AMANDA BAYER, Professor and Chair3
SYON BHANOT, Associate Professor
ERIN TODD BRONCHETTI, Professor
JOHN P. CASKEY, Professor
DAIFENG HE, Associate Professor
PAUL KO, Assistant Professor
MARK KUPERBERG, Professor2
ELLEN B. MAGENHEIM, Professor
STEPHEN A. O’CONNELL, Professor and Interim Chair (2023-2024)
MARIA OLIVERO, Associate Professor
JENNIFER PECK, Associate Professor
MARC REMER, Associate Professor
JOSEPH HARGADON, Visiting Professor (part-time)
MEGAN SALLADINO, Administrative Assistant II
2Absent on leave, spring 2024.
3Absent on leave, 2023-2024.
The Academic Program
The economics curriculum is structured so that students achieve the following goals:
- Learn and apply models and tools for analyzing economic processes, decisions, and institutions;
- Analyze and evaluate public policy; and
- Think critically about the outcomes of public and private economic institutions and systems domestically and globally.
The Economics Department offers a course major, honors major, and honors minor. A course minor is not offered.
ECON 001 or its equivalent is a prerequisite for all other work in the department, with the exception of first-year seminars and ECON 003. In addition, all majors in economics must satisfy a theory requirement by taking ECON 011 (Intermediate Microeconomics) and ECON 021 (Intermediate Macroeconomics). They must also satisfy a statistics requirement. The statistics requirement is typically satisfied by taking ECON 031. It can alternatively be satisfied, however, by taking ECON 035 (which accepts STAT 021 as an alternative prerequisite to ECON 031), by taking STAT 111, or by taking STAT 061in combination with either STAT 011 or STAT 021. STAT 011 and STAT 021 alone are not sufficient.
In order to read the literature in economics critically, a knowledge of elementary calculus is extremely useful. Students need to take MATH 015 (or receive MATH 015 credit or placement out of MATH 015 from the Mathematics Department) prior to taking ECON 011 or ECON 021. Since ECON 011 and ECON 021 are required for the economics major, MATH 015 is a requirement for the major. Students can take ECON 001, ECON 031, and other courses that do not have ECON 011 or ECON 021 as a prerequisite before they meet the MATH 015 requirement. Students can find further information regarding math placement and credit at: https://www.swarthmore.edu/mathematics-statistics.
In addition, the department very strongly recommends that students take either MATH 025 or 026 (Basic Calculus). MATH 027 (Linear Algebra), MATH 034 (Several Variable Calculus), and MATH 044 (Differential Equations) are valuable for those intending to focus on the more technical aspects of economics. Students planning to attend graduate school in economics should give serious thought to taking additional mathematics courses, including MATH 063 (Introduction to Real Analysis). The Economics major carries the US Department of Education Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code 45.0601 and is not STEM-OPT eligible.
To graduate as a course major, a student must:
- Have at least eight credits in economics.
- Meet the theory, math, and statistics requirements.
Note: Course students should take these courses before the second semester of their senior year to be prepared for the comprehensive examination. Note also that some seminars and courses have ECON 011, 021, and/or 031 as prerequisites.
- In the senior year, pass the comprehensive examination given early in the spring semester.
Course majors must pass the Comprehensive Examination which is given in January or February of each year and covers the theory and statistics requirements. Students must take the comprehensive exam at Swarthmore College and should plan to complete ECON 011, ECON 021, and ECON 031 before taking the comprehensive exam. All students are required to take the examination in their senior year; the only exception is for December finishers, who may take the comprehensive exam in the winter prior to their final semester at Swarthmore.
Acceptance Criteria: The Course Program
Except for students who have been granted advanced standing, applicants should have:
- Completed at least two economics courses at Swarthmore.
- Have an overall grade average of C or better.
- Have a grade of B or better in at least one economics course taken at Swarthmore.
- Should not have any D’s or NC’s in any economics course. These conditions include the grade equivalent(s) for any course(s) taken Credit/No Credit. [Note: Regarding the “grade of B or better” requirement, a B in a course taken elsewhere may not suffice. Students who expect to satisfy the requirement with course work done at other schools should consult the chair about grade equivalencies ahead of time. For example, an A- is typically required in the case of a course taken in summer school.]
Students have one year from the date of their application to satisfy these requirements. Failure to do so within one year will mean rejection.
Students who wish to apply for a double major must submit a copy of their Sophomore Plan to both departments.
Typically, a student who wants to major in the Honors Program first applies for the program through the Sophomore Plan. In the Sophomore Plan, the student should indicate the intention to apply for the Honors Program and should list all preparations that the student plans to take as part of that program. The student would usually take at least one preparation in the junior year. Approval of a student’s Honors Program must be granted by the department.
The Honors Exam for Majors and Preparations
Honors majors in economics must complete 3 preparations. All preparations in economics consist of 2 credits. Most preparations involve taking a 2 credit seminar, but some preparations may combine a course and a 1 credit seminar. A complete list of preparations, with their prerequisites, appears below.
External examiners will determine a student’s Honors performance in an individual preparation based on a 3 hour written exam, an oral exam, and if applicable, a seminar paper. (Honors majors do not take the comprehensive exam given to course majors.)
Acceptance Criteria: The Honors Program
Applicants for an honors major should have satisfied all of the requirements for acceptance as an economics course major and, in addition, should have a straight B or better grade average in economics courses. This condition includes the grade equivalent(s) for any course(s) taken Credit/No Credit.
Honors minors in Economics take one two-credit preparation and are required to complete at least four total credits in Economics at Swarthmore.
External examiners will determine a student’s honors performance in an individual preparation based on a 3 hour written exam, an oral exam, and if applicable, a seminar paper. (Honors minors do not take the comprehensive exam given to course majors.)
Acceptance Criteria: The Honors Minor
Applicants for an honors minor should have satisfied all of the requirements for acceptance as an economics course major and, in addition, should have a straight B or better grade average in economics courses. This condition includes the grade equivalent(s) for any course(s) taken Credit/No Credit.
Application Process Notes for the Major
Normally, any student planning to major in economics, whether in the Course or Honors Program, applies for the major by submitting a Sophomore Plan in the spring of the Sophomore year. (Except for students who have been granted advanced standing, applicants should have completed at least two economics courses at Swarthmore.) A student who will be away that semester should submit the paper before leaving at the end of the fall semester. In the Sophomore Plan, students should state their reasons for wanting to major in economics along with any associated considerations, and they should indicate the courses and seminars essential to their plan of study. Through the paper, students are preregistered for seminars offered over the following two years; thus, students are strongly urged to select their seminars carefully. Moreover, if a student decides to change seminars, the department’s program coordinator should be informed as soon as possible, since entry into oversubscribed seminars is first-come, first-served, with students in the Honors Program having absolute priority.
ECON 101: Advanced Microeconomics (2 credits)
ECON 102: Advanced Macroeconomics (2 credits)
ECON 122: Financial Economics (2 credits)
ECON 135: Advanced Econometrics (1 credit) and ECON 035: Econometrics (1 credit)
ECON 141: Public Economics (2 credits)
ECON 151: International Economics (2 credits)
ECON 155: Behavioral and Experimental Economics (2 credits)
ECON 162: Antitrust and Market Regulation (2 credits)
ECON 175: Health Economics (2 credits)
ECON 176: Environmental Economics (2 credits)
ECON 181: Economic Development (2 credits)
Interdisciplinary Majors and Minors including Economics
Certain economics courses can be counted toward programs in Black Studies, Asian Studies, Environmental studies, Latin American and Latino Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, and Gender and Sexuality Studies.
Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate Credit
Economics before Swarthmore: The Economics Department offers a one-semester Introduction to Economics course (ECON 001) that is the prerequisite for all further study in economics.
The department does not give credit for work done in economics in secondary schools and it does not give credit for Advanced Placement exams. All students planning to study economics are required to begin with ECON 001 unless granted a waiver by the department. To receive a waiver, students must have a score of 5 on both the Microeconomics and Macroeconomics AP exams (or a 6 or 7 on the Economics Higher Level Exam of the International Baccalaureate, or an A on the British A Levels). This waiver does not count as a course credit. Students who receive the waiver cannot enroll in ECON 011 or 021 before taking at least one other economics course.
Work done at a college or university while attending secondary school is eligible for credit subject to the chairperson’s normal discretion in giving credit for such work, but only if the work is credited on an official college or university transcript. With respect to satisfying the prerequisite requirements for other economics courses: either semester of a two-semester introductory course alone counts as the equivalent of ECON 001 but if only one of two introductory semesters is taken, the material covered in the other half must be accessed by auditing (subject to the instructor’s approval) the relevant parts of ECON 001 or by taking the appropriate intermediate theory course (ECON 011 or ECON 021).
Transferring economics credits: Students must receive pre-approval from the department for any economics course taken for Swarthmore credit outside of the Tri-Co system, and, once the course has been completed, students must formally request approval of credit unless the course was designated for auto-credit at the pre-approval stage. To submit requests, students should follow the instructions offered by the Off Campus Study Office and the Registrar’s Office.
Core requirements of the economics major - ECON 001, 011, 021, 031 - can only be fulfilled by taking off-campus courses if those courses deliver a full 1.0 Swarthmore credit. The department does not top off credits earned off campus. Subject to the chair’s approval, students may be able to transfer credit for introductory economics taken at other colleges or universities even if the credit is a one-semester introductory course in only microeconomics or macroeconomics; in such cases, the student will be advised to audit the other part of the introductory material at Swarthmore before taking higher-level economics courses. Problems transferring credit typically arise in connection with off-campus courses that are labeled as economics though they are in fact courses in law, history, or political science; the department does not accept such courses for economics credit. It is usually sufficient for partial credit transfer that the course be taught by a qualified economist and be largely analytical in content, as are nearly all courses in economics departments in American colleges and universities.
Transferring credits for business courses: The College does not have a department or school of business, but it sometimes grants credit for business courses taken elsewhere. Such courses require pre-approval and final transfer credit approval following the instructions offered by the Off Campus Study Office and the Registrar’s Office. One course in financial accounting may be transferred for credit towards the economics major if the student has not taken Financial Accounting in the Tri-Co system. All other business courses are designated as business electives. Business-elective credits may be counted towards the 32 credits required for graduation, but they do not count towards an economics major. A student can receive no more than two business-elective credits in total. Students can receive business-elective credit, but not economics credit, for courses in finance taken outside of the Tri-Co system. No credit is given for night school classes at Wharton. No credit will be granted for courses with content that substantially reproduces the content of courses the student has already taken.
Recommended course sequence: Take ECON 001 in the first year. Take ECON 011, 021, and 031 in the sophomore and junior years and certainly before the beginning of the senior year. For students contemplating graduate study in economics, take one or more of: ECON 101, ECON 102, and ECON 135, as well as the Mathematics and Statistics courses discussed at the beginning of this document.
Ranking for entry into seminars: Entry into oversubscribed seminars is first-come, first-served for students in the Honors Program, with priority given to seniors, then to juniors. Any places remaining are allocated on the basis of first-come, first-served for students in the Course Program.
Double major in Economics and Engineering: Double majors may count Operations Research (cross-listed as ECON 032 and ENGR 057) for both majors. It will appear as ENGR 057 on the student’s transcript if it is taken to satisfy engineering or both requirements.
Semester or year away: The Economics Department will facilitate study abroad or elsewhere in the United States. Correspondingly, it has designed a major that can, without difficulty, be completed in no more than four semesters. Moreover, the department is quite liberal in approving transfer credits for courses offered by economics departments elsewhere. Students should, however, be aware of the following considerations: to graduate with an economics major from Swarthmore, a student must have taken at least two economics courses at Swarthmore and must pass the department’s comprehensive exam.