Economics is the study of the process through which individuals and societies solve a particular human problem: how to ensure that limited resources are put to their highest and best use. Economists research a variety of subjects related to this particular problem, including unemployment, technological change, poverty, environmental quality, and international trade.
Two trends in the modern economy are given special emphasis in the economics major. First, for the last two centuries there has been a trend in the global economy toward the use of individual choice through markets as the process for dealing with this basic human problem of resource use. Second, there is an increasing economic integration among the world's economies as global trade in international markets becomes extensive.
The 21st century will see a continuation of the spread of markets as the organizing mechanism of economic activity throughout the world. The economics major focuses on how markets serve this function and analyzes what policies are needed for them to serve it effectively. With this focus, the economics major is structured to assist students in gaining a systematic introduction to the theoretical and empirical techniques of economics. Since many areas of economics have broad social implications, the major also provides the opportunity to study economics as a social science and to discover the interrelationships which economics has with other disciplines.
Economics is primarily an analytical discipline. Therefore, the economics major begins with a core of theory and research methods that students will need in order to analyze economic problems.
Students will then work on economic problems by choosing from options in the areas of economic and social policy, economic theory and applications, global economic issues, and business economics. Students complete the major through their participation in a senior experience seminar or their production of a St. Mary's Project. The goals of the major are to provide students with a framework for understanding and evaluating the operation of the United States and other economies, to assist them in the formation of intelligent, informed, and critical judgments on economic issues of public and private concern, and to empower them to have a solid foundation of economic knowledge that will enable them to be lifelong learners.
A major in economics provides a suitable basis for careers in business, government and international agencies, law, teaching, public service, and journalism. It also offers the introductory stage for students interested in graduate work in economics or business. As the economy of the 21st century will require knowledgeable workers who can function in information-based organizations, courses in the economics major stress the use and application of information technology.
Members of the economics faculty will advise each student on the composition of an appropriate program, given the individual's interests and objectives. Any student considering a major in economics is urged to consult with a member of the economics faculty as early as possible. Members of the economics faculty are committed to mentoring students in the development of their own ideas in the initiation and realization of St. Mary's Projects.
Economics majors will be able to demonstrate the following upon completion of requirements for the major:
- Access existing economic knowledge
- Display command of existing knowledge
- Interpret existing knowledge
- Interpret and manipulate economic data
- Apply existing knowledge
- Create new knowledge
Graduate School Preparation
Students who are considering graduate study in economics are strongly advised to take course work in mathematics and statistics beyond those required for the major. Economics 425, Math 151, 152 and 255 are essential for graduate study; Mathematics 256 and 312 are recommended as well.
To earn a bachelor of arts degree with a major in economics, a student must satisfy the following minimum requirements:
- General College Requirements, including the following requirements to satisfy the major.
- Forty credit hours of coursework carrying economics credit and distributed as follows:
a. Theory core: 12 credits consisting of
ECON 101: Introduction to Economics
ECON 251: Intermediate Macroeconomics
ECON 252: Intermediate Microeconomics
b. Analytical skills: four credits consisting of ECON 253: Economic Statistics
c. Twenty-four credit hours of economics at the 300-level with at least one chosen from each of the following options:
Economic and Social Policy: Courses in this option have a common theme of public policy research applications of economics.
ECON 316: Economics of Race and Gender
ECON 325: Urban Economics and Urban Issues
ECON 350: Environmental Economics
ECON 354: Natural Resource Economics
ECON 355: Labor Economics
Economic Theory and Application: Courses in this option use advanced techniques in economic theory and are recommended for graduate study in economics.
ECON 351: Industrial Organization and Regulation
ECON 356: International Economics
ECON 359: Public Sector Economics
ECON 363: Political Economy
ECON 364: Game Theory
Global Economic Issues: Courses in this option provide an international and comparative perspective of economic analysis.
ECON 318: International Finance
ECON 360: Comparative Economic Systems
ECON 372: Economics of Developing Countries
ECON 377: China's Economy
Business Economics: Courses in this option apply the economics approach to business.
ECON 342: Analyzing Financial Data
ECON 353: Corporation Finance
ECON 357: Money and Banking
ECON 310: Topics in Economics, may fit into anyone of the four categories listed above depending on the specific topic it covers.
Students with an interest in business economics are urged to take ECON 209: Business Law; ECON 230: Marketing; ECON 240: Principles of Management; ECON 250: Principles of Accounting.
3. Senior Experience: The objectives of the courses in this requirement are to give students a way to build on the theory and methods of economics learned during the first three years, to allow students to gain expertise in the area they choose to study, and to improve their research and writing skills. Students must choose at least one of the following courses:
ECON 405: The History of Economic Thought
ECON 412: U.S. Economic History
ECON 425: Econometrics
ECON 459: Senior Seminar in Economics
ECON 493/494 (An eight credit hour St. Mary's Project in economics or other major may fulfill the senior experience with the permission of the chair of the Economics Department
4. The 44-48 (48 if pursuing the St. Mary’s Project option) credit hours of major requirements may include field experience and independent study approved by the department chair.
5. Students must earn a minimum grade of C- in all required economics courses and maintain an overall GPA of 2.0 or better in these courses.
The following model is suggested as a possible basic program to satisfy requirements for the major in economics:
ECON 101, one other 200-level course in the major, and the Core Curriculum requirement in Mathematics.
200-level courses in the Core requirements, and one upper-division course in the major.
Two or three 300-level courses in economics.
Two or three 300- or 400-level courses in economics to complete the discipline requirements or completion of the St. Mary's Project.
To earn a minor in economics a student must satisfy the following requirements:
- Completion of Core Curriculum requirements.
- At least 24 credit-hours in economics.
Required courses (12 credit-hours)
ECON 101: Intermediate Economics
ECON 251: Intermediate Macroeconomics
ECON 252: Intermediate Microeconomics
Elective courses (12 credits)
Three other 4 credit economics courses, two of which must be at the 300 or 400 level.
3. A grade of C- or better must be received in each course of the minor, and the cumulative grade-point average of courses used to satisfy the minor must be at least 2.0.
From Academic Policies, Advising and Registration, SMCM Catalog
The following includes guided readings and directed research.
Independent studies provide a means for students to pursue subjects in greater depth than otherwise provided by the curriculum. With the exception of independent studies that are approved to fulfill the CORE350 requirement, independent studies cannot be used to satisfy Core Curriculum requirements.
- The faculty mentor must have full-time faculty status.
- To register for an independent study, a student must complete a learning contract. An official form for such contracts is available in each administrative office found in the academic buildings or at the service counter of Glendenning Hall. The level of study (that is, 100, 200, 300, or 400) is determined by the faculty mentor. The learning contract must be approved by the appropriate department chair and filed with the Office of the Registrar, ordinarily by the last day of the schedule-adjustment period.
- Independent studies may not be substituted in place of courses offered on a regular basis in the College curriculum. In cases of unusual need, exception may be granted by the appropriate department chair.
- A maximum of eight credit hours of such work may be applied toward fulfillment of the student’s major requirements. Independent study taken to fulfill major requirements must be taken for a letter grade.
- As much as first-year students are encouraged to pursue basic courses, only sophomores, juniors, and seniors are normally allowed to register for independent study. First-year students wanting to take an independent study should petition the appropriate department chair, offering evidence of sufficient academic preparation.
- A student may not take more than eight credit hours of independent study or field study during any semester, and the student is limited to a maximum of four credit hours of independent study during a summer session.
- To be eligible to enroll for independent study, a student must be in good academic standing.
- As a condition for independent study, the student and the faculty mentor must contract to meet no less than twice during the session (in addition to the first and final meetings) to discuss and assess the progress of the project.
- The details of the independent study are determined by the faculty mentor who works within the guidelines of departmental requirements for independent studies. The underlying requirement is that the academic work must be of the same quality and quantity as a regular course of the same number of credits and level (200, 300, and 400).
- An independent study project is contracted for a specific period of time and is assessed at its contracted date of completion. The grade category “Incomplete” is assigned to a student carrying independent study only when extenuating circumstances have made substantial completion of the project impossible.