Economics Resources

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Graduate and Professional School Resources

Graduate School Information

Students interested in opportunities for post-graduate work will find it helpful to start at the Center for Careers, Life, and Service (CLS). The CLS offers general assistance with the planning and application process to graduate and professional schools. Most graduate and many professional schools require the GRE, while professional schools may require specialized tests — like business and law. Information and rankings on graduate programs can be found at U.S. News and World Report and Peterson’s.

Additional information about graduate work in economics, public administration, mathematical finance, business, and law is provided below.

Graduate Study in Economics

Only a minority of economics majors continue on in this discipline, but recent graduates have attended such prestigious schools as Columbia, Berkeley, Yale, Stanford, the University of Michigan, Duke, and others. Becoming a professional economist typically means getting a Ph.D. Virtually all well-reputed Ph.D. programs have a first year theory sequence that is heavily mathematical. There is a simple rule of thumb about that first year in graduate school: the more math you have had, the easier it will be. A year of calculus and a semester of linear algebra should be regarded as a bare minimum. Most Ph.D. programs strongly recommend work in real analysis (as covered in Math 316, Foundations of Analysis). Also, any student considering graduate study in economics should take both Econometrics (312) and Mathematical Economics (339). It would also make sense to include Math 335 and 336 in your program. General information about requirements for graduate school can be found on the AEA website.

Graduate Study in Public Administration

Economics majors are often attracted to public policy and public administration programs. Graduates in these areas – usually with masters degrees – typically work in federal, state, or local government. They are usually managers or administrators, but sometimes work in research.

Graduate study in public policy or public administration normally requires less quantitative training than economics, but intermediate theory courses will usually be required if you have not completed them as an undergraduate. Econometrics would likely prove useful. Also, courses related to operation of the government in the economy (e.g. Public Finance, Current State of the U.S. Economy) might be of special interest.

Graduate Study in Mathematical Finance

This relatively new field provides an outlet for those with strong math and econ backgrounds who are interested in the financial industry. Issues addressed include budgeting, trading financial assets, borrowing, lending, insuring, hedging, diversifying, forecasting, and managing risk. Because the future cannot be known with certainty, financial economics deals with the impact of uncertainty in resource allocation.

Business and Law School

Probably the most common areas of graduate study among economics majors are business and law. Many students are surprised to learn that neither business nor law schools have undergraduate course requirements. They accept students with all kinds of diverse backgrounds. Nevertheless, some courses in the economic curriculum are especially useful in those disciplines. All business students must eventually take microeconomic theory (our ECN 280), in graduate school if not as an undergraduate. Microeconomics also comes up in law courses. Similarly, Financial and Managerial Accounting (286) and Corporate Finance (287) are useful to both law and business students.

Graduate School Information

Career Resources and Other Links

Career Information

  • Employment Resources at Grinnell College CLS
    • The CLS offers an assortment of resources and assistance for you throughout your college years and beyond. Employment opportunities are available through Consortia, on-campus recruiters, and resume referrals from employers. Let the CLS help you with your job search. Full-time, part-time, and summer positions are available.


What courses satisfy the history requirement of the major?

List of courses that Fulfill the Economics Department History Requirement
HIS 201 Colonial Latin America
HIS 202 Modern Latin America
HIS 212 Democracy in America, 1789-1848
HIS 214 The American Civil War and Reconstruction
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 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 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

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 Micro and Macro. 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?

Currently, there are over 90 students who major in economics. Due to the large number of potential advisees and due to upcoming faculty leaves and sabbaticals, the department on occasion may limit the number of advisees of a given faculty member. Currently, the following members of the department are unable to accept advisees: Professor Graham, Professor Ohrn, Professor Lee, Professor Zurowski, and Professor Nabar-Bhaduri. It is best to email a faculty member to set up an appointment to discuss establishing an advising relationship.

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 course work 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 that 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 one AP exams 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:

  • 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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