This is a period of immense change in the world and an exciting time to study economics. World financial markets have grown tremendously in recent years, enhancing the global economy. Companies such as ebay.com and Amazon.com bring e-commerce into our living rooms and are radically changing the way we shop. Wealth is increasing but inequality is rising as the least developed countries and the least educated in our society fall behind. Economics provides a way of thinking about the challenges we face in our rapidly evolving world and prepares students for a career in business, finance, law, public policy, and other areas.
As a student studying economics at Whitman College, you will develop a better understanding of the world around you. You will learn to identify the fundamental economic forces at work in business and financial settings as well as in other social and governmental arenas that are shaping the world. You will gain familiarity with quantitative methods, refine your analytical skills, and develop your ability to express your ideas orally and in writing.
During your first two years as an economics major you will take core courses such as Principles of Microeconomics, Principles of Macroeconomics, Statistics for Economists, Intermediate Microeconomics, and Intermediate Macroeconomics. Upon completion of this core, you will find a selection of upper-division field and interdisciplinary courses in which you will have an opportunity to learn how economic theory can be applied to a variety of settings. For example, in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, you will study the behavioral sources of environmental problems and the potential solutions. In International Finance, you might study how exchange rate movements affect an economy’s citizens, or in Public Finance, you will learn what the government does, from locating roads to tax cuts to school vouchers and college scholarships. In Urban Economics, you might study how the transportation system in the Seattle area is affecting the city’s size and structure, as well as its historical development.
If you are inclined toward interdisciplinary studies, you may be interested in our Economics-Mathematics combined major. The Economics Department also offers a combined major in Economics-Environmental Studies for students who are interested in an interdisciplinary approach to studying environmental problems with an economics focus.
Department members regularly incorporate new technologies and media into the classroom. We recognize that students have a variety of learning styles. We will encourage you to use the Internet as a source for articles and data on which to base paper assignments, and while taking statistics and applied economics.
Once you are a senior economics major, you will be expected to take the Major Field Test (MFT) in economics. This standardized test will provide an objective assessment of your understanding of basic economic theory. An oral exam complements the MFT and emphasizes extensions and applications of economic theory.
Whitman’s graduates in economics pursue a wide variety of career paths, including public service, economic consulting, banking and finance, management, marketing, law, government, journalism, insurance and environmental-related positions. Our strongest students have been admitted to the top economics, law, international studies and business schools, including Harvard, Stanford, Pennsylvania, and Michigan and top graduate programs in economics at the universities of Virginia, Illinois, Washington, and Oregon. If you are interested in pursuing further study in economics, department members will work with you to prepare for graduate work in the discipline.