University of Wisconsin–Madison

Majoring in Economics

To declare a major in economics at the UW-Madison:

1. Meet the following requirements before declaring the major:

  • Complete at least two economics courses on the UW-Madison campus.
  • Complete a calculus course.
  • Earn a minimum GPA of 2.0 in all completed economics and calculus courses.

2. Attend drop-in advising starting Tuesday, October 10th, to meet with an advisor and fill out the appropriate forms. Drop-in advising takes place Tuesday-Friday mornings from 10:00-noon in room 7238 of the Social Sciences Building.

Students can earn the Honors designation for the major in economics. To do so, all of the follow criteria must be met:

1. Take the honors versions of the intermediate economic theory courses: Economics 311, Intermediate Microeconomic Theory-Advanced Treatment and Economics 312, Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory-Advanced Treatment.

2. Select and fulfill the requirements of the Economics with Mathematical Emphasis option (listed above).

3. Attain a cumulative GPA of 3.5 out of 4.0 in all courses in the major and an overall GPA of at least 3.3 in all courses taken at UW-Madison at the time of graduation.

4. Complete Economics 580: Tutorial in Research Project Design. This is offered only in the spring semester.

5. Execute a capstone experience. Complete either (a) or (b):

(a). Write an Honors Thesis: Either Economics 581, Honors Thesis (one semester), or Economics 681 and Economics 682, Honors Thesis (two semesters). Note: Economics 580 must be taken prior to writing the Honors Thesis.
(b). Other capstone options must be approved by an economics academic advisor.

All students majoring in economics are required to take Economics 310, Statistics: Measurement in Economics, unless another course is approved by an economics academic advisor. Students planning to pursue graduate studies in economics or those with a strong math background are strongly encouraged to take courses in statistics and related topics beyond the requirements for the economics major. Related, recommended statistics courses include:

  • Statistics 302, Accelerated Introduction to Statistical Methods
  • Statistics 309, Introduction to Probability and Mathematical Statistics I
  • Statistics 310, Introduction to Probability and Mathematical Statistics II
  • Statistics (Math) 431, Introduction to the Theory of Probability
  • Math 632, Introduction to Stochastic Processes
  • Economics 410, Introductory Econometrics

If you plan to take any statistics courses other than what is required for the major, we encourage you to meet with an economics academic advisor to discuss the best course of study to fit your future plans.

Students in pre-business who are considering economics as an additional major are encouraged to meet with an economics academic advisor to determine whether the statistics course offerings from the economics department or business school best suit your needs.

Similarly, students considering a double major in economics and either statistics or math should consult academic advisors in both departments. Some courses can be counted toward the requirements for both majors, but some course sequences may limit future opportunities, so it is best to consult the advisors prior to enrolling in courses.

Directed Study, as described in the undergraduate catalog, “offers the student an opportunity to work with a faculty member on an individual study program. A student who is stimulated by a particular concept or problem encountered in a course can pursue and develop that interest in depth through a directed study project. Such individualized study can make a valuable contribution to a student’s educational experience. Directed study courses are made available by departments on the basis of a student’s preparation and motivation and a faculty member’s willingness to accept the student in such an endeavor.”

Directed Study allows advanced students to explore in depth topics that are not covered in the regular economics course offerings. Your course may be structured to award one to three credits and, in most cases, will require writing a paper on your research and findings. These parameters will be established together with a supervising faculty member. Directed Study is available on either a credit / no credit (Economics 698) or graded (Economics 699) basis.

If you wish to pursue Directed Study in Economics, you must:

  • Be a junior or senior student majoring in Economics.
  • Complete the intermediate courses in microeconomics and macroeconomics.
  • Prepare a research proposal and/or reading list.
  • Obtain approval from a member of the Economics faculty to supervise your project. Ideally, this will be a faculty member with whom you are familiar and who has expertise related to your desired area of study.
  • Have a GPA of 3.0 in Economics coursework completed to date.
  • Complete the department’s Directed Study form, available at the Undergraduate Office in Room 7238 Sewell Social Sciences during regular business hours. Once the form is completed and signed by the instructor, return it to the Economics Undergraduate Office. The staff will create the course for you, allowing you then to enroll via standard university procedures.

Please note that Directed Study is intended to allow advanced academic exploration by independently motivated students. Directed Study is not intended as a means to bolster deficiencies in credits or GPA, and it does not count toward fulfilling the department’s advanced electives requirement.

For more information on Directed Study in Economics, please contact the Economics Undergraduate Office at:

Many students pursue an internship as a way to reinforce their academic studies and gain insight into a future career. The Economics Career Development Office can assist you with finding an internship or answer questions you may have. Also, Letters & Science Career Services has information on internships that you should review if you are considering an internship.

If you are an economics major, you may qualify to earn economics course credit for the experience. The internship is recorded as Economics 228, a one (1) credit elementary level course that is graded on a credit / no credit basis. Students should enroll for Econ 228 in the same semester/session in which the internship is granted and will be completed. All enrollments require prior approval by the Department of Economics. You are responsible for securing the internship before applying for the internship course credit.

Prerequisites for enrolling in Econ 228:

  • Declared economics major with a GPA of 2.2 or higher in the major
  • Completed at least four (4) economics classes at UW-Madison
  • Completed at least one (1) intermediate theory class (Economics 301, 311, 302, or 312)

Requirements to Earn Course Credit for an Internship:

  • Submit the internship request form and supporting documentation to the Economics Undergraduate Office.
  • Work as an intern a minimum of 100 hours during the term.

Supporting Documentation by Internship Supervisor and Student

The following documents must be submitted to the Economics Undergraduate Office:

  • A letter from the internship supervisor at the start of the term confirming the internship and indicating the number of hours and duties that will be required.
  • A second letter from the internship supervisor at the end of the term (no later than the last day of scheduled classes) evaluating the intern’s performance and outlining the duties performed.
  • A 2-3 page paper describing the relationship of the internship to economics studies. This is due by the last day of the semester in which the internship occurs.

Other Stipulations

  • You will not receive credit for an internship completed while attending another university.
  • You may take Economics 228, the internship course, for a maximum of two semesters and receive a total of two (2) credits, one credit per semester.