The Majors

The Majors

Economics Home

Planning Your Economics Major

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The Economics Major

The economics major’s requirements are simple: (1) the three “core courses,” (2) four electives (at least two at Level III), and (3) calculus I. (View a checklist for the economics major here.) The introductory course is not required but is a prerequisite for all of the core courses and for our Level II electives. Here’s what those terms mean.

Introductory courses

ECON 121 Principles of Economics – This is the main entry to economics and we recommend this course if you plan to major. We offer ECON 121 in the fall, interim, and spring.

ECON 113 Capitalism – This is a topical introduction to economics and offered only during interim.

Level II economic analysis courses

Courses numbered 200-249 are our Level II elective courses that count towards the economics major. These courses all focus on topical areas of economics, for example, environmental economics, health care, law and economics, or game theory. They all have ECON 121 (or ECON 113) as a prerequisite. We offer Level II electives in the fall and spring on campus, and during interim off campus. Please see our course listings in the catalog for descriptions and see the class/lab schedule for current offerings.

Core courses

The core of the economics major is our three intermediate theory courses: ECON 260 Introductory Econometrics, ECON 261 Macroeconomic Theory, and ECON 262 Microeconomic Theory. You can complete these courses in any order. All three have the same prerequisites: ECON 121 (or 113, or AP/IB credit) and MATH 120 (or 119 or AP/IB credit). We offer these courses during the fall and spring semesters. You can also count STAT 272 Statistical Modeling in place of ECON 260, but if you do, you need to complete ECON 384 or ECON 385 Econometrics as part of your major or as part of an area of emphasis.

Level III economic analysis courses

Courses numbered 370-385 and 399 are our Level III elective courses that count towards the economics major. Like the Level II courses, these also focus on topics in economics, for example, international economics, money and banking, and econometrics. We offer Level III electives in the fall and spring semesters. These courses all have prerequisites of ECON 260 plus ECON 261 and/or 262. Please see our course listings in the catalog for descriptions and see the class/lab schedule for current offerings.

A Plan for First-Year Students

First year
  • Take ECON 121 Principles of Economics in your first year at St. Olaf. If you arrive with AP or IB credit for introductory economics, you can take one of our Level II economic analysis electives, instead.
  • Take MATH 120 Calculus (or MATH 119 Calculus with Review) in your first year, too. Calculus is a prerequisite for all of our core courses.
Sophomore year
  • Complete two of the core courses this year. Try not to schedule them both in the same semester.
  • Take a Level II course if there is room in your schedule.
Junior year
  • Complete the remaining core course.
  • Take another Level II course.
  • Take a Level III course in the spring if there is room.
Senior year
  • Take two Level III courses, preferably one each semester. Remember that you need four economic analysis courses, at least two at Level III.
  • Take another Level II or Level III so that you have four economic analysis courses.

A Plan for Sophomore Students

Sophomore year
  • Take ECON 121 in the fall.
  • Take MATH 120 (or 119) if you have not completed it yet and do not have AP/IB credit for calculus.
  • Take one of the core courses in the spring.
  • Take a Level II course in the spring if there is room in your schedule.
Junior year
  • Complete the two remaining core courses, one each semester.
  • Take one or two Level II courses this year.
Senior year
  • Take two Level III courses, preferably one each semester. Remember that you need four economic analysis courses, at least two at Level III.
  • Take another Level II or Level III course (if needed) so that you have a total of four economic analysis courses.

A Plan for Junior Students

If you are beginning your junior year and are thinking about a major in economics, please stop by and see a member of the Economic Department to help with schedule planning.

Studying Abroad

If you are hoping to spend a semester studying abroad, this can fit easily into your sophomore or junior years, or even into the fall semester of your senior year. Make sure that you complete all three core courses before the end of your junior year.

If you plan to study abroad for all of your junior year, you will need to do some careful planning so that you complete all three core courses by the end of your sophomore year. This will probably mean taking two core courses in the same semester. We recommend combining ECON 261 with 262 or ECON 261 with 260.

It is often possible to get credit towards the economics major for one, or even two, economics course(s) taken abroad. See the section below on off-campus credit or stop in and see a member of the Economics Department or contact the department chair for more information about getting off-campus credit.

Off-Campus (Transfer) Credit

It is possible to get credit towards your economics major for courses taken at other colleges or universities in the summer or while on an off-campus program. You can only get credit for Level II economic analysis courses. To get credit for a Level II course, it must meet these conditions:

  • be in a recognized field in economics,
  • require at least Principles of Economics (ECON 121) (or its equivalent) as a prerequisite, and
  • be taught in an economics program or by faculty from an economics program.

Requests for off-campus credit (transfer or international) must be approved by the chair of the Economics Department in advance. You cannot count both a St. Olaf economic analysis course and a course taken off campus towards the major if the courses are substantially the same. We do not accept off-campus or transfer credit for either Level III or core courses. As always, contact a member of the Economics Department or the department chair for more information.

Areas of Emphasis

An area of emphasis is a focused series of courses in addition to the requirements for the economics major. You can complete an area of emphasis in one of three areas: finance, international economics and policy, or management. Please see the College Catalog and the Areas of Emphasis page for more information.

Disclaimer

Nothing on this page supersedes the College Catalog, the College’s academic regulations and policies, or the requirements for the Economics Major contained in the Catalog. If you find any mistakes, please let us know.