Economics consists of a variety of theoretical approaches to understanding human behavior, social interactions, and economic performance, and a set of powerful methodological tools that can be used to test competing theories empirically. The economics curriculum at Haverford offers introductory and upper level courses both in theoretical and empirical methods, as well as numerous electives on a broad range of economic topics. Students with a wide range of interests—financial markets, the environment, politics and public policy, less-developed countries, income distribution and equity, the law, and international trade, to name just a few—will find much that is useful and stimulating by studying economics. Even one or two economics courses can be an important part of the liberal education of any college student, and students with a diverse set of interests find the economics major to be an engaging and rewarding course of study.
- learn to approach real-world problems like an economist.
- achieve competency in the building blocks of economic theory.
- achieve competency in statistics and econometrics.
- communicate as an economist.
- develop and execute an original economics research project.
Haverford’s Institutional Learning Goals are available on the President’s website, at http://hav.to/learninggoals.
The introductory courses, ECON H104, ECON H105 or ECON H106, introduce the building blocks of microeconomic and macroeconomic theory, as well as their applications. Microeconomics is the study of the behavior of firms and individuals, and their interactions in markets for goods, services, labor, and assets. Macroeconomics is the study of aggregate economic performance, including indicators such as GDP, inflation, unemployment and the budget deficit, and policy tools such as interest rates and government spending. These courses provide an overview of economics and a strong foundation for more advanced work in economics.
The intermediate (200-level) courses offer material on many different economic topics. These courses require ECON H104, ECON H105 or ECON H106 as a prerequisite, and are designed to be useful to non-majors as well as minors and majors. They encompass such diverse subjects as environmental economics, microfinance, law and economics, public health economics, crises, economic development of China and India, and game theory.
Methods courses, which include ECON H203 (Statistical Methods in Economics) or ECON H204 (Economic Statistics with Calculus) followed by ECON H304 (Introduction to Econometrics), give students the necessary methodological training to understand empirical research described in contemporary economics articles and to conduct their own original research.
Advanced theory courses, ECON H300 (Intermediate Microeconomic Theory) and ECON H302 (Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory), follow up on the introductory theory course. They offer more in-depth and mathematical treatments of these theoretical concepts, which are the building blocks for modern economic thought and research.
Advanced (300-level) elective courses involve a more technically sophisticated approach to analyzing a variety of economic issues. Most focus on a specific area of economic inquiry. These topics courses include such diverse areas as behavioral economics, natural resource economics, international trade, and economics of uncertainty. These advanced topics courses require some combination of ECON H203, ECON H300, ECON H302, and ECON H304 as prerequisites, and they are designed primarily for economics minors and majors and those who expect to make use of economics in their professional careers. In most of these courses, a substantial paper is an important part of the requirement.
Junior Research Seminars (ECON H37X, H38X), are a set of courses designed to develop the student’s research skills, and to prepare them for the looming senior thesis process. In these courses, students become familiar with the process of gaining expertise in a particular area of scholarship and finding ways to contribute to it. They are exposed to canonical and cutting-edge research alike, and develop proposals for their own related original research projects.
During the year-long Senior Thesis Research Seminar (ECON H396A and ECON H396B), students prepare for, plan and execute their senior thesis project. The first semester involves some classwork and skill building, while the second semester involves individual research under the supervision of a faculty member.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
Concentration in Mathematical Economics
Mathematics and economics are complementary disciplines. Most branches of modern economics use mathematics and statistics extensively, and some important areas of mathematical research have been motivated by economic problems. Economists and mathematicians have made important contributions to each other’s disciplines. Economist Kenneth Arrow, for example, did path-breaking work in the field of mathematical optimization; and in 1994 mathematician John Nash was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics for introducing a theory of equilibrium in non-cooperative games that has become central to contemporary economic theory. Haverford’s Concentration in Mathematical Economics enables students in each of the disciplines not only to gain proficiency in the other, but also to understand the ways in which they are related and complementary.
One-Year Master’s Program at Claremont McKenna College’s Robert Day School of Economics and Finance
Haverford students accepted into the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance graduate school will receive a full scholarship for their one-year Master’s in Finance at the Claremont McKenna College (CMC) campus in Claremont, California. The program offers an intensive curriculum in economics and finance with an additional emphasis on co-curricular programming that develops career skills and supports post-graduate job placement.
The scholarship includes full-tuition, but students are responsible for the cost of living expenses and for providing proof of health insurance. Program fees are minimal, and all program events, including networking trips, are fully funded by the program.
Eligible students must have a strong academic record, demonstrating excellent quantitative skills, particularly through course work in macroeconomics and microeconomics at the intermediate level, statistics, and, if possible, corporate finance. However, applicants can present a variety of academic profiles for consideration. Course work planned for the summer before matriculation in the graduate program can be taken into consideration in the selection process.
The application deadline is in February of the senior year. For more information about the Master’s in Finance at CMC’s Robert Day School of Economics and Finance, please contact the chair of the Economics Department and visit https://www.cmc.edu/rdschool/academic/