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Majors & Minors

“The Department of Economics at the University of Minnesota holds a special place in the economics world, of which our undergraduate majors play an important role. A unifying theme throughout the department is that careful theoretical and empirical reasoning underlies all research and teaching. Or put more simply: any economic question worth examining is worth examining well.”
—Christopher Phelan, professor and chair

The department offers four options to undergraduates majoring/minoring in economics:

The best way to decide among the various degree options is to consider two factors:

  • Your interest and aptitude in quantitative areas such as mathematics and statistics
  • Your long-term academic and career goals

If you are interested in mathematics and have strong grades in quantitative courses, you might find the BS more attractive. The BS is designed for students interested in graduate study of economics or a career in which quantitative economic analysis plays a significant role. The major’s strong quantitative component stresses multivariate calculus, linear algebra, and econometrics—essentials to economics graduate training.

The BA is intended to give you a solid background in all facets of economics but without the quantitative emphasis of the BS option. It is the least quantitative of our three majors and it offers considerable freedom in course selection. The BA option provides excellent preparation for working after graduation or pursuing a master’s degree. The quantitative emphasis BA (BA-Q) includes basic quantitative training in calculus, linear algebra, and econometrics. This degree is particularly suitable for those considering graduate work in business administration or those considering work in places that require data and statistical work.

If you prefer a program less quantitatively stringent than an economics major, you may be interested in the bachelor of individualized studies (BIS) program, through which a 15-credit concentration in economics courses may be combined with courses in two other areas of concentration.

The Senior Project

B.A. and B.A.Q. majors write at least one paper in their major field -- most likely during their senior year. The goal of the College of Liberal Arts is to have every student produce a significant piece of written work in the subject matter of the major. This project should demonstrate that the student can think critically and creatively; can gather, recognize, and interpret data; can solve problems; can interpret and communicate findings; and can attain understanding and proficiency in the modes of inquiry common to the discipline.

For the senior project paper, the Department of Economics asks that students be able to:

  1. define an economic problem;
  2. review some relevant literature related to the problem;
  3. use economic data and analysis to describe or explain the problem; and
  4. present a conclusion or resolution.

Note that survey papers are not acceptable. You must make some contribution to the field of study.

Also note that Econ 4100W does NOT satisfy the Senior Project requirement.

Students have FIVE options to complete the major project requirement:

Option 1:

Most students register for Econ 3951 (2 credits). Students must receive a grade of A or B. Students choosing this option need to register for Econ 3951 if the instructor is going to help them write a paper to fulfill the Senior Project requirements. When the requirement is fulfilled, the instructor fills out the Senior Project Verification Form and gives the student a grade at the end of the semester. Grades are submitted to the Registrar’s office and the Senior Project Verification Form is submitted to the student’s CLA Student Community.

Option 2:

If a student undertakes an Independent Study (up to 3 credits of Econ 3991) supervised by an instructor and receives a grade of A- or better on the final paper, the student can submit the original paper to the Senior Project instructor for review. If the paper is accepted, the student is exempt from writing the senior project paper. **Please read the clarification of this exemption in the section below. ** Please contact the Senior Project instructor or the Advisor for details.

Option 3:

If a student receives a grade of 90/100 or more on a paper written for an Economics Writing Intensive class, the student can submit the original paper to Senior Project instructor for review. If the paper is accepted, the student is exempt from writing the senior project paper. **Please read the clarification of this exemption in the section below. ** Please contact Senior Project instructor or the Advisor for details.

Option 4:

If a student completes an Honors Thesis (3 credits or more) it does not need to be submitted for further review.

Option 5:

Students pursuing more than one major may finish their Senior Paper in another declared major.   Once the Senior paper has been completed  the student should notify the Undergraduate