Please see the SFS Bulletin for all major requirements.

The International Political Economy (IPEC) major investigates the rich intersection between economics and politics in the global environment. It typically goes beyond the constituent disciplines by combining traditional economic concerns about efficiency with traditional political concerns regarding distributional issues and legitimacy in market and non-market environments. The resulting combination of insights provides a means of better understanding complex interactions at the local, national and international levels.

The special character of international political economy derives in part from the methodological and substantive overlaps between the traditional disciplines of economics and political science. Methodologically, political economy combines formal modeling, comparative methods, and statistical techniques to analyze and evaluate competing theories of economic and political phenomena. In addition to using methods standard in the constituent disciplines, political economy has pioneered in developing new tools for the study of collective action in the presence of conflicting private interests.

Substantively, International Political Economy analyzes how international and domestic political factors interact with economic factors to determine outcomes in a wide variety of areas, e.g., legislation, elections, government regulation, and policy formation in response to international phenomena; unilateral and multilateral activities involving international trade, finance, aid, and natural resources; local and international growth, development, and income distribution; and the interaction between business, governments, and diplomacy. The scope of inquiry ranges from mature capitalist countries, to developing economies to nations making transitions to capitalist systems. In all cases, the focus is on issues that cannot be properly understood without insights gained from both international economics and international politics.

Goals of the Major

The International Political Economy (IPEC) major is designed to provide students with the multi-disciplinary, methodologically rigorous tools needed to understand and analyze the interaction between political and economic forces around the world. These tools, as well as the substantive knowledge gained, will serve students who pursue graduate work, or careers in the private, public, or non-profit sector, international or non-governmental organizations. The IPEC major derives in part from the overlap between economics and political science, and the substantive knowledge gained by students in the IPEC major will partly reflect this. But the IPEC major also goes beyond these constituent disciplines and will provide students with knowledge of a variety of areas, including but not limited to the problems of globalization, the processes of economic development and reform, and the role of political power in economic policymaking.

Students will acquire both analytical tools and substantive expertise through unique core courses as well as through foundational courses from International Economics and International Politics on economic theory, econometrics, and international political economy. Students will also gain further expertise on specific areas by specializing in subsequent courses. All students, finally, will apply analytical tools to a particular topic of interest by writing a senior thesis.

Objectives of the Major

Substantively, International Political Economy analyzes how international and domestic political factors interact with economic factors to determine outcomes in a wide variety of areas. The scope of inquiry ranges from mature capitalist countries, to developing economies to nations making transitions to capitalist systems. In all cases, the focus is on issues that cannot be properly understood without insights gained from both international economics and international politics. This requires an understanding of the methods and principal issues animating the areas in which these fields intersect.

To do this, students will learn:

  • Quantitative and qualitative methods to make causal inferences regarding political-economic phenomena
  • The ways in which states and state-institutions help or hinder economic prosperity
    How collective action in the presence of conflicting private interests can shape legislation, elections, and policy
  • The nature of unilateral and multilateral factors shaping international trade, finance, and aid.
  • Original research and writing that identifies a puzzle, derives testable hypotheses, selects appropriate methodologies, gathers empirical evidence, and offers conclusions.

Writing in the Major

Students majoring International Political Economy learn how to apply analytical tools to a particular topic of interest by writing a senior thesis and how to produce original research and writing that identifies a puzzle, derives testable hypotheses, selects appropriate methodologies, gathers empirical evidence, and offers conclusions.

IPEC majors are introduced to analytical tools and theories through the following required classes:

  • ECON 101 Intermediate Microeconomics
  • ECON 121 Economic Statistics
  • ECON 122 Intro to Econometrics
  • GOVT 261 International Political Economy
  • PECO 201 Analytical Tools for Political Economy

Students are exposed to research topics and research methods through reading of academic papers and conducting their own research projects presented in courses such as:

  • IPEC 312 Research Topics in International Political Economy
  • IPEC 328 Political Economy of Inequality and Distribution
  • IPEC 332 Political Economy of Institutions and Development
  • IPEC 250 IPE Quantitative Research Lab
  • INAF 383 Applied Econometrics for Development: Stata Practicum
  • ECON 484 Political Economy of Trade Policy

Finally, students are trained to produce original research and writing conducted in the mandatory capstone course:

  • IPEC 401 Senior Capstone Seminar

Honors in the Major

Students can earn Honors in the IPEC Major by submitting a letter of intent during the junior year, writing an honors quality thesis based on original research during the senior year, earning an A grade in the Senior Seminar, earning a major GPA of at least 3.67, and earning a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5.

IPEC Requirements

IPEC majors must satisfy the following requirements.

All students must demonstrate proficiency in mathematics by one of three means: Passing MATH-035 Calculus I with a score of 4 or higher in AP Calculus, or passing the Math Department Calculus I waiver test.

The Mathematics Department waiver test 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 during the New Student Orientation period just before the beginning of the fall semester. Note that calculus is a prerequisite for Intermediate Microeconomics and Economic Statistics.

It is recommended that students satisfy the calculus requirement before the beginning of the sophomore year.

Requirements for the Class of 2022 and Beyond

  • Prerequisite: Calculus I or equivalent
  • Corequisite: GOVT-040 Comparative Political Systems
  • Corequisite: GOVT-060 International Relations
  • Corequisite: ECON-243 International Trade
  • Corequisite: ECON-244 International Finance
  • ECON-101 Intermediate Microeconomics
  • ECON-121 Economic Statistics
  • ECON-122 Introduction to Econometrics
  • GOVT-261 International Political Economy, GOVT-262 International Organization, GOVT-267 International Trade Law, or GOVT-268 Political Economy of Development
  • PECO-201 Analytical Tools for Political Economy or ECON-459 Game Theory
  • Two IPEC Core or Supporting courses, at least one of which must be IPEC Core
  • IPEC-401 Senior Thesis Seminar*

*Students who are not pursuing Honors in the IPEC major will be able to choose between the following:
Option I: Taking IPEC 401 and writing a thesis in it.
Option II: Taking an additional IPEC Core category course to substitute IPEC 401, and submitting a research paper written in a 300 or 400-level course that can count for the major.
Notes: (a) IPEC 401 is required for all students seeking Honors in the IPEC major and remains open to all students in the major.
(b) For Option II, you cannot double-count a single IPEC Core course to satisfy both the capstone requirement and an IPEC Core requirement.
(c) For Option II, the research paper is to be submitted electronically to Dean Kaneda before the last day of the semester's classes (not the last day of exams) if you are graduating in May or December, and before the last day of the second summer session’s classes if you are graduating in August.
(d) For Option II, the research paper can be from any of the 300 or 400-level courses that are attributed as IPEC Core or IPEC Supporting category courses. Not all IPEC Core/Supporting courses have a research paper requirement.
(e) For Option II, the research paper is expected to analyze a theoretical or empirical puzzle relevant to IPEC. It must be a completed and conclusive paper of at least 15 pages, and not a research proposal. The student must have earned a passing grade for the course in which the research paper was written.

Requirements Up to and Including the Class of 2021

The following 4 preparatory courses. These courses should be taken before senior year.

  • ECON 101 Intermediate Microeconomics
  • ECON 121 Economic Statistics
  • ECON 122 Introduction to Econometrics
  • GOVT 261 International Political Economy

ECON 101 should be completed during sophomore year since it is a pre-requisite for PECO 201. ECON 121 should be completed by the first semester of junior year since it is a pre-requisite for ECON 122. GOVT 261 targets sophomores and juniors. It is offered once a year, in either of the semesters. Students going abroad in the junior year should look into taking GOVT 261 in the sophomore year, as long as GOVT 060 International Relations has been completed.

Two Interdisciplinary Courses in Political Economy.

  • PECO 201 Analytical Tools for Political Economy (offered every fall)
  • IPEC 401 Senior Seminar in Political Economy (offered every spring)*

PECO 201 is ideally completed during junior year. IPEC 401 must be completed at Georgetown.

  • Four courses from the IPEC Core and IPEC Supporting course lists, at least two of which must be IPEC Core courses.

*Students who are not pursuing Honors in the IPEC major will be able to choose between the following:
Option I: Taking IPEC 401 and writing a thesis in it.
Option II: Taking an additional IPEC Core category course to substitute IPEC 401, and submitting a research paper written in a 300 or 400-level course that can count for the major.
Notes: (a) IPEC 401 is required for all students seeking Honors in the IPEC major and remains open to all students in the major.
(b) For Option II, you cannot double-count a single IPEC Core course to satisfy both the capstone requirement and an IPEC Core requirement.
(c) For Option II, the research paper is to be submitted electronically to Dean Kaneda before the last day of the semester’s classes (not the last day of exams) if you are graduating in May or December, and before the last day of the second summer session’s classes if you are graduating in August.
(d) For Option II, the research paper can be from any of the 300 or 400-level courses that are attributed as IPEC Core or IPEC Supporting category courses. Not all IPEC Core/Supporting courses have a research paper requirement.
(e) For Option II, the research paper is expected to analyze a theoretical or empirical puzzle relevant to IPEC. It must be a completed and conclusive paper and not a research proposal. The student must have earned a passing grade for the course in which the research paper was written.

SEQUENCING
IPEC majors urged to have fulfilled the Calculus I prerequisite (course, advanced credits, or waiver test) before the sophomore year. ECON 101 Intermediate Microeconomics and ECON 121 Economic Statistics are best taken during the sophomore year. You can consult the curricular dean for individualized planning.

QUANTITATIVE METHODS
Analyzing data, whether to test hypotheses or to summarize trends, is an important part of studying international political economy. As a result, all majors are required to take statistics and econometrics and are encouraged to do so as early as possible, preferably no later than the end of their junior year. (Statistics and econometrics are essential in writing the senior thesis in IPEC-401.)

December Graduates: Some students who have accumulated sufficient credits elect to graduate early. To do so, students need to plan ahead, especially if honors in IPEC is to be pursued. All IPEC Honors candidates must take the senior seminar, IPEC-401, which is offered only in the spring semester.

IPEC Course Lists:

The list of IPEC core and IPEC core and supporting courses can be searched for in the Registrar’s Schedule of Classes for each semester by selecting all for “Subject” and selecting SFS/IPEC Core Courses or SFS/IPEC Supporting Courses for “Attribute Type.”

 

Study Abroad

A substantial fraction of students choose to spend part or all of the junior year abroad. Although studying abroad has clear benefits, it also has costs. A successful balancing of these costs and benefits requires advanced planning. PECO-201 is offered in the fall semester. As this course builds a foundation that will be used in later courses, it is best to take it before the senior year. Students spending one semester abroad should consider the spring rather than the fall semester. Those spending a year abroad should consult with the field chair and the curricular dean.