FAQs for Economics Students
Each semester, the Economics Department offers two courses at the introductory level that are most appropriate for first-year students or for beginners in the department: Econ BC1003 Introduction to Economic Reasoning, and Econ BC1007 Math Methods for Economics. Introduction to Economic Reasoning focuses on the institutional foundations of the modern economy and salient policy issues, while Math Methods for Economics provides students with the formal training for more advanced courses. The recommended sequence is Econ BC1003 followed by Econ BC1007.
Students potentially interested in majoring in Economics & Mathematics or Economics-Statistics should take Calculus III rather than Math Methods.
Note: Columbia offers Econ UN1105 Principles of Economics every semester. We accept this course as a substitute for our Econ BC1003.
How to Declare a Major
The first step is to decide what major you want to declare (See our major descriptions). Take a class or two, talk with faculty members, use the information on this web site. Most students declare their major in spring of their sophomore year, but if you follow the advice on this web page you will already have taken a good chunk of the major by that time. Therefore you should feel free to consult any faculty member for advice even before you formally declare.
When you know what you want to do:
(1) download and browse the relevant Major Requirements form which we will use as a tentative plan for how you intend to fulfill the major requirements. Keep in mind our Tips and Caveats.
(2) complete this survey which will help the Department Chair work with you to complete your Major Requirements form: Major Declaration Survey
(3) Go to Slate for Students to Declare your Major
(4) Either email the Department Chair, Prof. Randall Reback, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or sign up for an office hours appointment here: reback.youcanbook.me Once the department chair reviews your survey and major requirements plan, he will assign you a major adviser. He will then approve your major declaration on Slate which will in turn mean that your online transcript and program will then be accessible to your major adviser and the department chair.
(5) We will maintain a copy of the Major Requirements form, along with any other correspondence that may accumulate concerning your major. You can at any time verify with us, your adviser, or the department chair, your progress toward completing the major requirements. One reason to do so is that we calculate major GPA using only the courses listed on your most recent Major Requirements form.
If you need pre-approval of summer courses that you would like to count toward your major, please complete the relevant form on slate.barnard.edu. You can email the Department Chair with any questions about the appropriateness of courses. If you have already completed transfer courses or summer courses that you would like to officially count towards the major, then please complete this survey: Course Approval Form. Complete it separately for each course you would like to petition to use. Keep in mind that at least 6 of your courses for the major must be taken at Barnard/Columbia.
Click here for College policies for students selecting Pass/D/Fail grading. Courses taken as P/D/F may not count toward the major. If you have already received a "P" for a required course for the major, then the Registrar will automatically uncover the grade for that course immediately before you graduate. You may not retake any required course if you have already completed it with a grade of P. Economics majors should consult with their major adviser before designating P/D/F grading for any economics courses.
To see how interdisciplinary electives fit into the broader scope of the political economy track of the economics major, see our detailed description.
Tips and Caveats
The sequential character of the economics major makes it imperative that students
1. start early,
2. plan carefully, and
3. make continuous progress.
Typical causes of unsatisfactory experience include:
Double majors/combined majors. A double major must be undertaken with considerable advance planning and care as otherwise it can be difficult to fulfill the additional requirements to which they give rise. For many students, it is more appropriate to choose one discipline as a major and the other as a minor.
Premed. No rule prevents you from being both premed and majoring in economics. Indeed, to combine them may be exactly the right choice for you, although whether this is so will depend on your individual career goals and intellectual interests. However, it is important to embark on a joint program with care, and in particular to plan ahead, as it can be difficult to schedule all of the required courses. It can also be difficult to manage two very difficult workloads, and you should therefore be sure that you wish to try this.
Late start. No rule prevents you from starting your economics major late, but it can become very difficult to complete the major requirements before the senior thesis, and performance tends to suffer. Careful planning is essential.
Transfer students face the same challenge as late starters, only more so. If you are transferring in with junior standing and do not have significant economics major credit, you may have to settle for a minor.
Study abroad. Keep in mind that, depending on where you go, you may not be able to take courses that count toward the major. The most success in this respect is with programs in the UK or Australia; lesser success with programs in Spain or France; least success with programs in Latin America. Careful planning is essential.
Excessive internship/job commitment. Being a full-time student is already a full-time job so you should use care in taking on additional responsibilities. Internships can be very rewarding and many of our students benefit immensely from them, but bear in mind that they can consume more of your time and energy than you may have originally thought.
Shopping. No rule prevents you from signing up for more courses than you intend to complete, planning to drop one or more at a later date. The practice does however dilute the energy you can devote to each of your courses, and so also what you get out of them.
Typical strategies for overcoming these negative consequences have their own perils:
Summer school. It can be dangerous to take core courses in summer school since you may not get the preparation you will need for upper level courses. Also, keep in mind that most institutions do not offer upper level courses in their summer programs.
Ignore prerequisites. You may pass the course but you will not learn as much or do as well. There is a pedagogical reason for the sequential character of the major; it's not just bureaucracy.
Course overload. You may be able to handle four or even five economics courses at the same time, in the minimal sense that you do not fail any of them, but you will not learn as much or do as well. There is a pedagogical reason for the sequential character of the major; it's not just bureaucracy.
Most students are best served by choosing a single major, perhaps in combination with a minor. Nevertheless, in exceptional cases students may elect one of the following options.
Double Major. A double major is simply two majors. This means that you fulfill all of the distinct requirements of both majors including, if the departments require it, two Senior Theses. This may not be easy to do, especially in economics (because of the need to take courses in a specific sequence in order to complete all of the requirements). Prospective employers and graduate schools are generally less likely to be impressed by a double major than by the quality of a student's work in the specific courses she has taken.
Double Major with Single Senior Thesis. This option may be more workable than the Double Major insofar as one thesis is presumably easier to write than two. However, it can be harder to write a thesis that integrates two disciplines than it is to write one within a single discipline. It also can be harder to write a thesis with two advisors, each of whom can be depended upon to apply criteria of evaluation from their own discipline. Nevertheless, this option may make sense for you, but please note our policy on registering: Economics majors with a double major: comibined thesis, where the counterpart department offers only a 1-semester senior thesis (such as Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures), must register in the Economics Department with a co-adviser from the other department. If the courterpart department offers a 2-semester senior thesis, students could choose to register in either department but should have advisers from both departments. If you decide to pursue it, realistic expectations of the heavier workload involved, and advance planning concerning your thesis topic and choice of advisors is essential. A first step is to get the appropriate form from the Registrar and seek the advice and consent of the respective Department Chairs.
Psychology Major or Minor: The Psychology major and minor requires Psych BC1101 Statistics. If you are a Psych major or minor and also want to major in economics (econ track) you will find that Barnard does not allow you to double-count courses from both deparments. Since the economics department considers Psych BC1101 to be equivalent to our Econ BC2411 Statistics for Economics, however, we consider you to have satified this major requirement for our department. But in order to maintain the same total number of courses for the economics track major, you simply must take an additional lower or upper-level economics elective.
Special Major. This option involves creating your own major from among the courses offered through the university as a whole. However, usually special majors synthesize two or more existing majors, and so involve taking the core of more than one major, which are often more courses than students expect. There can also be significant extra paperwork arising from the fact that special majors are ultimately overseen by the Committee on Programs and Academic Standing, and not by any individual department. If you think this option may nevertheless make sense for you, begin by writing a rationale for your proposed major and a list of proposed courses. Acquire the appropriate form from the Registrar and seek the advice of the appropriate Department Chairs.
All Economics majors (all tracks) are now classified as STEM.
Intro Economics courses and how they affect you
We offer 2 introductory courses:
Econ BC1003, entitled “Introduction to Economic Reasoning," introduces students to fundamental economic issues, concepts, and institutions in a non-technical way, and explore the economy in relation to the broader society. This will be ideal for non-majors and also as a first course for potential majors.
Econ BC1007, entitled “Mathematical Methods for Economics," focuses on preparation for intermediate courses, especially Intermediate Microeconomics, and is intended primarily for those students who are seriously considering majoring in Economics, in either our economics track or our political economy track.
Students who enter Barnard College with AP in economics or who are transferring in an introductory economics course from another college or university often have questions about which of the above courses they should take to be adequately prepared for our intermediate theory courses. To give you a clearer understanding we have constructed the following table.
Our policy for AP Credit is: If a student has an AP score in Macro and/or Micro of 4 or 5, they will get 3 points of credit. Students are not exempt from Econ BC1003 due to AP credit. Furthermore, if they major in Economics, they still would have to take Intro to Economic Reasoning, Econ BC 1003.
Also, AP Statistics with a score of 5 will receive 3 points Barnard College credit, but NOT major credit.
AP and Intro Credit Table
|AP Credit||AP Points||1st economics course to take at Barnard/Columbia||Math prerequistes for Intermediate Micro Theory Econ BC3035 *|
|lf student has AP score in Macro and/or Micro of 4 or 5||3 points||Econ BC1003 or Econ UN1105||Econ BC1007 or 1 sem Calculus|
|Otherwise||none||Econ BC1003 or Econ UN1105||Econ BC1007 or 1 sem Calculus|
|Intro Credit||Transfer points||1st economics course to take at Barnard/Columbia||Math prerequistes for Intermediate Micro Theory Econ BC3035 *|
|Intro Macro previously taken||3||Econ BC3033||Econ BC1007 or 1 sem Calculus or permission of the instructor|
|Intro Micro previously taken||3||Econ BC3033 or
Econ BC3035 (if math prerequisite satisfied)
|Econ BC1007 or 1 sem Calculus or permission of the instructor|
* There are no mathematics prerequisites for Intermediate Macro Theory, Econ BC3033.
Also, AP Statistics with a score of 5 will receive 3 points Barnard College credit, but NOT major credit.
Math Methods for Economics covers less calculus than Calculus III, and instead covers additional quantitative skills and applications to economic problems. You may not take Math Methods if you have already taken Intermediate Microeconomics. You may take Barnard's Intermediate Macroeconomics if you have not yet taken Math Methods, but should only take Intermediate Macroeconomics at Columbia after you have completed Calculus III or successfully completed Math Methods. You may take Barnard's Intermediate Microeconomics after you have taken Math Methods; you should only consider taking Columbia's Intermediate Microeconomics instead if you performed well in Math Methods or completed Calculus III. The same applies for certain upper-level economics electives at Columbia: if they list Calculus III as a prerequisite then you should only take that course if you completed Calculus III or if you performed very well in Math Methods and feel comfortable with calculus. Consult your adviser or the Barnard Economics Chair for guidance on that decision. Columbia economics electives that should be avoided unless students have completed Calculus III include Game Theory (4415) and Advanced Microeconomics (4211).
Calculus/ Mathematics sequence table for Economics Track majors
|AP Credit||Points||1 st math course||2 nd math course (if needed)|
|none||none||Calculus I or Econ BC1007 (students may take both)||Calculus III* (optional for those who have taken Econ BC1007)|
|Calc AB or BC with score of 3||none||Calculus I or Econ BC1007 (students may take both)||Calculus III* (optional for those who have taken Econ BC1007)|
|Calc AB with score of 4 or 5||3||Calculus III* or Econ BC1007 (students may take both)|
|Calc BC with score of 4||3||Calculus III* or Econ BC1007 (students may take both)|
|Calc BC with score of 5||4||Calculus III* or Econ BC1007 (students may take both)|
|IB Mathematics with score of 6 or 7||3||Calculus III* or Econ BC1007 (students may take both)|
* APMA E2000 - Multivariable Calculus for Engineers and Applied Scientists at Columbia University is an acceptable substitute for Calculus III.
Policy on Business and Accounting Courses
1. Courses in Business and Accounting approved for degree credit
**None of these courses satisfies elective course requirements for the major or minor in economics.**
Students may receive degree credit for one approved course in accounting and finance. Approved courses are:
IEOR E2261 Introduction to Accounting and Finance
BUSI UN3013 Financial Accounting
Or equivalent, to be approved by the chair of the Economics Dept.
Also, students may receive degree credit for up to two courses in business (BUSI UNxxxx) or from the Graduate School of Business (such as MRKT Bxxxx, FINC Bxxxx, etc.) in addition to a course in accounting and finance, subject to availability.
Courses in Accounting and Finance, courses with BUSI designation, and courses taken in the Graduate School of Business (such as MRKT Bxxxx, FINC Bxxxx, etc.) are subject to the 18-point cap on “non-liberal arts” courses.
2. Guidelines for approval of transfer and summer school credits
Students may receive degree credit for only one introductory course in accounting, or accounting and finance, whether it is taken at this institution or transferred from another institution, subject to the 18-point cap on “non-liberal arts” school courses.
Students may receive transfer or summer school credit for business courses, other than courses in accounting and accounting and finance, subject to the 18-point cap on “non-liberal arts” courses and the 2-course overall cap on business school courses taken at this institution or transferred from another institution.
Courses in finance are exempt from the above restrictions on transfer or summer school credit for business school courses ONLY IF the subject matter of the course makes it an equivalent to ECON UN3025 Economics of Finance or ECON GU4280 Corporate Finance. Such courses are neither subject to the 18-point “non-liberal arts” cap nor to the 2-course business school course cap.
3. Course equivalence
Students may receive credit for only one of the following courses: IEOR E2261, BUSI UN3013, BUSI K4009, or other equivalent.
Students may receive credit for only one of the following: ECON UN3025, BUSI K4001. (BUSI K4001 does not satisfy elective course requirements for the economics major)
Students may receive credit for only one of the following: ECON GU4280, BUSI K4003. (BUSI K4003 does not satisfy elective course requirements for the economics major)
The Barnard Economics Department accepts all Columbia College Economics courses for credit toward the Economics major requirements. You cannot, however, take both the Barnard and Columbia versions of equivalent courses for credit.
The following courses are equivalent: you will receive credit for only one course in each category. For example, you may not take both ECON BC3029 and ECON W4321 for credit since these two courses cover the same material. This list is not exhaustive. Consult the Economics Department Chair about any other pair of courses whose subject matter appears to overlap.
|Barnard Course||Title||Columbia Equivalent||Title|
|ECON BC1003||Introduction to Economic Reasoning||ECON UN1105||Principles of Economics|
|ECON BC3013||Economic History of the U.S.||ECON GU4311||Economic History of the U.S.|
|ECON BC3018||Econometrics||ECON UN3412||Introduction to Econometrics|
|ECON BC3019||Labor Economics||ECON GU4400||Labor Economics|
|ECON BC3029||Development Economics||ECON GU4321||Economic Development|
|ECON BC3033||Intermediate Macro Theory||ECON UN3213||Intermediate Macroeconomics|
|ECON BC3035||Intermediate Micro Theory||ECON UN3211||Intermediate Microeconomics|
|ECON BC2411||Statistics for Economics||PSYC BC1101
Introduction to Statistics
Introduction to Statistics B
|ECON UN3025||Financial Economics||BUSI K4001***||Introduction to Finance|
|ECON BC3039||Natural Resource and Environmental Economics||ECON GU4625||Economics of the Environment|
|ECON BC3047||International Trade||ECON GU4500||International Trade|
* formerly STAT W1111
** formerly STAT W1211
*** Neither BUSI K4001 nor BUSI K4003 satisfy the elective course requirements for the economics major.
Awards in Economics
The Alena Wels Hirschorn Prize is awarded to students, in their junior year, who have written the best essay on a subject of domestic or international economics.
Katharine Provost Memorial Prize is awarded for superior work by an undergraduate major in economics.
Beth Niemi Memorial Prize is awarded to an outstanding senior majoring in Economics.
Sylvia Kopald Selekman Prize is awarded to the first-year student doing the best work in introductory economics.
Economics majors are also eligible for other College-wide prizes and scholarships. Consult the Honors section of the Barnard College Catalogue for more details. The Department is responsible for nominating its majors for these prizes and scholarships. If you have any questions, ask your major advisor or the department chair
Department Honors in Economics
Nomination for College departmental honors is based on outstanding grades in courses for the major; the department may nominate no more than 20% of graduating seniors for honors.
Distinction in the Senior Requirement is awarded to majors who earn an A or A+ on the thesis or an A or A+ on both the senior seminar and an upper-level elective.
The following quote is from the Barnard Catalogue and is College policy.
"Courses in which the student receives the grade of D may not be counted toward the major requirement or the minor option. Required courses graded D that must be retaken for a higher grade to satisfy requirements for the major or minor will not receive degree credit when repeated. Both enrollments and grades appear on the transcript."
This applies to all required courses for the major, including Calculus or the new Math Methods course if you need them for for your major.
If you receive a D in an elective course used for the major, you may retake the course (with no credit as stated above) or you may substitute another elective that meets the requirement for the major. --Make sure you update your Major Requirements Declaration form with your major adviser.
The Department offers a range of senior seminars, representing the diversity of subject matter and methodological approach in modern economics. Topics are announced during spring Planning Period for the coming academic year, and students are encouraged to express their preferences (using our Senior Requirement Preference Form) in a timely manner since enrollment is limited to 16.
Seminars meet once a week for two hours. The emphasis is on student presentation and discussion of classic and current articles in economics. The required work will be a major research paper, typically 20-25 pages, written with revisions over the semester. Your grade will be based on the quality of the research paper and your participation in seminar discussions.
Updated Answer Coming Soon.
Senior Thesis Style
The Department follows the style guidelines described in Joseph Gibaldi and Walter S. Achtert, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Third Edition (New York: Modern Language Assocation of American, 1988). Some issues to keep in mind:
Footnotes and endnotes should be avoided, except where you must make a long digression from the main line of your argument.
Tables should be given sequential numbers for easy reference. Each table should have a title that describes the substance of the data contained in it. Cite sources of the table at the bottom of each table.
Figures (including graphs) should be given sequential numbers for easy reference. Each Figure should have a caption that describes it in detail for the reader's convenience. Choose the appropriate type of graph for the data you have. For example, use pie charts to represent proportions, and line graphs to show time trends.
Bibliographical style. Here are some examples of correct usage:
Dobb, Maurice. 1973. Theories of value and distribution since Adam Smith. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Solow, Robert M. 1988. "Growth theory and after." American Economic Review 78.3 (June): 307-318.
Kohn, Meir and Sho-chieh Tsiang, ed. 1988. Finance constraints, expectations, and macroeconomics. Oxford: Clarendon.
Hicks, John. 1988. "Toward a more general theory." In Kohn and Tsiang, ed. 1988, 6-14.
In-line citation style. Here are some examples of correct usage:
As John Hicks has pointed out (1988, 6)....
"Why did Keynes think he could get by, considering no more than the flow account of the industrial sector, and no more that the stock account of the financial?" (Hicks 1988, 7)
Plagiarism is the use of other people's work without proper acknowledgment. No plagiarism is acceptable.
The main reason we are so intolerant of plagiarism is that it undermines the basis of scholarship. Partly this is a matter of giving credit where it is due to other authors, but it is also about giving credit where it is due to you as author. The point of good citation practice is to direct the reader's attention to where you have advanced the argument. That's where the reader wants to focus, and it is where you want her to focus as well. Good citation habits help you to keep clear in your own mind about where you are advancing the argument.
Blatant plagiarism involves the copying or extensive use of a source without citing or acknowledging it.
A more subtle form of plagiarism is footnoted paraphrase. In this case the student cites the source, but fails to indicate that a paragraph or passage is a quotation or extended paraphrase of the source. If you are quoting, you must indicate so by using quotation marks. If you are paraphrasing, you must indicate so either by specific wording in the text (for example, "Smith describes this process in the following terms...") or by appropriate citation ("This paragraph paraphrases Smith pp. 167-9").
Help from other people, both source and extent of help, must be acknowledged in an acknowledgments section at the beginning of your paper. If you are in any doubt about whether the extent of help compromises your claim to authorship, consult your adviser or instructor at an early stage. In general your adviser or instructor should be aware of any help you are receiving from other faculty members, fellow-students, friends, parents, or outside experts.
If you intend to combine your Senior Thesis or Senior Seminar work with work on a paper for another course, you must inform both instructors. If you plan to base your Senior Thesis or Senior Seminar paper on a paper you have written for another course, you must also inform your instructor.
The Senior Requirement Preference Form for the next academic year is available at the Spring Program Planning Meeting --usually a week or two after Spring Break in March. Student assignments are done via the department's forms. Seminar and thesis sectioning will then begin, although we will continue to accept applications and changes in preferences right up to the 1st day of classes in September. Earlier applications will take precedence over later applications, so obviously we encourage you to submit your applications as soon as you can. [Students wishing to write a two-semester senior thesis and who want to graduate a semester early must start in the fall semester of their junior year, to finish in the spring semester when they will have senior standing. They should discuss this possibility with their advisers at the earliest opportunity. ]
Your Major GPA is the point-weighted average of your grades in all Barnard and Columbia courses listed on your Major Requirements Declaration Form.
For Example, consider the following partial transcript for a hypothetical student:
|Econ BC3033||Intermediate Macro Theory||4||B+|
|Econ BC3035||Intermediate Micro theory||4||B|
|Econ BC2411||Statistics for Economics||4||C+|
|Econ BC3047||International Trade||3||A|
|Econ BC3019||Labor Economics||3||A|
Then, using the formula (points x grade) + (points x grade) + .... = X . Then divide X by the total number of points and you get the major GPA.
In our case above, it's (4 x 3.3) + (4 x 3) + (4 x 2.3) + (3 x 4) + (3 x 4) = 58.40. Then divide 58.40 by the 18 total points and you get a major GPA of 3.24, or slightly below a B+ average in the major.
Econ BC3099 Independent Study
Independent Studies of 1 or 2 points require approval of a faculty sponsor, the department chair, and a college committee (CPAS). Each academic year, Economics has a designated instructor who supervises 1 point Independent Studies done as CPT in conjunction with international students' internships. We do not offer Independent Studies during the summer, but the Independent Study may be completed either before or after summer internships as long as it is approved prior to the internship. These sections often fill up, so please inquire as early as possible: contact the Economics Department Administrator (email@example.com) to find out the instructor and their guidelines for rough draft proposals. Then email the instructor to inquire about space and to share your rough draft proposal. After feedback from the instructor, you should submit your edited proposal using the form on slate.barnard.edu.
Independent Studies differ from Guided Research; Guided Research is arranged with any professor who agrees to work with a student on a 1-2 credit research project, including cases where the student serves as a research assistant.
In rare cases, students have proposed more substantial Independent Studies. In order for Independent Study to be accepted as an upper or lower-level elective that satisfies an economics ma
- Petitioned and approved prior to the beginning of the semester
- At least 3 credits and be equivalent in amount and difficulty of work to a course of similar number of credits
- Approved by the instructor (or faculty sponsor), the major adviser, and the department chair --a minimum of 3 department members