International Economics

The International Economics (IECO) major is grounded in the belief that economic analysis is essential to the understanding of modern world affairs.

IECO students receive rigorous training in quantitative techniques and objective analysis.  The major is excellent preparation for careers and leadership positions in the private or public sector. Our students have built highly successful careers in finance, consulting, law, management, media, international development, international organizations, research institutes, government, non-profit organizations, and academia.

Goals and Objectives of the Major

The International Economics major is designed to develop in students the ability to conduct innovative, well-informed, rigorous, quantitative analysis of all aspects of the world economy. This ability is essential to understanding the economic forces at work in the world and making sound decisions in the face of them. All students are expected to master the theoretical and empirical tools necessary to conduct such analysis.

Students who select the IECO major will gain experience in the following areas:

  • The basic elements of microeconomic theory including consumer choice, the impact on resource allocation of different market structures, game theory, general equilibrium analysis, and asymmetric information.
  • The measurement of output and prices, along with theories of economic growth, business cycles, and fiscal and monetary policy.
  • The fundamentals of international trade and finance.
  • Elementary statistics, probability theory, statistical inference, electronic data acquisition and computer applications.
  • The theory and applications of regression analysis, with emphasis on the main techniques for estimating economic relationships and testing economic hypotheses.
  • The application of economic theory and empirical analysis to a range of topics including labor, industrial organization, development, and the public sector.
  • The elements of original research and writing, from posing a question, to summarizing the literature, modeling, gathering data, establishing causality and drawing conclusions.

Requirements for the Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service in International Economics

Courses in the SFS Core requirement serve as foundational requisites of this major.

Prerequisites – MATH-035/1350 (Calculus I), ECON-001/1001 (Micro), ECON-002/1002 (Macro)

Co-requisites* – ECON-243/2543 (International Trade), ECON-244/2544 (International Finance)

*It is important to note that ECON-242/2542 WILL NOT count toward the co-requisites for the IECO major.  Should you opt to complete ECON-242/2542 and then at a later date decide to major in IECO, you will be required to complete one higher-level economics course to fulfill the stated co-requisites for the major.

ECON-101/2101 Intermediate Microeconomics
ECON-102/2102 Intermediate Macroeconomics
ECON-121/2110 Economic Statistics
ECON-122/3001 Introduction to Econometrics

3 Applied Courses (At least 1 course (3 credits) must be in an approved 400-level/4000-level ECON course carrying the IECO Applied course attribute)

1 Senior Seminar (IECO-4980 or an approved 4000-level ECON course of 3 credits or more)

Please note that the 4000-level Applied Course and the IECO Senior Seminar must be two separate courses. No double-counting is permitted within the major.

NOTE:  The IECO Field Chair and Curricular Dean will maintain the IECO applied course list. These are typically courses that use or build upon intermediate theory, statistics or econometrics.

Writing in the Major

The field of Economics explores complex economic systems through a combination of deductive and inductive reasoning. Early economists attempted to communicate this reasoning and results of their analyses using words alone. This resulted in long, often convoluted books that were prone to error. Over the years, economists developed mathematical models and statistical tools, which facilitated analysis, reduced error and enabled far greater transparency and brevity in the expression of results. These techniques can be difficult for undergraduates to grasp at first, which is why they are the focus of most of our teaching effort. Yet, as we teach students to build, solve, test and present economic models, we are in effect teaching them to “write” economics.

Of course, models have not entirely displaced words. Students still must learn to explain the motivation, logic and conclusions of their work verbally. This skill is especially vital for communicating with non-economists. To that end, the economics programs (ECON and IECO) integrate writing in three principal ways:

  1. Explaining rationale: Tests and homework assignments require students to give short written explanations of the reasoning behind their answers, usually in one or two paragraphs. While not the norm in the first-year Principles sequence due to large class size, it is common in the 1000 and 2000-level core courses and universal in the 4000-level advanced courses.
  2. Writing short papers: Short papers require students to develop arguments, explain theories or present evidence based on research. Such essays help students learn to organize their thinking and writing.  Example assignments include writing short essays that discuss the causes and possible solutions to poverty, drafting policy memos in response to case studies, and writing summaries of academic literature.
  3. Producing a senior thesis: The senior thesis in economics provides students with the opportunity to develop the skills and techniques needed for carrying out a substantive original research project in economics. To achieve this purpose, the course focuses on the writing and presentation of a thesis. Students may choose from a wide variety of topics. Along the way, students learn how to evaluate scholarly literature, formulate and model a hypothesis, locate data and test the hypothesis, write an elegant paper and give a convincing presentation. This course marks the culmination of the IECO major and an introduction to the world of scholarly research.

Each student is responsible for writing an article-length paper, approximately 20-25 pages in length. In the paper, students are expected to evaluate, critique, test, and build upon a current debate of their choosing in the field of economics. Students should develop competing hypotheses, model them formally, and test them using quantitative methods. The papers are written as if they were being presented at a professional conference or submitted to a scholarly journal. The thesis is written in a series of steps, each of which is marked by the completion of a short paper or class presentation.

The senior thesis course is open to all IECO majors but it is not required (students may substitute an additional 4000-level economics class in place of the thesis course). Successful completion of a thesis is, however, a requirement for honors in IECO.

Honors in International Economics

Students can earn Honors in the IECO major by submitting a letter of intent during the junior year and writing a thesis based on original research while taking IECO-4980 during the senior year. This thesis must then be judged as honors quality by the faculty of record for the IECO-4980 course. Students must also earn a major GPA of at least 3.67 (without rounding up) and a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 (without rounding up). Lastly, students must earn grades of A or A- in Intermediate Microeconomics (ECON-101/2101) and Intermediate Macroeconomics (ECON-102/2102).

Additional information on the major and required coursework may be found on the BSFS website.

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