Brief Description of Concentration

economics seniors in front of littauerEconomics is a social science that covers broad subject matter in seeking to understand the social world. An economic analysis begins from the premise that individuals have goals and that they pursue those goals as best they can. Economics studies the behavior of social systems—such as markets, corporations, legislatures, and families—as the outcome of interactions through institutions between goal-directed individuals. Ultimately, economists make recommendations that they believe will make people better off.

Learning Objectives

The Harvard Economics Department aims to teach undergraduate students the basic principles of economics, to introduce them to various subfields within economics, and to give them a foundation in understanding and carrying out economics research.

Gateway Courses

  • ECON 10a (fall) and 10b (spring), Principles of Economics. Open to all students, no pre-requisites. Students interested in economics are encouraged to take Ec 10 during freshman year. (Students with appropriate AP or IB scores in economics may skip the relevant semester of Ec 10ab, but each skipped semester of Ec 10 must be replaced with an economics elective. See website or an ec advisor for details.)
  • MATH 1a (or equivalent). Required of all concentrators and necessary for the Econ 1010/1011 courses and many higher level ec electives. (Students who placed out of Math 1a on the Harvard math placement test or who earned a 5 on AP Calculus AB or BC are deemed to have fulfilled this requirement.)
  • One of STAT 100STAT 104STAT 109STAT 110AM 101MATH 154 or ECON 20. Concentrators need a basic understanding of statistics before proceeding into the Econ 970 Sophomore Tutorial and Econ 1123/1126 econometrics courses.
  • ECON 1010a (fall, spring) or ECON 1011a (fall), Intermediate Microeconomics. Introduces students to higher-level microeconomic theory, preparing them for more advanced ec electives and applications of economics.
  • ECON 1010b (fall, spring) or ECON 1011b (spring), Intermediate Macroeconomics. Introduces students to higher-level macroeconomic theory, preparing them for more advanced ec electives and applications of economics.
  • ECON 1123 (fall, spring) or ECON 1126 (varies), Econometrics. Gives students the necessary tools to understand and undertake empirical economics research.
  • ECON 970 (fall, spring), Sophomore Tutorial. A transformative course for ec concentrators! Students learn how to apply key economic principles to a particular field of economics and learn how to read, critique, and carryout economics research.
  • ECON 50Using Big Data to Solve Social Problems. Gives students an introduction to frontier research in applied economics and social science that does not require prior coursework in Economics.


Economics is a way of thinking about the world and can be applied to a huge variety of jobs and careers!  Ec alumni pursue an endless array of work and graduate study.  You can explore a small sample of possibilities here:


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