FAQs

    The Economics Curriculum

  1. How do I get advice on planning my program?
  2. In what order should I take courses?
  3. Which econometrics course should I take?
  4. How much mathematics do I need to know? How much should I take?
  5. What are prerequisites for Economics courses?
  6. How do I select 300-level field courses and related courses?
  7. Can I take Economics courses offered in Summer Session or the evening program?
  8. How do I arrange an independent study? When is it appropriate to do so?

    Related Courses

  9. Can I count Economics 250 or 270 as related courses?
  10. Can my related courses also be used to satisfy WCAS distribution requirements?
  11. I am a double major in one of the departments whose courses count toward the related-course requirement. May I count courses in my other major as related courses for my economics major?

    Registration and Class Close-outs

  12. Is there preregistion for Majors and Minors?
  13. What happens if a class fills up during registration?

    Transfer Credits, Study Abroad etc.

  14. Can I get credit toward the major for an internship program?
  15. What type of course taken elsewhere, either elsewhere in the U.S. or abroad, can count towards an economics major?
  16. What is the process for achieving approval for courses taken at other U.S. universities?
  17. When should I talk to the Department about Study Abroad?

1. How do I get advice on planning my program?

The Department does not assign students individual advisors. For general advice and degree planning, students are encouraged to seek advice from any member of the Department. As students get better acquainted with faculty through their courses, they might want to adopt as a principal adviser an instructor who had an opportunity to observe and evaluate their work and with whom they feel comfortable.

In addition, we have a group of faculty advisers . The advisers schedule office hours so that at least one is available every day of the week. Appointments are not necessary. These advisors receive special training to deal with more complicated questions you may have. In addition, they are the only faculty who can sign declarations of a Majors and Minor, sign petitions to graduate, and approve study abroad credit.

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2. In what order should I take courses?

You should take 201 first, then 202. 201 begins with a brief overview of microeconomics (fundamentals of how supply and demand interact to determine what is produced and how income is distributed), then turns to macroeconomics (the study of economy-wide problems such as inflation and unemployment). 202 assumes that you have already been introduced to microeconomics and begins with more advanced analyses of how households and firms behave; it covers no macroeconomics. Economics 201 and 202 must be completed before taking any 300-level courses.

Statistics 210 must be taken before Economics 281. (If you have AP statistics credit, or are required to take another statistics class for another major, or wish to take a higher level statistics class, you should consult the Director of Undergraduate Studies about substituting this for Statistics 210.) You might wish to take it along with Economics 201 or 202. Economics 281 should be completed as early as possible -- certainly before taking any 300-level field course. Students with a strong mathematical background can have Economics 281 waived by taking Economics 381-1,2 Econometrics. More information on this option can be found under question 3. We suggest that you talk with an Economics advisor before selecting the Economics 381-1,2 option.

Mathematics 220 is a prerequisite for Economics 310-1. (Alternatively, students can take Mathematics 212 and 213 Single Variable Calculus I and II in place of Mathematics 220.)

Economics 310-1 is a prerequisite for 310-2.

Economics 310-1 is usually a prerequisite for 311. Even when the instructor does not require it, it is advisable to complete 310-1 before taking 311, because theories of consumer and producer behavior developed in 310-1 are useful background for many topics in macroeconomics.

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3. Which econometrics course should I take?

The vast majority of the work of economists combines economic theory with data to explain and predict actual events. Econometrics is the field of economics that studies how theory and data can be used to draw meaningful conclusions about outcomes of practical interest. In the real world, unlike the laboratory, many things change at the same time. For this reason, multi-variate regression analysis is an important econometric tool. Econometric analysis is widely used by economics and other disciplines in a variety of setting, including public policy analysis and many business and finance applications. Consultants and financial analysts are expected to be able to understand, and conduct, regression analyses.

Learning about econometrics is a core requirement for a Major or Minor in Economics. The Economics Department has two different options you can choose for meeting this requirement. Which option you choose will depend on your level of interest in conducting applied analysis. If you are student in the Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences Program, this discussion is not applicable to you, as you will take an alternative econometrics program involving a three-quarter sequence of Math 385 and Math 386-1,2.

Most students take Economics 281 Introduction to Applied Econometrics. After taking this option, students should be able to understand (and critique) empirical results that are presented in a more advanced class. In addition you should be able to conduct straightforward regressions as part of a class problem set. If you complete Economics 281 and decide that you enjoy econometrics, you are encouraged to also take Economics 381-1,2 which count towards your field courses for a Major or Minor in Economics.

However, students contemplating writing an honors thesis or who have a strong mathematical or statistical background or who intend to undertake graduate work in economics may proceed directly to Economics 381-1,2 Econometrics. After taking this option, students should be able to fully understand empirical papers that use standard methods. You should be able to assemble data sets and conduct and troubleshoot regressions in an independently written paper, such as a senior thesis. Economics 381-1,2 does not have a prerequisite of Economics 281, and should be regarded as an alternative to Economics 281. Students completing Economics 381-1 will have the Economics 281 core requirement waived for a Major or Minor in Economics.

The prerequisites for Economics 381-1,2 are more extensive than those for Economics 281, and this option should only be considered by students with a strong mathematical or statistical background.

Prerequisites for Option A - Economics 281
Math 220 Differential Calculus of One Variable Functions
Statistics 210 Introductory Statistics for Social Sciences or an equivalent
Economics 201 Introduction to Macroeconomics
Economics 202 Introduction to Microeconomics
Prerequisites for Option B - Economics 381-1
Math 220 Differential Calculus of One Variable Functions
Math 224 Integral Calculus of One Variable Functions
Math 230 Differential Calculus of Multivariable Functions
Math 234 Multiple Integral and Vector Calculus
Math 240 Linear Algebra
Math 314 Probability and Statistics for Econometrics or an equivalent (*)
Economics 201 Introduction to Macroeconomics
Economics 202 Introduction to Microeconomics
Economics 310-1 Microeconomics I
Economics 310-2 Microeconomics II (recommended for both 381-1 and 381-2)
Economics 311 Macroeconomics (recommended for both 381-1 and 381-2)

(*) Two courses in probability and statistics, one drawn from List A and one drawn from List B, would be regarded as the equivalent to Math 314:

List A List B
Statistics 320-1 Statistical Methods and Theories
Math 310-1 Probability and Stochastic Processes
Math 311-1 MENU: Probability and Stochastic Processes
IEMS 202 Probability

EECS 302 Probabilistic Systems and Random Signals
Chem Eng 312 Probability and Statistics for Chemical Engineering
Statistics 320-2 Statistical Methods and Theories
IEMS 303 Statistics

or
BMD ENG 220 Introduction to Biomedical Statistics (satisfies both List A and List B)

Either Statistics 210 Introductory Statistics for Social Sciences or Math 314 Probability and Statistics for Econometrics satisfy the related course requirement in statistics for the Economics Major.

We encourage you to speak with an Economics Department Advisor or any of the instructors who teach econometrics courses to determine which option is best for you. Whatever option you choose, we recommend that you complete your study or econometrics as early as possible in your study of economics, preferably in your sophomore year.

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4. How much mathematics do I need to know? How much should I take?

While only Math 220 Differential Calculus of One Variable Functions is required, students are strongly advised to continue to study of the calculus through Mathematics 224 and 230 and to do so early in their studies. Some 300-level field courses have Mathematics 224 and 230 as prerequisites, and a good knowledge of the calculus is required to read much of the scholarly literature in the fields of economics and business. Also, a basic knowledge of calculus and statistics is increasingly important for graduate study in business.

Students who received AP credit for Math 220 fulfill the Economics Department's calculus requirement. In addition, students who did not receive AP credit for Math 220, but on the basis of some high school training in calculus, began their study of calculus at Northwestern with Math 224 or Math 230 satisfy the calculus requirement provided that they receive a grade of C- or higher in 224 or 230.

Students contemplating graduate study in economics or finance should take additional courses in mathematics, at least Math 300 Foundations of Higher Mathematics, or better yet the 320 or (with the permission of the Math Department) 321 Real Analysis sequences. Other particularly useful math classes include 234 Multiple Integration and Vector Calculus; 240 Linear Algebra; 250 Elementary Differential Equations, 310-1,2,3 Probability and Stochastic Processes, and 368 Introduction to Optimization.

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5. What are prerequisites for Economics courses?

CORE INTRODUCTORY COURSES

201: None
202: 201

CORE INTERMEDIATE COURSES

281: 201, 202, Math 220, Stat 210
310-1: 201, 202, Math 220
310-2: 201, 202, 310-1, Math 220
311: 201, 202, Math 220

COURSES FOR NON-MAJORS OR RELATED COURSES

213: None
250 and 270: 201, 202

FIELD COURSES

310-1 is standard for all field courses. Consequently 201, 202 and Math 220 are implicit prerequisites as they are prerequisites for 310-1.
281 (or 381-1 or Math 386-1) is a prerequisite for nearly all field courses.
310-2 is a prerequisite for all courses in industrial organization and public finance.
311 is added where appropriate for courses with macroeconomic content.

Certain advanced courses also require additional mathematical preparation - Math 224 & 230.

Consulted the Course Catalog for details by individual course.

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6. How do I select 300-level field courses and related courses?

Sampling various areas and professors is a perfectly reasonable approach and is encouraged, but you can also benefit by selecting courses that address your interests and goals. For example, if you are concerned about international economic issues and developing nations, you will certainly want to include 361 International Trade, 362 International Finance and 326 Economics of Developing Countries in your program; and good choices for related courses would be those that study the history and politics of parts of the world that interest you. Or if you are considering a career in finance or banking, you will certainly want to take 308 Money and Banking and possibly 362 International Finance, 360 Corporate Finance, or 309 Public Finance. There are so many possible themes and variations that the best approach is to discuss your intellectual and career interests with a faculty adviser and together map out a program that particularly suits you.

While each student will create a unique program, the following general recommendations can be offered for four of the most common areas of interest:

Business or Management Concentration: 308, 323-1,2, 339, 349, 350, 355, 360, 361, 362, 380-1,2

Pre-Law Concentration: 309, 323-1,2, 340, 349, 350, 351, 370, 380-1,2

Public Sector Concentration: 307, 309, 323-1,2, 336, 341, 349, 350, 355, 359, 370

International Studies Concentration: 308, 322, 325, 326, 361, 362

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7. Can I take Economics courses offered in Summer Session or the evening program?

Courses taken in Northwestern's Summer Session automatically count toward the requirements of the Economics Major and Minor. However, courses offered by the School of Continuing Studies' evening program are not generally acceptable toward the Department's requirements. Exceptions to this policy will only be considered in rare cases of hardship, and with the express consent of the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

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8. How do I arrange an independent study? When is it appropriate to do so?

Independent study (Economics 399) provides an opportunity to work closely with a faculty member on a topic of mutual interest. Independent study is usually open only to majors who have completed the core courses. The purpose of an independent study should be (a) to investigate topics not covered by regular courses in the curriculum, or (b) to explore the subject matter of regular courses in greater depth, or (c) to conduct an independent research project. Before approaching a faculty member to request an independent study, you should prepare a proposal that indicates the topic, describes your preparation for pursuing the topic, lists tentative readings that you expect to cover, and describes the nature of written work you plan to complete. With regard to preparation, you should have taken all of the courses that provide background for the topic you have chosen. For example, if you want to do research on the impact of taxation on the distribution of income, you should have taken Economics 309 Elements of Public Finance. The better prepared you are and the more carefully worked out is your proposal, the more likely you are to find a sponsoring faculty member.

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9. Can I count Economics 213, 250 or 270 as related courses?

No. Economics 213 Economics of Gender, Economics 250 Business and Government and Economics 370 Introduction to Environmental Economics are designed for non-majors. Majors should not take these courses, but should take Economics 342 Economics of Gender, Economics 350 Monopoly, Competition and Public Policy and Economics 370 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics which cover the same material at a higher level.

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10. Can my related courses also be used to satisfy WCAS distribution requirements?

Yes, if they are on the list of WCAS-approved courses to meet distribution requirements.

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11. I am a double major in one of the departments whose courses count toward the related-course requirement. May I count courses in my other major as related courses for my economics major?

Yes.

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12. Is there preregistion for Majors and Minors?

The Economics Department is reintroducing pre-registration starting in November 2014 for Winter Quarter 2015. Majors and Minors will be able to pre-register for up to two classes. Students are reminded that they must declare the Economics Major or Minor to participate in pre-registration.

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13. What happens if a class fills up during registration?

When a class closes out during registration, a wait list will open up within CAESAR.  Instructors usually will add students if students drop the class and/or if additional seats are available in the lecture room. If the instructor can add you, she or he will send you a "permission number" to allow you to register for the class. More senior students and those who put their names on the waiting list earliest are normally given preference. If you have special reasons for needing the course, you should e-mail the instructor a note explaining the circumstances, but you must add your name to the wait list first.

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14. Can I get credit toward the major for an internship program?

The Economics Department has no internship program and usually does not give credit for internships. Business internships are increasingly popular with students, because they provide valuable work experience and useful knowledge about professional opportunities. However, they seldom entail the acquisition of new knowledge of economic analysis equivalent to a 300-level course in this department. There are instances in which an intern receives extensive, supervised training by professional economists, but this is rare. As an example, some participants in the Chicago Field Study program have received one 300-level economics credit for internships in the research department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Students engaged in the Field Study program are registered for a WCAS course (CFS 393), which is another condition for receiving credit for an internship. In some instances, a student might arrange an independent study (see above) in conjunction with an internship, in which a research project is undertaken that draws on the internship experience. In such a case, credit would be awarded for the work completed in the 399, not merely for the practical experience of the internship; but it is a way of trying to interrelate academic training and professional experience. Each case must be weighed individually, however. Typically, you will have to write a paper based on your internship. If you have an internship opportunity for which you would like to receive major credit, you should consult the Director of Undergraduate Studies well in advance of the start of the program. A final decision about economics credit cannot be made until you have completed the internship.

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15. What type of course taken elsewhere, either elsewhere in the U.S. or abroad, can count towards an economics major?

It is department policy that credit will not be awarded to those courses that are specifically appropriate to a business curriculum - in other words, lacking any economics principles in any way. For example: we would not give credit toward your economics major for such business courses with titles such as Management and Entrepreneurship or Bargaining and Negotiation. These classes are appropriate to a business curriculum, not an economics program. Nonetheless, such courses as International Economics or The Economics of European Integration would be worthy of credit as 300-level economics field courses. The first is probably most similar to our 361 International Trade, and it might cover a bit of 362 International Finance. It is important to note that if you have already taken either of these (but especially 361), you could not get credit for the equivalent. You can't repeat a course for credit. Although our department does not have an equivalent course to the Economics of European Integration, it is still a fine course and well worth taking to get the most out of your undergraduate economics experience.

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16. What is the process for achieving approval for courses taken at other U.S. universities?

The student first must pick up a substitution form from the Undergraduate Program Assistant. Along with the form, we will need a class description. Take this completed form and the class description to one of our advisors. If the advisor judges the quality of the course to be comparable to one of our Economics 300-level field courses, he or she will sign the pre-approval side of the form. This form formally states that you will receive credit for the course as long as you pass the class with the grade of C- or better. This signed form is placed in our files. Once the student has completed these courses, it is your responsibility to bring the transcript, along with the original form (which can be obtained from the Undergraduate Program Assistant) back to an advisor. Again, as long as the student has achieved a grade of C- or better, the advisor will grant final approval for the course(s) to count toward the major. This form will then be sent to the Registrar to be entered into the student's transcript.

An example: A student wants to take two economics courses during the summer semester at Indiana University: a standard public finance course and a standard trade course. What is the normal policy here? Should the advisor give credit for both courses? The answer is that Economics advisors may approve courses taken at other universities in the U.S. The key issue is whether the courses are the equivalent of our 300-level courses, even if we do not have a counterpart course. We routinely approve a full year of courses taken abroad or at another U.S. university. Thus, the Economics department can approve up to four 300-level field courses taken outside of Northwestern.

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17. When should I talk to the Department about Study Abroad?

Students who are contemplating study abroad should consult one of our advisors to discuss the likelihood of their receiving major credit for courses offered in the programs they are considering. They should also be sure to complete all of the core courses for the major before going abroad.

The Director of Undergraduate Studies has prepared some information on the availability of Economics course credit for courses taken as part of NU's study abroad program. This information is posted at:
http://faculty.wcas.northwestern.edu/~mwitte/StudyAbroadList.htm

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Announcements

Dale Mortensen

2014-15 Class Schedules

Pre-registration Reintroduced

PhD Job Market Candidates

Events

Economics 501: Graduate Student Seminar
November 3, 201411:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Workshop in Macroeconomics
November 3, 201412:00 PM - 1:30 PM

July 14, 2014