Economics is the study of how people and organizations make decisions, how they interact with each other, and how institutions and policies can be designed to improve people’s lives. The ambition of those who study economics is to understand the world around them both as it is and as it ought to be. The basic principles of economics are applied to a wide range of social and political challenges that confront us today. These include international trade, environmental protection, health care, development, domestic taxes, Federal Reserve policies, labor outsourcing, and the regulation of private business. The economics curriculum at St. Olaf includes theory, applications, institutional studies, and quantitative analysis.

Where appropriate, economics courses also pursue historical and ethical concerns. The department offers areas of emphasis for its majors who desire more focused study in finance, management, international economics, and policy analysis. The department also supports several programs available to students regardless of major: an interdisciplinary concentration in management studies, the programs of the Finstad Office for Entrepreneurial Studies, study abroad, and internship opportunities.

The economics major serves as excellent preparation for careers in a wide variety of fields, including economic analysis, banking, accounting, consulting, health administration, finance, business management, teaching, and international affairs. The major also provides a solid foundation for students wishing to pursue graduate studies in economics, business, public policy, and law.