The Arts and Sciences curriculum of the Department of Economics blends basic economic concepts and their applications with contemporary issues. Courses develop reasoning capacity and analytical ability in students. By focusing on areas of application, students use economic principles to stimulate their powers of interpretation, synthesis, and understanding. The department's individualized counseling encourages majors to tailor their study to career and personal enrichment goals. A major in economics provides an excellent background for employment in the business world while maintaining the objectives of a liberal education. The economics degree pairs nicely with a wide variety of double majors and minors, including finance, math, international studies, area studies, and other social sciences.  In fact, many economic elective courses “double count” towards other major, minor, and core requirements. Economics majors regularly use a variety of up-to-date analytical tools, including Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint, and are introduced to Stata, a sophisticated statistical package. The economics major also prepares students for actuarial work and for advanced study in graduate or professional schools.

Learning Outcomes for Economics Students

By the end of their degree programs, students who major in Economics should be able to use models, within an institutional framework, to understand and evaluate economic outcomes.  These are the expected goals and student learning outcomes of the degree programs.

Goal I:

Describe concepts and apply them to real world issues.

Outcomes: Students will be able to:

  • Use economic theory to explain historical and current economic events.
  • Demonstrate how economic theory can be applied in different market and institutional settings to solve problems.

Goal II:

Use qualitative and/or quantitative models to interpret the impact of public policy choices.

Outcomes: Students will be able to:

  • Identify how economic policies can be utilized to overcome market inadequacies.
  • Evaluate the success or failure of policies designed to achieve intended economic outcomes.
  • Construct economic arguments using quantitative and non-quantitative forms of evidence.

Goal III:

Acquire quantitative skills to analyze data and use that data and analysis to support logical positions.

Outcomes: Students will be able to:

  • Build data-gathering skills in order to analyze an economic argument that they find, or to design and present their own economic argument.
  • Use Excel or other statistical software packages to analyze economic data.
  • Formulate empirically testable hypotheses.

Goal IV:

Understand the trade-offs between efficiency and equity that are made as resources are allocated among economic actors.

Outcomes: Students will be able to

  • Appraise various market models and resulting resource allocations.
  • Use welfare measures to analyze economic tradeoffs.
  • Identify the challenges of promoting and securing economic growth, and appraise the resulting impact on resource and income distribution.


The BA and BS degrees in the College of Arts and Sciences differ in the level of emphasis placed on quantitative analytical techniques. The BS degree has greater emphasis on Goal 3 above. The BA degree has great emphasis on policy analysis, which is articulated in Goal 2.

The BS degree in the Dolan School of Business with a major in Economics has greater emphasis on Goals 1 and 3, which incorporate applications to real world settings and quantitative analysis.