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Undergraduate Economics

The American University Department of Economics believes that theoretical understanding, empirical investigation, and policy analysis are improved when we consider a wide variety of theoretical and methodological viewpoints rather than just those that have historically dominated the field.

In class and through research, our students and faculty analyze causes and consequences of current challenges facing our societies: exploring historical contexts and institutional causes of societal problems and ways that broader perspectives may help provide solutions.

A Career in Economics

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Four diverse individuals offer their insights on how a background in economics can be a tool for diverse career paths and for solving very human problems.


Economics at a Glance

  • See the Curriculum page for outcomes info and advice about diverse options with the Econ BS, Econ BA, or joint Math/Econ BS, depending on your career goals and comfort with mathematical analysis. You can combine the BS or BA and a master’s degree in as little as five years.
  • Add an economics major or Econ Minor to complement your coursework in another major to gain the analytical, critical thinking, and statistical skills in high demand by today’s employers and graduate schools.
  • Economics majors are in high demand in government with 13% expected job growth this decade and employment almost anywhere, from non-profits, universities, and international organizations to corporations, finance, law, and consulting.
  • Take advantage of the wide variety of opportunities for students in the department and Washington, DC, including internships, honors programs, and research.
  • Undergraduate Program Director: Professor Evan Kraft.

Economists utilize qualitative and quantitative analysis to research issues and advise businesses and policy makers on a wide variety of economic topics. They are employed across a range of industries; although one-quarter of all economists are employed by the federal government, economists are also in high demand in universities, international and non-governmental organizations, corporations, financial institutions, aand consulting firms.

The number of jobs in economics is projected to grow 13% between 2020 and 2030, significantly higher than the average occupation. Economists earned a median salary of $105,630 in 2021, 80% more than the median salary for all US workers. And American University is an outstanding location to study this growing field—the Washington metropolitan region is home to over one-third of all economists in the nation.

What if you don’t want to be an economist? Economic majors are also in high demand in positions across the corporate world and legal profession based on the critical thinking and analytical skills they develop during college. The median starting salary for new bachelor's of economics graduates in DC is $57,000 according to PayScale. You can find out more about possible career paths from the American Economic Association and the AU Career Center Career Guides by Major.

Over 72% of our undergraduate alumni find positions in the private sector, with an additional 27% working in non-profits or the government. Top employers include

  • JP Morgan
  • Fannie Mae
  • Price Waterhouse
  • Coopers Cambridge Associates
  • Capital One
  • US Department of Labor
  • International Monetary Fund
  • World Bank


Read more career information about AU economics alumni.

Economic majors take part in a broad range of opportunities outside of the classroom. Over 56% of economics students took advantage of a study abroad opportunity in such locations as the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, and Kenya. Over 93% of economics majors participated in an internship for credit, including at Department of State, US Securities and Exchange Commission, Inter- American Development Bank, and the International Rescue Committee.

Within the department, there are even more opportunities to enrich your time at American University. Students can

  • Publish their research in our student journal, Global Majority.
  • Participate in Omicron Delta Epsilon, the International Honors Society in Economics, or complete our Honors in the Major program.
  • Participate in our award-winning Fed Challenge team: students make presentations to a panel of experts on current economic conditions and a monetary policy recommendation
  • Attend weekly Research Seminars, along with varied events and symposiums hosted by our department and research centers.

See recent Senior Theses in the department's Research & Publications.

The BA/MA program enables qualified students to earn both a BS or BA and an MA in Economics in a continuous plan of study. Undergraduate students may apply up to 9 credits of their undergraduate program of study to the MA in Economics program, allowing the student to complete their MA in just another 21 credit hours!

This represents a significant time and money savings and will give participating students a leg up upon entering the job market. For more information, email econ@american.edu.

Requirements:

  • Interested students should apply to the program in their junior year. Students in this program will not be required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Students will be admitted formally to MA status only after they have completed all requirements for their BA or BS with a cumulative grade point average of 3.00 or higher.
  • All requirements for the BA or BS in Economics. Undergraduate students may apply up to 9 credit hours of approved graduate-level course work in economics to satisfy the requirements of both degrees.
  • All requirements for the MA in Economics, including a minimum of 18 credit hours completed in residence in graduate status after the undergraduate degree has been awarded. Students must finish the master's degree requirements within three years from the date of first enrollment in the master's program.

News & Events

Research Seminar Series runs Wednesdays at noon throughout the semester.

Econ major Benjamin Holtzman, AU’s 2022 President’s Award recipient, has found a calling to work on peace issues in the Middle East.

We congratulate the department's 2022 Award winners: Linh Thao Huynh, John Burzawa, Ian Riggs, Stephanie Marvin, and Joshua Sucec.

Sample 4-Year Plans

BS in Economics

Rows are for years 1-4 and the 3 columns are for the year, the fall classes, and the spring classes.
Year Fall Spring
1st AUx-I
WRT-100 (W1)
Complex Problems
Habits of Mind #1
ECON-100 Principles of Macro
STAT-202 Basic Statistics (Q1)
AUx-2
WRT-101 (W1)
Habits of Mind #2
Habits of Mind #3
ECON-200 Principles of Micro
MATH-221 Calculus 1 (Q1)
2nd Habits of Mind #4
ECON-400 Intermediate Micro
ECON-314 Economic Inequality (DIV)*/Econ Elective #1
Habits of Mind #5
ECON-401 Intermediate Macro
CSC-148 Intro to Computer Science or MATH-222 Calculus II
3rd Apply to the BS/MA Program!
ECON-322 Applied Econometrics 1 (Q2)
ECON-440/640 Communicating Economics (W2)
Econ Elective #2
ECON-405/605 Intro to Math Econ
Study Abroad!**
Econ Elective #3
4th Capstone***
Econ Elective #4
Econ Elective #5

* Economics offers two diversity and equity (DIV) options: ECON-314 Economic Inequality and ECON-316 Political Economy of Race in the United States.
** 12 credit hours of the Economics program can be fulfilled through the London School of Economics study abroad program. 6 credit hours of the BA in Economics program can be fulfilled through other study abroad programs.
*** Capstone options: ECON-480 (Fall only), ECON-478 (Spring only), ECON-491 Senior Internship (offered Fall and Spring), ECON-492 Senior Internship in Teaching (offered Fall and Spring).

BA in Economics

Rows are for years 1-4 and the 3 columns are for the year, the fall classes, and the spring classes.
Year Fall Spring
1st AUx-I
WRT-100 (W1)
Complex Problems
Habits of Mind #1
ECON-100 Principles of Macro
AUx-2
WRT-101 (W1)
Habits of Mind #2
ECON-200 Principles of Micro
STAT-202/203/204 (Q1)
2nd Habits of Mind #3
ECON-300 Intermediate Micro
ECON-314 Economic Inequality (DIV)* (Elective #1)
Habits of Mind #4
ECON-301 Intermediate Macro
ECON-322 Applied Econometrics I (Q2)
3rd Apply to the BS/MA Program!
ECON-440  Communicating Economics (W2) (Elective 2)
Econ Elective #3
Study Abroad!**
Econ Elective #4
4th Habit of Mind #5 Capstone***
Econ Elective #5

* Economics offers two diversity and equity (DIV) options: ECON-314 Economic Inequality and ECON-316 Political Economy of Race in the United States
** 12 credit hours of the Economics program can be fulfilled through the London School of Economics study abroad program. 6 credit hours of the BA in Economics program can be fulfilled through other study abroad programs.
*** Capstone options: ECON-480 (Fall only), ECON-478 (Spring only), ECON-491 Senior Internship (offered Fall and Spring), ECON-492 Senior Internship in Teaching (offered Fall and Spring)

BA in Economics (International Track)

Rows are for years 1-4 and the 3 columns are for the year, the fall classes, and the spring classes.
Year Fall Spring
1st AUx-I
WRT-100 (W1)
Complex Problems
Habits of Mind #1
ECON-100 Principles of Macro
AUx-2
WRT-101 (W1)
Habits of Mind #2
ECON-200 Principles of Micro
STAT-202/203/204 (Q1)
2nd Habits of Mind #3
ECON-300 Intermediate Micro
Suggestion: ECON-314 Economic Inequality (DIV)* (Elective 1)
Habits of Mind #4
ECON-301 Intermediate Macro
ECON-322 Applied Econometrics I (Q2)
3rd

Apply to the BS/MA Program!
ECON-372 International Economics: Finance
SISU-320 or IBUS-300

Study Abroad!
ECON-371 International Economics: Trade
4th

Econ Development Elective
Habits of Mind #5

Capstone***

*Economics offers two diversity and equity (DIV) options: ECON-314 Economic Inequality adn ECON-316 Political Economy of Race in the United States.
** 12 credit hours of the Economics program can be fulfilled through the London School of Economics study abroad program. 6 credit hours of the BA in Economics program can be fulfilled through other study abroad programs.
*** Capstone options: ECON-480 (Fall only), ECON-478 (Spring only), ECON-491 Senior Internship (offered Fall and Spring), ECON-492 Senior Internship in Teaching (offered Fall and Spring)