Economics Website


Chair, Professor DAVID J. ZIMMERMAN

Professors: BRADBURD, C. HILL, HUSBANDS FEALING**, MONTIEL, SCHAPIRO, S. SHEPPARD*, ZIMMERMAN. Associate Professors: BRAINERD*, GOLLIN*, P. PEDRONI*, SHORE-SHEPPARD*, SWAMY**. Assistant Professors: BAKIJA, DE BRAUW***, GAZZALE, GEIREGAT*, GENTRY, KHAN*, KOTCHEN, LOVE, MANI*, OAK, RAI, ROLLEIGH, SCHMIDT, WATSON. Visiting Professor Emeritus: BRUTON. Visiting Professor: FORTUNATO, PORZECANSKI §§. Visiting Associate Professor: SAMSON§§. Visiting Assistant Professors: HONDERICH§.


Students who are beginning their sequence with Economics 110 or Economics 120 should follow the following sequence:

Economics 110 Principles of Microeconomics

Economics 120 Principles of Macroeconomics
(Economics 110 and 120 may be taken separately and in any order)

Economics 251 Price and Allocation Theory
or Economics 251M Price and Allocation Theory (This section of the Price and Allocation Theory course will employ a somewhat more mathematical exposition of microtheory.)

Economics 252 Macroeconomics

One statistical methods course, Economics 253 or 255, or Statistics 201 and 346. (The statistical methods course should be taken before 401.)

Three Economics electives, of which at least two must be selected from advanced electives numbered 350 to 394

Economics 401 Senior Seminar

To complete the major, economics students must receive a passing grade on the oral examination given in the course of Economics 401. A student who fails the oral examination must re-take the exam and receive a passing grade.

The primary objectives of the major are to develop an understanding of economic aspects of contemporary life and to equip the student to analyze economic issues of social policy. The introductory courses stress use of the basic elements of economic analysis for understanding and resolving such issues. The two required intermediate theory courses then provide a more thorough grounding in economics as a discipline by examining the strengths and weaknesses of the price system in allocating economics resources and by examining the aggregate processes which determine employment, inflation, and growth. A course in statistical methods (253 or 255, or alternatively, Statistics 201 plus Statistics 346) equips the major to understand and apply the basic tools of quantitative empirical analysis. Majors must take three electives, in at least two of which they apply parts of the theory learned in the required intermediate theory courses. In the senior seminar, the student studies a series of current theoretical or policy problems, applying analysis and research methods.

For students who have already taken Economics 101, your course sequence should be Economics 101, any Economics course numbered 201 to 240 prior to taking Economics 251 or 251M, 252, and a statistical methods course (either 253 or 255, or Statistics 201 and 346) which should be taken before 401, plus any three economics electives of which at least two must be selected from advanced electives numbered 350 to 394, and Economics 401.

(Please note that students who have taken Economics 101 cannot take Economics 110 or 120. Note that students cannot take Economics 110 or 120 without having passed the quantitative studies exam or the equivalent.)

The normal requirement that nine economics courses be taken at Williams will usually be waived only on the basis of transferred credit deemed acceptable by the department. Credit is granted based on grades consistent with college policy on various examinations:

* Students who receive a 5 on the Microeconomics AP or Macroeconomics AP exam, or a 5 on each, may place out of Economics 110 or 120, or both, respectively, but major credit will be given for only one course.

* The Department will grant major credit for both Economics 110 and 120 to a student who receives a 6 or 7 on the higher-level Economics IB examination, and that student can place into any 200-level course or intermediate-level micro or macro course.

* For A levels credit, the Department will grant major credit for both Economics 110 and 120 to a student who receives a grade of A or B.

Prospective majors please note that instructors in all sections of Economics 251, 252, 253, and 255 feel free to use elementary calculus in assigned readings, lectures, problem sets, and examinations; therefore, Economics 110 and 120 and Mathematics 103 or its equivalent are required as prerequisites for these courses except for 251 which only requires Economics 110 and Mathematics 103 as a prerequisite. By elementary calculus is meant differentiation of single variable polynomial functions and conditions for a maximum or minimum; it does not include integration or multivariable calculus. Instructors in advanced electives (courses numbered 350-394) may also use elementary calculus in assigned readings, lectures, problem sets, and examinations. Students interested in graduate study in economics should consider studying more advanced mathematics; see your advisor for specific suggestions. Students are also reminded that some courses now have specific mathematics requirements; see course descriptions.


We encourage all majors who have at least a 3.5 GPA in economics courses to consider honors. To be admitted to candidacy for honors in economics a student must complete a substantial piece of independent research. Two routes to honors are open: the Specialization Route and the Thesis Route.

1) Specialization Route, consisting of these three units:

a. Development of a thesis proposal in the second module of Economics 401;

b. An honors winter study project (W030) in January of the senior year;

c. Economics 404 Honors Seminar.

Students who have notified the department of their interest in writing an honors thesis will use the second module of Economics 401 to develop a thesis proposal. Such proposals frequently build on research papers completed for advanced electives, but this is not a requirement. If the proposal is accepted, the student will be admitted to W030. The department provides a memorandum to majors with more details every spring and fall.

2) Thesis Route (Economics 493-W031-494):

A few students each year will be accepted for year-long thesis research on a subject closely related to the scholarly interests of a faculty member. A student who hopes to do such independent and advanced research in close association with a faculty member should begin to work out a mutually satisfactory topic early in the second semester of his or her junior year. Application to the department must be made before the end of the junior year by submitting a detailed proposal for work under the supervision of the faculty member. The WSP of the senior year is also spent on the thesis.

The College Bulletin states that students who wish to receive honors must take at least one course in addition to the minimum number required for the major. Students who pursue a year-long thesis and therefore take both Economics 493 and 494 may substitute Economics 493 for an upper-level elective if they wish to. Students who pursue the Specialization Route to Honors may not substitute Economics 404 for an upper- (or lower-) level elective requirement.


A major in economics who concentrates in African-American or Area Studies may substitute the non-economics courses in the concentration for one lower-level elective in the Economics major, but not for an advanced elective (350-394).

Note on Course Numbers: Courses between 201 and 240 are lower-level electives and are open to first-year students who have taken 110 or 120 (or 101). Courses between 260 and 349 are intermediate electives which do not build on specific prior experience, but do require some maturity, so they have any two economics courses or permission of instructor as prerequisites. Courses 350 and above are advanced electives primarily designed for Economics and Political Economy majors and have intermediate theory prerequisites.


ECON W030 Honors Winter Study Project


Juniors and seniors majoring in Economics or Political Economy may, with the permission of instructor, enroll in graduate courses given by the Center for Development Economics (described below). A Center course may substitute for an advanced elective in the major with permission of the chair of the department.