Economics is the science of human choice, the study of how scarce resources are allocated among competing uses to satisfy human wants. Since many choices analyzed are made by or affect business decision makers, economics is a unique blend of liberal arts and business. Therefore, the Department of Economics offers an undergraduate major in both the College of Humanities and Sciences and the School of Business. The major in the College of Humanities and Sciences is designed for students who desire the flexibility and breadth that is associated with a liberal arts degree. Students who want to combine training in economics with exposure to the business disciplines should consider the major in the School of Business.

Undergraduate work in economics is excellent preparation for careers in business, government and teaching, as well as for graduate work in economics and professional schools such as law, public administration and medicine. Specialization in economics prepares students for careers that emphasize analytical thinking, a broad understanding of the economy and business organizations and the proper choice of policies by governments and business enterprises. Because of their analytical, quantitative and decision-making skills, students who major in economics are sought after for a wide array of positions in management and sales. The specific skills they acquire also provide employment opportunities in large organizations with departments that forecast business conditions and analyze economic data of special interest to the organizations.

The mission of the B.S. in Economics is to provide undergraduate students with economic knowledge and skills that will enable them to compete successfully in changing regional, national and global economic environments.

Learning goals

  • Critical thinking
  • Quantitative proficiency
  • Communication

Learning outcomes

Upon completing this program, students will know and know how to do the following:

  • Students will solve key microeconomic problems.
  • Students will solve key macroeconomic problems.
  • Students will be able to interpret and analyze data and express economic relationships using graphs, equations and words.
  • Students will demonstrate strong oral and written communication skills.
  • Students will be able to employ economic models and data to analyze questions of economic significance.

Special requirements

The foundation program specifies course work required during the freshman and sophomore years. Students are eligible for admission into the advanced business program with a major in the School of Business upon meeting the minimum cumulative GPA requirement and successful completion of:

A minimum of 54 credits in the foundation program54
ACCT   203
ACCT   204
Introduction to Accounting I
and Introduction to Accounting II
6
BUSN   201
BUSN   202
Foundations of Business I
and Foundations of Business II
6
BUSN   225Winning Presentations3
ECON   210Principles of Microeconomics3
ECON   211Principles of Macroeconomics3
INFO   160Digital Literacy: Computer Concepts, Internet, Digital Devices1
INFO   161Digital Literacy: Word Processing Skills I1
INFO   162Digital Literacy: Spreadsheets Skills I1
INFO   165Digital Literacy: Spreadsheet Skills II1
SCMA   212Differential Calculus and Optimization for Business3
or MATH   200 Calculus with Analytic Geometry
UNIV   111 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry IFocused Inquiry I3
UNIV   112 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry IIFocused Inquiry II (with a minimum grade of C)3
UNIV   200Inquiry and the Craft of Argument (with a minimum grade of C)3

The admission requirements for the School of Business detail the deadlines for students to be admitted to the advanced business program with a major in the school. At least 30 hours of the required business courses for the Bachelor of Science must be taken at VCU.

Students may need to take additional mathematics courses as prerequisites to SCMA   212 or MATH   200. These credits will count as electives in the foundation program. The sample curriculum outline includes SCMA   171 since many of our students will need to complete this course.

The INFO   160, INFO   161, INFO   162 and INFO   165 requirements may be waived upon successful completion of a Knowledge Equivalency Test administered by the Office of Undergraduate Studies. No more than two additional credits may be applied to the degree from the INFO 16x series.

No more than four credits in physical education courses may be applied to the degree.

PSYC   214 and INTL   493 may not be counted toward a business degree.

Degree requirements for Economics, Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

Business foundation

General Education requirements

University Core Education Curriculum
UNIV   111 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry IFocused Inquiry I3
UNIV   112 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry IIFocused Inquiry II3
UNIV   200Inquiry and the Craft of Argument3
Approved humanities/fine arts3
Approved natural/physical sciences3-4
Approved quantitative literacy:3-4
Differential Calculus and Optimization for Business
Calculus with Analytic Geometry
Approved social/behavioral sciences3-4
Total Hours21-24
Business General Education requirements
BUSN   225Winning Presentations3
ECON   210Principles of Microeconomics3
ECON   211Principles of Macroeconomics3
INFO   160Digital Literacy: Computer Concepts, Internet, Digital Devices1
INFO   161Digital Literacy: Word Processing Skills I1
INFO   162Digital Literacy: Spreadsheets Skills I1
INFO   165Digital Literacy: Spreadsheet Skills II1
Business General Education electives (Select credits from the approved list.)3
Total Hours16

Additional Business Foundation requirements

ACCT   203
ACCT   204
Introduction to Accounting I
and Introduction to Accounting II
6
BUSN   201
BUSN   202
Foundations of Business I
and Foundations of Business II
6
SCMA   302Business Statistics II3
Open electives8-11
Total Hours23-26

Advanced business program 

Advanced business core
FIRE   311Financial Management3
MGMT   310Managing People in Organizations3
MGMT   434Strategic Management (capstone)3
MKTG   301Marketing Principles3
SCMA   301Business Statistics I3
SCMA   325Organizational Communication3
Major requirements
Advanced core (flexible by major)
ECON   300Contemporary Economic Issues3
ECON   403Introduction to Mathematical Economics3
or SCMA   320 Production/Operations Management
ECON   501Introduction to Econometrics3
or SCMA   302 Business Statistics II
INFO   360Business Information Systems3
SCMA   323Legal Environment of Business3
Major-specific courses
ECON   301Microeconomic Theory3
ECON   302Macroeconomic Theory3
Select one of the following:3
Labor Economics
Senior Seminar in Economics
Experimental Economics
Approved economics electives: select five 300- or 400-level economics courses. 115
Total Hours57
1

ECON   501 may be used as an elective if SCMA   302 is taken as a required course. ECON   403 may be used as an elective if SCMA   320 is taken as a required course. BUSN   400 and BUSN   401 may be used as electives for students enrolled in the International Consulting Program.

Total minimum requirement 120 credits

Business general education electives

Additional University Core Education Curriculum approved courses
Any AFAM, ANTH, ANTZ, ARTH, BIOL, BIOZ, CHEM, CHEZ, CRJS, DANC, ENGL, ENVS, FRSC, FRSZ, GEOG, GEOZ, HIST, INNO, INSC, INTL (except INTL   493), MASC, MATH, PHIL, PHYS, PHYZ, POLI, PSYC (except PSYC   214), RELS, SOCS, SOCY, USRP or WRLD course
Any foreign language course
Any honors-designated course taught outside of the School of Business
Any of the following UNIV courses:
Food for Thought
The Truth About Lying
Finding Your Voice in Contemporary Society
Pseudoscience
What's the Big Idea?
 

What follows is a sample plan that meets the prescribed requirements within a four-year course of study at VCU. Please contact your adviser before beginning course work toward a degree.

Freshman year
Fall semesterHours
INFO   160 Digital Literacy: Computer Concepts, Internet, Digital Devices 1
INFO   162 Digital Literacy: Spreadsheets Skills I 1
SCMA   171 Mathematical Applications for Business 3
UNIV   111 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry I Focused Inquiry I 3
Approved University Core Education Curriculum courses 6-8
 Term Hours: 14-16
Spring semester
BUSN   225 Winning Presentations 3
INFO   161 Digital Literacy: Word Processing Skills I 1
INFO   165 Digital Literacy: Spreadsheet Skills II 1
SCMA   212
Differential Calculus and Optimization for Business
or Calculus with Analytic Geometry
3-4
UNIV   112 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry II Focused Inquiry II 3
Approved University Core Education Curriculum course 3-4
 Term Hours: 14-16
Sophomore year
Fall semester
ACCT   203 Introduction to Accounting I 3
BUSN   201 Foundations of Business I 3
ECON   210 Principles of Microeconomics 3
UNIV   200 Inquiry and the Craft of Argument 3
Business General Education elective 3
 Term Hours: 15
Spring semester
ACCT   204 Introduction to Accounting II 3
BUSN   202 Foundations of Business II 3
ECON   211 Principles of Macroeconomics 3
SCMA   301 Business Statistics I 3
SCMA   323 Legal Environment of Business 3
Elective 0-2
 Term Hours: 15-17
Junior year
Fall semester
ECON   300 Contemporary Economic Issues 3
ECON   301 Microeconomic Theory 3
ECON   403
Introduction to Mathematical Economics
or Production/Operations Management
3
MGMT   310 Managing People in Organizations 3
SCMA   325 Organizational Communication 3
 Term Hours: 15
Spring semester
ECON   302 Macroeconomic Theory 3
FIRE   311 Financial Management 3
INFO   360 Business Information Systems 3
MKTG   301 Marketing Principles 3
Approved economics elective 3
 Term Hours: 15
Senior year
Fall semester
ECON   501
Introduction to Econometrics
or Business Statistics II
3
Approved economics electives 9
Elective 3
 Term Hours: 15
Spring semester
MGMT   434 Strategic Management 3
ECON   431
Labor Economics
or Senior Seminar in Economics
or Experimental Economics
3
Approved economics elective 3
Electives 6
 Term Hours: 15
 Total Hours: 118-124

Total minimum requirement 120 credits

ECON   101. Introduction to Political Economy. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Seminar on the development of critical thought and economic analysis of policy issues. Focus is on how policy choices affect society and the individual, the economic methodology that guides policy choices, and the institutional and political environments within which policy is derived. Issues cover a broad range of topics including environmental issues, tax policy, inflation expectations, unemployment, foreign trade and the effectiveness of fiscal and monetary policies. Crosslisted as: INTL   102.

ECON   203. Introduction to Economics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A survey of economic principles, institutions and problems. The course is designed to provide basic economic understanding for students who do not expect to major in economics or in the School of Business. Not applicable for credit toward economics and business majors. Also note that students may receive credit for only two of the following three courses: ECON   203, 210 or 211.

ECON   205. The Economics of Product Development and Markets. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. An introduction to some of the fundamental economic concepts necessary to effectively operate in today's marketplace. Basic elements of microeconomics, net present value analysis and market strategy will be covered in class. The goal is to provide students with a better understanding of how to approach business problems and of proven problem-solving techniques. Appropriate for engineering and non-engineering students.

ECON   210. Principles of Microeconomics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A course designed to acquaint the student with a theoretical and practical understanding of the economic institutions and problems of the American economy with a focus on microeconomics. Note that students may receive credit toward their degree requirements for only two of the following three courses: ECON   203, 210 and 211.

ECON   211. Principles of Macroeconomics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: ECON   203 with minimum grade of a B or ECON   210. A course designed to acquaint the student with a theoretical and practical understanding of the economic institutions and problems of the American economy with a focus on macroeconomics. Note that students may receive credit toward their degree requirements for only two of the following three courses: ECON   203, 210 and 211.

ECON   291. Topics in Economics. 1-3 Hours.

Variable hours. Variable credit. Maximum of 3 credits per topic. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. An in-depth study of selected business topics. Graded as pass/fail at the option of the department.

ECON   300. Contemporary Economic Issues. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: ECON 203 with a minimum grade of B or ECON 210; ECON 211; and junior standing. Students will learn to think critically about current policy issues using basic economic principles. Communication skills will be developed through presenting, discussing and debating alternative positions in class. Students will work in teams to outline the basic economic incentives and the direct and indirect costs and benefits associated with different policy actions. Through teamwork students will practice leadership skills and methods to manage group dynamics. Topics will vary by semester and may include the economics of discrimination, the environment, health care, cultural arts, education, business ethics, fiscal policy, monetary policy, globalization, inequality and immigration.

ECON   301. Microeconomic Theory. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: ECON   203 with a minimum grade of B or ECON   210; and SCMA   212 or MATH   200. Analysis of the principles that govern production, exchange and consumption of goods and services. Topics include demand analysis, production and cost theory, price and output determination, theory of markets and distribution theory.

ECON   302. Macroeconomic Theory. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: ECON   203 with a minimum grade of B grade or ECON   210; ECON   211; and SCMA   212 or MATH   200. A general survey of national income analysis and macroeconomic theory. Detailed study of public policies affecting price levels, employment, economic growth and the balance of payments.

ECON   303. Managerial Economics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: ECON   203 with a minimum grade of B and ECON   211; or ECON   210 and ECON   211; and SCMA   212 or MATH   200. This course is restricted to students who have completed at least 54 credit hours (junior standing). Application of tools of economic analysis to allocation problems in profit and nonprofit organizations. Models for evaluating revenue, production, cost and pricing will be presented. Emphasis on developing decision rules for turning data into information for solving problems.

ECON   305. Public Finance - State and Local. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: ECON   203 with a minimum grade of B or ECON   210. An economic analysis of state and local government budgeting, revenue sources and expenditures.

ECON   307. Money and Banking. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: ECON   211. A study of money, financial markets and the financial structure with emphasis on commercial banks and the Federal Reserve System. Relationships between economic activity and money supply are introduced.

ECON   312. E-commerce and Markets for Information Goods. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: ECON   203 with a minimum grade of B or ECON   210. This course surveys the ways that information and emerging information technologies affect market organization and market efficiency. Competitive strategies and regulatory policy for information markets also are considered. Topics include network effects, first mover advantages, auctions, price discrimination and organizational structure.

ECON   313. Economics of Transportation. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: ECON   203 with a minimum grade of B or ECON   210. An economic analysis of the transportation industry with special emphasis on regulation, public policy and urban transportation.

ECON   315. Economic Development. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: ECON   203 with a minimum grade of B and ECON   211; or ECON   210 and ECON   211. Introduction to the process of economic development. Surveys development theory and experiences of underdeveloped countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and of developed countries. Explores obstacles to development and policies and tools for stimulating economic development. Crosslisted as: AFAM   315/INTL   315.

ECON   321. Urban Economics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: ECON   203 with a minimum grade of B or ECON   210. An introduction to urban economics, with an emphasis on the economics of agglomeration and the role of externalities in the urban economy. Economic analysis of the provision of urban public services and urban public financing, especially in politically fragmented areas. Crosslisted as: URSP   321.

ECON   325. Environmental Economics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. This course is restricted to students who have completed at least 54 credit hours (junior standing). The application of economic analysis to externalities such as air and water pollution, pesticide control, land use planning and other environmental issues. The role of cost/benefit analysis in the decision-making process is developed. Efficiency and equity issues are evaluated.

ECON   329. International Economics. 3 Hours.

3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: ECON   203 with a minimum grade of B and ECON   211; or ECON   210 and ECON   211. An analysis of economic and political influences on exports and imports, balance of payments, foreign investment, exchange rates and international monetary systems. Crosslisted as: INTL   329.

ECON   333. Behavioral Economics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: ECON   203 with a minimum grade of B or ECON   210. Identifies when behavior systematically violates mainstream models and provides alternative behavioral models which are psychologically and empirically plausible. Discusses a variety of violations including endowment effects, framing, dynamic inconsistency and the winner's curse.

ECON   338. Game Theory. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: ECON   203 with a minimum grade of B or ECON   210. Analyzes strategic situations using game theory. Applies the analysis to a variety of settings and questions. Develops an understanding of the uses and limitations of the analysis.

ECON   344. Biodiversity and Ecological Economics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: ECON   203 with a minimum grade of B or ECON   210. Explores the use of both economic and ecological approaches to the identification, valuation and protection of biological diversity and ecological integrity. Investigates the potential of coupled human and natural systems through construction and computer simulation of dynamic ecological-economic models.

ECON   402. Business Cycles and Forecasting. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: ECON   203 with a minimum grade of B and ECON   211; or ECON   210 and ECON   211. An examination of repetitive variations in business activity. The measurement and analysis of economic fluctuations and how they affect the business environment. Stresses modern forecasting techniques.

ECON   403. Introduction to Mathematical Economics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: ECON   203 with a minimum grade of B and ECON   211; or ECON   210 and ECON   211. This course is restricted to students who have completed at least 54 credit hours (junior standing). The application of mathematical techniques to economic theory and economic models.

ECON   419. History of Economic Thought. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: ECON   203 with a minimum grade of B and ECON   211; or ECON   210 and ECON   211. A survey of the ideas of major economic contributors to modern economic thought. Theories of value, growth and distribution from the 18th through the 20th centuries will be presented.

ECON   421. Government and Business. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: ECON   203 with a minimum grade of B or ECON   210. The application of economic analysis to the behavior of business, industry and government regulation. Topics include the causes and exercise of monopoly power, antitrust enforcement, public utilities and industry studies.

ECON   431. Labor Economics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: ECON   300, 301 and 302; and STAT   210, STAT   212, MGMT 301 or PSYC   214. This course is restricted to students who have completed at least 54 credit hours (junior standing). Analysis of labor markets and institutions to gain an understanding of the process of wage and employment determination. Both historic and current topics are included.

ECON   441. Experimental Economics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: ECON   300, ECON   301 and 302; and STAT   210, STAT   212, MGMT 301 or PSYC   214; and junior standing. Students will learn about the leading models of decision making and human behavior in markets. The course will focus on using experimental methods to test the models’ hypotheses. Students will learn how to design experiments, collect experimental data, and how to examine the data and interpret the results.

ECON   442. Economic Growth. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: ECON   203 with a minimum grade of B and ECON   211; or ECON   210 and ECON   211. Explores determinants of cross-country income differences using economic models, economic history and data analysis. Analyzes factors that influence productivity growth and diffusion of technology between countries.

ECON   489. Senior Seminar in Economics. 3 Hours.

3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: ECON   300, ECON   301 and 302; STAT   210, STAT   212, MGMT 301 or PSYC   214; and junior standing. Analysis of economic theory and problems. Students will study a few topics in depth, focusing on understanding the current research, critically analyzing controversial issues and using data to investigate competing claims.

ECON   491. Topics in Economics. 1-3 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. Variable credit. Maximum of 3 credits per topics course; maximum total of 6 credits for all topics courses. Prerequisite: junior standing. An in-depth study of a selected economic topic, to be announced in advance.

ECON   492. Independent Study in Economics. 1-3 Hours.

Semester course; 1-3 credits. Maximum total of 3 credits. Prerequisites: junior or senior standing as an economics major and approval of adviser and department chair prior to course registration. Intensive study under supervision of a faculty member in an area not covered in depth or contained in the regular curriculum.

ECON   493. Internship in Economics. 1-3 Hours.

Semester course; the student is expected to work at the site 15-20 hours per week. 1-3 credits. Prerequisites: junior standing, a minimum of 3.0 GPA in economics courses, at least 15 economics credits and permission of the department chair. Intention to enroll must be indicated to the instructor prior to or during registration for semester of credit. The internship is designed to give students practical experience in an appropriate supervised environment in the public or private sector. Graded as pass/fail.