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This page describes the undergraduate departmental regulations. Please note that all undergraduate course numbers reflect the change that went into effect Fall '04.

Entrance to the Department                                                             
Advanced Placement
Mathematics Prerequisites
General Requirements
Core Courses 
Other Departmentals
Senior Comprehensive Exam 
The University's "Max-12" Rule
Advancement to Senior Standing
Departmental Average 
Graduate Study in Economics
Courses Taken Outside the University

Entrance to the Department

To enter the Department, a student in the Class of 2015 must complete, by the end of sophomore year, the prerequisite courses ECO 100, 101, 202 and MAT 175 (or equivalents), earning a letter grade of C or better in each. ORF 245 can be substituted for 202; PSY 251 and SOC 301 are not acceptable; WWS 303 may be depending on each year's content. The Statistics requirement cannot be satisfied with summer courses taken after the student has begun his/her studies at Princeton, except in unusual circumstances approved by the Departmental Representative, Prof. Henry Farber - (

A meeting for sophomores interested in joining the Department will be announced in the spring. Underclass students are welcome to discuss Department requirements with the Departmental Representative. Students considering study abroad are urged to meet with the Departmental Representative at the earliest opportunity in their freshman year.

Advanced Placement                                                                  

Students who scored 5 on the AP microeconomics exam are exempted from ECO 100.
Students who scored 5 on the AP macroeconomics exam are exempted from ECO 101.
Students who scored 5 on the AP statistics exam are exempted from ECO 202.
Note: Exemption from 100 and 101 will be accorded to students who pass the British A-levels with a grade of A, and to those who earn a 7 on the higher-level International Baccalaureate.
Students exempted from ECO 100, 101 and 202 may still benefit from taking these courses, which provide important basic materials for the study of economics.
The Department will permit freshmen to enroll in ECO 310, 311, or 312, subject to the approval of the instructor for the course. The requirements are: [1] completion of, or exemption from, ECO 100, 101, and/or 202, as appropriate in each case, and [2] sufficient knowledge of multivariable calculus and vector and matrix algebra. For the latter, ask the Mathematics Department officer concerned (currently Vlad Vicol, - 8-4234, vvicol@Princeton.EDU) to certify that they regard your previous knowledge of mathematics as equivalent to completion of MAT 175, or MAT 201-202, or better.

Mathematics Prerequisites                                                                        Back to Top

Effective with the Class of 2015, incoming majors will need to have completed MAT 175 (or equivalent) by the end of their sophomore year and earn a letter grade of C or better. 

Students will only be exempt from the Economics Department's MAT 175 pre-requisite if they have already taken an acceptable college level course in multivariate calculus and earned a grade of C or better.  Please note that the AP BC calculus curriculum is not sufficient since it only teaches univariate calculus, while MAT 175 focuses on multivariate mathematics.

Students who wish to take math-track econometrics (ECO 312), upper level finance certificate courses (such as ECO 462, ECO 465 and ECO 466), or pursue graduate studies in economics and finance should take MAT 201 and 202 instead of MAT 175.  Both courses should be taken for a letter grade by this subset of students.  The finance certificate program will use the higher grade earned in the MAT 201-202 sequence in calculating their minimum grade average for prerequisite courses.

General Requirements

The department requires concentrators to complete, and pass on a graded basis, the following:
Core Courses: Microeconomics (ECO 300 or 310), Macroeconomics (ECO 301 or 311) and Econometrics (ECO 302 or 312), to be completed during or before the junior year.
Elective courses: Five other departmentals (see Other Departmental for details).
Junior independent work.
Senior thesis.
Senior comprehensive exam.
Furthermore, the student must have a departmental average of at least C.
Note: The calculation of the departmental average is described in Departmental Average. The treatment of failed courses is described in Advancement to Senior Standing.

Core Courses 

All concentrators must pass, on a graded basis, core courses in microeconomics (ECO 300 or 310), macroeconomics (ECO 301 or 311) and econometrics (ECO 302 or 312). These courses must be completed during or before the junior year. Each of the three core courses is offered in two versions to accommodate different levels of preparation in mathematics: ECO 300, ECO 301 and ECO 302 require MAT 175 or equivalent. Students who wish to take ECO 310 and/or ECO 311 can take either MAT 175 or MAT 201; the latter course will provide a more thorough preparation. Students planning to take ECO 312 should take the two semester sequence MAT 201 and MAT 202 instead of MAT 175 .
Qualified students are encouraged to take the more mathematical versions. It is not necessary to take all three courses in the same version.

Other Departmentals

In addition to the three core courses, concentrators must pass, on a graded basis, five other departmental courses. Departmentals can be any 300-, 400-, or 500-level Economics courses, or an approved cognate (see Cognates).
Students planning a senior thesis with empirical emphasis are strongly encouraged to take ECO 313; students planning a theoretical senior thesis are strongly encouraged to take ECO 317 and/or ECO 418.

Senior Comprehensive Exam
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The senior comprehensive examination is a written exam that covers the department's required courses (intermediate microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics). The senior comprehensive exam grade will appear on the student's transcript.

Cognates                                                                                                        Back to Top
Economics majors are allowed to count a maximum of two courses from other departments as cognates. These courses need to have substantial economics content.  A course with an Economics cross-listing (indicated by an ECO 3XX, ECO 4XX, or ECO 5XX number in its first or second listing) counts as a regular departmental, not as a cognate.  Courses that will be automatically recognized by SCORE as cognates are listed below.  No application is necessary for these courses.

Cognates that are automatically approved are:                                                   

COS 445  Networks, Economics and Computing

ELE 381  Friends, Money and Bytes
HIS 474  American Economic Crises, 1873 - 2009
ORF 307 Optimization
ORF 309 Probability and Stochastic Systems
ORF 311 Optimization under Uncertainty

ORF 350 Analysis of Big Data
ORF 405  Regression and Applied Time Series
ORF 417  Dynamic Programming
POL 347  Mathematical Models for Political Science 
POL 349  Political Economy
POL 352 Comparative Political Economy
POL 385 International Political Economy
WWS 340/PSY 321 Psychology of Decision Making and Judgment
WWS 373/CHV 373 Welfare, Economics and Climate Change Mitigation Policy

WWS 407 The Economics of Health Policy
(there will be two additional problem sets for Economics undergraduate students)
WWS 408 Finance and Public Policy

WWS 466/HIS 467 Financial History
WWS 524  Political Economy of Central Banking

WWS 582C Topics in Applied Economics: Growth, International Finance and Crises
WWS 582F Topics in Economics - House of Debt: Understanding Macro & Financial Policy 
NOTE: ELE 491 is NOT approved as a cognate.
If you would like us to consider a course that is not on the routinely approved list above, please complete a cognate approval form and submit it, along with a copy of the course syllabus, to Noelina Hall, 005 Fisher Hall. To be approved as a cognate, a course must have a substantial content of theoretical or empirical economic analysis. Permission should be obtained before the semester’s deadline for the grading option change (usually in week 8 or 9 of each term).       

The University's "Max-12" Rule

The University restricts students to taking no more than 12 one-term courses (plus up to two prerequisites and independent work) in a given department within the basic A.B. program of 31 courses. This excludes up to two prerequisites. If you take all three of our prerequisites ECO 100, 101 and 202, you can take at most 11 other ECO courses within the major. Thus, if you anticipate the constraint of the “max-12” rule to be binding, you should take ORF 245 instead of ECO 202.
Additional courses in the department may be taken, however, above the normal course load required for graduation. So if you take more than 31 Princeton credit courses over your four years, all the additional ones can be ECO courses. For this rule, courses that are cross-listed count as within Economics if the ECO number comes first in the dual listing (as in ECO 370 / HIS 378 American Economic History) but not if the ECO number is listed second (as in WWS 307 / ECO 349 Economics and Public Policy). Of course both count as Departmentals for the department’s requirements for the major.  If in the slighest doubt, consult the Departmental Representative.

Advancement to Senior Standing

The department will recommend to the Faculty Committee on Examinations and Standing that a concentrator not be permitted to advance to senior standing in any of the following circumstances: (1) the student has not completed, with grades of D or above, the three core courses of the major: micro-economics (ECO 300 or 310), macroeconomics (ECO 301 or 311) and econometrics (ECO 302 or 312) or (2) the student has failed two or more departmental courses, including approved cognates, or (3) the student has an average below C on his/her departmental courses through the junior year, or (4) the student has not completed, or has received a failing grade in, his/her junior independent work. If the student has completed but received the grade of F in a single core course, the departmental representative may exercise discretion and recommend advancement to senior standing and allow the student to take that course again in the senior year if the student's overall performance in departmental courses is otherwise acceptable.

Departmental Average                                                                                  Back to Top

Passing grades on all general requirements, as well as a departmental average of C, are required for graduation. The departmental average is a weighted average of the grades for all general requirements, as follows:

Departmentals: 55% to the average of the grades in eight departmentals. The three core courses are always included, followed by the highest departmental or (up to two) cognate course grades necessary to total eight courses. For the purpose of computing this average, one-third grade point is added to grades received in graduate (500-level) economics courses. (Preapproved departmentals taken during study abroad count towards the requirement of eight departmentals but do not figure in calculation of the departmental average, so that the departmental average of a student who has studied abroad may be calculated with fewer than eight departmentals).

15% to the grade from the junior independent work.
25% to the grade from the senior thesis.
5% to the grade from the senior comprehensive exam.

Graduate Study in Economics

Graduate study in economics requires special preparation and advanced planning, starting as early as the freshman year. Students contemplating graduate study in economics should see the Departmental Representative as early as possible. Preparation for graduate school should include the following: the more mathematical versions of the core courses (310, 311, and 312), two years of calculus (up through MAT 202, 204, or 218), MAT 320, and an advanced econometrics or theory course such as ECO 313 or 317 of 418. Students may find the Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics or the Program in Engineering and Management Systems an interesting option. It is not necessary to be an Economics concentrator to enter a graduate economics program, but the Economics courses listed above are highly recommended. The graduate courses in Economics (500 level) are open to qualified undergraduates. These courses are very demanding and must be started in the fall term. Taking one of these courses can be useful for students who intend to enter an economics graduate program, because it begins the student's advanced training, gives the student a flavor of graduate school, and provides evidence during the admissions process of the ability to do advanced work in economics.

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