Economics Frequently Asked Questions

What courses satisfy the history requirement of the major?

The table below shows courses that have been approved already. To request that a new course be approved or to receive approval for a history course off-campus, please complete Petition for a History Course To Meet the Economics Major's History Requirement.

Courses that Fulfill the Economics Department History Requirement
HIS 201 Colonial Latin America
HIS 202 Modern Latin America
EDU/HIS 210 Historical Perspectives on U.S. Education
HIS 212 Democracy in America, 1789-1848
HIS 214 The American Civil War and Reconstruction
HIS 215 Foundations of U.S. Popular Culture
HIS 220 U.S. Environmental History
HIS 222 The History of Women in the United States
HIS 223 American Medical History
HIS 225 Native American History, 1491-1865
HIS 226 Native American History, 1877-Present
HIS 227 African-American History
HIS 229 American Economic History
HIS 232 Medieval Europe, 400–1400
HIS 234 Tudors and Stuarts, 1485–1707
HIS 235 Britain in the Modern World
HIS 236 Britain in the Modern World II
HIS 237 The Spectacle of Modern France
HIS 238 The Making of Modern Germany
HIS 242 Rise & Fall of the Soviet Union
HIS 261 Southern Africa
HIS 262 Modern Africa from the Sahara to the Zambezi
HIS 266 History of Modern Middle East
HIS 267 Islam in the Modern Era
HIS 268 Islam and Gender (with Professor Saba)
HIS 271 Imperial Collisions in the Asia - Pacific
HIS 275 China's Revolutions
HIS 277 China's Rise
HIS 281 Science and Society
HIS 283 When the World Became Global
HIS 284 From KGB to the Elf on the Shelf Surveillance in Modern History
HIS 295 ST Cold War Latin America
HIS 295 ST Origins of Capitalism

What is the typical sequence of course for an economics major?

The Office of Student Affairs has put together a sample 4-year plan for the economics major.

Can I complete the economics major and study abroad?

Absolutely. An economics majors is enhanced by a global and international perspective on different economic institutions and growth patterns. The major is flexible enough that students can study abroad for one semester and still quite comfortably fit in the required 8 economics courses for the major.

While it is possible that students may count an off-campus class towards the major (with prior departmental approval), students frequently use the off-campus study as an opportunity to improve language proficiency and/or supplement their liberal arts education in other, non-economic areas.

Why do I have to take a math class and a history class to major in economics?

Tackling economic issues and problems frequently requires a wide set of tools of analysis. The department, therefore, requires that students take classes (in addition to 8 economics courses) in mathematics and history.

In mathematics, students are required to take either MAT 123/124 or MAT 131 to develop basic tools of differential calculus. Modern economics embraces an analytic foundation, and it is necessary that students are comfortable with basic calculus in the intermediate economics theory courses of Microeconomics and Macroeconomics. In addition, students need to take MAT 209 Applied Statistics to prepare for ECN 286 Econometrics. Increasingly, empirical analysis is an important tool of analysis, and MAT 209 and ECN 286 will prepare students to critically comment and analyze empirical issues.

In addition to math courses, the department requires students to take a course in history. The functioning of an economy does not operate in a vacuum but rather depends heavily on economic and political institutions. The department has a list of approved history courses that offer an exploration of the development and changing nature of institutions that affect the economy.

How can I find an adviser in economics?

Finding an adviser is easy!  The Department of Economics uses a centralized system to pair students interested in declaring an economics major with a faculty adviser in the department. To be paired with an adviser, students must fill out an online form stating their intention to declare an economics major prior Feb. 1. A link to the form will be emailed to all students who have taken an economics course early in the spring semester. The advising allocation and major declaration process will only happen once per year.

Students graduating in May 2025 or earlier who would like to declare an economics major should contact the department chair as soon as possible to be assigned a faculty adviser.    

What are the requirements and procedures for applying for a MAP?

Mentored Advanced Projects (MAPs) entail a significant amount of work for both students and faculty.

In the field of economics, a worthy MAP proposal is only possible after a student has completed, at a minimum, the intermediate theory courses (Microeconomics and Macroeconomics) and an advanced tools course.

As MAP proposals are likely to entail some empirical analysis, it is extremely helpful if students have completed the Econometrics course.

Finally, a certain level of proficiency by the student and the faculty member of the proposed MAP topic is required. For faculty, this will frequently occur in the area of a faculty member’s senior seminar; for students, this will occur after the student has taken advanced courses in the topic area (in the field of economics and/or other, related fields).

Students who are interested in undertaking a MAP should talk with their adviser in their second year and should have all required coursework done by the end of their junior year. MAP proposals are individually arranged by a student and a faculty member.

Does the department accept AP credit toward the major?

The department recognizes the accomplishments of students who have AP credit in economics. Since Introduction to Economics here at Grinnell covers both microeconomics and macroeconomics, the department requires that students have AP credit in both AP Microeconomics and AP Macroeconomics.

  • If a student has scored a 4 in both AP Microeconomics and AP Macroeconomics, the department will waive the Introduction to Economics course requirement of the major.
  • Students who have credit in only one AP exam may not waive the intro requirement; these students will need to enroll and complete the Introduction to Economics course.

Any AP credit earned counts toward the total, 124 units required for graduation; however, the AP credits do not count toward the 32 units in economics required of all majors.

How are enrollments in senior seminar classes allocated?

The department views the seminar experience as an important component of the economics major.

To facilitate an in-depth discussion of research papers and the completion of an independent research project in this class, the department limits course enrollments in all seminars to twelve students.

The department allocates spots in seminars approximately two weeks before the pre-registration period. A member of department will poll all rising juniors and senior majors with:

  • their seminar preference,
  • their preparation for enrollment in a seminar, and
  • other commitments that may conflict with enrollment in a given seminar.

Balancing these needs and the resource constraints of the department, students are allocated to a senior seminar. While the department cannot guarantee that every students will get their first seminar choice in each semester, in the recent past the department has been successful in meeting students’ desires over the two senior seminar allocations.


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