The economics option provides students with an understanding of the basic principles underlying the functioning of economic institutions. It offers a modern quantitative approach seldom available at the undergraduate level. The emphasis on economic principles and modern methodology provides students with an excellent preparation for graduate study in economics, as well as for professional work in the fields of business, law, economics, and government.
The option is sufficiently flexible so that students can combine their pursuit of economics with studies in engineering, mathematics, or science. The core of the option consists of an economic theory component, a data analysis component, an applied microeconomic component, and a macroeconomic/growth component. Students are strongly encouraged to supplement this core with additional electives in economics, political science, and mathematics.
Expected learning outcomes from completing the economics option include:
- a proficiency in applying economic models to understand economic institutions;
- a proficiency in analyzing field and experimental data to prove causal relationships between economic variables, to test economic theories, and to predict economic outcomes;
- an understanding of the causes of regional and global long-term economic growth as well as the causes and consequences of economic crises throughout history;
- an understanding of the role of market prices in allocating resources and affecting the distribution of wealth;
- an appreciation of strategic behavior and asymmetric information in economic and social interactions; and
- an appreciation of the role of technological change and politics in shaping economic policies.
Note: The official source on requirements for graduation is the Caltech catalog from the year in which a student began studies at Caltech. Please see the catalog online, from this and previous years, for information regarding the applicable option requirements.
Ec Option Requirements
- Ec 11.
- Theory: Ec 121 ab and PS/Ec 172.
- Data analysis: Ec 122.
- Applied microeconomics: one of Ec 105 or Ec 135.
- Macroeconomics and growth: one of Ec 129, 130, or Ec 140.
- Ma 3.
- 45 additional units of advanced economics and social science courses. (Courses that are used to fulfill the Institute advanced social science requirement [courses numbered 100 and above] will also count toward this requirement.) Students may also take classes from the following list in partial fulfillment of this requirement: any BEM course except BEM 102; ACM 113 and ACM/EE/IDS 116.
- 45 additional units of advanced science, social science, mathematics, and engineering courses. The requirement cannot be satisfied by any course with a number less than 100.
- Passing grades must be earned in a total of 486 units, including all courses used to satisfy the above requirements.
- Writing/oral presentation courses: a scientific writing requirement course, and a three-unit course in oral communication, offered by any division (some options combine these two requirements into one course, that can be taken to satisfy this requirement), or En/Wr 84. The course used to satisfy this requirement must be taken on grades.
Ec Typical Course Schedule
|Units per term|
|Ma 3||Sophomore Mathematics||-||9||-|
|Ec 11||Introduction to Economics||9||-||-|
|Ec 105||Firms, Competition, and Industrial Organization||9||-||-|
|Ec 121ab||Theory of Value||9||9||-|
|PS/Ec 172||Game Theory||-||9||-|
|En/Wr 84 (or 3 unit course in oral communication and a scientific writing requirement course)||-||-||9|
1 See option requirements 5 and 7.