FAQ ●  Resources ● Giving
Select Page

Information for New Majors in Economics for Columbia College AND General Studies Students

You can download a PDF copy of this page here.
Information current as of February 2018


Welcome to the department of economics. As you are already aware, economics is a very popular major at Columbia. As such, many of you have not had the opportunity to speak with anyone in the department about your major and may not be sure to whom you should direct any questions that you have.


Below, I hope to provide some useful information and to direct you to the sources of the specific information that you need to make the most of your experience here at Columbia as an economics student. As a declared major, you will receive on occasion important information about the department, courses offered, opportunities for undergraduates and events that we think may be of interest to our majors. Note that we do not send out information very often, so that when you do receive an email from the department, please take a moment to read it. Information that we consider less urgent to bring to your attention, will be posted on the department’s Wiki space (see Wiki page section below).


Completing the Major

As stated in the Bulletin, it is expected that students will have completed all of the core economics classes,1105, 3211, 3213 and 3412 (or POLS GU4712 for Econ-Poli Sci majors) prior to their senior (final) year at Columbia. Students who will not complete these courses before the start of their senior year, must write to me for permission to take any of these courses in their final year. Students will not be allowed to take their senior seminars concurrently with any of these core economics courses. Thus, failure to complete any of these courses prior to your final semester will prevent you from graduating as a major in economics, financial economics or a joint major. If you would like to sit down with someone in the department to make a course plan to complete your major, then you should see econ-advising (see below for more information).

To make sure that you are making good progress towards your degree in economics, download and fill out a checklist for your major from the department website. You should do so prior to the April registration period. The checklist will alert you to any problems that you will need to bring to the attention of the economics department. If you have any questions or concerns about your major requirements, then you should come into the department and consult with econ- advising.


The single best resource for getting accurate and timely information about the economics major is the department’s own website:

  • http://econ.columbia.edu/undergraduate

Below is a guide to the information available on the department website.

Student information

  • AdvisorsThe contact information for econ-advising can be found on this page. Information includes an email address to which you can send advising questions, as well as weekly office hours where you can meet with a graduate student advisor in the department.
  • FAQIf you have a question about your major, then the quickest way to get the answer is to check the FAQ page online. The FAQ page provides more detailed information than the Bulletin about the policies of the department
  • Transfer Credit InformationThis page details the procedures for getting departmental approval for courses taken outside of the department of economics
  • Wiki page – EconInfoForStudents: The department posts internal and external announcements regarding talks and lectures, publishing opportunities, research assistant positions, teaching assistant positions, fellowships, internships and employment opportunities, educational opportunities and more. This information is generally NOT sent out on the major listserv, which the department reserves for communication about the major. Students are encouraged to check the Wiki page periodically for new postings. You will need to log in with their UNI and password.
  • Columbia Economics Review: The CER is the undergraduate economics journal that is supported by the Program for Economics Research. You can find contact information for the journal on this page
  • Computing and Data Resources: The department posts programming tutorials, as well as links to additional information for the 2 primary statistical programming languages used in economics classes (STATA and R). There is also information regarding data resources available at Columbia and online. Lastly, the office hours for the Programming and Data TA are posted on this page

Course Information

  • Sample ProgramsThis page groups the economics electives by interest and career goal
  • Senior Seminars (Registration info and Descriptions)The department posts on these two pages the topics of the senior seminars and the registration procedures that you must follow to take a senior deminar
  • TutorsHere you will find a link to a list of graduate student tutors in economics
  • Registration InformationThis page provides registration information for classes in economics that have registration restrictions (eg. corporate finance, research credit, etc)

Requirements and Forms

  • Checklists for each program that we offer are posted on the Requirements Use these checklists to keep track of your progress in your major. These checklists will also alert you to some very common problems that you need to address with the department. You should fill one out as soon as possible.
  • Transfer credit form is also available in this section


The following documents are posted in the Announcements section:

  • Info for New Majors.
  • Newsletters: Prior to the registration periods in November and April, the department sends out information regarding major requirements and course offerings on the major listserv.
  • Summer Mailing: Early in August, the department also sends out information regarding major requirements, application to honors thesis seminar and course offerings on the major listserv.


  • The Research Opportunities page on the website includes information regarding RA positions for current students, as well as, for graduates (full-time RA positions for BA holders). If you are interested in pursuing research or graduate work in economics, then it is recommended that you read the information posted there.
  • The Career Opportunities page has links to pages with information about careers in economics, as well as, links and tips for career searches. Finally, we post details from the graduate surveys conducted by CCE. These surveys present some aggregate information on the careers of recent graduates and a list of companies that employ our students.

Honors and Prizes

  • The Honors and Prizes page of the website has information about Departmental Honors and Prizes awarded by the department. Here you will find some general information on writing a thesis, tips for finding a topic and an adviser and examples of some recent Honors Theses. A list of all thesis writers and the titles of their theses are posted here.
  • The prizes section lists the prizes awarded annually to CC and GS students. Here, you will find information about eligibility for the awards and how to apply for them. A list of prize recipients is posted here.

The department has two graduate student advisors who hold office hours each week during the academic year, 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, scheduling and course selection as well as review your checklists and discuss your progress in the major, and evaluate your transcript for graduation. Other than transfer credit or study abroad questions (see below), students should direct all questions and concerns about their major to these advisors. The graduate student advisors in most cases will be able to answer student questions directly. In a few cases, they may decide to refer you to someone else in the department (such as myself) or in your school for further information.

Contact information and office hours for these advisors will be available on the Advisors page of the departmental website in the week prior to the beginning of the semester.

The one issue that the graduate student advisors will not handle is approval for transfer credits or study abroad credits. All economics transfer credits must be approved by the Department of Economics. The department divides transfer credit approvals between myself and Sunil Gulati. If you have transferred to Columbia and 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 department transfer approval process. If you are at Columbia and would like to take economics courses at another institution (including summer courses at other institutions and courses taken abroad), then you should see Dr Sunil 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 Information page. Please read that material carefully before submitting your materials for approval – incomplete submissions cannot be evaluated or may be evaluated incorrectly.

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 available on the Advisors page of the website to request a faculty advisor. Fill out the form and leave it in my (metal) mailbox on the 10th floor of IAB in the main office of the department. We will try to match you with a faculty member that shares your academic interests.

If you receive information from sources outside of the department that appears to contradict the information that you read online on our website or in the Bulletin, then you should not rely on that advice. In this case you should consult with one of the econ graduate student advisors or send email to econ-advising@columbia.edu for clarification of the rules.

Please note that the DAR (Degree Audit Report in SSOL) is unofficial, and you should view the DAR as a helpful way to keep track of the classes you have taken in economics. You should also be aware that the DAR is on occasion inaccurate and often does not reflect transfer credits or special permissions that you have received from the department. Thus, you should not rely on it to check your major requirements. You should use the checklists posted on the department website. If you have questions about your major requirements, then you should send those questions to econ-advising@columbia.edu .

The department does not use the DAR to check major requirements for graduation; the department uses your transcript and departmental internal files which detail your transfer credits and any waivers of requirements granted by the department.

Transfer Credit, AP Credit and Barnard Electives

The department limits the courses that students may take outside of the Columbia economics department.

  • We require that all majors and joint majors must take a minimum of 5 lecture courses in the Columbia Department of Economics. Concentrators must take a minimum of 4.
  • The remaining credits for economics lecture courses may come from advanced placement credits (AP, IB, GCE), Barnard elective courses (2000 or 3000 level)summer courses taken at other institutions and transfer credits (either taken before registering at Columbia or taken elsewhere while at Columbia).
  • No Barnard core courses (BC1003, BC1007, BC2411, BC3018, BC3033, and BC3035) may be taken to complete the major requirements in the department.
  • No more than one 3000 level intermediate core (3211, 3213, and 3412) course may be taken outside of the department. No more than one of the core finance courses for the financial economics major may be taken outside of Columbia University.
  • Students must take their senior seminar in the Columbia department of economics
  • AP / IB / GCE Credits – must be posted on students’ SSOL transcript for CC students, and noted in student files for GS students, otherwise the department cannot credit students with satisfying the corresponding core courses, e.g. Calculus I, II (UN1101, UN1102), Principles of economics (UN1105). Note that AP Statistics does not exempt you from STAT UN 1201. Students must contact their school advisor if said credits are not posted on their SSOL transcript or noted in their student file.
  • High School Math Courses: Students who have received written approval from the Math Department exempting them from MATH UN1101 Calculus I based on their grades in a high school math course, must replace the missing 3 college credits by taking an additional course. The one additional course may be selected from the following list:
    • Economics electives at the 2000 level or higher,
    • Math courses (except MATH UN 1201)
    • Statistics courses at the 2000 level or higher
    • Computer Science courses at any level
  • Note that in the case of joint majors, courses taken to fulfill the requirements of the affiliated department are subject to the rules of that department. For example, a joint major with political science must check with the political science department on whether or not a particular class taken outside of Columbia is acceptable for the joint major.

Any economics courses taken outside of the economics departments at Columbia or Barnard that you would like to apply towards the completion of your economics degree must be approved by the department of economics in addition to approval by your school.

  • The Transfer Credit Information page on the website has the details on which courses may be eligible for transfer credit, as well as, information on how to apply for transfer credit.
  • Transfer credits for Calculus-I and Stat 1201 must also be approved by the Economics department.
  • Transfer credit for math or statistics courses other than Calculus-I and Stat 1201 must be reviewed by the Math or Statistics department. Students who have received transfer credit approval from the math or statistics department must forward the approval(s) to the Economics department.
  • If you are planning on studying abroad or during the summer at a school other than Columbia, you should speak with Sunil Gulati before taking any classes at another institution that you wish to use for major credit.
  • If you took classes at another institution prior to coming Columbia that you hope to use for major credit, then you must speak with your school adviser to start the process of applying for departmental transfer credit approval.

The following table summarizes the rules in terms of course counts:

Program # Lecture Courses in economics (1) Min # in Department (2) Max # Outside (3)
Major 9 5 4
Financial Econ 8 5 3
Econ-Math 7 5 2
Econ-Pol.Sci. 7 5 2
Econ-Statistics 7 5 2
Econ-Philosophy 7 5 2
Concentration 7 4 3



  1. The count of lecture courses represents the minimum number of economics lecture courses required of the program. The count does not include seminars, nor courses in other departments such as Math and Statistics.
  2. At least two of the three 3000 level core courses must be taken in the department and no corresponding Barnard courses will be accepted. UN3025 Financial Economics and UN3265 Money and Banking are counted as departmental courses regardless of the instructor.
  3. Outside courses include AP /IB/ GCE credits for Principles (1 course), transfer credits for Principles (1 course even if it was a two semester sequence), Barnard 2000 and 3000 level elective courses, courses taken during the summer session at other institutions, and (department approved) transfer credits from other universities.
Undergraduate TA positions

The department employs a number of undergraduates as Teaching Assistants in economics classes alongside our graduate TAs. The TA positions pay $1800 per semester, and generally require that the TA hold a recitation section and an office hour each week, and participate in the grading of homework assignments. In late August, the department will send out an email listing the courses that will have undergraduate TAs, and will be asking for applications for those TA positions.

Course Prerequisites

Prerequisites: Students are advised that the department strictly enforces all course prerequisites. Prerequisite courses cannot be taken concurrently with or after the course—they must be taken before the course. Students who take courses out of sequence (before or concurrently with its prerequisites) will not be allowed to count those credits towards the completion of their major, and consequently will be required to take an additional course to replace those credits. For placement in the calculus sequence, please consult the Math department’s section of the Bulletin.

The prerequisites for courses are as follows:


Course Number Pre-requisites
ECON UN1105 Principles of Economics None
ECON UN3213 Intermediate Macro MATH UN1101 Calculus I, ECON UN1105:Co-requisite* MATH UN1201 Calculus III
ECON UN3211 Intermediate Micro MATH UN1201 Calculus III, ECON UN1105
ECON UN3412 Econometrics MATH UN1201 Calculus III, STAT UN1201; ECON UN3211 or UN3213
ECON 2000-level electives ECON UN1105
ECON 39XX Junior seminars ECON UN3211, UN3213 and UN3412
ECON UN3025 Financial Econ ECON GU4020 Econ of Info ECON GU4230 Economics of NYC ECON GU4260 Market Design ECON GU4280 Corp Finance ECON GU4370 Political Economy ECON GU4700 Financial CrisesECON GU4710 Finance and the Real Economy ECON GU4850 Cognitive Mechanisms and Economic Behavior  



ECON UN3211, UN3213 and STAT UN1201

ECON GU4211 Advanced Micro ECON UN3211, UN3213 and MATHUN2010; Co-requisites* are MATH UN2500 or MATH GU4061
ECON GU4213 Advanced Macro, and GU4412Advanced Econometrics ECON UN3211, UN3213, UN3412 and MATH UN2010
ECON GU4413 Time Series ECON UN3211, UN3213, UN3412 andCo- requisite*: MATH UN2010
ECON GU4860 Behavioral Finance ECON UN3211, UN3213, UN3412
All other ECON 3000 and 4000-level electives ECON UN3211, UN3213
ECON 49XX Senior seminars (except GU4921) ECON UN3211, UN3213, UN3412
ECPS GU4921 Political Econ seminar ECON UN3211, UN3213, UN3412 (or POLS GU4712), GU4370
Barnard electives Please see the Barnard bulletin

*Co-requisite classes may be taken either before or concurrently with the class.


Susan Elmes
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Economics Department


1022 International Affairs Building (IAB)
Mail Code 3308  
420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
Ph: (212) 854-3680
Fax: (212) 854-0749
Business Hours:
Mon–Fri, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

1022 International Affairs Building (IAB)

Mail Code 3308

420 West 118th Street

New York, NY 10027

Ph: (212) 854-3680
Fax: (212) 854-0749
Business Hours:
Mon–Fri, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.