As described by the economist Paul Samuelson, economics is the "study of how societies use scarce resources to produce valuable commodities and distribute them among different people."*
The UW-Madison Economics Undergraduate Program provides a foundation for students to understand markets and systems that govern the use of resources within societies. An education in economics benefits not only students majoring exclusively in the subject, but also those with additional majors in other liberal arts, technical, or professional areas. It provides a framework for understanding how and why human exchanges work, making it relevant for many fields where human interaction occurs.
Undergraduate economics instruction begins with broad introductory courses studying microeconomics, the market behavior of individuals and firms, and macroeconomics, the behavior of the economy in aggregate. Students from many disciplines take our introductory economics courses as requirements for their studies or to gain knowledge that benefits their work in other areas. Many continue to take advanced courses as electives.
Students majoring in economics go on to develop their understanding of the theoretical foundations of modern economic thought and conclude with advanced study of one or more specialized areas: banking and finance, econometrics, industrial organization, international economics, labor markets, macroeconomics, microeconomics and public finance. An undergraduate major in economics prepares students for a range of opportunities after graduation. Economics majors frequently go on to work in finance, public and policy administration, and government or continue studies at the graduate level.
*Economics (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1948)