Economics is the study of how people organize themselves to sustain life and enhance its quality, with minimum waste or misuse of resources. The four essential economic activities of resource maintenance and production, distribution and consumption of goods and services take place in households, markets and the public sector. In economies such as the US, market exchange is the primary mechanism through which the production and, distribution of goods and services takes place but households as well as the state and its agencies also play a significant role. One distinction of Dickinson College’s Economics program is the emphasis on contending perspectives such as feminist, Marxian, institutionalist, Austrian, and post-Keynesian, in addition to quantitative and qualitative mainstream economic analysis. The decision to major in Economics should be based on a genuine interest in studying the economic dimension of society.

To get an idea of the ways people use economics for solving very human problems and the need to include a diverse set of voices in the discipline, please see this 9-minute video entitled "A career in Economics . . . it's much more than you think" produced by the American Economic Association (AEA), available at the AEA website and on Vimeo

Courses appropriate for prospective majors

ECON 111, Introduction to Microeconomics (fall and spring semesters)
ECON 112, Introduction to Macroeconomics (fall and spring semesters)
MATH 170, Single Variable Calculus (fall and spring semesters)
MATH 121, Elementary Statistics (fall and spring semesters)

Caution: Students who are planning to major in Economics should take the introductory and quantitative requirements in their first or sophomore years. The economics major is a hierarchical program and students who enter the program late may find it difficult to complete the major in time to graduate. While no specific course must be taken in any given semester, the vertical structure of the program requires that you successfully complete prerequisites for admission to intermediate and higher level classes in a timely manner.

For course descriptions and requirements for the major, refer to the Academic Bulletin: Economics.

Courses that fulfill distribution requirements

Social Sciences (Division II) and Quantitative Reasoning:
ECON 111, Introduction to Microeconomics
ECON 112, Introduction to Macroeconomics
ECON 228, Economic Analysis of Public Policy

A number of Economics courses fulfil the Writing in the Discipline (WID) or Sustainability requirements.

Suggested curricular flow through the major

The following curricular guidelines will help you pace your progress through the major. While no specific course must be taken in any given semester, the vertical structure of the program requires that you successfully complete prerequisites for admission to intermediate and higher level classes in a timely manner. Do not delay fulfilling your mathematics and intermediate level requirements for the major. The statistics requirement and prerequisite for economics 268 can be met by taking MATH 121 (Elementary Statistics), MATH 225 (Probability and Statistics I; for math majors or minors), or INBM 220 (Managerial Decision Making; for INBM majors only). MATH 170 (Single Variable Calculus) or a more advanced calculus class is required for ECON 268 and ECON 278. ECON 268 and ECON 278 are prerequisites for upper level electives and the senior seminar. You need at least three economics electives to complete the major; at least two of these must be at the 300 level, having one or more intermediate prerequisites.

Introductory Requirements (recommended for first years; ideally completed by end of sophomore year):
ECON 111, ECON 112, MATH 121 (or substitute as noted above), MATH 170

Intermediate Requirements (to be completed as soon as prerequisites are met):
ECON 268, ECON 278, and ECON 288

Electives (To be completed as soon as prerequisites are met):

Three electives are required for the major. Two electives must be at the 300 level or above.

Senior Seminar (Spring Senior Year):
ECON 496

Note: Please allow enough flexibility in your schedule if you are planning on studying abroad. In addition, make sure you discuss your plans with your faculty advisor well in advance.


Any student with a 3.50 overall grade point average may undertake a two-course independent research project and oral defense of the research project.  Honors in the major will be awarded if the two courses are over and above the nine required courses, if a grade of A or A- is earned on the project, and if the departmental oral examination on the project is successfully completed. For detailed information, go to the department web site.

Independent study and independent research

Each faculty member has special fields of study and will usually be available for advice in that area. No more than two independent study or tutorial study enrollments may be counted toward the major and they must conform to the appropriate level within the major.

Additional Remarks

Preparation for graduate study: Students planning graduate study in economics should take ECON 374 (Econometrics) during their junior year, if possible, and consider earning at least a minor in mathematics in addition to their Economics major, depending upon the particular graduate program they hope to enter. Completion of Econometrics will increase the opportunities for students interested in graduate school to pursue summer or independent research options. Students should consult with their Economics advisor and see the Resources for Economics Majors page for more information about graduate study in Economics.

Careers: The Economics major graduates with a wide range of opportunities. Based on the experience of our graduates, the general analytical skills gained through an Economics major are valued in certain areas such as finance, consulting, economic forecasting, and general management. Economic analysis is also valued in the public sector, which employs many economists as policy analysts. Thus, although business uses economics and economics studies the behavior of business, Economics majors are not limited to a career in business. Employers in many fields are increasingly seeking Economics majors with skills in data management and analysis.