The Lawrence economics department emphasizes abstract modeling and quantitative reasoning skills. Students acquire a basic knowledge of economic theories, principles, and techniques of analysis. They then apply these concepts and tools to issues such as poverty and discrimination, environmental degradation, and antitrust policy.

Students learn early on that modern economics is an application of mathematical modeling to the study of human behavior. The interdisciplinary mathematics-economics major provides a strong foundation for graduate work in economics, where mathematical aptitude is at a premium. This route also provides outstanding preparation for technical business careers, such as investment banking, management consulting, and finance.

Required for the major in economics

Students who complete the major will demonstrate an understanding of the unique concepts and theoretical perspectives of economics. They will comprehend and critically analyze articles from the economics literature. Students will utilize the analytical tools of micro and macroeconomics (such as constrained optimization, the Solow growth model, or others) and they will be able to work with and interpret data, including descriptive analysis, conventional statistical analysis (including regression analysis), and formal causal arguments.

The major in economics requires the following:

  1. ECON 100: Introductory Economics
  2. The following mathematics courses:
    1. MATH 140: Calculus I
    2. STAT 255: Statistics for Data Science (or equivalent)
  3. Intermediate theory (majors must take all three courses prior to completion of the junior year):
    1. ECON 300: Microeconomic Theory
    2. ECON 320: Macroeconomic Theory
    3. ECON 380: Econometrics
  4. Twelve additional units in courses numbered 200 or higher (up to six units of student-initiated courses may count toward these) and eighteen additional units in courses numbered 400 or higher (no student-initiated courses may be used to count toward these). The Senior Experience requirement does not count toward these thirty units of electives.
  5. Complete the Senior Experience in economics by taking ECON 601: Senior Experience: Reading Option or ECON 602: Senior Experience: Research Paper Option as described below.

The Economics Department must approve any exception to the above requirements.

Required for the interdisciplinary major in mathematics-economics

Students who complete the major in mathematics-economics will pursue the outcomes described for the economics and mathematics majors with an explicit focus on economics in constructing and critiquing mathematical arguments. Students pursuing the major must have an advisor in each department.

The major in mathematics-economics requires the following:

  1. MATH 140: Calculus, MATH 155: Multivariable Calculus.
  2. MATH 200: Complex Sequences & Series, MATH 230: Discrete Mathematics, Math 250: Linear Algebra.
  3. STAT 255: Statistics for Data Science, MATH 340: Probability.
  4. One of the following courses: STAT 445: Mathematical Statistics, STAT 450: Bayesian Statistics, MATH 510: Real Analysis.
  5. ECON 100: Introductory Economics.
  6. ECON 300: Microeconomics, ECON 320: Macroeconomics, ECON 380: Econometrics.
  7. One 6-unit ECON course numbered between 400 and 580.
  8. Senior Experience: either the completion of three units of ECON 602 alongside three units of STAT 698 or STAT 699 or MATH 699, or a 6-unit independent study project that has been approved by both departments.

Senior Experience in economics

The economics curriculum culminates with a one-term three-unit Senior Experience course required for all majors. Each year, two sections of the course will be offered. In one section (ECON 601), students read a monograph by a formidable economist or a piece of central interest to economists and engage in active discussion; each student produces a term paper in reaction to the reading. In the paper, students must relate the reading to theories and applications they studied in economics courses. The monograph will be selected by the faculty member teaching the course. This Senior Experience option is designed to mirror the Freshman Studies experience at the end of the student’s career at Lawrence.

In the other section (ECON 602), each student is expected to produce a research paper that stands up to the standards of the profession. To register for this section, students must already have a research idea, generally developed in a 400-level course, and discuss a research proposal with the 602 instructor. Students must explain how the previous paper will be improved, refined and polished in content and in form so that it stands up to the standards of the profession. Instructor approval of this proposal is a prerequisite for registration.

Interdisciplinary mathematics-economics majors will need to complete a 6-unit independent study project in which they demonstrate the ability to combine topics in both disciplines—bringing appropriate techniques of mathematics or statistics to bear on the study of economics, or learning mathematics or statistics suggested by models in economics. Students who plan to complete this interdisciplinary major must have their Senior Experience proposal approved by one advisor in the department of mathematics and one in the department of economics prior to the term in which they plan to complete the experience.

Required for the minor in economics

  1. ECON 100: Introductory Economics or ECON 300: Microeconomic Theory
  2. Six additional six-unit courses, at least five of which must be economics courses numbered 200 or above and one that could be a mathematics or statistics course. Only six units of tutorial or independent study may count as one of these six courses.

Teacher certification in economics or broad-field social studies

Economics majors can seek certification to teach economics or broad-field social studies at the secondary level. For certification in broad-field social studies, students must complete the economics major and a minimum of two courses each in two other social studies (anthropology/sociology, government/political science, history, or psychology) and at least one course in each of the remaining social studies. Students are strongly encouraged to take a course in U.S. history and a course in global history. A course in environmental studies is also required. Students who plan to seek teacher certification should review the requirements in the Education section of the catalog and meet with the director of teacher education, preferably before the end of the sophomore year.

Course structure and numbering

ECON 100 is a survey course and is an excellent introduction to the discipline, even for those with high school courses in economics.

The 200-level courses apply basic theory to particular fields of inquiry and should be accessible to students with a sound introductory course.

The 300-level courses are intermediate theory courses that are foundational for the economics discipline. A sequence of 300-level courses is required of all majors.

The 400-level courses are advanced applications courses.

The 500-level courses are graduate-school preparatory courses. 

The Senior Experience courses are at the 600-level. 


ECON 100 and ECON 225 are excellent either as stand-alone courses or as gateways into the discipline. We recommend that all majors and minors take these courses.

For the economics or mathematics-economics major:

  • Speak to a professor in the department about mapping curricular choices. 
  • Take MATH 140 as soon as possible. 
  • Students preparing for graduate work in economics should seriously consider the mathematics-economics major or majoring in both economics and in mathematics.
  • Students interested in careers in public policy, business, statistics, or in an M.B.A. in a quantitative field should seriously consider the Statistics and Data Science minor.