November 2016


To: All Economics Majors and Concentrators

From:   Susan Elmes, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Economics Department

Re: Newsletter for Spring 2017 Registration


Dear Students,

Please take a few minutes to look through the following information below as you plan your spring course schedule.

Graduating Seniors

Each spring several students fail to graduate with the degree that they were planning on, because they did not complete their major requirements. In order for you to graduate, the department must certify that you have completed your declared program in economics in accordance with the requirements and rules as specified in the bulletin. To do that, we check your Columbia transcript as well as any transfer credits that have been approved by the department. Transfer credits that are not approved by the department are not counted towards the major requirements. Each year, we discover many students whose records are incomplete or who have not strictly followed the department’s course sequencing requirements. In some cases, this is not uncovered until it is too late for the student to graduate on time with the economics program that he or she has been working towards. It is your responsibility to make sure that you have completed all requirements of your economics major, and that your student records are up to date. You should complete a checklist for your program (available here online) and if you have any questions or concerns about your completed checklist, then you should contact Extra office hours of the econ advisors will be held during the advising period – the week before and during registration. The days, times and locations of these additional office hours are posted on the undergraduate Advisors page in the department's website. You should not rely on your DAR or on your College or GS advisor to tell you that you have completed your economics program. Four of the most common problems that we find are:

AP, IB or GCE credits not listed on the transcript: All economics and math advanced placement credits must be posted on students’ SSOL transcripts for CC students; and noted in student files for GS.   If these credits are not posted or noted, then the department will not exempt students from ECON UN1105, MATH UN1101, MATH UN1102.  Students will then be officially missing those required courses, and the department will NOT approve their economics requirements for graduation.  CC students are advised to check their SSOL transcript asap to ensure that all relevant AP, IB, GCE credits are listed at the bottom of the transcript.  GS students are advised to check with their school advisors that their student file lists proper notation of these credits.

Math High School credits: If you have high school math credits that exempts you from Calculus I, then you must obtain written certification from the math department, and have that sent to the Economics department (ly38). Students who did not receive college credit for their calculus course must take an additional course in either math, stats or economics to replace the missing 3 credits.

Transfer credits: All economics transfer credits used for an economics program must be approved in writing by the Economics department. See the Transfer Credit Info page on the economics department website for information on how to apply for departmental transfer credit approval. All math (except Calculus-I and statistics) transfer credits must be approved by the math /statistics department, and a copy of that approval(s) sent to the economics department (ly38).

Course Sequencing: The department does not count credits from courses that were taken prior to the completion of the course pre-requisites. All course pre-requisites are posted in the bulletin and on the directory of classes. If you have taken a course prior to, or concurrently with its pre-requisites, then you will be required to take at least one additional course in economics, and you should contact Laura Yan (ly38) ASAP to discuss what additional course (or courses) that you will be required to take.

The earlier that you find any of these issues, the easier it is to take care of them. So, all majors and concentrators should fill out the checklist for their program.  Students who have any questions or concerns about the fulfillment of his or her major or concentration are advised to see one of the graduate student advisors (weekly hours will be posted), or send email to econ-advising@columbia.eduThe department will not give graduation clearance to any student who has not satisfied the major or concentration requirements due to any potential problems caused by the above points.


Rules on Transfer Credits and Barnard Electives

When choosing courses, be mindful of the rules on the number of courses that you may take outside of the Columbia department to fulfill your major requirements. You can find the rules posted on the department’s Transfer Credit Information webpage and in the CC and GS bulletins.



The graduate student advisors will hold additional office hours during the advising period (the week before and during registration). You can discuss with them your major requirements as well as course selection. Their office hours will be posted on the Advisors page in the department website. You may also contact them by emailing them at


Lecture Courses

NEW COURSE: GU4840 Behavioral Economics
Prerequisites: ECON UN3211, UN3213
Prof Mark Dean
Within economics, the standard model of behavior is that of a perfectly rational, self-interested utility maximizer with unlimited cognitive resources. In many cases, this provides a good approximation to the types of behavior that economists are interested in. However, over the past 30 years, experimental and behavioral economists have documented ways in which the standard model is not just wrong, but is wrong in ways that are important for economic outcomes. Understanding these behaviors, and their implications, is one of the most exciting areas of current economic inquiry.

The aim of this course is to provide a grounding in the main areas of study within behavioral economics, including temptation and self-control, fairness and reciprocity, reference dependence, bounded rationality and choice under risk and uncertainty. For each area we will study three things:

1.       The evidence that indicates that the standard economic model is missing some important behavior
2.       The models that have been developed to capture these behaviors
3.       Applications of these models to (for example) finance, labor and development economics


NEW COURSE: GU4860 Behavioral Finance
Prerequisites: ECON UN3211, UN3213, STAT UN1201
Prof Harrison Hong
Neoclassical finance theory seeks to explain financial market valuations and fluctuations in terms of investors having rational expectations and being able to trade without costs.  Under these assumptions, markets are efficient in that stocks and other assets are always priced just right. The efficient markets hypothesis (EMH) has had an enormous influence over the past 50 years on the financial industry, from pricing to financial innovations, and on policy makers, from how markets are regulated to how monetary policy is set.  But there was very little in prevailing EMH models to suggest the instabilities associated with the Financial Crisis of 2008 and indeed with earlier crises in financial market history.
     This course seeks to develop a set of tools to build a more robust model of financial markets that can account for a wider range of outcomes.  It is based on an ongoing research agenda loosely dubbed “Behavioral Finance”, which seeks to incorporate more realistic assumptions concerning human rationality and market imperfections into finance models.  Broadly, we show in this course that limitations of human rationality can lead to bubbles and busts such as the Internet Bubble of the mid-1990s and the Housing Bubble of the mid-2000s; that imperfections of markets — such as the difficulty of short-selling assets  — can cause financial markets to undergo sudden and unpredictable crashes; and that agency problems or the problems of institutions can create instabilities in the financial system as recently occurred during the 2008 Financial Crisis.  These instabilities in turn can have feedback effects to the performance of the real economy in the form of corporate investments.


NEW COURSE: UN3901 Economics of Education Seminar
Prerequisites: ECON UN3211, UN3213, UN3412
Prof Miguel Urquiola
Our second junior seminar this year will be UN3901 Economics of Education. The goal of the junior seminars is to strengthen the research and writing skills of our students.  Like senior seminars, the prerequisites of a junior seminar are 3211, 3213 and 3412 and will have a limited number of seats. Unlike senior seminars, a junior seminar WILL count as an elective course and may be taken for elective credit for the economics, financial economics, or any joint major. A junior seminar does NOT replace a senior seminar, so a student who takes a junior seminar will take at least two seminars to complete the economics major. Students will be admitted to the seminars from the wait list one week prior to the beginning of classes.  Preference will be given to junior majors who are interested in writing a senior thesis in economics and who are good candidates to do so (students are expected to have received a B+ or higher in the three prerequisite courses). A student who successfully completes a junior seminar will be given preference in admission to the honors seminar. To register for this class you must sign up for the wait list in SSOL.

Course Description
To develop students' skills in research and writing. Specifically, participants will work on: • formulating a research question, • placing it in the context of an existing literature and/or policy area, and • using economic and econometric tools to address it in writing. Specifically, in the first part of the class, readings, problem sets, and a midterm exam will build skills in these areas. In the second part, students will come up with a research question, and address it in a research proposal/report. While all the applications will be on the economics of education, these skills will be useful in students' subsequent careers, regardless of the area of economics they focus on. (2) To provide an introduction to key issues in the economics of education. Specifically, education is a significant industry-every person entering this course will have already spent years in this industry as a customer, as a worker, as an “input,” or all of the above. The course will address questions like: What does economics have to say about how this industry is organized and what determines its output? Why do individuals invest in education? What determines the behavior, productivity, and reputation of firms in the industry? What role should government and public policy (if any) play in its operation?


GU4280 Corporate Finance
Students interested in taking Corporate finance in the spring must sign up for the waitlist for the course. Students will be admitted to the class from the waitlist in accordance with the rules posted on the Registration Information page on the department website.


GU4750 Globalization and its Risks
Globalization and its Risks has been cancelled for Spring 2017, and will not be opened to registration. 


Accounting and Finance

Outside of the major in Financial Economics, economics students may not take accounting for major credit.  Students in the Financial Economics major may take either BUSI UN3013 or IEOR E2261 to fulfill the accounting requirement for their major. If you have questions about these accounting courses, please contact Cara Mandarino ( at the Business School or Jenny Mak (jsm46) in the IEOR department.  Online registration for IEOR E2261 is restricted to declared majors in Financial Economics.


College Business Courses

Columbia College offers several business oriented classes. The department does not oversee these courses and does not have any information about them. If you have questions about these courses you may send email to, or to Cara Mandarino ( in the Business School for information. Finally, note that you may NOT take these courses for elective credit towards any major in economics other than Financial Economics. Financial economics majors should check their major requirements for details on which courses may be taken for elective credit.


5000 and 6000 Level Courses

Graduate level courses in economics (courses numbered 5000 and above) are closed to online registration to undergraduates. All 5000 level courses are limited to Masters students only. Undergraduates wishing to take a 6000 level class must receive approval from both the Director of Undergraduate Studies and the Director of Graduate Studies


Senior Seminars

All students wishing to take a senior seminar (4911, 4913 or 4918) in the spring semester must register for GU4911 Section 000, ECONOMICS SEMINAR REGISTRATION. Students who are eligible to register for GU4911 sec 0 are students in his/her senior year who are majoring in economics, financial economics and economics-math. Students who have completed an economics seminar or are currently taking an economics seminar will not register for GU4911 sec 0.  Details about the senior seminar registration procedure can be found on the department Senior Seminar Registration webpage HERE.

In the case of the seminars required of joint majors, the students in these majors (joint majors with political science, philosophy and statistics) have priority registration and will be contacted directly by Laura Yan.  Students in the said joint majors will not be allowed to register for GU4911 sec 0. Spaces in these seminars remaining after the joint majors have registered will be made available for general registration. 

Finally, note that if you are not a senior economics major, you may still take a senior seminar (availability permitting), provided that you have satisfied all the pre-requisites. Only senior economics majors may participate in the seminar lottery and may register during the November registration period. I anticipate that there will be seats remaining in several seminars, and the department will open the registration to other qualified students at the beginning of the second week of classes.

Spring Seminars






GU4911 sec 1

Francois Gerard

W  2:10-4

Empirical Methods to Estimate Causal Effects in Economics

Fulfills financial econ seminar requirements

GU4911 sec 2

Sunil Gulati

W 4:10 - 6

Sports Economics


GU4911 sec 3

Jagdish Bhagwati

M 4:10 - 6

Globalization: Assessing the Critiques

Fulfills financial econ seminar requirements

GU4911 sec 4

Lena Edlund

T 12:10 - 2

Gender Economics


GU4911 sec 5

Bentley MacLeod

R 4:10 - 6

Economics, Law, Public Policy


GU4911 sec 6

Tri Vi Dang

R 10:10-12

Private Equity and Hedge Fund Investing

Fulfills financial econ seminar requirements






GU4913 sec 1

Edmund Phelps

M 2:10-4

Influences on Economic Activity

Fulfills financial econ seminar requirements

GU4913 sec 2

Sally Davidson

W 12:10-2

The Financial Crisis, Financial Markets and Official Interventions

Fulfills financial econ seminar requirements

GU4913 sec 3

Joe Stiglitz and Karla Hoff

W 10:10-12

Behavioral Insights into Economic Development


GU4913 sec 4

Maxim Pinkovskiy

W 6:10-8

Empirical Economics of Institutions & Develpmt

Fulfills financial econ seminar requirements

GU4913 sec 5

Karahan, Fatih

R 6:10-8


Fulfills financial econ seminar requirements







Seyhan Erden

R 2:10-4

Topics in Macro and Finance

Fulfills financial econ seminar requirements

Seminars for Joint majors

Joint Major




Political Science

Carlos Prato

R 10:10-12

The Political Economy of Inequality and Redistribution

Political Science

Alessandra Casella

T 2:10 – 4

Political Economy in the Laboratory


Seyhan Erden

R 2:10-4

Topics in Macro and Finance


Brendan O’Flaherty and Philip Kitcher

T 4:10 - 6



Juniors Planning Fall Graduation

Students in the joint majors with political science, philosophy or statistics who are considering graduating in the Fall of 2017 must take their senior seminar this spring. If you are planning on graduating in the Fall of 2017, contact Laura Yan to let her know that you will need to register for the political economy seminar, econ-philosophy or the econometrics seminar.


Course Pre-Requisites

You must complete the pre-requisite courses before you can take an economics course. The prerequisites for courses are as follows:



Econ UN1105


Econ UN3213

Math UN1101, Econ UN1105; Co-requisite: Math UN1201*

Econ UN3211

Math UN1201, Econ UN1105

Econ UN3412

Math UN1201 Stat UN1201; Econ UN3211 or UN3213

Econ 2000 level Electives

Econ UN1105

Econ 3000 level Seminars

Econ UN3211, UN3213, UN3412

GU4280 Corporate Finance, GU4020 Econ of Uncertainty ,V3025 Financial Economics, GU4700 Financial Crises, GU4230 Economics of NYC, GU4260 Market Design, GU4850 Cognitive Mechanisms and Economic Behavior, GU4860 Behavioral Finance

Econ UN3211, Econ UN3213; Stat UN1201


Econ GU4211 Advanced Micro

Econ UN3211, UN3213, Math UN2010 and Co-requisite: Math V2500 or GU4061

Econ GU4412 Advanced Econometrics, Econ GU4213 Advanced Macro, 

Econ UN3211, UN3213, UN3412 and Math UN2010

Econ GU4413 Econometrics of Time Series

Econ UN3211, UN3213, UN3412 and co-requisite of Math UN2010*

All other Econ UN3000-GU4000 level Electives

Econ UN3211, UN3213

All Econ Seminars (except 4921)

Econ UN3211, UN3213, UN3412

Econ GU4921 Political Econ seminar

Econ UN3211, UN3213, UN3412 and GU4370

Barnard Electives (BC3000)

Barnard prerequisites – check the Barnard bulletin

* A co-requisite may be taken prior to or concurrently with the class.


Econ-Philosophy Joint Major

The department is offering the following courses in the spring semester that may be taken for credit for the economics-philosophy joint major:

  • GU4211 Advanced Micro
  • GU4230 Economics of NYC
  • G4235 Historical Foundations of Modern Economics
  • GU4400 Labor Economics
  • GU4415 Game Theory
  • GU4465 Public Economics
  • GU4480 Gender and Applied Economics
  • GU4500 International Trade
  • GU4840 Behavioral Economics       


Financial Economics Major

The department is offering the following courses in the spring semester that may be taken for credit for the financial economics major:

  • UN3265 Money and Banking
  • GU4251 Industrial Organization
  • GU4260 Market Design
  • GU4413 Econometrics of Time Series and Forecasting
  • GU4415 Game Theory
  • GU4465 Public Economics
  • GU4500 International Trade
  • GU4840 Behavioral Economics
  • GU4860 Behavioral Finance


Research Credit

Students interested in working with a faculty member should read the section of the FAQ that addresses the differences between research credit and independent study. In January the department will send out a list of which faculty members are looking for research assistants.  The list will also be posted on the departmental wiki space:

There is no November registration for these research positions. See the Registration Information page for more details.


Study Abroad and Transfer Credits

All students who are planning on studying abroad in the spring must see Sunil Gulati during the fall semester to get preliminary approval for any economics courses that they are planning on taking abroad. Please see the Transfer Credit Info page on the departmental website for more information regarding the transfer credits that the department will accept.

Enjoy your semester,

Susan Elmes

Director of Undergraduate Studies