6: College of Arts and Sciences

General Information | Academic Information | Departments and Programs | Faculty

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James Wilson Department of Economics

Course Descriptions | Faculty

Overview   Economics is the social science that studies how individuals make choices in the face of scarcity. In a market economy these choices are made by heads of households and managers of firms. Hence, microeconomics deals with the decisions by households and firms that determine the quantities and prices of goods and services. In contrast, macroeconomics emphasizes the aggregate performance of economic institutions, as measured by unemployment, inflation, and levels of real income. Fruitful applications of this core theory of economics can then be made to the study of the public sector, international trade, urban problems, non-market exchange, the financial system, and many other areas. Economics is valuable not only for the topics it treats, but also for its rigorous methods of analysis.

Faculty   The twenty-eight full-time faculty members of the economics department are recognized as good teachers and are among the elite of professional economists.

Students   Currently, there are about 600 economic majors at the University. The main sections of the introductory economics lecture courses are quite large (over 400) but are supplemented with small weekly discussion sections led by teaching assistants. Other smaller sections of the introductory courses are also offered. Most of our courses have between 30 and 50 students and, except for some lower-level courses, are taught by regular faculty. Faculty are willing to supervise independent studies for good students on topics that are close to their own interests and expertise.

Since the study of economics enhances one's skills in problem solving, economics majors have, upon graduation, successfully followed various educational and employment paths. About one-fourth of the University's economics majors choose to attend law school, and almost as large a fraction have enrolled in graduate business schools, sometimes after working for several years. Each year, a few majors continue their study of economics at the graduate level, and several attend medical school. Economics majors who have chosen to work immediately upon graduation have found employment in financial institutions, manufacturing corporations, consulting firms, and state and federal government agencies.

Requirements for Major   Students intending to elect economics as their major subject should complete ECON 201, 202 by the end of their second year. In order to declare a major in economics, a student must be in good standing in the College, must have completed at least one course in economics, and must have attained at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA in all economics courses at the University. To graduate with a major in economics, a student must complete the five required core courses named below, plus fifteen credits of additional economics courses, of which at least twelve credits must be earned in courses numbered 300 or greater. The five required courses are ECON 201, ECON 202, ECON 301 or 311, ECON 302, and an approved statistics course. The approved statistics courses are ECON 371, ECON 381, MATH 312, and APMA 312. These required courses must be completed prior to the student's fourth year, except by permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies; such permission will be granted only in extraordinary circumstances. In addition, each major is required to complete a three-credit calculus course by the end of the first semester after the major is declared. The calculus may not be taken on a credit/no credit basis. Majors must maintain a 2.0 cumulative GPA in economics.

Students who wish to declare a major in economics should obtain the undergraduate studies brochure from Rouss Hall 114 and follow the instructions therein.

Requirements for Distinguished Majors Program   The department has a Distinguished Majors Program (DMP) for majors who wish to be considered for a degree with high or highest distinction in economics. Students in the DMP must enroll in ECON 411 (Topics in Advanced Microeconomics) in the fall of their fourth year, take ECON 372 either before entering the program or the fall of their fourth year, and write a DMP thesis under faculty supervision, enrolling in ECON 496. The thesis is due by April 15. Third-year economics majors with a cumulative grade point average of 3.6 or better are eligible to apply; application forms and additional information can be obtained in Rouss Hall 114.

Requirements for Minor   Students who wish to minor in economics must satisfactorily complete ECON 201, ECON 202, ECON 301, or ECON 311, an approved statistics course, and nine credits of additional economics courses with a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 in these courses. The approved statistics courses are ECON 371, ECON 381, MATH 312, and APMA 312. At least six of the nine credits of optional courses must be in courses numbered 300 or greater. Additional economics courses may be taken, but only the best three grades will be used in determining a minor's economics GPA.

Students who wish to declare a minor in economics should obtain the undergraduate studies brochure from Rouss Hall 114 and follow the instructions therein.

Prospective Graduate Students   Any student seriously considering graduate work in economics should take ECON 372. Several mathematics courses, in addition to the required semester of calculus, will be extremely useful for gaining admission to and financial aid from a graduate school, and for completing the graduate program on schedule. An additional course in calculus such as MATH 132 or 132A and a course in linear algebra such as MATH 351 are essential. Beyond these basic courses, the more useful for economics are MATH 221, MATH 225, MATH 311, MATH 312 and MATH 331.

Additional Information   For more information, contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Economics, 114 Rouss Hall, Charlottesville, VA 22903; (804) 924-3177.

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