Advice for Freshmen Interested in Economics


All of the upper level economics courses, including the intermediate theory courses (ECON 2100 [formerly 101] and 2200 [formerly 102]) assume a solid calculus background. The calculus requirement is one year of calculus equivalent to MATH 1070/1080 or MATH 1400/1410 (formerly 104/114) or 1400/1510 (formerly 104/115).

The Economics Department recommends that students take the MATH 1070/1080 sequence.  However, if the MATH 1400/1410 sequence is chosen, MATH 1410 is recommended rather than 1510 as their second-semester course. This is for several reasons: MATH 1510 includes material on probability that is already covered by other courses in the major (in particular, ECON 2300 [formerly 103]), while MATH 1410 deepens students' understanding of calculus. Moreover, MATH 1410 is the gateway course for the upper-level mathematics courses, while taking MATH 1510 complicates further study of mathematics. Details about the MATH courses can be found on the Mathematics Department Undergraduate Program web page.

The introductory economics courses (ECON 0100 [formerly 001] and ECON 0200 [formerly 002]) and the economics courses intended for non-majors (with numbers ECON 0xxx) do not have a calculus prerequisite, and therefore can be taken concurrently with the introductory mathematics courses or before the math classes are taken.

Starting with students entering Penn in the Fall of 2017, we will no longer convert advanced placement waivers (AP, IB, and A-Level) for ECON 0100 or ECON 0200 into course credits upon completion of the ECON minor, the EPOL minor, the ECON major, or the MATH-ECON major. However, the waiver can be used to satisfy prerequisites for higher-level economics courses. Please see the description of the course requirements for our minors and majors for further information on course options for students with waivers.

College students who wish to apply for an internal transfer at the end of their freshmen year, into the Wharton School or pursue a dual degree with the Wharton School, should be aware that this transfer may require ECON 0100 and ECON 0200. Because ECON 0100 is a prerequisite for ECON 0200 (meaning the two courses cannot be taken concurrently), students contemplating an internal transfer have to take ECON 0100 in the Fall semester and ECON 0200 in the Spring semester of freshman year. Taking both courses in the Spring semester is not an option.

Here is some additional information about internal transfers: