equivalent, ECO 220, ECO 250, and ECO 253; plus five other courses in economics. One of these latter five must be a 300 level course (or honors thesis) taken at Smith (or with prior permission at one of the other Five Colleges) that includes an economics research paper and an oral presentation. ECO 220 may be replaced in the core with either MTH 220 (formerly 245) or MTH 291 (formerly 247). In the case of MTH 220, the student will be required to take six rather than five economics courses beyond the core. Students who have already taken any of GOV 190, SOC 201, PSY/MTH 201 (formerly 190), EGR/MTH 219 (formerly 241) or MTH 220 (formerly MTH 245) may not receive college or major credit for ECO 220. MTH 111 or its equivalent is a prerequisite for ECO 250 and ECO 253.
A student who passes the economics placement exam for ECO 150 or ECO 153, or who passes the AP examination in Microeconomics or Macroeconomics with a score of 4 or 5, or who has the appropriate grades in A-level or IB courses in economics, may count this as the equivalent of ECO 150 and/or ECO 153, with course credit toward the major in economics. Students with AP, A-level or IB credit are urged to take the placement exams to ensure correct placement.
With prior permission of the instructor, economics credit will be given for public policy and environmental science and policy courses, and for presidential seminars, when taught by a member of the economics department. Economics credit will not be given for ACC 223.
The S/U grading option is not allowed for courses counting toward the economics major. An exception may be made in the case of 150 and 153.
II. Additional Courses in Economics
A second portion of your program will consist of a group of courses in economics that forms a coherent approach to some specific purpose or your area of interest. Most of these courses will be at the 200 level, although they may include a Special Studies. Economics credit will be given for courses in public policy and environmental science and policy when taught by a member of the economics department. Economics credit is not given for ACC 223.
Students considering graduate study in economics are advised to master the material in ECO 255 and 240 as well as MTH 111, 112, 211, 212, 280 (formerly 225) and 281 (formerly 243).
III. The Seminar
Finally, all majors are required to take as a capstone to the major a Smith 300-level course in economics that requires both a research paper and an oral presentation. This will normally be a seminar. This requirement may be satisfied by a course in an economics department at one of the other Five Colleges provided: (1.) Permission is secured from the student’s adviser before the start of the semester; (2.) A long seminar paper based on research conducted by the student is an essential requirement for the course; (3.) A formal oral presentation, such as presenting the results of the student’s research, is an essential requirement for the course; and (4.) The course requires as a prerequisite and then builds upon at least one of the intermediate theory courses, ECO 250 or 253. The instructor for the course will be asked to certify to the student’s adviser that these requirements will be met. Petition to have a 5-College Economics Course Fulfill the Smith Economics Major Seminar Requirement Form.
A student may also satisfy this requirement by writing an honors thesis. However, Special Studies courses do not satisfy the requirement.
IV. Additional Electives
Although they do not count toward the requirements for the major, an additional portion of your program will normally consist of courses in allied departments that shed light on your chosen field of economics or provide useful tools. For instance, students considering graduate study in economics are advised to take calculus through the advanced level, linear algebra and a course in analysis. Courses in the other social sciences and psychology will often provide a valuable context for your study of economics.
Special Studies allows a student to undertake an in-depth analysis of a topic or question in which she has a special interest under the supervision of a faculty director.
Special studies topics may not duplicate or substitute for regular courses offered by the department. Special studies must be approved by the department, ideally at or before the last meeting of the semester preceding the semester in which the special studies is done. Approval normally will be limited to economics majors who have had at least four economics courses above the introductory level.
Smith economics majors often benefit from study away. If you are going to study away, plan ahead. In particular you should have completed the five courses in the basis before your study away. Only four semester courses taken outside of Smith and the Five Colleges may be counted toward the major, and no more than two from any one semester. Note that courses taken in summer school are included in this limit.