Advice for Freshmen Interested in Economics


All of the upper level economics courses, including the intermediate theory courses (ECON 101 and 102) assume a solid calculus background. The calculus requirement is one year of calculus equivalent to MATH 104/114 or 104/115.

The Economics Department recommends that students take MATH 114 rather than 115 as their second-semester course. This is for several reasons: MATH 115 includes material on probability, that is already covered by other courses in the major (in particular, ECON 103), while MATH 114 deepens students understanding of calculus. Moreover, MATH 114 is the gateway course for the upper-level mathematics courses, while taking MATH 115 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 1 and ECON 2) and the economics courses intended for non-majors (with numbers ECON 0xx) 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 1 or ECON 2 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 1 and ECON 2. Because ECON 1 is a prerequisite for ECON 2 (meaning the two courses cannot be taken concurrently), students contemplating an internal transfer have to take ECON 1 in the Fall semester and ECON 2 in the Spring semester of freshmen year. Taking both courses in the Spring semester is not an option.

Here is some additional information about internal transfers: