An understanding of economics can help foster intelligent citizenship. Policy makers in business, government, and the nonprofit sector frequently evaluate complex economic issues. The goal of the economics curriculum is to educate students, both majors and nonmajors, about the ideas of economics and build data analysis skills that will allow them to apply those ideas to today's world.
1) ECON 120, MATH 101 & ECON 133 are required in preparation for the core courses in the major and should be completed in your first three semesters at Sewanee.
2) ECON 201, 202, and 233 are the core of the economics major. All three of these courses must be taken at Sewanee, and should be completed as soon as possible, but no later than the junior year.
3) Three 300-level electives in economics. Ideally, at least two of these should be taken prior to the senior year.
4) ECON 410: Research Seminar is taken in the fall semester of the senior year. This course, which fulfills the general education requirement for a writing intensive course in the major, allows students to investigate a research topic of their choosing through study of literature and collection and analysis of data and building upon knowledge gained in core and elective courses.
5) ECON 450: Honors Thesis is taken in the spring of the senior year by students who have applied to and been accepted by the department. Further information on honors requirements and deadlines is available here.
Students planning to study abroad should consult with their advisor to ensure that they can complete all their preparatory and core courses prior to their senior year. Students should then consult with the department chair concerning the acceptability of particular courses taken abroad for the major.
Because of the numerous, vital, and constantly developing interconnections between economics and other social sciences, economics majors are urged to take as many courses as possible in related disciplines such as anthropology, history, politics, psychology, and sociology.
To help in planning, we provide this recommended plan of study here. Please note that there is flexibility in several areas of this plan and that you should always consult your advisor in planning your course of study.
For Easter 2025 or Later Graduates
Honors in Economics is a special distinction reserved for those students who have excelled in their academic accomplishments throughout their time at Sewanee and have completed a thesis project with certain distinguishing characteristics and features. The distinction of Honors requires that the student and the thesis meet all of the criteria specified below. While an outstanding performance in several of the expectations for Honors may offset a less than exemplary performance in another area, a significant deficiency in any one expectation is sufficient grounds to deny Honors. The department has the authority to withdraw the student from the Honors program at any time prior to the submission deadline for the written thesis. The oral examination panel members, who may consult with the advisor, have final authority on whether the student has satisfactorily met the criteria for receipt of Honors.
An Honors Thesis in Economics must explore a significant question or topic with the potential to add to the broader understanding of the issue. The student receiving Honors in Economics must both demonstrate knowledge of the literature and also construct a project that, if brought to completion, would contribute to the knowledge of the field of experimental, empirical and/or theoretical economics, either as a stand-alone item or as part of a larger project. The department recognizes that two semesters of work is seldom sufficient to complete a project to the point of a peer-reviewed publication, but the project should be on a trajectory for such an outcome.
In the written thesis and oral defense, the student must be able to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of the project. One or more chapters of the thesis must develop the necessary background, theory, and/or methodology through a thorough discussion and citation of relevant, published literature.
The student must demonstrate a high level of self-motivation, independence and continuous scholarly engagement in the project over the entire two semesters.
The student must demonstrate that considerable progress has been made in the actual execution of the project. The student must have advanced the project to the stage where defensible conclusions can be drawn.
The thesis must be well-written. A high-quality written thesis is well organized, concise, grammatically and mechanistically correct, coherent and logical in its arguments and development of ideas. The written thesis must cite appropriate sources that inform the project. Data must be clearly presented. Language must be precise, sophisticated and incorporate terminology appropriate for the topic of the thesis.
The student must be able to answer questions posed by the examination committee and engage with members of the committee in a scholarly discussion of all facets of the project.
Honor’s Process – Economics
Overview of the Honors process
● In the Easter semester of the junior year, students should discuss the possibility of working on an Honors thesis with potential advisors and indicate their interest in working with particular advisors on the thesis proposal form submitted to the Department Chair by mid semester.
● By the end of the Easter semester of the junior year, students must submit their formal proposal for Honors thesis to the Department Chair. The department will review proposals and make formal decisions on whether or not to allow students to officially begin Honors work. Students will be notified of the department’s decision approximately one week following graduation in the Easter semester.
● In the Advent Semester of the senior year, Honors students, in conjunction with their Honors advisor and their ECON 410 professor, will work on their Honors thesis as part of their participation in ECON 410: Research Seminar. Students must complete work equivalent to that of a one-semester thesis by the end of the fall semester.
● In the Easter Semester of the senior year, Honors students will continue their research under the guidance of their Honors advisor by registering for ECON 450: Honors Thesis with that advisor. Late in the Easter semester of the senior year, students will be asked to give an oral defense of their honors research to an examination panel composed of appropriate faculty members.
Easter semester of the junior year
Students should discuss the possibility of conducting an Honors thesis with potential advisors during the Easter semester of the junior year. Students indicate their possible interest in an Honors thesis on the thesis proposal form (due by mid-semester). Students who are eligible to be considered for Honors (usually a GPA in the top 20% of economics majors and excellence in previous work at Sewanee, especially core economics classes) are then expected to develop their thesis topic proposal in conjunction with their potential advisor, which is submitted to the department one week before the last day of classes in the Easter semester. Proposals will be vetted and chosen by the faculty, and students will be notified of the departmental decision approximately one week following graduation.
Summer between junior and senior year
Students intending to pursue an Honors thesis are expected to further develop their thesis topic prior to the start of the Advent semester of the senior year. You should consult with your thesis advisor during this time period. The department recommends potential Honors students consider summer research opportunities through the college as a means to facilitate this work. Application for many of these opportunities may require advanced planning, so students wishing to pursue this route should begin speaking with potential advisors in the Advent semester of the junior year to gain the greatest possible opportunities.
Advent semester of the senior year
Students intending to pursue Honors will continue their work in ECON 410: Research Seminar and should satisfy all deadlines determined by their ECON 410 professor. As part of ECON 410, students intending to pursue Honors will give an oral presentation to the department late in the fall semester of the senior year. This presentation should provide the department with an organized overview of the project, a description of progress made to date, and future plans including a timetable for completion of the project. The student must be able to answer questions posed by members of the department and engage with members of the department in a scholarly discussion of the project.
The department will judge the quality of the presentation, the quality of the project to date, and determine whether the student is making satisfactory progress toward completion of a thesis of Honors quality. The department, in consultation with the advisor, will make a decision whether the student is on track to produce an Honors quality thesis. Students who are on track will be asked to register for ECON 450: Honors Thesis with their thesis advisor for the Easter semester. All students will need to fulfill the requirements of a one-semester thesis for the purposes of passing the comprehensive exam in Economics.
Easter semester of the senior year
Students pursuing Honors will complete ECON 450: Honors Thesis in conjunction with their thesis advisor. Please note that this class is graded as Pass/Fail. A grade of Pass in this class is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for the granting of Honors.
If, at any time prior to the submission of the written thesis, the department feels that the student is not meeting the expectations of the economics department for a satisfactory Honors thesis, the department has the authority to withdraw the student from the pursuit of Honors.
A student may also withdraw from Honors at any time prior to the Last Day to Withdraw from a Course with a Grade of W in the Easter semester of their senior year. However, students should note that withdrawing from Honors during their final semester must be done in conjunction with withdrawal from ECON 450; thus, they will earn no credit hours towards graduation for that class.