Economics Major and Minor

We are a vibrant community of students and faculty interested in understanding human behavior, social interactions, and economic performance through an economic lens. Our rigorous program grounds students in a range of theoretical approaches, equips them with the statistical tools used to test theories empirically, and provides a challenging as well as supportive atmosphere in which to develop their own original research.

Curriculum & Courses

We offer introductory and upper level courses in theory and in empirical methods as well as a number of electives that explore a variety of economic topics. Our faculty, who specialize in a wide array of fields and methodological approaches, are committed teachers, researchers, and mentors. In our small classes and research-heavy curriculum, they build strong relationships with students.

Majors and minors pursue a core course of study that includes classes in introductory (100- level) and intermediate theory (300-level), and introductory statistical methods (200-level). Two semesters of calculus are also required. In addition, majors will take more advanced econometric methods (300-level).

Our 200- and 300-level electives give students the opportunity to apply economic tools to particular topics such as labor markets, monetary policy, finance, and international trade. Not required but open to minors are our Junior Research Seminars, also developed around a specific economic topic or issue, they enable our students to develop their research skills in a small class setting with strong faculty support. Those skills are honed and put to use in our required Senior Research Seminar and senior thesis for majors.

The resources available to our students extend far beyond the classroom. They include accomplished alumni who continue to engage with the program, as well as a top-flight speaker series that brings students face-to-face with world-renowned economists and policy makers.

  • Major Requirements

    • MATH H118 or the equivalent of two semesters of college calculus
      • Majors must complete this requirement by the end of sophomore year.
    • ECON H104, ECON H105 or ECON H106
    • ECON H203 or ECON H204
    • ECON H300
    • ECON H302
    • ECON H304
    • ECON H396A and ECON H396B
    • FOUR other semester-long economics courses above the 100 level, including two 300-level courses, one of which must be a Junior Research Seminar (ECON H37X, H38X).

    • Majors are advised to take ECON H104, ECON H105 or ECON H106, ECON H203 or ECON H204, and one of the intermediate theory courses (ECON H300 or ECON H302) by the end of their sophomore year.
    • ECON H300 AND ECON H302 must be completed by the end of junior year.
    • ECON H304 and the Junior Research Seminar must be completed by the end of fall semester of senior year.
    • ECON H396A and ECON H396B are taken during the fall and spring, respectively, of senior year.

    Other Information about the Major

    Students may count most courses in the Bryn Mawr Economics Department toward the Haverford economics minor and major (with the exception of courses at the 100 level, excluding ECON B105). Some courses have different numbering across the campuses, in particular the Haverford courses: ECON H203/ECON H204 (ECON B253 at Bryn Mawr), ECON H300 (ECON B200 at Bryn Mawr), and ECON H302 (ECON B202 at Bryn Mawr). The two economics departments plan their course schedules jointly so that they can offer the maximum variety of economics courses across the two campuses. In order to count a course toward the major or minor requirements, the student must earn a grade of 2.0 or higher. Students with strong economics backgrounds may place out of ECON H104/ECON H105/ECON H106 through a placement test, but they will be required to take an extra elective to complete the major.

    Students who plan to apply to graduate programs in public policy or business should take additional math courses through at least MATH H121 (Multivariable Calculus III) and at least one computer science course. Similarly, students who are planning to apply to Ph.D. programs in economics should take mathematics through at least MATH H215 (Linear Algebra) and MATH H317(Analysis I). Economics majors also have the option to pursue the Concentration in Mathematical Economics, which is described under its own heading in this catalog.

    Senior Project

    The senior thesis at Haverford College is the culmination of a four-year learning process during which students develop their scholarly interests and become independent thinkers. The year­long, two-semester Senior Research Seminar in Economics imparts skills and techniques essential to students undertaking original independent research projects. The first (fall) semester includes:

    • workshops on research techniques, on thesis writing skills and on data collection and management with Excel and Strata;
    • presentations of working papers by visiting scholars preceded by small group critiques of each paper;
    • and one-on-one work with a faculty member to develop a thesis proposal.

    The course focuses on acquisition of tools to conduct original research, learning how to engage in scholarly discussions, and learning about critical analysis. By the end of the fall semester, students have developed an original research idea and written a formal proposal for the thesis which they have orally presented to a sub-section of the class. The faculty members overseeing the class must approve the proposal. Independent work under the guidance of a faculty advisor begins at the end of the first semester and continues throughout the second semester. During the second (spring) semester, students develop their thesis through extensive reading, empirical and or theoretical analysis of the research question, individual sessions with a faculty advisor, and group discussion. The final thesis is an original economic contribution to the field of knowledge in which the thesis is located. Each student demonstrates a clear mastery of the literature surrounding the research question, an understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of the question, and adequate analysis and discussion of results.

    Senior Project Learning Goals

    Students will learn to:

    • craft a viable economics research question and design a project that will answer it.
    • summarize the economic scholarship related to this question while discovering and articulating relationships among texts and contextualizing the research question within the broader literature.
    • construct and execute an analytic argument that culminates in well-grounded and testable hypotheses.
    • collect, manage, and analyze data to test the hypotheses.
    • develop and articulate well-founded conclusions based on the empirical or theoretical evidence.
    • write a professional-quality research paper that presents their work and findings.
    • present the findings of their research orally using relevant visual aids (graphs, tables, mathematical equations, for example).

    Senior Project Assessment

    We provide two rubrics for assessment of the economics senior thesis, one for a theoretical thesis and one for the more common empirical thesis. The rubrics, which assess the written thesis, were tested and approved by faculty members in the spring of 2014. Currently each faculty member will assess the thesis of their advisees, providing a rating of each criterion. While the ratings will be related to the final grade that the student receives, the faculty member will have the opportunity to incorporate other facets of the students’ experience to the grading process such as creativity, improvement, perseverance, etc. At the time of grading, the ratings will be submitted to the department’s administrative assistant who will compile the results, using a numerical translation of the ratings (4=excellent; 3=proficient, etc.). Each fall, the department will meet and look over the ratings to determine which categories the students are more or less proficient in and where we have seen improvement or setbacks and to assess the continued relevance of the criteria. The outcome of this meeting will guide changes to the fall senior thesis curriculum and potentially to the economics major curriculum as well as changes to the rubric.

    Requirements for Honors

    The Economics Department will extend invitations to second-semester senior majors to stand for honors on the basis of academic performance and integrity in economics courses, and contribution to the intellectual life of the department. Students with a departmental GPA below 3.6 are typically not invited.

  • Minor Requirements

    • ECON H104, ECON H105 or ECON H106
    • ECON H203 or ECON H204
    • ECON H300 or ECON H302
    • Three other economics courses at the 200 and/or 300 levels.

Associated Programs and Concentrations

Research & Outreach

Each major produces an original independent research project over the course of their senior year. Work on the thesis proceeds through our Senior Research Seminar. In it, seniors cultivate their writing and data collection and management skills, while also developing their own research questions. The seminar also includes a series of presentations by visiting scholars followed by student critiques that sharpen critical analysis skills. By the end of the fall semester, students write and present their research proposals. During the spring semester, they develop their projects and write their theses under the guidance of a faculty advisor in one-on-one as well as group sessions.

After Graduation

Our majors graduate prepared to enter a variety of fields and pursue further study in economics and other areas. You will find Haverford econ majors in business, finance, government, nonprofit organizations, journalism, sports, and the academy—the diversity of their pursuits is inspiring. Their continuing involvement in our program both strengthens it and attests to the enduring impact that the major has had on their lives.

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