A B.A. in Economics
Although the department of economics is housed in the College of Business and Economics, students have an option of either earning a B.S. in economics through the College of Business and Economics or a B.A. in economics through the College of Arts and Sciences.
Students are choosing the economics major in growing numbers because it can be adapted easily into an individual’s unique course of study and long-term goals. For many, economics provides the necessary foundation leading to a career in the business or finance world. Others use it as a vital complement in their preparation for law school or other areas of study, such as government, history, international relations or journalism.
About the Major
The program in economics is designed to provide our students with a comprehensive understanding of the way the modern, market-oriented, globally-integrated economic system functions and the ways in which public policy affects economic outcomes. Courses in microeconomic and macroeconomic theory, along with required courses in mathematics, statistics, finance and accounting lay the foundation for this understanding. Elective courses allow the student to explore the application of economic reasoning to specific markets and policy issues.
The B.A. major in economics is designed to prepare students for graduate study in economics or law, and for entry into careers in business, government or service organizations. The requirements for the economics major are:
The economics core (16 credits): ECO 1, ECO 105 or 146, ECO 119, ECO 129, and ECO 145.
Collateral calculus courses (7 or 8 credits): MATH 51 and 52 or MATH 21 and 22. MATH 51 and 52 are terminal math classes for students planning on careers in fields that are primarily non-quantitative. MATH 21 and 22 are for students considering careers or graduate programs that require a stronger math background.
Five elective courses in economics at the 200 or 300 level (15 credits). Students may count only two 200 level courses toward the completion of the economics major.
Students are free to select any five economics courses to meet their elective requirements. In order to provide guidance, however, the faculty of the economics department has developed recommended course clusters to meet different objectives that students might have. These include course recommendations for those interested in:
Graduate study in economics
Careers in consulting and financial services
International economics and global markets
Political economy and public policy
Interested students are encouraged to consult with the major advisors in the economics department to select elective courses that match their needs and interests.
Unique Learning Opportunities
Faculty in the economics department have taken a leading role in the development of integrated learning experiences at Lehigh. In these courses, students work in cross-disciplinary teams to develop and assess new products for business firms, to plan and supervise the construction of new sports facilities on campus, and to prepare research and consulting reports for economic and community development agencies in the Lehigh Valley. These courses provide a unique opportunity for students to apply what they’ve learned to "real world" problems, to learn firsthand how problem-solving teams function, and to improve communications skills.
The department faculty also play a leading role in planning and supervising the research projects carried out by the Martindale Center Student Associates. Each student chosen for this honors program engages in individual research on a specific topic related to an overall international business theme. Their research is aided by a planned trip that allows students to meet with business and political leaders in another country, and their final papers are published annually in Perspectives on Business and Economics, the Center’s undergraduate journal. In recent years, students have studied economic and business aspects of German reunification, economic growth in Chile, and Switzerland and Austria in the integrated European economy.
Many Lehigh students take advantage of the opportunity for study abroad at foreign universities or international programs run by American universities. In addition, Lehigh offers several summer study abroad program options. The economics department supports a program in Prague every summer and a periodic summer program in China. Appropriate economics courses taken in study abroad programs may be used to meet the economics major requirements.
Finally, opportunities to engage in research projects with Lehigh faculty or to get involved in internships with public and private sector organizations are also available to economics majors.
Pursuing a Career or Further Education
The economics major provides students with skills that are valuable for a number of careers. Knowledge of the complex economic environment, the effects of public policy on economic outcomes, and the fundamentals of firm strategy in the face of different industry structures is extremely useful general preparation for managerial careers in the private or public sector. Also, mastery of the logical framework of economic analysis equips the economics major for careers in which critical thinking and careful decision-making are required.
The general nature of the important skills imparted to students by the economics major means that many economics majors from Lehigh have entered the workforce upon graduation and can be found in managerial positions in firms in all sectors of the economy, ranging from financial institutions and investment firms to farms and small family businesses. At the same time, many majors have pursued careers in public service as politicians or civil servants at all levels of government.
Economics has long been viewed as a good preparation for professional education, and many of our graduates have gone on to law schools and MBA or MPA programs. A few of our graduates have earned master’s degrees or doctoral degrees in economics and have become professional economists.