Economics

Economics is much broader than the study of recessions and inflation or stocks and bonds.Economists study decision making and incentives, such as the incentives for a firm to stop polluting and how taxes create incentives for labor market and savings behavior.

Many current public policy debates concern questions of economics. What are the causes and consequences of inequality and gender and racial wage gaps? How should we address poverty? How does immigration or trade impact the well-being of a country’s citizens? What caused the Great Recession and how can we predict future downturns? These are some of the questions that economics can help answer.

At Yale, economics is regarded and taught as part of a liberal arts education, not as a preparation for any particular vocation. It can, however, provide a good background for several professions. The economics major strengthens critical reasoning skills and gives students experience manipulating and analyzing data.Recent majors have pursued careers in business, government, and non-profits.Others have entered law, medicalor business school, or have gone on to graduate work in economics, often after working in related fields for two or three years. 

Many Yale students, regardless of what major they later choose, take introductory courses in micro- and macroeconomics. Microeconomics examines how individuals, firms, markets, and governments allocate scarce resources; macroeconomics studies growth, unemployment, inflation, and international economics. Students must take introductory microeconomics before taking introductory macroeconomics. Most prospective Economics majors take introductory microeconomics in the fall and introductory macroeconomics in the spring of the first year.

Introductory economics is offered in both lecture and smaller class formats.ECON 115 and ECON 116 are large lecture courses intended for students from all classes. (The fall term of Introductory Macroeconomics is limited to upperclassmen). ECON 110 and ECON 111  cover the same material as ECON 115 and ECON 116 but in smaller sections that mix lecture with discussion and are onlyopen to first-years and sophomores.Spaces in these courses are allocated by lottery. Students apply online through Preference Selection and Preregistration.

In addition to the options above, ECON 108 is an alternative to ECON 115, intended for students with limited or no experience with  calculus. The course contains greater discussion of quantitative methods and examples. Students may enroll in ECON 108 if they receive a departmental recommendation to do so in the summer prior to their first year.

Some students already have a background in economics from high school. However, in such cases an introductory microeconomics course is often still the best place to start. The level of analysis in these courses greatly exceeds that in most high school courses. Some exceptions do apply.

In the summer before they enter Yale, all first-years receive, through the university’s electronic bulletin board, a personalized recommendation for a first course in economics at Yale based on application data and AP (and equivalent) exam scores.

The department recommends that students with little or no calculus enroll in ECON 108. Those with a stronger background should enroll in ECON 110 (if successful in the lottery) or ECON 115.

Students who receive a score of 5 on the Microeconomics or Macroeconomics AP exam and a score of 5 on the AP Calculus BC exam are allowed toplace out of the corresponding introductory course and instead enroll in intermediate-level courses (ECON 121 or ECON 125 for microeconomics, ECON 122 or ECON 126 for macroeconomics). First-years who have the requisite AP Economics score but not the corresponding AP Calculus score may take calculus (e.g., MATH 115 MATH 118, or MATH 120) and then place out of the corresponding introductory economics course. Students may substitute a score of 7 on the International Baccalaureate higher-level Economics examination or A on the GCE A-level Economics examination for AP test scores of 5 in economics. In addition, a score of 7 on the International Baccalaureate higher-level Mathematics examination or A on the GCE A-level Mathematics examination may be substituted for a qualifying AP Calculus score.

For other placement and exemption questions, consult the departmental website.

Students who enroll directly in intermediate-level courses should note that placing out of introductory economics does not reduce the number of courses required for the Economics major. For more detailed information regarding placement in economics courses, visit the departmental website’ssection on first year placement.

Regardless of their mathematics background, all Economics majors must take one term course in mathematics at Yale. Typically, this requirement is met by taking one term of MATH 112, MATH 115MATH 118, or MATH 120. Students who place out of these courses must take a higher-level mathematics course at Yale, selected in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies (DUS). Prospective majors are advised to take a mathematics course in the first year.

The Economics major also requires the study of econometrics in order to familiarize students with the tools necessary for understanding and analyzing economic data. Many first-year students find it useful to take a second mathematics course or a statistics course as preparation for econometrics courses.

For more information about the program in Economics, see the department’s undergraduate website.