William and Mary

Economics and Mathematics

Economic theories are often expressed most effectively using formal mathematics, and graduate school in economics requires a considerable investment in formal mathematics training.

The undergraduate curriculum at William & Mary requires some basic proficiency in formal mathematics. Students must have completed at least a basic course in calculus before declaring an economics major. The core of the major also includes a course in econometrics, which uses basic statistics as a prerequisite. Yet the major is designed to accommodate both students who are quite comfortable with formal mathematics as well as those who are not.  The curriculum at the 100-level is built on the assumption that all William and Mary students are proficient in basic algebra only.  Some of the courses at the 300-level and the 400-level require calculus, and this will be indicated in the course 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.

For students interested in graduate training in economics, the Department strongly recommends taking several mathematics courses as undergraduates.  For graduate school in economics, Mathematics 111 and 112 (Calculus), Mathematics 211 (Linear Algebra), and Mathematics 212 (Multivariate Calculus) are an essential minimum level of mathematical proficiency. These courses are often useful preparation for students interested in graduate programs in Business, Public Policy, and Urban Planning.