First Year FAQ

What is Economics?

Economics is the study of how individuals, businesses, governments, and societies make decisions regarding the allocation of scarce resources. Economics seeks to understand how markets function, prices are determined, and various factors influence economic activity and individual well-being. The principal value of economics is that it provides a rich framework that can be used to understand historical trends and interpret current headlines for virtually any topic in social science and public policy. 

Economics ranges from the very small to the very large. Microeconomics is the study of individual decisions. Macroeconomics aggregates all individuals to study the entire economy.  Econometrics uses statistical methods to provide evidence to help understand and explain economic phenomena. 

What can I study in economics?

In addition to offering courses that teach the basic framework of economics, students apply this framework in advanced courses in macroeconomics, development economics, industrial organization, finance, labor economics, public economics, and international economics.

Our curriculum provides students with tools to study virtually any topic in the social sciences or public policy.  For example, consider the list of student theses from the previous year:

•    Evaluating the Pollution Haven Hypothesis.
•    The Impact of Imports on Local and Household Health Outcomes in the U.S.
•    Electoral Malpractice in Nigerian Presidential Elections: Evaluating the Role of the State Governors and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
•    Covid-19 Eviction Moratoria and the Rental Market.
•    Leave Room for Jesus: The Effect of State-Level Abstinence Policies on Teen Sexual Behavior.
•    Redefining School Incentives in the Wake of Informality: How COVID-19 Induced Changes in Informality Reshaped Education in South Africa.
•    California Carbon Credits: Exploration of Impacts Upon Corporate Stock Returns.
•    The Real Determinants of National Health Spending: Income Level, Life Expectancy, and Healthcare System.
•    Decoding Labor Market Slack: The Impact of Underemployment, Non-Employment, and Inactivity on U.S. Wage Formation in the Post-Recession Era.
•    Green is Good: ESG and Stock Sensitivity to Interest Rates.
•    Missing Vaccines: Gender Disparities in India's Neonatal Immunizations over COVID-19.
•    The Predictive Power of Investment Syndicate Composition on Exit Outcomes for Venture-Backed Companies.
•    The Effect of Primary Schooling on Parent Labor Supply.

Where else can I find information about the Dartmouth Economics Department?

The department web site can be found at: You can learn more about student and faculty activities and research in Dartmouth Economics by following us on Twitter @DartmouthEcon and Facebook (Dartmouth Economics Department).

What courses in Economics should I take this year?

The starting point for the Economics major is ECON 01. It is a prerequisite for every other class in the major. Unless you have placement from high school economics, ECON 01 is the first economics class you will take at Dartmouth. The other prerequisites for the major are ECON 10 - Introduction to Statistical Methods and MATH 03 - Calculus.

If you do not have credit for MATH 03 we suggest taking it as soon as possible (note that it is not offered during Spring term). If you are placed into MATH 01, you should take it this fall. After completing MATH 01, you will have the option of taking ECON 03 in Winter term as an alternative to MATH 03. ECON 03 covers much of the same mathematical content as MATH 03 but with a focus on economics applications.

Don't worry if the only economics class you complete this year is ECON 01. You will have plenty of time to finish the economics major before graduating.

I took Economics in high school. Do I still have to take ECON 01?

Maybe. Economics at Dartmouth is likely different from that in your high school, but you  can place out of ECON 01 with a 5 on the AP Microeconomics Exam, a 6 or 7 on the Higher Level IB Exam for Economics, or an A on the British A-Levels Economics Exam (see Dartmouth Prematriculation Exemptions for details). Your placements are available in DartWorks. If you do not have exemption from ECON 01, you must take ECON 01 at Dartmouth before taking any other Economics classes for the major.

Does the AP Macroeconomics course count for anything?

No. However, you may find the AP Macro background helpful in ECON 22 - (Intermediate) Macroeconomics.

I didn't take the AP test but I know a lot about economics. Is there a placement test I can take to pass out of ECON 01?

No. Exemptions from ECON 01 require certification of AP, IB, or A-level tests from the registrar as reflected in your DartWorks record.

I have an exemption for ECON 01, but am worried about my actual preparation. Can I still take ECON 01?

Yes. We encourage it. Feel free to stop by the department office at 311 Rockefeller, pick up a sample syllabus for ECON 1, and compare it with your high school curriculum. You may find that you want to review a few topics on your own before moving on, such as indifference curve analysis, or you may find that you are best off experiencing ECON 1 in Dartmouth.

I took Statistics in High School and have an exemption for MATH 10. Will I still need to take ECON 10?

No, although we would encourage you to still take Econ 10. You can use the MATH 10 exemption to satisfy the ECON 10 requirement.

Can I take another statistics class instead of ECON 10?

Do not take statistics in another department if you want to take future economics courses. ECON 10 is specifically intended to prepare you for economics classes and introduces you to the statistical software used in our curriculum. At present, the College only allows you credit for one statistics class, so statistics classes from other departments (SOCY 10, PYSC 10, GOVY 10, MATH 10, etc.) can be used to satisfy the ECON 10 prerequisite.

I have an exemption for ECON 01, what should I take this term?

You can take any class that has only ECON 01 as a prerequisite (see the list at the end of this document). Many students take ECON 10 right after ECON 01 to complete the economics prerequisites. The three required courses, ECON 20, 21 and 22, provide a grounding in basic economics concepts and are logical next choices if you know you want to major in economics. However some students prefer to take field courses to see if majoring in economics is for them. You are welcome to take any course that looks interesting to you as long as you have the prerequisites.

I see a lot of Economics classes have prerequisites. Do I really have to take courses in that order, or can I ignore the prerequisites?

Prerequisites ensure that students have the skills to succeed in that course and have been carefully chosen to match the course content. You can take the prerequisites in any order, but they must be completed before enrolling in a class.  

What happens if I don't get into my preferred economics class?

Economics is the most popular major at Dartmouth, so our classes are sometimes oversubscribed. We always reserve spaces in ECON 01 for first year students in the Fall term.

It is possible that you will not be admitted to all the classes you wish to take. This is not the end of the world. Most courses in the Economics Department are offered several times throughout the year so you can typically try again next term. It is easy to finish the Economics major even if the only economics class you complete during freshman year is ECON 01.

If you do not get admitted to a particular course (or section) and would like to get on the waiting list please fill out our online Waiting List Form. Do not contact the professor of the course! All waitlist issues are handled by the Economics Department Administrator. She will contact you about your status on the waitlist.

When the term starts, be sure to attend the first class meeting. Your attendance will ensure that you are not behind if you get off the waitlist. It is also important to continue to attend alternate courses in case you do not get off the waitlist. Typically, all waitlists will be resolved by the end of the first full week of classes.

In future terms, be sure to sign up for classes before the registrar's deadline. For many upper-level classes, declared Economics majors have first priority for enrollment. Your first opportunity to declare a major is at the beginning of your fifth term at Dartmouth.


Does the Economics Major have the STEM designation?

Yes! The Economics Major has a CIP (Classification of Instructional Programs) code by the National Center of Education at the Department of Education of 45.0603, which has the STEM designation. The STEM designation allows international students to apply for a 2 year STEM extension of F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) beyond the standard 12 months of OPT for non-STEM designated degrees.

Does Economics have an FSP?

The Economics department participates in three Exchange Programs: Bocconi University in Milan, Italy; University College London; and Keble College, Oxford University. The latter is run by the Rockefeller Center but chooses mainly Economics and Government majors. Note that Bocconi teaches their Economics classes in English. These programs are administered by the Guarini Institute. It is also possible to arrange for study abroad on your own and transfer classes.

Are there any extracurricular activities associated with the Economics Department?

The Dartmouth Economics Research Scholars (DERS) Program provides opportunities for students to learn about the economics profession and get involved in research.

The Sadie Alexander Association is an organization for minority students in Economics.

Where is the Economics Department located?

The department occupies most of the third floors of Rockefeller and Silsby Halls. When looking for professors, note which building they are in because the room numbers overlap! The Economics Department Administrator, Karen Pelletier, is located in 311 Rockefeller.

Economics Courses Suitable for First Year Students


Econ courses suitable for first years