Curriculum Overview 

Economics has variously been said to be concerned with:

  • the allocation of scarce resources among competing uses;
  • a society’s social relations of production, distribution and consumption;
  • the institutions through which humans have organized their provisioning.

In line with these varied definitions, the study of economics can be pursued using a mathematical approach, a historical approach, or an institutional and sociological approach. Independently of the particular definition to which they are attracted, well-prepared economics students will have familiarity with, and be able to draw on, all three approaches.

Accordingly, the Economics curriculum at Franklin & Marshall College provides students with opportunities to study the discipline across the variety of approaches and/or to pursue depth in any approach. The sequence of introductory courses exposes students to both orthodox and heterodox themes and approaches, while the sequence of intermediate level courses emphasizes the core analytical techniques used in orthodox and heterodox abstract and applied theoretical work. Electives offer students the opportunity to explore both topical and theoretical special areas of interest.

The study of economics encompasses a wide variety of models and topics that attempt to explain various social phenomena, including the operation of markets, the distribution of income, macroeconomic fluctuations, economic growth, international economic relations, the roles of class, culture, gender and race, and the ecological nature and impact of economic activity. Moreover, a good liberal arts economics education will involve students in interdisciplinary explorations. Economics majors are, therefore, encouraged to enrol in courses in other departments and interdisciplinary programs such as history, anthropology, government, women and gender studies, and earth and environment. Economics majors and minors are also encouraged to pursue opportunities to study abroad, where they are likely to cement their understanding of the cultural context and nature of economic life. Majors in the Department of Economics have studied abroad in the following countries: Australia, China, Denmark, Ecuador, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Africa, south Korea, and Sweden. See the International Programs section of the Catalog for further information. In order to count toward a major or minor in Economics, courses taken outside of Franklin & Marshall College must be pre-approved by the Department chair.

A major in Economics consists of a minimum of 10 courses, at least 8 of which must be taken at Franklin & Marshall College. Required are:

  • ECO 100 and 103;
  • ECO 200, 201, 203;
  • ECO 210, or BOS 250 or MAT 216 (students cannot get college credit for both ECO 210 and BOS 250);
  • at least two courses with a designation of 300 or above.

Students who are majoring in Economics are strongly encouraged to complete all the required 200 level courses (ECO 200, 201, 203, and ECO 210 or BOS 250 or MAT 216) by the end of their Junior year. In addition, prospective majors are strongly encouraged to complete ECO 200 before enrolling in ECO201 and ECO203.

Normally, at least eight of the credits for the major must be earned at Franklin & Marshall College.

The writing requirement in Economics is met by completion of the normal courses required to complete the major.

Students who are contemplating graduate work in Economics are strongly advised to undertake adequate preparation in Mathematics—normally MAT 109, 110 and 111 (Calculus I, II, III), MAT 216 and 316 (Probability and Statistics I, II) and MAT 229 (Linear Algebra and Differential Equations).

To be considered for honors in Economics, graduating seniors must meet the following conditions:

  • have carried out independent research during the Senior year resulting in a high caliber thesis deemed to be deserving of “honors” by an appropriately composed Honors Committee;
  • have an Economics GPA of 3.5 and a College GPA of 3.0 at the beginning of the honors project and at the time of graduation;
  • have completed all the required Economics courses (ECO 100, 103, 201, 203, 205, and 210 or MAT 216) by the end of their Junior year; the department may waive this requirement in special cases.

A minor in Economics consists of six courses: ECO 100 and 103, plus four other approved by the department, at least, three of which will normally be at the 200 (or higher) level. Students who receive credit for either MAT 216 or BOS 250 may not include ECO 210 as one of the six courses comprising the minor in Economics. At least four of the credits for the minor must be earned at Franklin & Marshall College.

Courses Offered 
A list of regularly offered courses follows. Please note the key for the following abbreviations: (A) Arts; (H) Humanities; (S) Social Sciences; (N) Natural Sciences with Laboratory; (LS) Language Studies requirement; (NSP) Natural Science in Perspective; (NW) Non-Western Cultures requirement.