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Global Financial Institutions

Closeup photo of a range of euro notes

The Global Financial Institutions Concentration (GFIC) 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. Students will also gain an understanding of different types of financial securities as well as their relative advantages and disadvantages.

The GFIC comprises a sequence of six courses and a combination of internships and workshops to develop appropriate computer skills. Students typically complete the requirements of the GFIC in three years.


The concentration accepts up to 15 students annually. You are encouraged to declare the Global Financial Institutions 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 the your adviser, and must be approved by the Global Financial Institutions Concentration Advisory Committee.

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)

Required Elective Course

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


  • 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 240: Econometrics**
  • ECO 254: Behavioral Economics
  • ECO 255: Mathematical Economics
  • 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

  • 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 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

This two-day workshop series is offered each fall by the Conway Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center and is specifically designed to get students up to speed using the basics of Excel. The aim is to teach students the basics so that in a work environment they are able to learn more building blocks for advanced concepts in software programs such as Dummy Dependent Variable, Histogram, Regression and Monte Carlo Simulation. Students must attend both full days in order to fulfill one experiential learning requirement.


Advising Checklist

Concentrators are required to submit a completed Global Financial Institutions Concentration Checklist, signed by your GFIC adviser, indicating that you have completed all of the concentration requirements. Completed advising checklist forms are due in the registrar’s office no later than the end of the first week of your final semester at Smith.

Practical Experiences

The Practical Experience Pre-Approval Form must be completed and signed by your GFIC adviser prior to completing your practical experience. Only one learning experience (Wall Street Prep or Excel with Excel) may be counted toward fulfillment of GFIC requirements.

The appropriate form must be signed and submitted as soon as possible after completing your practical experiences.



Global Financial Institutions

Mahnaz Mahdavi
Faculty Director

Phone: 413-585-3629