A major in economics gives students a greater understanding of how people, businesses, and governments respond to their economic environments. Many of the issues that fill the newspapers—jobs, wages, taxes, the cost of living, inequality, pollution, poverty, and economic growth—are, in fundamental ways, economic issues. The daily decisions of businesses and consumers are largely economic. Economists seek to understand the decisions of businesses, consumers, and current economic issues by developing a systematic and thorough understanding of precisely how the economic system operates, including the mechanisms by which resources are allocated, prices determined, income redistributed, and economic growth promoted.

The analytical method of economics recognizes that various choices are open to a society in solving its economic problems. Students are often attracted to economics as a discipline precisely because they want to understand the decisions of people and businesses and to better understand and evaluate economic policy. To begin to approach these issues as an economist requires an understanding of economic theory, empirical methodology, and an understanding of the institutional details and advanced practice gained from intensive study of specific subfields of economics. Consequently, the undergraduate economics major is organized around a progression of courses that first provides a broad introduction to economics, then develops the theoretical tools that provide the foundation of modern economic thought, and finishes with advanced courses designed to provide greater in-depth knowledge of specific fields (such as labor markets, industrial organization, international economics, public finance, banking and finance, macroeconomics, microeconomics, and econometrics).

An economics major is valuable in the job market because the major is designed to train people to think analytically and clearly about a wide variety of issues. Economics graduates go on to pursue careers in a variety of fields including finance, data analytics, and public policy. An economics major is also good preparation for graduate work in a number of areas: business, law, public policy, economics, public administration, industrial relations, international relations, urban and regional planning, and environmental studies.


  • Complete one calculus course.  (For the Mathematical Emphasis option, MATH 221 or higher is required), and
  • Complete two ECON courses on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus, and
  • Achieve a 2.000 GPA in all ECON courses and major courses (i.e., calculus) at the time of declaration.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Letters & Science Breadth and Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

Students pursuing a bachelor of arts degree in the College of Letters & Science must complete all of the requirements below. The College of Letters & Science allows this major to be paired with either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science curriculum. View a comparison of the degree requirements here.

Bachelor of Arts degree requirements

Mathematics Fulfilled with completion of University General Education requirements Quantitative Reasoning a (QR A) and Quantitative Reasoning b (QR B) coursework. Please note that some majors may require students to complete additional math coursework beyond the B.A. mathematics requirement.
Foreign Language
  • Complete the fourth unit of a foreign language; OR
  • Complete the third unit of a foreign language and the second unit of an additional foreign language

Note: A unit is one year of high school work or one semester/term of college work.
L&S Breadth
  • Humanities, 12 credits: 6 of the 12 credits must be in literature
  • Social Sciences, 12 credits
  • Natural Sciences, 12 credits: must include one 3+ credit course in the biological sciences; must include one 3+ credit course in the physical sciences
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework 108 credits
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced work 60 intermediate or advanced credits
Major Declare and complete at least one (1) major
Total Credits 120 credits
UW-Madison Experience 30 credits in residence, overall
30 credits in residence after the 86th credit
Minimum GPAs 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
2.000 in intermediate/advanced coursework at UW–Madison

Non–L&S students pursuing an L&S major

Non–L&S students who have permission from their school/college to pursue an additional major within L&S only need to fulfill the major requirements and do not need to complete the L&S breadth and degree requirements above.  Please note that the following special degree programs are not considered majors so are not available to non–L&S degree-seeking candidates:  

  • Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics (Bachelor of Science–Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics)
  • Journalism (Bachelor of Arts–Journalism; Bachelor of Science–Journalism)
  • Music (Bachelor of Music)
  • Social Work (Bachelor of Social Work)

Options in the Major

The department offers two major options. Students may declare only one option and must complete all requirements including Residence and Quality of Work standards. Options are:

Option A: Economics provides a well-rounded major in economics that is valuable for employment following graduation, or subsequent graduate work in business, law, public policy, and related disciplines.

Option B: Economics—Mathematical Emphasis provides students with the mathematical and statistical background needed for in-depth study of the analytical aspects of economics. Its requirements are designed to prepare students for graduate study in economics and related fields, or for careers as professional economists in business or government.  For specific Mathematical Emphasis requirements, see the section below.

Requirements for the Economics Major


Mathematics (complete one):5-10
Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1
Topics in Calculus I
Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry I
and Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II
Statistics (complete one):3-4
Statistics: Measurement in Economics (Recommended)
Accelerated Introduction to Statistical Methods
Introduction to Applied Econometrics
Introductory Econometrics
Introduction to Probability and Mathematical Statistics I
Introduction to Theory and Methods of Mathematical Statistics I
Introductory Applied Statistics for Engineers
Total Credits8-14


30 credits to include:

Microeconomics & Macroeconomics (complete one):4-8
Principles of Microeconomics
and Principles of Macroeconomics
Principles of Economics-Accelerated Treatment
Intermediate Theory (complete one):6-8
Intermediate Microeconomic Theory
and Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory
Intermediate Microeconomic Theory - Advanced Treatment
and Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory - Advanced Treatment (Honors Econ )
Two Advanced ECON courses: 16-8
Contemporary Economic Issues (Lecture 014 or 015)
Introduction to Applied Econometrics
Introductory Econometrics
The Financial System
Analytical Public Finance
Macroeconomic Policy
Human Resources and Economic Growth
Wages and the Labor Market
The Economic Approach to Human Behavior
Behavioral Economics
Industrial Structure and Competitive Strategy
Economic Forecasting
International Macroeconomics
International Trade
International Industrial Organizations
Industrial Organization and Imperfect Competition
Economics of Growth
Markets with Frictions
Wealth and Income
Game Theory and Economic Analysis
Law and Economics
Economics of Education: Theory and Measurement
Insuring Life's Risks: Health, Aging, and Policy
The Economics of Health Care
Fundamentals of Data Analytics for Economists
Honors Tutorial in Research Project Design
Population Economics
Issues in International Macroeconomics
Issues in International Trade
Issues in International Finance
Topics in Economics
Complete any Advanced level course not used above or one of these applied economics courses:
Introduction to Finance
Development of Economic Thought
The Real Estate Process
Study Abroad in Intermediate Economics
Investment Theory
Sports Economics
Money and Banking
Environmental Economics
The Economics of Growing-up and Getting Old
Survey of International Economics
Economics of Poverty and Inequality
Energy, Resources and Economics
Study Abroad in Advanced Economics
Urban and Regional Economics
Economic Decision Analysis
Government and Natural Resources
Latin American Economic Development
The American Economy to 1865
The American Economy Since 1865
Economic Growth and Development in Southeast Asia
Economic Problems of Developing Areas
Agricultural and Economic Development in Africa
Economics of Transportation
Philosophy and Economics
Quantitative Methods in Agricultural and Applied Economics
Natural Resource Economics
Public Finance in Less Developed Countries
Housing Economics and Policy
Population and Society
Energy Economics
Total Credits30

REQUIREMENTS for the mathematical emphasis:

Residence and Quality of Work

  • 2.000 GPA in all ECON and major courses
  • 2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level major courses taken in residence2
  • 15 credits in ECON, taken on the UW–Madison campus

Honors in the Economics Major

To participate in Honors in the Economics Major, students must be declared in the Mathematical Emphasis option.  For further information, see the Mathematical Emphasis requirements and consult your Economics undergraduate advisor.


University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Understand the fundamental concepts of economics and how those concepts apply to real world issues.
  2. Construct and evaluate economic models, their assumptions, and conclusions.
  3. Acquire a diverse set of skills and strategies in mathematical reasoning/statistical and computational techniques/deductive logic/problem solving.
  4. Use mathematics/computational/statistical techniques to analyze real world situations and policies.
  5. Use economic analysis to critically evaluate public policy proposals.

Sample Four-Year Plan

This Sample Four-Year Plan is a tool to assist students and their advisor(s). Students should use it—along with their DARS report, the Degree Planner, and Course Search & Enroll tools—to make their own four-year plan based on their placement scores, credit for transferred courses and approved examinations, and individual interests. As students become involved in athletics, honors, research, student organizations, study abroad, volunteer experiences, and/or work, they might adjust the order of their courses to accommodate these experiences. Students will likely revise their own four-year plan several times during college.

Quantitative Reasoning A4ECON 1014
Communication A3Ethnic Studies3
Foreign Language4MATH 2215
Physical Science Breadth3Foreign Language4
 14 16
ECON 1024ECON 3014
Biological Science Breadth3ECON 3104
Foreign Language4Humanities Breadth4
Literature Breadth3Foreign Language4
INTER-LS 2101 
 15 16
ECON 3024Econometrics (ECON 400 or 410)4
Economics major elective (Int/Adv)4Humanities Breadth3
Literature Breadth3Communication B4
Science Breadth4Elective3
 15 14
Economics major Advanced Elective4Elective4
Science Breadth3Elective4
 15 15
Total Credits 120

Sample Three-Year Plan

This Sample Three-Year Plan is a tool to assist students and their advisor(s). Students should use it —along with their DARS report, the Degree Planner, and Course Search & Enroll tools — to make their own three-year plan based on their placement scores, credit for transferred courses and approved examinations, and individual interests.

Three-year plans may vary considerably from student to student, depending on their individual preparation and circumstances. Students interested in graduating in three years should meet with an advisor as early as possible to discuss feasibility, appropriate course sequencing, post-graduation plans (careers, graduate school, etc.), and opportunities they might forgo in pursuit of a three-year graduation plan.

Departmental Expectations

A three-year degree is feasible for students with a variety of backgrounds and specific preparation. Students planning to graduate within three years with an Economics major should consult with an advisor as soon as possible, and should ideally be entering the University with a minimum of 30 advanced standing credits, and have satisfied the following requirements with course credit or via placement examination:

  • ECON 101
  • Communication Part A
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A
  • Placement into MATH 221
  • 3 credits of Literature, 3 credits of Biological Science
  • 3-4 units of foreign language

Summer coursework is not required to finish in three years, but students planning to finish in three years will find it easier if they take either an intermediate theory course during Summer One or an advanced elective during Summer Two.

First Year
ECON 1024ECON 3014ECON 3024
MATH 2215Communication B4 
Literature Breadth3Biological Science Breadth3 
Physical Science Breadth3Elective (Intermediate or Advanced level)4 
 15 15 4
Second Year
ECON 3104ECON 400 or 4104Summer Internship (optional)0
ECON Elective3Physical Science Breadth3 
Ethnic Studies/Humanities Breadth4Humanities Breadth4 
Elective (Intermediate or Advanced level)4Intermediate or Advanced COMP SCI, MATH, or STAT (if B.S.) or Elective (Intermediate or Advanced level) (if B.A.)4 
 15 15 0
Third Year
Advanced Economics Elective3Electives (Intermediate or Advanced level)12 
Electives (Intermediate or Advanced level)11  
 14 12 
Total Credits 90

Academic Advising

Academic advising, along with general information about the undergraduate major and coursework, is available in Room 7238 of the Social Science Building. Find us on the campus map.
Phone: 608-262-6925

Economics Career Development Office

The Economics Career Development Office (ECDO) provides career advising to help economics students explore career options and search for jobs and internships including reviewing application materials (cover letter and resume). Career advisors work with students to develop an individualized job.internship search strategy based on the student's background and career goals. Career advising is open to declared economics majors or anyone considering majoring in economics who would like economics-specific career advice. Set up an appointment or email your questions to

Preparation for Ph.D. Programs in Economics

Students interested in pursuing graduate study should pursue Option B (mathematical emphasis) and augment the standard curriculum with higher-level mathematics and statistics courses. These may include:

Introduction to Probability and Mathematical Statistics I
Introduction to Probability and Mathematical Statistics II
The Theory of Single Variable Calculus
Introduction to the Theory of Probability
Analysis I
Analysis II
Introduction to Stochastic Processes

It is important to consult early in the second year with the undergraduate advisor and/or the faculty member that directs the undergraduate program to design a plan of coursework.

Directed Study

Directed Study (ECON 698, ECON 699) enables advanced students to pursue economic topics not covered in the regular course offerings. A student interested in Directed Study should prepare a research proposal and/or reading list; specific course requirements are arranged with an instructor who agrees to supervise the directed study project. Enrollment requires the consent of the instructor; a GPA of 3.00 or above in ECON; completion of the Intermediate economic theory courses (ECON 301 & ECON 302); at least one Advanced ECON course; and completion of the department's Directed Study form, available in 7238 Social Science.


Students can earn 1 credit for approved internships appropriate to the study of economics under course ECON 228. Students must enroll for ECON 228 in the same semester/session in which the internship is granted. Students should work a minimum of 100 hours per term. Prerequisites are declaration in the major economics major; a major GPA of 2.200 or higher; completion of at least four ECON courses at UW–Madison; completion of at least one Intermediate Theory course (ECON 301 & ECON 302); a completed application; and departmental approval.

L&S career resources

SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students leverage the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and liberal arts degree; explore and try out different career paths; participate in internships; prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications; and network with professionals in the field (alumni and employers). In short, SuccessWorks helps students in the College of Letters & Science discover themselves, find opportunities, and develop the skills they need for success after graduation.

SuccessWorks can also assist students in career advising, résumé and cover letter writing, networking opportunities, and interview skills, as well as course offerings for undergraduates to begin their career exploration early in their undergraduate career. 

Students should set up their profiles in Handshake to take care of everything they need to explore career events, manage their campus interviews, and apply to jobs and internships from 200,000+ employers around the country.


Professors: Blank, Corbae, Deneckere, Engel, Fu, Hansen, B., Hendricks, Kennan, Lentz, Porter, Rostek, Sandholm, Scholz, Seshadri, Shi, Smith, J., Smith, L., Sorensen, Taber, Walker, West, Williams, Wiswall, Wright.

Associate Professors: Freyberger, Gregory, Houde, Quint, Ruhl, Weretka.

Assistant Professors: Aizawa, Kirpalani, Magnolfi, Mommaerts, Mukhin, Soelvsten, Sullivan.

Affiliated Faculty: Chang, Chinn, Chung, Montgomery, Sarada, Schechter, Smeeding, Wallace.

Instructional Staff: Alder (Faculty Associate), Bykhovskaya (Associate Lecturer), Chan (Lecturer), Eudey (Senior Lecturer), Friedman (Lecturer), Glawtschew (Lecturer), Hansen, D. (Lecturer), Hansen, K. (Senior Lecturer), Johnson (Senior Lecturer), Kelly (Faculty Associate), McKelvey (Lecturer), Muniagurria (Faculty Associate), Pac (Senior Lecturer), Pauley (Lecturer), Rick (Senior Lecturer)