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Global Finance Concentration

The Global Finance Concentration (GFX) will expose students to the workings of global financial markets, their key institutional features and the theoretical underpinnings of their design. Students will learn about the structure and operation of U.S. and world financial institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank, private financial firms and central banks around the world, as well as related financial regulations.

GFX comprises a sequence of six courses and a combination of internships and workshops to develop appropriate computer skills and gain real work experience. Students typically complete the requirements of the Concentration in three years.

Requirements & Courses

Learning Goals

In the global finance concentration, students explore the political and cultural factors at play in emerging economies, regulatory policies governing global trading, and how personal investment portfolios can have significant environmental, social and governmental impacts.

Through the broad selection of electives, capstone seminars and practical experiences, the GFX seeks to ensure that students

  1. understand financial systems, markets and institutions and their impact on the global economy;

  2. acquire in-depth knowledge of the economic, political and cultural factors that influence global economic development, global social inequality, and related issues;

  3. develop skills necessary for analyzing financial data for public and private institutions and conducting research;

  4. develop the ability to share research findings with a variety of audiences (i.e., internal presentation events versus national academic conferences);

  5. gain applied knowledge through internships and on-campus workshops/opportunities.

On This Page
  • Courses
  • Crosslisted Courses 


GFX 100 Introduction to Global Financial Institutions (1 Credit)

This eight-week lecture series provides an overview of the financial system and the role of financial institutions in the global economy; domestic and international regulation; domestic and international banking. Faculty and guest lecturers reflect on contemporary developments and challenges in their fields. S/U only.


Crosslisted Courses 

CSC 325 Seminar: Responsible Computing (4 Credits)

When is disruption good? Who is responsible for ensuring that an innovation has a positive impact? Are these impacts shared equitably? How can bias be eliminated from algorithms, if they exist? What assurances can anyone make about the technology they develop? What are the limitations of professional ethics? This seminar examines the ethical implication (i.e., ethics, justice, political philosophy) of computing and automation. Participants will explore how to design technology responsibly while contributing to progress and growth. Topics include: intellectual property; privacy, security and freedom of information; automation; globalization; access to technology; artificial intelligence; mass society; and emerging issues. Designation: Systems. Prerequisite: CSC 210. Enrollment limited to 12. Juniors and seniors only. Instructor permission required. {S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

ECO 311in Seminar: Topics in Economic Development-India (4 Credits)

This seminar applies and extends microeconomic theory to analyze selected topics related to the India’s economic development. Throughout the course an emphasis is placed on empirically testing economic hypotheses using data from India. In particular, the following topics are explored, with reference to India’s growth and development: education, health, demographics, caste and gender, institutions, credit, insurance, infrastructure, water and climate change. Prerequisites: ECO 220 and 250. Recommended: ECO 211 or 213. Enrollment limited to 12. Juniors and seniors only. Instructor permission required. {S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

ECO 314 Seminar: Industrial Organization and Antitrust Policy (4 Credits)

An examination of the latest theories and empirical evidence about the organization of firms and industries. Topics include mergers, advertising, strategic behaviors such as predatory pricing, vertical restrictions such as resale price maintenance or exclusive dealing, and antitrust laws and policies. Prerequisite: ECO 250. Juniors and seniors only. Enrollment limited to 12. Instructor permission required. {S}

Fall, Spring, Annually

ECO 324nr Seminar: Topics in the Economics of the Environment-Natural Resources (4 Credits)

How do we expect competitive markets to allocate natural resources? Will market systems result in excess pollution? Can market outcomes be improved in relation to the environment and natural resources? If so, what are the relative strengths and weaknesses of different approaches? This course examines these issues through discussion of the economic theories of externalities, common property and public goods, and their implications for the allocation of resources. The course explores these questions by analyzing specific policy issues and debates related to the environment and resource use including: climate change, pollution, biodiversity, energy, sustainability, land use and fishing rights. Through this exploration, the course touches upon a number of other theories and techniques including dynamic optimization and intertemporal choice, price vs. quantity regulation, nonmarket valuation, cost-benefit analysis and the use of incentive-based regulation. Prerequisites: ECO 220 and ECO 250. Enrollment limited to 12. Juniors and seniors only. Instructor permission required. {S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

ECO 338 Seminar: Household Finance and Inequality (4 Credits)

How do individual economic decisions shape wealth inequality and economic mobility? This course examines topics at the intersection of household finance, the field of economics studying the financial decisions of households, and the economics of inequality. Beginning with an overview of the historical dynamics and theories of wealth inequality, we study recent empirical and theoretical findings on how household preferences and beliefs, financial portfolio investment mistakes, financing frictions, entrepreneurship, and taxes affect the distribution of wealth. Prerequisites: ECO 220 and ECO 250. Juniors and seniors only. Enrollment limited to 12. Instructor permission required. {S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

ECO 375 Seminar: The Theory and Practice of Central Banking (4 Credits)

What role do central banks play in the management of short-run economic fluctuations? What has driven the recent global trend towards more powerful and independent central-banking institutions? This course explores the theoretical foundations that link central bank policy to real economic activity. Building on this theoretical background, the monetary policy frameworks and operating procedures of key central banks are then examined. Much of the analysis focuses on the current practices of the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, with a view to identifying the relative strengths and weaknesses of the two institutions. Prerequisite: ECO 220 and ECO 253. A course in either international finance or money and banking such as ECO 275 or ECO 296 is recommended. Enrollment limited to 12. Juniors and seniors only. Instructor permission required. {S}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

ENV 323 Seminar: Climate and Energy Policy (4 Credits)

This course examines climate change and energy policy from several perspectives including scientific, economic, equity, political and practical considerations. We examine sources and trends of greenhouse gas emissions and climate impacts and then focus on a specific sector (e.g., electric power) to consider existing policies, market structures and the spectrum of approaches to reduce emissions. Students work in small groups on projects in an active policy area and prepare a briefing and memo. Prerequisite: ENV 101 or permission of the instructor. Enrollment limited to 12. Juniors and seniors only. Instructor permission required. {N}{S}

Fall, Spring, Annually

GOV 343cr Seminar: Topics in International Politics and Comparative Politics-Corruption (4 Credits)

How should we define political corruption, and what can be done about it? This seminar explores the theoretical and practical dimensions of political corruption in a variety of different countries and contexts, and analyzes how governments, international organizations, and activists have attempted to address the problem. Enrollment limited to 12. Juniors and seniors only. Instructor permission require. {S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

SOC 333 Seminar: Social Justice, the Environment and the Corporation (4 Credits)

Over the last century, the reach of corporations has gradually extended into all facets of life, yet most people rarely stop to think about the corporation as a social entity. This course focuses on the social, economic and legal foundations that both shape its power and provide a dominant logic for its actions. We examine the implications of corporate power and processes for communities, workers and the environment. We also focus on the ways that governments and various social groups have sought to change corporate assumptions and behaviors concerning their social and environmental responsibilities. Prerequisite: SOC 101. Enrollment limited to 12. Juniors and seniors only. Instructor permission required.

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

Global Finance Concentration


Six courses

  1. Gateway course: GFX 100
  2. IDP 223 Financial Accounting
  3. Three electives chosen in consultation with a student's concentration adviser may be selected from among the many courses offered across the institution  
    • Electives must be from at least two different departments
    • One elective must be a Smith economics course
    • No more than two elective courses that fulfill the requirements for a student’s major will be counted toward fulfillment of the concentration
    • No more than one elective that fulfills a requirement for a student’s minor will be counted toward fulfillment of the concentration.
  4. One capstone seminar: ECO 311in, ECO 314, ECO 324nr, ECO 375, ENV 323, CSC 325, GOV 343cr, SDS 390cd SOC 327 or SOC 333. Concentrators are not limited to these options.
    • Concentrators must gain approval for their seminar paper topic from the concentration director and present their research in an approved public forum. 
    • Concentrators may choose to focus on a specific region (Africa, Asia, Europe or the Americas) by selecting courses on that region and doing research in their capstone seminar related to the region.
    • Concentrators focusing on a region are strongly urged to study a language spoken in that region. 

Additional Programmatic Information

The concentration accepts up to 15 students annually. You are encouraged to declare the Global Finance Concentration during your sophomore year. Students with a demonstrated interest in the application of their academic discipline to the financial sector are encouraged to contact the Concentration Director.

Some students may choose to pursue the concentration in addition to a second major or a minor. This would occur when the concentration serves to logically unify and reinforce a particular program of study. Such decisions should be made in consultation with your adviser, and must be approved by the Global Finance Concentration Advisory Committee.

Students are required to complete two practical experiences: one approved workshop and one summer internship or two internships.

Additional Course Information

GFX 100: Introduction to Global Financial Markets

This eight-week lecture series is offered each fall. GFX100 provides an overview of the financial system and the role of financial institutions in the global economy; domestic and international regulation; domestic and international banking. Faculty and guest lecturers also reflect on contemporary developments and challenges within their fields.
1 credit, S/U only.
Mahnaz Mahdavi (Economics)

All concentrators are required to take ACC 223: Financial Accounting (offered every spring).

Other Electives

Students are required to take three other electives drawn from at least two different departments. Students can select from the approved list of Smith and Five College courses detailed below, one of which must be a Smith Economics course.

No more than two elective courses that fulfill the requirements for a student’s major and one from a student’s minor will be counted toward fulfillment of the concentration.

Concentrators may choose to focus on a specific region (Africa, Asia, Europe or the Americas) by selecting courses on that region and doing research in their capstone seminar related to the region. Concentrators focusing on a region are strongly urged to study a language spoken in that region. Language courses will not be counted towards fulfillment of the concentration.

Smith College Electives

American Studies

  • AMS 225: Corporate Capitalism, Media and Protest in America


  • ANT 271: Globalization and Transnationalism in Africa*

Computer Science

  • CSC 109: Communicating with Data

East Asian Studies

  • EAS 100: Intro to Modern East Asia*
  • EAS 220: Culture and Diplomacy in Asia*


  • ECO 211: Economic Development
  • ECO 220: Introduction to Statistics and Econometrics**
  • ECO 226: Economics of European Integration
  • ECO 238: Inequality and Economic Growth
  • ECO 240: Econometrics**
  • ECO 254: Behavioral Economics
  • ECO 255: Mathematical Economics
  • ECO 257: Economics, Policy, and Data Analytics
  • ECO 258: Applied Market Design
  • ECO 260: Public Economics and Finance
  • ECO 265: Economics of Corporate Finance
  • ECO 271: The Economics of Climate Change
  • ECO 275: Money and Banking
  • ECO 296: International Finance


  • GOV 207: Politics of Public Policy
  • GOV 221: European Politics*
  • GOV 226: Latin American Political Systems*
  • GOV 227: Contemporary African Politics*
  • GOV 228: Government and Politics of Japan*
  • GOV 230: Government and Politics of China*
  • GOV 232: Comparative Political Economy
  • GOV 241: International Politics
  • GOV 242: International Political Economy
  • GOV 244: Foreign Policy of the United States
  • GOV 252: International Organizations


  • HST 259: Aspects of African History - Discourses of Development*


  • MTH 190: Statistical Methods for Undergraduate Research**
  • MTH 241: Probability and Statistics for Engineers, Mathematicians and Computer Scientists**
  • MTH 246: Probability**

Middle East Studies

  • MES 203: Introduction to Middle East Comparative Politics*


  • PHI 221: Ethics and Society

Public Policy

  • PPL 250: Race and Public Policy in the United States


  • SOC 236: Beyond Borders: The New Global Political Economy

Statistical and Data Science

  • SDS 293: Machine Learning

Study of Women and Gender

  • SWG 238: Women, Money and Transnational Social Movements
Five College Electives

Amherst College

  • ECON 207: Economics and Psychology
  • ECON 212: Public Economics:Environment, Health,& Inequality
  • ECON 218: Inequality in the US
  • ECON 223: Economics of Migration
  • ECON 265: Introduction to Financial Economics
  • ECON 271: US Economic History 1600-1860
  • ECON 421: Education & Human Capital in Developing Economies

Mount Holyoke College

  • ECON 312: International Trade


  • ECON 308: Political Economy of the Environment
  • ECON 330: Labor in the American Economy
  • ECON 336: Economics/Science Tech & Innovation
  • ECON 348: The Political Economy of Women
  • ECON 394: Law and Economics

*Recommended for regional focus
**Only one statistics course will be counted towards the Global Financial Institutions Concentration

Students fulfill the capstone requirement for the concentration by taking one seminar selected from the list of approved seminars (see below). Such seminars are drawn from disciplines in which global finance research is already featured, such as economics, government and public policy.

Concentrators must gain approval for their seminar paper topic from the concentration director and present their research during the annual Celebrating Collaborations event in April.

Approved Capstone Courses

  • AFR 310: Black Political Economy: From Slavery to Reparative Justice
  • ECO 311: Topics in Economic Development: The Economic Development of India
  • ECO 314: Industrial Organization and Antitrust Policy
  • ECO 324: Economics of the Environment and Natural Resources
  • ECO 338: Household Finance and Inequality
  • ECO 361: Economics of Discrimination
  • ECO 375: The Theory and Practice of Central Banking
  • ECO 396: International Financial Markets
  • ENV 323: Climate and Energy Policy
  • CSC 325: Responsible Computing
  • GOV 343: Corruption and Global Governance
  • PRS 318: Religion of the Marketplace: A Demystification
  • SDS 390: Topics in Statistical and Data Science: Advanced Programming for Data Science
  • SOC 333: Social Justice, the Environment, and the Corporation

Advisory Committee

Elisabeth Armstrong

Women & Gender Studies

Professor of the Study of Women & Gender; Department Chair of the Program for the Study of Women & Gender

Elisabeth Armstrong

Brent Durbin


Associate Professor of Government; Director of Program in Public Policy

Brent Durbin

René Heavlow

Collaborative Innovation

Director of Operations and Special Programs and Co-Director of the Global Finance Concentration


Aaron Kamugisha

Africana Studies

Ruth J. Simmons Professor of Africana Studies; Chair of the Department


Mahnaz Mahdavi


Professor of Economics; Department of Economics Chair; Faculty Director of the Global Finance Concentration

Mahnaz Mahdavi

Rajan Mehta

Mathematics & Statistics

Associate Professor of Mathematical Sciences

Raj Mehta


Declaration of Concentration

After receiving approval from director, students must declare their intent to complete the Concentration. Please complete the Registrar’s  Program of Study Declaration Form.

Practical Experience Forms

*The requirements for the Practical Experiences are one practicum (on-campus) and one internship (off-campus) or two internships (off-campus).
After discussing the proposed practical experience with their adviser, students need to fill out the corresponding practical experience approval form in order to have the experience count towards the concentration requirements:

  • Summer Internship (100 hours or more) → Internship Credit Application
    All students undertaking a summer internship of at least 100 hours are eligible to receive academic credit (0.25 credits per experience) that will appear on their transcript. We encourage all students who qualify to apply for internship credit. Students applying for Praxis funding don’t need to fill out this form, and should instead use the “Praxis with Credit” form below.
  • Unpaid Summer Internship (220 hours or more) → Praxis with Credit Application
    All Smith students are eligible to receive a stipend payment for one normally unpaid internship through the Praxis program at the Lazarus Center. These internships must take place during the summer, and must comprise at least 220 working hours. Students in Concentrations are eligible to apply for Praxis a second time– Praxis Plus. When applying for a Praxis internship, the applicant must specify if the internship counts towards a concentration and should fill out the “Praxis with Credit” application.
  • Wall Street Prep Workshop
    Only one on-campus workshop experience may be counted toward fulfillment of GFX requirements. Learn to Excel with Excel workshops will no longer count for students taking it after Spring 2022.

Advising Checklist for Graduation

Students are required to submit a completed Concentration Advising Checklist at the start of their final semester. This form documents the completed components of the concentration requirements, and must be signed by the student’s concentration adviser. Completed forms should be sent to the Registrar's and to the Administrative Coordinator for Concentrations (

  • Retroactive Credit for an Experience
    Students who completed a practical experience relevant to the concentration prior to declaration should discuss the experience with their concentration adviser as soon as possible. Once the experience is approved, students must fill out the → Practical Experience Completion and check the ‘Retroactive Experience’ box on the form.

Practical Experiences

This intensive workshop, offered each September, is led by former investment bankers with applied expertise in financial and valuation modeling methodologies and bridges the gap between academics and the real world to equip students with the hands-on practical financial skills that they will need to excel during the recruiting process and on the job. Contact the Lazarus Center for Career Development for additional information.

Fall 2023

September 23 & 24; 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Students are required to complete at least one summer internship (approved 10-week programs) prior to the senior year; Praxis may be used to fund one of these opportunities. The Global Finance Concentration Faculty Director, in collaboration with the Lazarus Center for Career Development, can assist with identifying relevant internships.

First-year students are strongly encouraged to use their first summer to gain work experience designed to develop required professional skills including technology, programming and market-related communication.

In order to enhance knowledge of financial markets and language, concentrators are required to participate in one of the following approved activities and are strongly encouraged to participate in more than one.

  • Smith College Investment Club (maintain active membership status)
  • Lazarus Center Finance Resume and Cover Letters workshop (check dates on Handshake)
  • Lazarus Center Mock Finance Interview Day (check dates on Handshake)

Excel Fundamentals for Liberal Arts Students
For most industries, proficiency in Excel is a fundamental part of the job description. Whether you currently work in Excel at a beginner or intermediate level, this course will take you to the next level. We’ll start with basics before we introduce you to lesser-known time-saving keyboard shortcuts and powerful Excel functions and features that you can immediately put to use on the job. The only way to learn Excel is by doing, so you’ll be completing Excel exercises alongside the instructor at every step of the way. Fall 2023, September 17; 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Bloomberg Terminal and Bloomberg Market Concept Course
Bloomberg Terminal provides transparent and reliable financial, economic, and government data. The Terminal can be accessed via the designated computer in the Conway Center, Neilson Library 103. Students can also complete a free 10-hours Bloomberg Market Concept course on basic terminal functions and financial markets. Please reserve your slot or sign up for peer mentoring.


Applications for the Global Finance Concentration are now being accepted. The Spring 2024 deadline is March 15, 2024.


Contact Global Finance Concentration

Co-Directors: Mahnaz Mahdavi and ​René Heavlow

Mahnaz Mahdavi

René Heavlow