Major in Economics

Overview of the Major

  • Introductory Courses
    • Principles of Economics (ECON 1131 and ECON 1132)
    • Economic Statistics (ECON 1151)
  • Intermediate Courses
    • Microeconomic Theory (ECON 2201 or ECON 2203)
    • Macroeconomic Theory (ECON 2202 or ECON 2204)
      Both intermediate theory courses must be completed by the end of the junior year.
    • Econometric Methods (ECON 2228)
  • Elective Courses
    • five electives chosen from ECON 2205-ECON 4497, except ECON 3345 and ECON 4435.
      At least three of these five courses must be chosen from ECON 3300-ECON 3399 (except ECON 3336), ECON 4497.

There is a calculus co-requisite to be completed before taking Intermediate Theory:

  • One semester (MATH 1102 [preferred], MATH 1100 or advanced placement) for ECON 2201 and ECON 2202, or
  • Two semesters (MATH 1102-1103 [preferred], MATH 1100-1101 or advanced placement) for ECON 2203 and ECON 2204

One semester of calculus is also a prerequisite for ECON 2228, Econometric Methods.

The AB Calculus version of Advanced Placement will be accepted as one semester of calculus and the BC Calculus version will be accepted as two semesters of calculus. Students with other forms of Advanced Placement (e.g., International Baccalaureate) should consult the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Students considering graduate work in economics or related disciplines should take additional mathematics courses, roughly the equivalent of a minor in mathematics.

The Economics major is meant to be structured. Students should take both ECON 1131 and ECON 1132 before taking economics courses other than Statistics. Students normally take ECON 1131 before ECON 1132, although ECON 1132 may be taken first. Statistics should be taken as soon as possible, certainly no later than sophomore year.

Students should complete at least one Intermediate Theory course before beginning the electives, although we recognize that those who start the major late may not have time to follow this sequence precisely. Students who need to take an elective before completing an Intermediate Theory course should register for a 2000-level elective that has only Principles as a prerequisite. It is also possible, with permission of the professor, to take a 3000-level elective concurrently with its Intermediate Theory prerequisite.

Economics electives are taught in two formats: the traditional lecture format, with enrollments up to 50, and a smaller writing-intensive format, with enrollments capped at 20 to 25 depending on the size of the writing component. Students are urged to take advantage of the writing-intensive courses and to check with the Department before the registration period to learn which courses will be offered in which format.

General department policy is that students may take no more than three courses for the major outside the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences.

  • One introductory course
  • Two electives

Subject to departmental approval of the specific course these courses may be taken:

  • during the summer session at BC or another institution;
  • during the academic year as part of a study-abroad program; or
  • during the academic year through the Woods College of Advancing Studies as long as the same course is not offered concurrently in the Economics department.

Transfer students who have taken economics courses at their previous school should meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies to discuss their individual situations.

The Department recognizes advanced placement based on AP, IB, or similar coursework for Principles of Microeconomics and Principles of Macroeconomics. Please consult the University's web site for information on policies and qualifying scores. Students who have earned advanced placement are not required to take the corresponding BC introductory course (ECON 1131 or ECON 1132), however, they are still required to complete eleven courses for the major by taking additional elective courses.

The requirements for students who double major in Economics and another Arts and Sciences major are the same as for the major.

Principles of Economics: Micro (ECON 1131) and Macro (ECON 1132)

These courses, which fulfill the University Social Science Core requirement, are the introductory courses to the major. Each is offered every term and we recommend that they be taken in numerical order. However, ECON 1132 may be taken first to accommodate schedule constraints.

Principles is offered in two formats. There are several large lecture courses of about 300 students that also meet in small discussion sections once each week. All the remaining sections are regular classes meeting twice (T Th) or three times (MWF) weekly, with an average class size of 35.

Despite the different formats the courses are reasonably standardized. All instructors use one of the more analytical texts on the market. The level of difficulty and coverage is very similar across sections. The courses are test and problem-set oriented. Students can expect one or two mid-term exams and a comprehensive final exam.

There are no specific prerequisites for either Principles course, but all Principles instructors assume that students understand the fundamentals of high school algebra and geometry, in particular the algebra of a straight line, and are able to read graphs. Students lacking these fundamentals should take a remedial mathematics course prior to registering for Principles.

Economic Statistics: Standard (ECON 1151) and Econometric Methods (ECON 2228)

A one-semester statistics course (ECON 1151) is required of all majors. The statistics course is a 4-credit course. It covers probability theory, random variables, sampling, estimation, hypothesis testing, and an introduction to regression analysis. All students taking Statistics for credit toward the Economics major or minor must take the course in the BC Economics department. CSOM Economics concentrators should take the Statistics course offered through the Carroll School.

A one-semester Econometric Methods course (ECON 2228) is required of all majors. This course is a semester of regression analysis and is offered both semesters. It is the pay-off course in statistics for economics majors. It is a four-credit course which focuses on how economists analyze data to test various theories. All students taking Econometrics (ECON 2228) for credit toward the major must take the course in the BC Economics department. One semester of calculus is a prerequisite for ECON 2228. An elective course in Financial Econometrics (ECON 3327) is usually offered in the spring semester, with ECON 2228 as a strict prerequisite.

Microeconomic Theory: Standard (ECON 2201) and Honors
(ECON 2203)
Macroeconomic Theory: Standard (ECON 2202) and Honors
(ECON 2204)

Micro and Macro Theory are one-semester courses that are required for all majors, minors, and CSOM concentrators. Both theory courses must be taken in the BC Economics department. Several sections of each are offered each term and they may be taken in either order. Normally students will have completed both Principles courses before taking either Theory course, although we will allow students who start the major late to take Principles and Theory concurrently, e.g., a student who has completed ECON 1131 may take ECON 2201 concurrently with ECON 1132. There is a prerequisite of one semester of calculus, as described above.

Economics majors must complete both intermediate theory courses by the end of their junior year. Minors and CSOM concentrators must complete one of these courses by the end of the junior year. Exceptions to this policy may be granted by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

The Honors sections of Theory should be taken by students planning to participate in the Honors Program as a substitute for ECON 2201 and ECON 2202, and by all students considering graduate work in economics. They are designed for students who have an aptitude for theory, have done well in Principles and have had one year of calculus (MATH 1102-1103 [preferred], MATH 1100-1101, or the equivalent). Department permission is required to register for the Honors sections of Theory.

All Theory sections are test and problem-set oriented with one or two mid-term exams and a comprehensive final. Choice of text is up to the individual professors.

Economics Electives

The department offers a wide variety of electives covering the major fields in economics and also reflecting the research interests of the faculty. Courses at the 2000-level require Principles and/or Statistics as prerequisites. Courses at the 3000-level require one or both Theory courses. Some upper-level electives may have additional requirements. Consult the course listings for specific information on course content and prerequisites.


Each semester the department will offer several electives in a writing-intensive format with lower enrollments and a significant writing component. These courses provide excellent opportunities to develop writing skills and to get to know a professor more closely. Consult the course listings each semester for up-to-date information on which courses are being offered in this format.


Independent Study provides students with the opportunity to explore in depth a topic that has been introduced in an existing department elective or to do research in an area that is not covered by the current elective offerings. A written proposal must be developed in consultation with a faculty member who has agreed to supervise the project and submitted to the Director of Undergraduate Studies for approval prior to registrationProposal form

ECON 4497 is open to students who participate in the department's Honors Program, and ECON 6601 is open to students doing Scholar of the College projects. In each case students should consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies prior to registration. Application form

Students may count only one independent course toward the electives required for the major.


ECON 1199 is a one-credit-hour course available for any student who wishes to do an internship with an agency or organization that requires a Boston College connection as a condition for offering the internship opportunity. A student who wishes to enroll in ECON 1199 must complete an approval form that can be downloaded or obtained from the office of the associate deans of Arts and Sciences. The form must be signed by the student's supervisor in the organization or agency providing the internship and then by the Undergraduate Program Specialist for the Economics department. After it is signed it should be sent to the student's class dean. At the end of the internship the supervisor must provide an evaluation to the Undergraduate Program Specialist. The internship will be graded on a pass-fail basis. Internship credit does not reduce any other course credit required for completing the major.

Graduate Courses

Juniors or seniors with exceptional records and with good mathematical backgrounds are invited to take one or more courses offered in the Ph.D. program (courses numbered in the 7000's and 8000's).