Major Information

The economics major is a hands-on experience that teaches concepts and models underlying both individual decision-making and broader (macro) questions such as the determination of interest rates and income growth. We offer courses in a series of fields including finance, international trade, macroeconomics, competition and strategy, labor economics, development economics, and public economics.

The economics major

After completing the tools courses, you have a series of opportunities to engage in research. These include a culminating experience project focused on your emphasis within the major, an honors thesis, and working one-on-one with faculty members as a research assistant. 

Dartmouth's approach to teaching economics is distinct among our peer institutions. Intermediate level courses are taught in small sections and include a great deal of interaction with the professor. Our seminars are largely discussion-based and involve 15 students or fewer. The seminar courses engage students in collecting original data, testing hypotheses, and analyzing data.

The economics major

Prerequisites for the major

  • Economics 1 and 10, with an average grade no lower than C
  • Mathematics 3

A student who fails to achieve the minimum grade average for the prerequisites may, with the permission of the department vice chair, substitute grades in Economics 21 and 20 for those in Economics 1 and 10, respectively. Another statistics course may be substituted for Economics 10 with permission of the vice chair.

These prerequisite courses introduce students to the economic way of thinking.

“The Price System” (Economics 1) is an in-depth introduction to microeconomics, studying supply and demand in both product and factor markets. Economics 10, “Introduction to Statistical Methods,” introduces the student to the basic concepts and methods of statistics. Math 3, “Introduction to Calculus,” introduces the basic ideas of differential and integral calculus.

The emphasis in the prerequisites is on fundamental ideas and problem solving. Economics 10 and Math 3 are included in this classification because of the importance of quantitative skills in analyzing basic economic phenomena. 

The economics major

Major requirements

Nine courses in addition to the prerequisites, with a GPA for these nine courses of no less than 2.0.

The nine courses must include the following: 

  • Economics 20, 21 and 22. 

  • 2. Any two of the following sequences (depending on the sequences chosen, one or two additional courses may be needed):
    • 24-44 or 24-27-44 or 24-39-44
    •  25-45 or 25-35 or 25-35-45 (75 can be substituted for 35)
    • 26-36 or 26-36-46
    • 27-47 or 24-27 or 24-27-47
    • 28-38 or 28-48 or 28-38-48 (72 or 75 can be substituted for 38)
    • 29-39 or 29-39-49
    • 80-81 or 80-82 or 81-82 or 80-81-82


At least one of the sequences must include a 40-level or 80-level course in which a major paper is required. This requirement will serve as the culminating experience in the major. With the permission of the vice chair, a student may substitute other courses to fulfill these requirements.

The first requirement ensures that majors are proficient in each of the three core areas of economics: microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics.

Economics 20, “Econometrics,” studies the statistical analysis of economic data and provides an overview of how to carry out and interpret empirical research, preparing students for the culminating experience in the major. Economics 21, “Microeconomics,” covers many of the same topics as Economics 1 at a more advanced level through the use of calculus. Economics 22, “Macroeconomics,” helps to develop an advanced understanding of the aggregate economy. 

The second requirement ensures that majors are proficient in at least two fields of concentration and have completed a culminating experience in one field. These fields, represented by the sequences above, can generally be thought of as:

  • Development Economics (the “4s”)
  • Industrial Organization (the “5s”)
  • Money and Finance (the “6s”)
  • Labor (the “7s”)
  • Public (the “8s”)
  • International (“the 9s”)
  • Advanced Theory (“the 80s”)

The culminating experience is a senior seminar in which students read and discuss the important literature in the field and produce a major paper of their own, which is typically empirical.

The economics major

Filing major cards

You must submit an economics major card to the Registrar to receive priority status when registering for economics courses. Students typically file a major card during their sophomore year.

The plan of study listed on your major card is not set in stone, but it is important to think about and document your best estimate of the courses you actually plan to take.

You’ll need to pay particular attention to prerequisites and to the term in which courses are expected to be offered to ensure that you are eligible to take your desired courses in the desired terms.

It is important to realize that filing a major card does not guarantee you a place in your desired course in the desired term. You must register on time, and may still be placed on a wait list.

Since course schedules and interests may change, major cards can be re-filed if needed, but it is important that you have a plan that will fulfill the requirements of the major. Note that if you intend to pursue honors in economics, you still need to file a major card that meets the requirements for a standard major, since participation in honors is not automatic.

To file a major card in economics: 

  1. Obtain blank major cards from the economics office or the Registrar’s office
  2. Carefully read the section on Economics Major Requirements in the College Bulletin on Organization, Regulations and Courses (ORC)
  3. Meet with with a regular faculty department member (not a visiting professor) to verify that your proposed plan meets the requirements 
  4. Fill out three major cards with your approved plan, in ink. Fill in the prerequisite section appropriately, being sure to note any substitutions (such as Math 8 for Math 3, etc.)
  5. Submit these three copies to a faculty department member (non-visiting) for signature 
  6. File one card with the Economics office (room 311), one card with the Registrar’s office, and keep one for your records

The economics major

The economics double major

In addition to filing a standard major card, double majors are required to file a separate signed form available from the registrar’s office or the economics office, listing the courses for both majors.