Academic program

An understanding of economics can help foster intelligent citizenship. Policy makers in business, government, and the nonprofit sector frequently evaluate complex economic issues. The goal of the economics curriculum is to educate students, both majors and nonmajors, about the ideas of economics and how they apply to today's world.

Introductory economics courses at Bates (courses numbered 100–199) emphasize a broad nontechnical understanding of economic institutions, policy, and analysis. Courses numbered between 200 and 249 provide nontechnical introductions to more specialized topics. Courses numbered between 250 and 299 cover intermediate economic theory and introduce students to the methods of empirical analysis. Three-hundred-level courses integrate practical economic issues with empirical and theoretical analyses, enabling students to develop sophisticated insight into both contemporary and historical economic problems. More information on the economics department is available on the website (

Major Requirements

The department recommends that most students begin their study of economics by completing ECON 150, however those with an extensive background in economics and mathematics may begin their study of economics by taking ECON 260 or 270. ECON 150 does not count toward the major in economics.

1) ECON 250, 255, 260, and 270. At least three of these courses must be taken at Bates, and at least three of these must be completed prior to senior year. The following statistics courses may be substituted for ECON 250 (Statistics):
BIO 244. Biostatistics.
MATH 215. Statistics.
NRSC 205. Statistical Methods.

2) MATH 105, 106, or 206. Fulfilling this requirement is a prerequisite for ECON 255, 260, and 270.

3) Three 300-level electives in economics. At least two of these courses must be taken at Bates.

4) A fourth economics course (numbered in the 100s, 200s or 300s) that does not already satisfy another major requirement. The following courses also may satisfy this requirement:

PLTC 222. International Political Economy.
SOC 260. Economic Sociology.

5) Senior work (W3 requirement). Typically the W3 requirement is met through the completion of a thesis seminar (ECON 456) or a senior thesis (ECON 457 and ECON 458). The 2021-22, effective with the Class of 2022 only, the thesis option will not be offered. Senior majors in the Class of 2022 will complete their W3 requirement by completing a 300-level course during the senior year.

Students are not permitted to declare the economics major during their senior year.

Students majoring in economics are not permitted to use Applying Mathematical Methods (C006) to satisfy General Education requirements.

Students planning to study abroad should consult the off-campus study section of the economics department website. Most basic questions concerning departmental study-abroad requirements are answered there. Students should then consult with the department chair concerning the acceptability of particular courses for the major.

Because of the numerous, vital, and constantly developing interconnections between economics and other social sciences, economics majors are urged to take as many courses as possible in related disciplines such as anthropology, history, politics, psychology, and sociology.

Pass/Fail Grading Option

Pass/fail grading may not be elected for courses applied toward the major.

Non-Bates Credit

Students receiving a score of four or five on either the Macroeconomics or Microeconomics AP exam receive credit for ECON 150. Students receiving a score of four or five on the Statistics AP exam receive credit for ECON 250. A-Level credit: Students receiving a grade of A or B on the A-Level Economics examinations may receive credit for ECON 150. No credit is given for the O-Level examinations. International Baccalaureate credit: Students receiving a grade of six or seven in the IB HL program may receive credit for ECON 150. No credit is given for the IB SL program.

Students who have failed a core economics course (ECON 101, 103, 150, 250, 255, 260, or 270) at Bates may not receive major credit for an equivalent course taken at another institution.