Please see the SFS Bulletin for all major requirements.

The International Economics (IECO) major is grounded in the belief that economic analysis is essential to the understanding of modern world affairs.

IECO students receive rigorous training in quantitative techniques and objective analysis. The major is excellent preparation for careers and leadership positions in the private or the public sector. Our students have built highly successful careers in finance, consulting, law, management, media, international development, international organizations, research institutes, government, non-profit organizations, and academia.

What do IECO students study? Our coursework focuses heavily on the behavior of social systems – such as markets, corporations, unions, international institutions, legislatures, and even families – through the lens of a unified analytical framework. The focus of the IECO major is on the way individuals make decisions and how those decisions add up, and interact with one another, to produce the social systems we observe.

The applications of this approach to international issues are myriad, covering topics such as trade policy, international economic organizations, economic growth and development, international financial markets, financial crises, and international migration to name only a few.

Goals of the Major

The International Economics major is designed to develop in students the ability to conduct innovative, well-informed, rigorous, quantitative analysis of all aspects of the world economy. This ability is essential to understanding the economic forces at work in the world and making sound decisions in the face of them. All students are expected to master the theoretical and empirical tools necessary to conduct such analysis.

Students who select the IECO major will gain experience in the following areas:

  • The basic elements of microeconomic theory including consumer choice, the impact on resource allocation of different market structures, game theory, general equilibrium analysis, and asymmetric information.
  • The measurement of output and prices, along with theories of economic growth, business cycles, and fiscal and monetary policy.
  • The fundamentals of international trade and finance.
  • Elementary statistics, probability theory, statistical inference, electronic data acquisition and computer applications.
  • The theory and applications of regression analysis, with emphasis on the main techniques for estimating economic relationships and testing economic hypotheses.
  • The application of economic theory and empirical analysis to a range of topics including labor, industrial organization, development, and the public sector.
  • The elements of original research and writing, from posing a question, to summarizing the literature, modeling, gathering data, establishing causality and drawing conclusions.

Objectives in the Major

Economics is a social science that studies the behavior of social systems – such as markets, corporations, unions, international institutions, legislatures, and even families – through the lens of a unified analytical framework. The focus is on the way individuals make decisions and how those decisions add up, and interact with one another, to produce the social systems we observe. Ultimately, economics offers insights into the study and design of policies to improve the performance of the system. To understand and apply this approach, the student must learn the following:

  • The basic elements of microeconomic theory including consumer choice, the impact on resource allocation of different market structures, game theory, general equilibrium analysis, and asymmetric information.
  • The measurement of output and prices, along with theories of economic growth, business cycles, and fiscal and monetary policy.
  • The fundamentals of international trade and finance.
  • Elementary statistics, probability theory, statistical inference, electronic data acquisition and computer applications.
  • The theory and applications of regression analysis, with emphasis on the main techniques for estimating economic relationships and testing economic hypotheses.
  • The application of economic theory and empirical analysis to a range of topics including labor, industrial organization, development, and the public sector.
  • The elements of original research and writing, from posing a question, to summarizing the literature, modeling, gathering data, establishing causality and drawing conclusions.

Major Requirements

Effective for the classes of 2022 and beyond:

Prerequisites – MATH-035 (Calculus I), ECON-001 (Micro), ECON-002 (Macro)

Co-requisites* – ECON-243 (International Trade), ECON-244 (International Finance)

*It is important to note that ECON-242 WILL NOT count toward the co-requisites for the IECO major. Should you opt to complete ECON-242 and then at a later date decide to major in IECO, you will be required to complete one higher-level economics course to fulfill the stated co-requisites for each major.

ECON-101 Intermediate Microeconomics
ECON-102 Intermediate Macroeconomics
ECON-121 Economic Statistics
ECON-122 Introduction to Econometrics

3 Applied Courses (At least 1 course (3 credits) must be in an approved 400-level ECON course carrying the IECO Applied course attribute)

1 Senior Seminar (IECO-401 or an approved 400-level ECON course)
NOTE: The IECO field chair and curricular Dean will maintain the IECO applied course list. These are typically courses that use or build upon intermediate theory, statistics or econometrics.

Effective for the classes of 2019, 2020, and 2021:

Subfield A: International Economic Theory & Policy

This subfield is geared towards students who would like maximum exposure to economics, and is recommended to students who intend to study economics at the Ph.D. level.

Prerequisites – MATH-035 (Calculus I), ECON-001 (Micro), ECON-002 (Macro)

ECON-101 Intermediate Microeconomics
ECON-102 Intermediate Macroeconomics
ECON-121 Economic Statistics
ECON-122 Introduction to Econometrics

4 Applied courses (Courses must be approved 400-level ECON courses carrying the IECO Applied course attribute)

1 Supporting course
1 Senior Seminar (IECO-401 or an approved 400-level ECON course)

For Subfield A students, Subfields B and C courses can count as Supporting. If you have more courses than the numbers required in the Applied category, the extras will default to Supporting. If you have more Supporting courses than the number required, the extras will default to free elective. The best combination of 10 courses that satisfy the major requirements will compute your major GPA. Non-Georgetown courses can be among the 10 courses (up to 5 courses), but will not enter the GPA calculation.

NOTE: The IECO field chair and curricular Dean will maintain the IECO major applied and supporting course lists. These are typically courses that use or build upon intermediate theory, statistics or econometrics.

Subfield B: International Finance & Commerce

This subfield is ideal for students interested in applying economics to business and finance, and is a good match with the International Business Diplomacy certificate.

Prerequisites – MATH-035 (Calculus I), ECON-001 (Micro), ECON-002 (Macro)

ECON-101 Intermediate Microeconomics
ECON-102 Intermediate Macroeconomics
ECON-121 Economic Statistics
ECON-122 Introduction to Econometrics

1 Applied course (Course must be an approved 400-level ECON course carrying the IECO Applied course attribute)

2 Subfield B courses
2 Supporting courses
1 Senior Seminar (IECO-401 or an approved 400-level ECON course)

NOTE: For Subfield B students, Subfield C courses can count as Supporting. If you have more courses than the numbers required in either the Applied or Subfield categories, the extras will default to Supporting. If you have more Supporting courses than the number required, the extras will default to free elective. The best combination of 10 courses that satisfy the major requirements will compute your major GPA. Non-Georgetown courses can be among the 10 courses (up to 5 courses), but will not enter the GPA calculation.

NOTE: The IECO field chair and curricular Dean will maintain the IECO major applied and supporting course lists. These are typically courses that use or build upon intermediate theory, statistics or econometrics.

Subfield C: Economic Growth, Transition & Development

This subfield is ideal for students interested in issues of economic development and transition, and matches well with area studies certificates.

Prerequisites – MATH-035 (Calculus I), ECON-001 (Micro), ECON-002 (Macro)

ECON-101 Intermediate Microeconomics
ECON-102 Intermediate Macroeconomics
ECON-121 Economic Statistics
ECON-122 Introduction to Econometrics

1 Applied course (Course must be an approved 400-level ECON course carrying the IECO Applied course attribute)

2 Subfield C courses
2 Supporting courses
1 Senior Seminar (IECO-401 or an approved 400-level ECON course)

NOTE: For Subfield C students, Subfield B courses can count as Supporting. If you have more courses than the numbers required in either the Applied or Subfield categories, the extras will default to Supporting. If you have more Supporting courses than the number required, the extras will default to free elective. The best combination of 10 courses that satisfy the major requirements will compute your major GPA. Non-Georgetown courses can be among the 10 courses (up to 5 courses), but will not enter the GPA calculation.

The IECO field chair and curricular Dean will maintain the IECO applied, subfield and supporting course lists. These are typically courses that use or build upon intermediate theory, statistics or econometrics.

Policies, Restrictions and Recommendations

In order to ensure a firm foundation for the advanced study of economics, students wishing to major in international economics need to have a minimum grade point average of 2.5 in the Core SFS economics sequence and receive no grade lower than a C in any of those courses.

During the sophomore year, students with room in their schedules should consider taking Intermediate Microeconomics (ECON-101), Intermediate Macroeconomics (ECON-102), and Economic Statistics (ECON-121), especially if junior year abroad is planned.

Students considering graduate study in economics are encouraged to take the sequence of math courses alongside their major coursework. Recommended courses include:

Calculus II (MATH-036)
Multivariable Calculus (MATH-137)
Linear Algebra (MATH-150)
Intro to Proofs/Problem-Solving (MATH-200)

Most Ph.D. Economics programs require these courses as minimal math preparation.

Effective for the classes of 2022 and beyond:

Co-requisites* – ECON-243 (International Trade), ECON-244 (International Finance)

*It is important to note that ECON-242 WILL NOT count toward the co-requisites for the IECO major. Should you opt to complete ECON-242 and then at a later date decide to major in IECO, you will be required to complete one higher-level economics course to fulfill the stated co-requisites for each major.

Effective for the classes of 2019, 2020, and 2021:

At most two of the following accounting and finance courses maybe taken for the IECO Major:

ACCT 001 (Subfield B)
GBUS-400 (Subfield B)
FINC-150 (Supporting)

Please note that extra applied courses, extra subfield courses, and courses from different subfield that has not been selected can count as supporting. For example, if a student selects a Subfield C course and is pursuing Subfield B, the Subfield C course could count as a required Supporting Course.

Calculus Prerequisite

MATH-035 Calculus I is a prerequisite for the major. It is recommended that students satisfy the Calculus requirement before the beginning of the sophomore year. In addition to completion of MATH-035, students may fulfill this requirement with one of the following:

Score of 4 or higher in AP Calculus AB or BC
Score of 4 or higher on BC test’s AB subgrade
Passing the Mathematics Department Calculus I waiver examination*

Please Note: The Mathematics Department waiver examination is an option suitable for students who studied Calculus in high school but did not have the opportunity to take the AP exam. It is administered once per year during New Student Orientation (late Aug./early Sept.). Important to note is that this in-person exam is different from the department’s online placement exam.

Senior Seminar

All IECO majors must complete a senior seminar. The IECO-401 Senior Seminar (thesis course) is offered only in the spring semester. IECO-401 is required for students pursuing honors and is optional (but recommended) for others. Students who opt not to take IECO-401 must take an approved 400-level ECON course in its place. Students who wish to graduate early may take IECO-401 in the spring semester of junior year.

Honors in the Major

Students can earn Honors in the IECO major by submitting a letter of intent during the junior year, writing a thesis based on original research while taking IECO-401 during the senior year, the thesis judged as honors quality, earning a major GPA of at least 3.67, and earning a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5. In addition, students must successfully earn grades of A or A- in Intermediate Microeconomics (ECON-101) and Intermediate Macroeconomics (ECON-102).

Writing in the Major

The field of Economics explores complex economic systems through a combination of deductive and inductive reasoning. Early economists attempted to communicate this reasoning and results of their analyses using words alone. This resulted in long, often convoluted books that were prone to error. Over the years, economists developed mathematical models and statistical tools, which facilitated analysis, reduced error and enabled far greater transparency and brevity in the expression of results. These techniques can be difficult for undergraduates to grasp at first, which is why they are the focus of most of our teaching effort. Yet, as we teach students to build, solve, test and present economic models, we are in effect teaching them to “write” economics.

Of course, models have not entirely displaced words. Students still must learn to explain the motivation, logic and conclusions of their work verbally. This skill is especially vital for communicating with non-economists. To that end, the economics programs (ECON and IECO) integrate writing in three principal ways:

  1. Explaining rationale
    Tests and homework assignments require students to give short written explanations of the reasoning behind their answers, usually in one or two paragraphs. While not the norm in the first-year Principles sequence due to large class size, it is common in the 100 and 200-level core courses and universal in the 400-level advanced courses.
  2. Writing short papers
    Short papers require students to develop arguments, explain theories or present evidence based on research. Such essays help students learn to organize their thinking and writing. Example assignments include writing short essays that discuss the causes and possible solutions to poverty, drafting policy memos in response to case studies, and writing summaries of academic literature.
  3. Producing a senior thesis
    The senior thesis in economics provides students with the opportunity to develop the skills and techniques needed for carrying out a substantive original research project in economics. To achieve this purpose, the course focuses on the writing and presentation of a thesis. Students may choose from a wide variety of topics. Along the way, students learn how to evaluate scholarly literature, formulate and model a hypothesis, locate data and test the hypothesis, write an elegant paper and give a convincing presentation. This course marks the culmination of the IECO major and an introduction to the world of scholarly research.Each student is responsible for writing an article-length paper, approximately 20-25 pages in length. In the paper, students are expected to evaluate, critique, test, and build upon a current debate of their choosing in the field of economics. Students should develop competing hypotheses, model them formally, and test them using quantitative methods. The papers are written as if they were being presented at a professional conference or submitted to a scholarly journal. The thesis is written in a series of steps, each of which is marked by the completion of a short paper or class presentation.The senior thesis course is open to all IECO majors but it is not required (students may substitute an additional 400-level economics class in place of the thesis course). Successful completion of a thesis is however a requirement for honors in IECO.