Economics is concerned with the wealth of nations—its origins in production and exchange, its allocation among competing uses, its distribution among individuals, and its accumulation or decline. At Yale, economics is regarded and taught as part of a liberal education, not as a preparation for any particular vocation. It can, however, provide a good background for several professions. Recent majors have entered law or business school or have gone on to graduate work in economics, often after working in related fields for two or three years. Others have pursued careers in business, government, or finance.
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 are encouraged to study both in order to gain an understanding of the scope of economics. Freshmen must take a microeconomics course before taking macroeconomics. Most prospective Economics majors take introductory microeconomics in the fall and introductory macroeconomics in the spring of freshman year.
Introductory economics is offered in both lecture and seminar formats. ECON 115, Introductory Microeconomics, and ECON 116, Introductory Macroeconomics, are large lecture courses intended for students from all classes. (The fall term of Introductory Macroeconomics is limited to upperclassmen.) The seminars ECON 110, An Introduction to Microeconomics Analysis, and ECON 111, An Introduction to Macroeconomic Analysis, cover the same topics as ECON 115 and ECON 116 but are taught in smaller sections open only to freshmen. These courses have limited enrollment and require preregistration for each term. Students apply on line through Preference Selection and Preregistration.
In addition to the options above, ECON 108, Quantitative Foundations of Microeconomics, is an alternative to ECON 115, intended for students with limited or no experience in calculus. It places greater emphasis on quantitative methods and examples. For information on how to apply for this limited enrollment course, visit the Economics undergraduate Web site.
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.
All incoming freshmen receive a customized recommendation of the best starting point for the study of economics at Yale. This recommendation is based on AP, IB, or GCE scores in economics and calculus. In general, 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 to place out of the corresponding introductory course and instead enroll in intermediate-level courses (ECON 121, Intermediate Microeconomics, or ECON 125, Microeconomic Theory, for microeconomics, ECON 122, Intermediate Macroeconomics, or ECON 126, Macroeconomic Theory, for macroeconomics). Freshmen who have the requisite AP Economics score but not the corresponding AP Calculus score may take calculus (e.g., MATH 115, Calculus of Functions of One Variable II, MATH 118, Introduction to Functions of Several Variables, or MATH 120, Calculus of Functions of Several Variables) in the freshman year 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 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 the AP Calculus score.
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 Web site’s section on freshman 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, Calculus of Functions of One Variable I, or MATH 115, MATH 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 freshman year.
The Economics major also requires study of econometrics in order to familiarize students with the tools necessary for analyzing economic data. Many students find it useful to take a second mathematics course or a statistics course as freshmen in preparation for econometrics courses.
For more information about the program in Economics, see the department’s undergraduate Web site.