A Major in Economics

The economics major provides students with a strong grounding in economic theory and methods (through the core courses), and allows them to tailor their major to their specific interests through choice of advanced theory and/or field courses. 

Requirements for the Major

A major in economics includes six "core" theory and methods courses, two 300-level courses, and at least one other course. There are nine required courses.

100-level required courses:

  • Economics 101 Principles of Microeconomics
  • Economics 102 Principles Macroeconomics
  • Economics 103/Sociology 190 Introduction to Probability and Statistical Methods

200-level required courses (these courses have a prerequisite of Math 115 or above taken at Wellesley) :

  • Economics 201 Intermediate Microeconomic Analysis
  • Economics 202 Intermediate Macroeconomic Analysis
  • Economics 203 Econometrics

Additional course requirements:

  • at least two 300-level courses (ordinarily not counting 350, 360, 370 or 380)
  • one additional 200- or 300-level course to total nine courses

The department recommends at least three 300-level courses, and at least 10 economics courses for the major. A minimum of two 300-level courses must be taken at Wellesley unless permission from the Chair is secured in advance.

About the Courses

The principles courses (101, 102) are designed to introduce students to the analytical tools used in economics and to the use of these tools in various fields within the discipline. The intermediate theory courses (201, 202) provide sufficient training in these analytical techniques to allow students to use them easily, especially in 300-level work.

Along with this grounding in both micro- and macroeconomic theory, economics majors complete a two-course sequence in statistical and econometric methods (103, 203). Statistical inference provides a formal link between economic theory and the world. Students learn the basics of probability and statistics as well as formal methods of testing both theories and specific hypotheses with real data; they also learn how to evaluate the reliability of data and the uncertainty associated with decisions and policies.

With a solid base in theory and statistics, students move on to applied courses offered at the 200 and 300 levels. The department includes faculty members with specialties in each of the major fields within economics who teach courses in those specialties using the tools developed in the core courses. Some students may wish to go on to Independent Study, either as a 350 or a 360-370.

Substitutes for ECON 103

Economic statistics courses or courses with significant economics applications (including Stat 100 at Harvard, for example) may replace Econ 103, counting as the equivalent of 103 and counting toward the Economics major or minor. Any other introductory statistics course, whether applied or theoretical, may be used to "place out" of Econ 103 but will not count as a unit toward the Economics major or minor. These could include courses:

  • taken in another discipline at Wellesley (including Psych 205 and Math 220)
  • taken at another institution and approved by the Economics Department's Transfer Credit Advisor
  • taken as AP or IB credits

In other words, majors or minors who place out of the Econ 103 requirement in this way must take an additional elective course in Economics to reach the minimum of nine courses for a major or five for a minor.

Requirements for the Minor

The minor in economics provides an opportunity for students to gain a basic introduction to economic theory and methods, as a complement to study in another area.

There are five required courses:

  • Economics 101 Principles of Microeconomics
  • Economics 102 Principles of Macroeconomics
  • Economics 103 Introduction to Probability and Statistical Methods (See "Substitutes for ECON 103" above.)
  • Also required are two "field courses" (ordinarily not 201, 202, or 203), which apply economic theory and methods. These courses can be at either the 200-level or 300-level although, in practice, few minors have the prerequisites to take 300-level courses. We certainly welcome those with the appropriate background into the more advanced applications of economic analysis.