Economics and Mathematics

Economic theories are often expressed using mathematical formulas. Graduate school in economics requires a considerable investment in formal mathematics training. For these reasons, we require that all our majors have some proficiency in mathematics.

Students must complete a basic course in calculus (MATH 108, 111, or 131) before declaring an economics major. The core of the major also includes a course in econometrics, which uses basic statistics as a prerequisite.

The 100-level courses assume that all students are proficient in basic algebra only. Some, but not all, of the courses at the 300- and 400-levels require calculus. This is indicated in the Undergraduate Catalog or on the instructor's syllabus. Calculus is a useful tool in economic modeling, and it is an essential tool in some circumstances. But many classes do not require advanced mathematics.

If you are interested in graduate training in economics, we recommend several mathematics courses:

  • MATH 111 and 112 (Calculus),
  • MATH 211 (Linear Algebra), and
  • MATH 212 (Multivariate Calculus)

These courses are an essential minimum level of mathematical proficiency for graduate work. They are often useful preparation for students interested in graduate programs in Business, Public Policy, and Urban Planning. See the advice [pdf] from a former ECON/MATH major who went on for an ECON PhD at Harvard.