Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why major in Political Economy, rather than double-majoring in Political Science and Economics or just majoring in one while taking a lot of courses in the other?

The Political Economy major is both more and less than either Economics or Political Science. In eleven courses, it obviously cannot match the breadth or depth of coverage of two majors totaling eighteen. Majoring in either Economics or Political Science (or both) would typically require you to get deeper into the more advanced methodologies that are particular to each discipline, although you could still do that if you are so inclined by majoring in POEC while also taking the more advanced courses in one or the other of the disciplines as a supplement.

On the other hand, Political Economy is more than the other two majors in its three core courses. POEC 250 and POEC 401 bring the different disciplines and professors together in the classroom, sparking lively discussions, while POEC 402 offers a rare opportunity for collective and original analysis of student-selected policy issues. In fact, this senior spring seminar is the definitive intellectual experience for all Political Economy majors and is unlike anything in Economics or Political Science.

2. What do Political Economy majors do after graduation?

A lot of things. Many go on to Wall Street or consulting, sometimes doing an MBA and a career in business. Others go to law school, earn a Master’s degree in Public Policy, or other graduate degrees. Still others make their way to teaching, positions in government, and work with non-governmental organizations.

3. How many people major in Political Economy each year?

Since 2015, the number of majors per graduating class has ranged between 7 and 20, with an average of 16.

4. What classes should I take in my first year?

ECON 110 and 120 are prerequisites for many higher level POEC and ECON classes. If you are thinking about majoring in Political Economy, you should take them during your freshman year. You should also take any of PSCI 201, 202, 203, or 204 in your first year, as you need at least one of those as a prerequisite or co-requisite for POEC 250. Please note that by college rule, you may take only your first course in the major pass/fail.

All POEC majors must take PSCI 201 in particular, and as juniors and seniors are generally unable to register for it, definitely take that in your freshman or sophomore year. You should also ensure that your math coursework is sufficient in your first year. MATH 130 (Calculus I) or the equivalent is a prerequisite for the POEC methodology requirement (POEC 253 or ECON 255). You might also consider taking STAT 161 or STAT 201 early on, as that would give you the option of taking ECON 255.

4. Do Political Economy majors go abroad?

Absolutely, but it requires planning ahead. Your empirical methods course (POEC 253 or ECON 255) must be completed before the end of junior year, because it is a prerequisite for POEC 401 (which must be taken during fall of senior year). In addition, POEC 250 and POEC 253 are only offered in the fall. If you expect to be away during the fall of your junior year, it is critical that you either: (a) take POEC 253 fall of your sophomore year; or (b) complete MATH 130 as well as STAT 161 or 201 early enough that you can take ECON 255 (which is offered every semester) before the end of junior year. In addition, if you expect to be away fall of junior year, it is a good idea to take POEC 250 fall of sophomore year.

5. What does it take to graduate with honors in Political Economy?

The requirements are much like other departments. You need to have a GPA of at least 3.5 in major courses at the end of your junior spring, stay above that threshold until you graduate, write a high-quality thesis during the fall and winter study period, and defend that thesis at a public presentation. POEC majors do not write year-long theses because these would interfere with the group projects undertaken in the senior spring. For more on honors in POEC, click here.