Economics Department


Each economics course at Reed falls into one of three groups: introductory, core, or elective. Econ 201 is a single-semester introductory economics course. Econ 311 or 312, 313, and 304 or 314 are required courses for economics majors and comprise the core group. All other courses are grouped as 200-level, 300-level or 400-level electives depending on their prerequisites.

Introductory Economics

The introductory course, Econ 201, is a required prerequisite for most other courses offered in economics. Econ 201 covers microeconomics comprehensively and mac­roe­conomics somewhat more briefly. It is pitched at a level that is commonly known as “intermediate” theory—more advanced than the standard introductory course. Our approach is characterized by the utilization of substantial and varied applications including student participation experiments, group projects, policy discussions, and problem solving. Students intending to take economics courses at Reed are strongly advised not to try to replace 201 with transfer work. However, those who believe that their background in economics is strong enough may take the department’s placement exam at the beginning of the academic year to determine whether they may waive the Econ 201 prerequisite for advanced courses.


The Economics Core

All majors are required to take microeconomic theory (Econ 313), macroeconomic theory (Econ 304 or 314), and one of the two econometrics course options (Econ 311 or 312). These courses provide the theoretical and methodological foundation for the study of economics. Econ 312 and 314 are more mathematically rigorous presentations of econometrics and macroeconomics. Students considering graduate study in economics should choose these courses. The microeconomics and macroeconomics courses should be taken as early as possible, ideally during the sophomore year.

The Econ 312, 313, and 314 courses require some preparation in mathematics. For micro and macro theory, students must be familiar with the basics of differential calculus. Those who have not taken calculus in high school or elsewhere may obtain the required preparation by taking Math 111 at Reed. A basic course in probability and statistics similar to Math 141 at Reed is required for Econ 312.

As noted above, economics majors are required to take either Econ 311 or Econ 312. Since these courses provide background for thesis research, this requirement should be fulfilled no later than the junior year. Either of these courses will provide knowledge to help the student read and understand empirical literature in economics. Econ 312 emphasizes learning to use econometrics and provides considerable hands-on experience with performing econometric analysis. Students who are considering the use of econometric methods in their thesis research are strongly advised to take Econ 312.


Elective Courses

Elective courses are offered at the 200-, 300-, and 400-levels. The level of a course usually reflects its prerequisites. Elective courses usually have a mix of major and non-major students, although the concentration of economics majors tends to be greater in courses offered at higher levels. In order to fulfill their 10 units of economics, majors take four (or more) elective courses in addition to Econ 201, the core requirements, and thesis. At least three of the four elective courses must be from Economics 315-469, excluding Economics 402.