Summer Mailing

To:  Economics Majors, Joint Majors, and Concentrators
From:  Susan Elmes, Economics Department DUS
Subject: Information for academic year 2015-2016
Date:  August 2015


This memo is addressed to all students who have declared a major, joint major, or concentration in economics to help you plan your academic program.  Please take a few minutes to read through the information below.

Graduation Clearance

In order for you to graduate, the department must certify that you have completed your declared program in economics. 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 your economics major, and that your student records are up to date. You should complete a checklist for your program (available here online, or go to and if you have any questions or concerns about your completed checklist, then you should contact You should not rely on your DAR or on your College or GS advisor to tell you that you have completed your economics program. Three of the most common problems that we find are:

  • AP, IB or GCE credits not listed on the transcript: If you are using any of these advanced placement credits in place of Principles of economics or Calculus I,II, then those credits must appear on the bottom of your transcript. If they do not, then you are officially missing those required courses for the major/concentration, and you must then speak with your College or GS advisor ASAP to have those advance placement credits posted.
  • 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).
  • 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 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/concentration requirements due to any potential problems caused by the above points.


Graduate student advisors will hold office hours each week and respond to student emails to provide timely answers to the most common questions that students have regarding the major. The graduate student advisors will be able to discuss major requirements, course scheduling and selection, as well as review your checklists and discuss your progress in the major. Other than transfer credit or study abroad questions, students should direct all questions and concerns about their major to the graduate student advisors. The graduate student advisors will be able to answer nearly all of your questions. You may email them at Office hours will be posted on the Advisors' page of the department website in the week prior to the beginning of the semester.

One issue that graduate student advisors do not handle is approval for transfer credits or study abroad credits. All economics transfer credits must be approved in writing by the Department of Economics. The department divides transfer credit approvals between myself and Sunil Gulati. If you have transferred to Columbia and you would like to transfer credits from economics courses taken before you came to Columbia, then you should contact your CC or GS advisor to initiate the departmental transfer credit application process. If you are at Columbia and would like to take economics courses at another institution (including summer courses and courses taken abroad), then you should see Dr Gulati. Information regarding the application for transfer credits and the materials you must present with your application is available on the departmental website on the Transfer Credit Info page. Please read that material carefully before submitting your materials for approval.

Students may request a personal faculty advisor to discuss academic or career goals. Faculty advisors will not discuss major requirements (that is the role of the graduate student advisors). Faculty advisors will discuss course selection to meet intellectual goals and interests, as well as career or research options. If you plan on attending a PhD program in economics or pursuing economics research after graduation, then it is recommended that you request a faculty advisor. There is a form on the Advisors' page of the website to request a faculty advisor. Fill out the form and leave it in my mailbox (Susan Elmes) on the 10th floor of IAB in the department’s main office. We will try to match you with a faculty member that shares your academic interests.

Course Information

For the most up to date information on class offerings (including registration numbers, days, times and classrooms) you should check the Registrar’s Directory of Classes website. In most cases, the economics department sets the course registration cap equal to the room capacity. Because of the shortage of class room space, it is generally not possible to move classes to larger rooms. Hence, when class registration reaches the cap number, you cannot be added to the class roster by the department or the faculty member. In this instance you must wait until the registration falls below the cap before you can register.

GU4370 Political Economy
Political economy will only be offered in the fall semester.  All seniors in the joint major with political science who have not previously taken political economy must take W4370 Political Economy this fall.

GU4301 Growth and Development
Growth and Development is now open for registration and will only be offered in the fall semester.  Dr Ron Miller will teach this class TR 11:40 - 12:55.

GU4500 International Trade
International trade is now open for registration and will only be offered in the fall semester.  Dr Waseem Noor will teach this class TR 10:10 - 11:25.

GU4625 Economics of the Environment
Economics of the Environment is now open for registration and will only be offered in the fall semester.  Dr Sara Avila will teach this class TR 11:40 - 12:55.

UN3213 Intermediate Macro section 2
Section 2 of intermediate macro is now open for registration. Dr Alonso will teach this class TR 2:40 - 3:55.


SDEV UN2320 Economic and Financial Methods for Sustainable Development
Economics majors and concentrators may take SDEV UN2320 for 2000 level elective credit. If you are pursuing programs in both economics and sustainable development, you may not double count this course towards both programs. If you took this class in a previous year and would like to count it as a 2000 level elective, then you must send Laura Yan an email (ly38) indicating that you would like to count this course as your 2000 level elective in 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, please contact Saphia Najafee in the Business School for more information at Note that you may only take these courses for credit towards the financial economics major. You should consult the bulletin for more information on the requirements for the financial economics major. You may not take these courses for credit towards an economics major or any of the joint majors.

First Year PhD Courses in Economics
Students who are interested in taking one of the first year PhD courses in economics (GR6211, GR6215 and GR6411) must send an email to by August 31st. Only students who have completed with A range grades in linear algebra, modern analysis I, core economics courses, upper level statistics and at least one of the advanced courses in economics will be considered for admission to a first year PhD course. Seating for undergraduates in these courses is limited and only exceptional students will be admitted.

Elective Courses Offered Only in the Fall
The following courses will be offered by the department only in the Fall semester: UN2105 The American Economy, GU4213 Advanced Macro, GU4228 Urban Economics, GU4301 Growth and Development, GU4325 Economic Development of Japan, GU4370 Political Economy, GU4412 Advanced Econometrics, GU4438 Economics of Race, GU4500 International Trade, GU4625 Economics of the Environment, and GU4700 Financial Crises.

Elective Courses Offered Only in the Spring
The following courses will be offered by the department only in the Spring semester: UN2257 Global Economy, GU4020 Economics of Uncertainty and Information, GU4211 Advanced Micro,  GU4230 Economics of NYC, GU4235 Historical Foundations of Modern Economics, GU4321 Economic Development,  GU4400 Labor Economics, GU4413 Time Series, GU4480 Gender and Applied Economics, GU4505 International Monetary Theory and Policy GU4527 Economic Organization and Development of China, and GU4850 Cognitive mechanisms and Economic Behavior.

Elective Courses Offered Both Semesters
The following courses will be offered in both the fall and spring semesters: UN3025 Financial Economics, UN3265 Money and Banking, GU4251 Industrial Organization, GU4280 Corporate Finance, GU4415 Game Theory and GU4465 Public Economics.

Elective Requirements for Joint Majors

  • If you are a joint major with political science, statistics or mathematics, then only economics elective courses at the 3000 level or higher may be counted towards your major requirements.
  • If you are an Economics-Philosophy joint major, then only courses from the following list may be taken to fulfill your major requirements: GU4020 Economics of Uncertainty and Information, GU4080 Globalization, Incomes and Inequality, GU4213 Advanced Macro, GU4228 Urban Economics, GU4230 Economics of NYC, GU4235 Historical Foundations of Modern Economics, GU4301 Economic Growth and Development, GU4321 Economic Development, GU4370 Political Economy, GU4400 Labor Economics, GU4415 Game Theory, GU4438 Economics of Race in the United States, GU4465 Public Economics, GU4500 International Trade, GU4615 Law and Economics, GU4625 Economics of the Environment, GU4750 Globalization and its Risks,  BC3011 Inequality and Poverty, BC3019 Labor Economics, BC3029 Development Economics, BC3039 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics and BC3041 Theoretical Foundations of Political Economy.  Underlined courses indicate that these classes are offered in the fall semester.
  • If you are a Financial Economics major, then you must select your electives from the following list and at least two courses must be chosen from the economics department: UN3265 Economics of Money and Banking, GU4020 Economics of Uncertainty and Information, GU4213 Advanced Macroeconomics,GU4251 Industrial Organization, GU4412 Advanced Econometrics,GU4415 Game Theory, GU4465 Public Economics, GU4505 International Monetary Theory and Policy, GU4526 Transition Reforms, Globalization and Financial Crises, GU4700 Financial Crises, BC3014 Entrepreneurship, BC3017 Economics of Business Organizations, BIOT GU4180 Entrepreneurship in Biotech, STAT GU4290 Statistical Methods in Finance, STAT GU4635 Stochastic Processes for Finance, Stat GU4840 Theory of Interest, Math UN3050 Discrete Time Models in Finance, Math GU4077 Intro to the Math of Finance, IEOR UN3106 Intro to OR: Stochastic Models, IEOR GU4700 Intro to Financial Engineering, BUSI UN3021 Marketing Management, BUSI UN3701 Strategic Behavior/Strategy Formulation, BUSI UN3703 Leadership in Organizations, HIST UN3903 History of Finance and POLS UN3630 The Politics of International Economic Relations. Underlined courses indicate those courses offered by the economics department in the fall.


  • Please note that seminars will be strictly limited to 16 students.  Registration for GU4911 section 0 is closed for the fall semester. Final assignments to the seminars will be made by August 31st. All remaining seats will be available for walk-in registration beginning on the first day of classes. During the first week of classes only seniors may sign up for seminars. After the first week of classes any student who has completed his or her core requirements in economics may sign up for any seminar that remains open. For more information about the sign up process please see the Senior seminar page in the department’s website. 
  • Students in the Econ-Political Science joint major must take GU4921. These seminars will be offered only in the spring semester. All students must have completed their econometrics requirement (either UN3412 or POLS GU4911) before taking the seminar. If you are a junior and are planning on graduating early (either in your junior year or fall of your senior year), then you must take this seminar in the spring semester as the department generally does not offer the seminar in the fall semester.
  • Students in the Econ-Philosophy joint major must take GU4950, the economics and philosophy seminar which is only offered in the spring semester.  If you are a junior who is planning on graduating early (either in your junior year or fall semester of your senior year) then you must take GU4950 this spring. You must have completed all of your core requirements (UN3211, UN3213 and UN3412) prior to taking the seminar.
  • Students in the Econ-Statistics joint majors must take the econometrics seminar, GU4918, which will be offered in the fall only. It will be assumed that students registered for this seminar have a strong background in econometrics and statistics.  This joint seminar is open to all students.
  • The following fall seminars will fulfill the seminar requirement for the Financial Economics major: GU4911 2 Masia, GU4911 3 Dang, GU4911 5 Riordan, GU4913 1 Akinci, GU4913 2 Clarida, and GU4913 3 Roca.


Senior Honors Thesis - Departmental Honors

All students who are interested in writing a senior honors thesis during academic year 2015-15 should have spoken with me during the spring 2015 term.  Regardless of whether you did or did not speak with me in the spring you must send me an email by August 31st (  In your email you must include a one paragraph description of your proposed topic and the paragraph must contain at least one economics question that you would like to address in your thesis. In a second paragraph, tell me what in your background (either class work or work experience) that qualifies you to work on your proposed topic (e.g. if your topic is Russian exchange rate movements you might want to tell me that you have taken international monetary theory). Finally, you must include in your email the name(s) of faculty members that you believe would be interested in working with you. If you do not know a faculty member who would be interested, then you should look at the department’s website for information on their research interests.

After I have received your email, I may contact you to set up a meeting to discuss your proposal.  My role is to both select students for the seminar and to help match students with an appropriate faculty member who will serve as the student’s thesis advisor.  If I approve your proposal, Laura Yan will then register you into GU4999 Honor Thesis.

GU4999 will run as a year-long course for 3 points per semester (students will be automatically registered again in the spring), with a grade reported only at the end of the academic year. Writing a thesis will substitute for the departmental seminar requirements. Students who wish to drop out of the honors program at the end of the fall semester may do so. In this case he or she will receive a grade of R for the fall semester. The student will then have to take a senior seminar to satisfy the seminar requirement. Please see the Honors and Prizes page on the department website for more information regarding the senior honors thesis and for a list of those students who have received departmental honors in the past.

In addition to working one-on-one with your faculty advisor, the senior thesis candidates will meet as a group to discuss their research and to present their final results. In the fall these meetings will be held on Wednesdays from 10:10-12 with Prof Edlund. You must be able to attend the Wednesday meetings if you would like to write a senior thesis.  The first meeting will be in late September. Once you are registered for the seminar you will receive a meeting schedule.

Journal of Economic Perspectives

Students interested in current research in economics should consult the Journal of Economic Perspectives which is now available free online at  The JEP is a general interest journal written for economists. Journal articles are surveys of current research in a wide variety of topics and are written for knowledgeable non-specialists in a given field. For example recent issues contain symposia on gender and test scores and another on financial markets. The archive is searchable back to 2002. All students (juniors and seniors) thinking of writing a senior thesis should use the articles in the JEP to help them shape a thesis idea and I will expect that students who meet with me regarding senior thesis will have already consulted the JEP prior to our meeting.


Rules for Transfer Credits, AP/IB Credits and Barnard Electives

The department sets a minimum number of lecture courses that you must take in the Columbia economics department to fulfill your major requirements. The remainder of your credits may come from a combination of AP credits, transfer credits and Barnard elective course credits.

The following table outlines the rules for each of the majors and joint majors in economics.


# Lecture Courses in Economics 1

Min # in Department2

Max # Outside3





Financial Econ








Political Science





declared prior to Spring 2015




declared in Spring 2015 and beyond





declared prior to Spring 2015




declared in Spring 2015 and beyond









1. Lecture courses do not include seminars which must be taken in the Columbia department. The lecture course counts are counts of economics courses only, so the counts do not include math, statistics or courses in other departments. There is also no change on the rule that no more than one course may be taken at the 2000 level.

2. There is no change in the rule that at least 2 of the 3 3000-level core courses must be taken in the department and no corresponding Barnard courses will be accepted. The two V courses (UN3025 and UN3265) will continue to be counted as departmental courses regardless of the instructor.

3. Outside courses include AP (IB, GCE) credits for Principles (1 class), transfer credits for Principles (1 class even if it was a two semester sequence), Barnard 2000 and 3000 level elective courses and transfer credits from other universities.

Information regarding transfer credit approval can be found on the department website in the Transfer Credit Info page. You must read this material carefully before seeking approval. To apply for transfer credits for courses taken prior to registering at Columbia, you must speak with your CC or GS advisor to initiate the departmental transfer credits application process.  To apply for transfer credits for courses taken during a study abroad or summer session, you must speak with Dr Gulati prior to taking those courses to seek preliminary approval. You must speak to him again when you return to campus to get a final approval.


Undergraduate TA Positions

This fall the department is hiring undergraduates to work alongside our graduate students as teaching assistants in several courses. Each assistant will be paid $1800 per semester. An announcement will be sent shortly advertising the positions that are available. Applications for all positions will be due on August 31st.


Fed Challenge

The College Fed Challenge is an economics competition sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in partnership with the Eastern Economic Association.  Five-member teams from colleges and universities in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York district make 20 minute presentations, concluding with a monetary policy recommendation, and respond to the judges' questions on current macroeconomic and financial conditions, monetary policy, and the Federal Reserve System. The judges are economists from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, universities and private firms. District winners will travel to Washington, DC to participate in the National Competition held at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, with the opportunity to win a significant monetary prize from Moody’s. 

The Fed Challenge is a great way to learn more about macroeconomics, monetary and financial economics, and central banking as well as an opportunity to polish your presentation and networking skills. The workshop to prepare the team for the competition will meet on Wednesday evenings from 6:10 - 8. If you are interested in participating you should contact Sally Davidson (sjm7).


Undergraduate Research Assistants

At the beginning of the semester, the department will send out on the major listserv the names of faculty members who are looking for undergraduate research assistants. You will also find the latest information on jobs, internships and other opportunities for undergraduates on the wiki space: Alternatively, if you know of a faculty member who would like to hire you as an assistant, then ask that faculty member to contact me. We usually grant 2 credits for approximately 5-7 hours of work per week.  Please note that while students may receive credit for this course, it may not be used as a substitute for elective or seminar requirements in the major.  Finally, if you are a student that pays tuition for individual credits, then you will be required to pay for research credit. You may choose to work with a faculty member without receiving credit (and so incurring no cost), but the research credit will not appear on your transcript.


Graduate Study in Economics

Students interested in pursuing graduate work in economics are encouraged to read the admission guide on econphd and the special edition of the CSWEP newsletter focusing on getting into and finishing a PhD program.  In addition, we have information on our website in the FAQ page. If you are considering graduate work you should speak with econ-advising ASAP to plan your course schedule. You should also request a faculty advisor.



All prizes are open to majors and students in the joint majors.

The Parker Prize is awarded each year to the top CC economics major that will be pursuing a Ph.D. in economics.  The prize committee will consider applicants who are not planning to immediately start graduate school the next academic year, although preference may be given to those students who are entering a Ph.D. program in 2016-17.  Please be sure to let me know in the fall semester if you are applying for graduate study in economics for academic year 2016-17, or else plan to pursue a Ph.D. in economics within the next few years. 

The David Estabrook Romine Prizes in Economics are available to both CC and GS students: one prize will be awarded for the best paper written in a senior seminar, and one prize will be awarded for the best senior honors thesis (the two prizes may not be given to the same student).  Faculty will be asked to nominate students for these prizes and a faculty committee will select the winner.  All prize winners will be announced at the end of the Spring term. If you are taking a senior seminar in the spring of your senior year and you want to be considered for the Romine Prize then you should speak with your instructor before the first week of April. At that time your instructor will be able to tell you when the deadline is for submission of a paper to be considered for the Romine Prize. For more information about the prizes please refer to the Departmental Honors and Prizes page on the website.

The Parker Prize for Summer Research provides financial support for CC students who take unpaid summer internships that focus on research. By introducing students to original research, a summer internship can provide the foundation for an honors thesis or develop an interest in pursuing a graduate degree.  We are looking to support up to five underclassmen (juniors preferred but it is open to all economics students). We will provide each student with a stipend of $2500.  All economics major, financial economics major or joint major in CC are eligible for these prizes.