Economics, Political Economy

Department of Economics

The Department of Economics offers an A.B Degree in Economics and an A.B. Degree in Political Economy, as well as a minor in Economics.

Major Programs


The requirements for a major in economics are as follows: ten courses which must include both Principles of Microeconomics (ECON-001) and Principles of Macroeconomics (ECON-002) or the combined Principles of Economics (ECON-003), Intermediate Microeconomics (ECON-101 or 103), Intermediate Macroeconomics (ECON-102 or 104), Economic Statistics (ECON-121), and Introduction to Econometrics (ECON-122). (Note that starting in 2015, ECON 103 and 104 will no longer be offered, but students who have already taken either of these classes will have them count under the previous rules.) The remaining four (or five, for those who take 003 instead of 001 and 002) electives must include at least two 400-level courses. Most courses beyond Micro and Macro Principles require, as a prerequisite, Calculus I (MATH-035). Introduction to Econometrics must be taken before the fall semester of senior year. First- and second-year students who are considering an economics major should meet with the director of undergraduate studies early in their careers at Georgetown to develop a plan to meet requirements and accommodate their own interests as they pursue their major. Students can, however, discuss their plans with any professor in the department. Students with a strong background (but NO AP or IB credit) in economics should consider starting with ECON-003 instead of 001 and 002.

Preparation for a career in economics requires a strong foundation in theory and quantitative methods. Students who anticipate doing graduate work in economics should take the Calculus sequence in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics (MATH-035, 036, 137, 150), and other higher-level mathematics classes.

requirements for the A.B. in Economics

Prerequisite: Calculus (MATH-035) or equivalent AP/IB credit

Ten Economics courses:

  • Principles courses (either ECON-001 and 002 or the combined 003)
  • Intermediate Microeconomics (ECON-101 or 103)
  • Intermediate Macroeconomics (ECON-102 or 104)
  • Economic Statistics (ECON-121)*
  • Introduction to Econometrics (ECON-122)
  • Four (or five, for those taking 003 instead of 001 and 002) electives, including at least two 400-level courses

*Economics majors are required to take ECON-121 Economic Statistics. MATH-140 Intro to Math Stats is an acceptable substitute for ECON-121 in the major, but MATH-040 Probability and Statistics is NOT. Students who are considering an economics major are thus strongly encouraged to begin with ECON-121 rather than MATH-040, as the latter will not count in the major.


The economics program integrates writing in three principal ways:

  1. Tests and homework assignments require students to give short written explanations of the reasoning behind their answers, usually in one or two paragraphs. It is common in the 100 and 200-level core courses and universal in the 400-level advanced courses.
  2. Short papers require students to develop arguments, explain theories, or present evidence, based on some type of research. They are common in upper-level courses with a substantial policy component. Examples include: ECON156, ECON471, ECON475, ECON484
  3. The senior thesis in economics provides majors with the opportunity to develop the skills and techniques needed for carrying out a substantive original research project in economics.

Students can graduate with honors in economics if: (1) they have already taken Honors Intermediate Microeconomics (ECON-103) and Honors Intermediate Macroeconomics (ECON-104), or if they attain an A or A- in each of Intermediate Microeconomics (ECON-101) and Macroeconomics (ECON-102); (2) they attain a 3.67 grade average in economics courses; and (3) they take at least three 400-level courses. A thesis is not required to graduate with departmental honors.

Political Economy

The major in Political Economy exposes students to the rich intersection between economics and politics. Students study the social, political, and economic factors that affect, and are affected by, systems of production, exchange, and distribution, as well as the mix of values reflected in them.

At the heart of the major is the methodological and substantive overlap between economics and political science. Methodologically, political economy emphasizes rigorous and frequently quantitative methods, including formal modeling, econometrics, and comparative case study methods. Substantively, political economy analyzes how international and domestic political factors interact with macro and micro economic factors to determine outcomes in a wide variety of areas including globalization, international trade and finance, regulation, development, taxes, institutional design, the environment, and income distribution. The scope of inquiry ranges from developed countries, to developing economies, to nations making transitions to market-oriented systems.

The strength of the major is its ability to analyze important issues that do not divide neatly along the classic disciplinary lines of economics and political science. The intellectual enterprise typically goes beyond the constituent disciplines by combining traditional economic concerns about efficiency with traditional political concerns regarding distributional issues and legitimacy in market and nonmarket environments.

Requirements for the A.B. in Political Economy

The major in Politial Economy requires seven foundational courses, two core Politial Economy courses, and two electives as follows:

Three of the folloing four core courses in the Government department;

  • U.S. Political Systems (GOVT-020)
  • Comparative Political Systems (GOVT-040)
  • International Relations (GOVT-060)
  • Elements of Political Theory (GOVT-080)

Four foundational courses in Economics*:

  • Intermediate Micro (ECON-101)
  • Intermediate Macro (ECON-102) or International Finance (ECON-244)
  • Economic Statistics (ECON-121)
  • Intro to Econometrics (ECON-122)

*Note: Calculus I (MAHT-035) and Principles of Micro and Macro (001 and 002 or 003) are prerequisites for these economics courses.

Political Economy courses:

  • Analytical Tools for Political Economy (PECO-201)
  • Senior Capstone in Political Economy (PECO-401)
  • Two approved Political Economy electives
Integrated Writing Requirement

Effective expression of ideas through written work is essential requirement of the major. Political economists develop models and statistical tools to facilitate analysis. The PECO major requires that students build, solve, test, and present economic models. To do this well requires that students achieve transparency and clarity of ideas in their written work.

To help students achieve this goal the political economy program requires a written thesis from ALL PECO majors (not just those in the honors program). The thesis requirement is integrated into the capstone course, PECO 401, which serves to guide students through the arduous process of creating and communicating (in written form) original research.  The thesis must be completed in the senior year.

In addition to the capstone course, most of the 400 level elective courses in PECO require at least one short paper.  These courses are designed to instruct students on how to develop arguments, explain theories, or present evidence.

Minor in Economics

Requirements for the minor in Economics

The requirements for a minor in Economics are:

  • Principles of Microeconomics (ECON-001) and Principles of Macroeconomics (ECON-002), or Principles of Micro and Macro Combined (ECON-003)
  • Intermediate Microeconomics (ECON-101 or ECON-103) or Intermediate Macroeconomics (ECON-102 or ECON-104) 
  • Economic Statistics (ECON-121) (may be substituted with MATH-040 Probability and Statistics, MATH-140, or OPIM-172, 173 or 174 Business Statistics)
  • Two (or three, for those who take 003 instead of 001 and 002) electives.
  • Calculus I (MATH-035)**

    **Calculus I is a prerequisite  for all 100-level Economics courses
    To earn a minor in Economics, at least 50% of the courses must be taken in the Economics Department at Georgetown.


For a score of 5 on the Microeconomics exam, the student will receive three credits for ECON-001 (Principles of Microeconomics). For a score of 5 on the Macroeconomics exam, the student will receive three credits for ECON-002 (Principles of Macroeconomics). Students with a score of 5 on both of the AP exams may proceed to upper-level courses and cannot take any of the principle courses (ECON-001, 002 and 003). Students with a score of 5 on only one of the AP exams normally take the opposite principles course. If the student takes ECON-003 (Principles of Economics: Macro and Micro), they will forfeit the AP credit in economics. COL students with a strong high school background in micro and macro economics and/or who have taken both AP economics but did not score a 5 on either of the AP exams are encouraged to take ECON-003. 


Students who study abroad for a single semester may receive credit for at most two economics courses while studying abroad. Students who study abroad for two semesters may receive credit for up to three economics courses.

Courses taken abroad may be substituted for Intermediate Microeconomics (ECON-101), Intermediate Macroeconomics (ECON-102), Statistics (ECON-121), Econometrics (ECON-122), or 400-level courses, but only if the substitution has been approved by the Economics Department prior to enrollment. Students seeking approval for one of these courses need to submit a syllabus (not a course description) for the course to the Director of Undergraduate Studies. It is not necessary to submit a syllabus for approval of a non-400-level economics elective. However, to ensure credit, students should also secure approval of these courses prior to departure.

(For course listings for Economics see