Political Economy

The A.B. in Political Economy is jointly managed by the Department of Economics and the Department of Government.

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, international 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 markets and nonmarket environments.

Major in Political Economy

Requirements for the Major in Political Economy

The major in Political Economy requires eleven courses as follows:

  • Three of the following four foundational courses in the Government department:
    • U.S. Political Systems (GOVT 1200)
    • Comparative Political Systems (GOVT 1400)
    • International Relations (GOVT 1600)
    • Elements of Political Theory (GOVT 1800)
  • Four foundational courses in Economics:
    • Intermediate Micro (ECON 2101)*
    • Intermediate Macro (ECON 2102) or International Finance (ECON 2544)
    • Economic Statistics (ECON 2110)
    • Intro to Econometrics (ECON 3001)

*Note: ECON 2101 has ECON 1001 (Microeconomics Principles) and MATH 1350 (Calculus I) as prerequisites

  • Four courses in Political Economy:
    • Analytical Tools for Political Economy (PECO 3010)
    • Senior Capstone in Political Economy (PECO 4980) or 1 additional PECO 3000 or 4000-level elective that includes a research paper
    • Two (2) Political Economy electives
Integrated Writing Requirement

Effective expression of ideas through written work is an 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 political-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 all PECO majors to take a political economy course that requires a research paper which serves to guide students through the arduous process of creating and communicating (in written form) original research.  The research paper for this major is expected to analyze a theoretical or empirical puzzle relevant to political economy. 

Honors in Political Economy

In order to graduate with honors in Political Economy, a student must:

  • Earn a cumulative grade point average of 3.33 and a grade point average of 3.67 in the major by the date of graduation.
  • Write an honors-quality thesis in the Capstone Course PECO 4980. The paper must receive a grade of “A” from the professor(s) teaching PECO 4980 and must also be approved as of “honors quality” by a designated committee.

Study Abroad

Political Economy Major Students

Up to two electives in support of the Political Economy major can be taken abroad with prior approval by either the Field Chair for Political Economy in the Department of Economics, or the Field Chair for Political Economy in the Department of Government.  To obtain approval please submit a syllabus for the course for which you wish to receive credit.

For course listings for Political Economy see Schedule of Classes.