The basis of Economics is the study of how markets organize the production and distribution of goods and services, and how other institutions may act to modify the outcomes of markets. A common theme in many applications of economics is the debate over the proper role of the private and public sectors in dealing with societal well-being. Topics to which economic analysis may be applied include international trade, the economic aspects of the changing world order, environmental policy, issues of wealth and poverty, and the behavior of government, corporations and financial institutions. These issues are studied through a wide variety of methods, including mathematical reasoning, statistical inference, and historical study. In this regard economics differs from other social sciences primarily in its more frequent emphasis on mathematical reasoning. The goal of economics is not only to better understand the world in which we live, but also to contribute to the development of sound private and public sector policy.

Uniqueness of our program:The Dickinson College Economics program is unique and well-suited to the liberal arts. We believe that the study of Economics is most fruitful when approached from contending and comparative perspectives. In addition to the usual education in mainstream economic thought, our students are exposed to other schools of thought such as Austrian, institutional, post-Keynesian, radical, and ecological economics. Ideologically, these schools range from libertarian to socialist. Methodologically they range from highly mathematical to anti-mathematical. Our emphasis on educational breadth also applies to the international dimension, our students may study international trade and finance, alternative economic systems, and more specific courses dealing with the economies of Latin America or Japan. Along the historical dimension, students may study the evolution of our economic system and our economic ideas. The extraordinary breadth of knowledge arising from such an approach blends well with the analytical rigor of mainstream economics to produce students capable of competing in top mainstream graduate programs, yet capable of considering issues from a more fully reasoned world view than that of the typical Economics major.

Who should major in Economics: The decision to major in Economics should be based on a genuine interest in the discipline. Students should be anxious to study in depth the economic dimension of society. They should have a strong interest in contemporary economic issues such as unemployment, inflation, efficiency, deficit spending, poverty, discrimination, world hunger, corporate power, environmental pollution, the foreign challenge to the U.S. economy, unions, and other economic issues of our time. If a student has such interests, and if after testing the study of economics in an introductory economics course he/she is excited about further study, then the major is right for that person.

Courses appropriate for prospective majors

ECON 111, Intro to Microeconomics is the preferred entry level course for the major or minor.

Caution: Students who are thinking about or planning to major in economics should begin the major sequence in their first or sophomore years. The economics major is a four-year program and students who enter the program late will find it difficult to complete the major in time to graduate.

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

Courses that fulfill distribution requirements

Division II:
ECON 111, Intro to Microeconomics.

Suggested curricular flow through the major

The following suggested four-year program provides guidelines to help 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 fulfill prerequisites in a timely fashion. Prerequisites are required for admission to and successful completion of our intermediate and higher level classes. Do not delay fulfilling your mathematics and intermediate level requirements for the major. MATH 170 is required for both ECON 268 and ECON 278. Without ECON 268 and ECON 278 you will be unable to fulfill your upper level electives requirements and will not be able to take ECON 496. You need at least three economics electives to complete the major; at least two of these must be at the 300 or 400 level.

First Year
Fall: ECON 111 and MATH 170 or MATH 121
Spring: ECON 111 or ECON 112 and MATH 170 or MATH 121 (or MATH 225 or INBM 220 for INBM majors only)

Sophomore Year
Fall: ECON 111 or 112 or 268, 278, or 288, and MATH 170 or MATH 121 (or MATH 225 or INBM 220 for INBM majors only)
Spring: ECON 112 and 268, 278, or 288

Junior Year
Fall: ECON 268, 278, or 288 and an economics elective
Spring: ECON 268, 278, or 288 and an economics elective
Note: There is enough scheduling flexibility for study abroad in the third year. If you are planning to study abroad make sure you discuss your plans well in advance with your faculty advisor.

Senior Year
Fall: An economics elective if needed
Spring: Senior Seminar and an economics elective if needed


Any student with a 3.33 average in the major may undertake a two-course independent 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: Those planning graduate study in economics should plan a minimum of four courses in math and statistics depending upon the particular graduate program they choose to enter. Students should see their Economics advisor for other information about graduate study in Economics.

Students intending to pursue graduate study in Economics are strongly urged to complete one of the following sequences beyond the basic mathematics requirement for the major: 1) ECON 374 and 375; 2) MATH 261 and 262; and ECON 375.

Careers: The Economics major graduates with a wide range of opportunities. Based on the experience of our graduates, the general analytical skills of Economics seem to be valued in certain areas of business, 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 and economic forecasters. Thus, although business uses economics and although economics studies the behavior of business, it does not follow that the Economics major is fully prepared for or limited to a career in business. Other desirable careers frequently pursued by economics majors include law and academics. The study of Economics provides both the analytical ability and breadth of understanding to permit the student’s development into an informed and effective human being regardless of one’s career goals.