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Economics Major

We are thrilled that you are interested in studying economics. Wherever your starting point, you are here to learn and expand on your aptitudes and we welcome you to our community that includes close to 1,000 students majoring in economics.

Students planning to major in economics should become thoroughly familiar with the Undergraduate Registration Requirement for both the University and the department. The information given here is intended to supplement that given in the Undergraduate Catalog and to aid the student and their advisor in planning a suitable program of study. Majoring in economics will require students to complete a set of core courses in economics, a series of upper-level field courses and a sequence of related courses outside of economics. Each of these aspects of the program is described below.

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Learn more about the field of economics

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Major Requirements

Six (6) core courses in economics

  • Economics 201 Introduction to Macroeconomics
  • Economics 202 Introduction to Microeconomics
  • Economics 281 Introduction to Applied Econometrics
    • The Economics 281 requirement will be waived if you take Economics 381-1 as a field course.
  • Economics 310-1 Microeconomics I
  • Economics 310-2 Microeconomics II
  • Economics 311 Macroeconomics

Six (6) upper-level courses in economics

Six 300-level economics courses (in addition to 310-1, 310-2, and 311) are required. View the Course Catalogue for more information on our upper-level course offerings. 

Upper-Level Course Substitutions

As of September 2019, students may count up to one non-economics class as a substitute, with the exception noted below. Any substitutions must be noted on a student's petition to graduate and initialed by an economics adviser. This is usually done at the end of junior year.

Currently, the only permitted substitutions are:

  • BUS_INST 304 Corporate Finance (not allowable for students who have completed ECON 360-1 Foundations of Corporate Finance Theory or KELLG_FE 310 Principles of Finance.
    • Note: Business Institutions 304 cannot be double-counted for Econ and BIP
  • BUS_INST 321 Business and Economic Institutions in Historical Perspective
    • Note: Business Institutions 304 cannot be double-counted for Econ and BIP
  • IEMS 373 Introduction to Financial Engineering
  • KELLG_FE 310 Principles of Finance
    • Note: Not allowed to count for Economics for students who have completed ECON 360-1 Foundations of Corporate Finance Theory or BUS_INST 304 Corporate Finance OR for students who would count this for a Kellogg Certificate 
  • MATH 366-1 Mathematical Models in Finance
    • Note: This class cannot be double-counted for Mathematics and for Economics
  • SOC_POL 330 Economics of Social Policy
  • SOC_POL 331 Economics of Inequality and Discrimination
  • SOC_POL 332 Economics of Education Policy
  • SOC_POL 333 Economics of Health, Human Capital, and Happiness

Additional Notes:

  • Students double majoring in Economics and Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences (MMSS) or Industrial Engineering and Management Science should see the section on dual majors for special arrangements.
  • Economics 249 Business Strategy is designed for non-majors. Majors should not take this course, but should take Economics 349 Industrial Economics which covers the same material at a higher level. Economics 249 does not count either as an advanced field course or as a related course for the Major in Economics.

Five (5) courses in related fields

  • Mathematics 220-1 Single-Variable Differential Calculus. The Mathematics 220-1 requirement may be fulfilled by taking Mathematics 218-1 and 218-2 Single-Variable Calculus with Precalculus, or by advanced placement in mathematics, or by completion of a more advanced calculus course. Engineering students can count courses in the General Engineering 205 Engineering Analysis sequence as meeting the Mathematics 220-1 and the related course requirements.
  • Statistics 210 Introductory Statistics for the Social Sciences or Mathematics 314 Probability and Statistics for Econometrics. If you have AP statistics credit, or are required to take another statistics class for another major, or wish to take a higher-level statistics class, you should consult the Director of Undergraduate Studies about substituting this for Statistics 210.
  • Three additional courses in related fields, no more than one of which may be at the 100-level. Courses in the following departments and programs fulfill this requirement: Anthropology, Business Institutions, General Engineering 205 Engineering Analysis, History, Industrial Engineering, and Management Sciences (IEMS), Kellogg School of Management, Mathematics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, and Statistics. Courses in other departments require the approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Note: WCAS students may double count Mathematics 220-1 and Statistics 210/Mathematics 314 toward the major and toward the distribution requirement in Formal Studies.

MORE ON UPPER-LEVEL COURSES

We offer an array of exciting upper-level courses for juniors and seniors, from Behavioral Economics to Economic Development in Africa to Environmental Economics and many more. View the Course Catalogue for more information on our upper-level course offerings. 

SUGGESTED UPPER-LEVEL COURSES BY AREA OF INTEREST

There are sets of our upper-level courses that could help you get to where you would like to go (at least after you get through our principles & theory courses). Whether you want to go into finance, consulting, law, medicine, government, the corporate world, or graduate school, we have combinations of courses that would be useful. Please speak with a faculty advisor for more suggestions.

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VIDEO ON UPPER-LEVEL COURSES

Professor Mar Reguant discusses the upper-level econ classes available to juniors and seniors, including Economics of Medical Care, Topics in Economic History, Labor Economics, and many more.

UES PANEL ON UPPER-LEVEL COURSES

The Undergraduate Economics Society (UES) student panel along with professors Mark Witte and Ian Savage discuss a range of topics relating to our upper-level courses.

Grade Requirements

All core, field, and related courses must be taken for a letter grade (not P/N) and must be passed with a grade of C- or higher. It should be noted that to calculate your "Economics GPA" you should not count your five related courses. The courses that you are required to count are all 6 core courses and all 6 300-level economics field courses.

Dual Majors

Many Economics students complete a double major. Learn about complementary programs that are often taken in conjunction with Economics.

Most dual majors need to satisfy the full requirements of both Departments or Programs. However, there are some exceptions for students dual majoring with:

Honors & BA/MA Program

Outstanding majors may pursue honors in economics through a research paper completed in their senior year. Our selective four-year BA/MA program is also an option for qualified Economics majors.  

Complementary Programs

Economics core classes are offered every quarter and we offer many 300-level field classes, so many students opt to double major or minor. Students who are considering economics might also be interested in the following programs:

Mathematical Experience for Northwestern Undergraduates (MENU)

Mathematical Experience for Northwestern Undergraduates (MENU)- A first-year math sequence for strong quantitative students. This program starts in the Fall Quarter of each year.

Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences (MMSS)

Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences (MMSS) - An interdisciplinary applied math and social sciences double major. You can apply to it at the start of your first year or the start of your sophomore year.

Kellogg School of Management Certificate Programs in Financial Economics or Managerial Analytics

Kellogg School of Management Certificate Programs in Financial Economics or Managerial Analytics- These are four-course sequences that begin in the Fall Quarter of junior or senior year for students who demonstrate strong quantitative skills in prerequisite courses.

Business Institutions Program (BIP)

Business Institutions Program (BIP) - A minor that applies many of the tools from the social sciences and history to bring an understanding of the way that business institutions function in society.

Learning and Organizational Change (LOC)

Learning and Organizational Change (LOC)- A major in the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) that prepares its students to consult with businesses and other organizations that are trying to recreate themselves or adapt themselves to new roles.

Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences (IEMS)

Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences (IEMS)- This major is in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and applies the tools of engineering to many business-related issues

Medill Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Certificate

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