Should you choose the Bachelor of Arts (BA) or the Bachelor of Science (BS) track in economics?

The BA emphasizes breadth of exposure to different topics in economics, whereas the BS emphasizes the techniques of economic analysis. For each individual student, the answer to which track you should pursue depends on what kind of career you have in mind and your preferences for mathematically oriented work. More precisely, if you want to learn how to interpret economic analysis as applied to different issues and use it to inform decision-making in the realms of business, government policy, or non-profit organizations, then the BA could be a good choice. The BA is also excellent preparation for an MBA or other professional master's program after graduation.

In contrast, if you want to learn how to produce economic analysis, you should consider the BS. This track is best for students with a strong mathematical background (e.g., those who enjoy math and found it easy to earn A's and B's in any prior math or statistics classes). If you might want to pursue a Ph.D. in economics, health policy, public policy or finance, or a J.D. at a highly ranked law school, you should consider the BS.

If you start on one track and then decide you want the other, switching is possible. However, we strongly recommend that you be certain which track is best for you before you start taking the intermediate level theory classes. Meeting with an ECON advisor to discuss your options is a good way to assess what is the best fit for you.

Major Requirements

Both the BA and BS tracks require a sequence of courses starting with introductory micro and macroeconomics, as well as calculus. Students then proceed to intermediate level courses in theory and statistics. Finally, students take at least one upper-level course focused on quantitative analysis plus several upper-level courses exploring specific topics in more depth. Both tracks require the same number of courses. The side-by-side listing of requirements below illustrates both the similarities and the differences between the two tracks.

  • ECON200 Principles of Microeconomics
  • ECON201 Principles of Macroeconomics
  • MATH120 Elementary Calculus I
    OR MATH140 Calculus I
  • ECON230 Applied Economic Statistics
    OR BMGT230 Business Statistics
  • ECON305 Intermediate Macro Theory & Policy
  • ECON306 Intermediate Micro Theory & Policy
  • Quantitative Methods Course, Choose one from:
    ECON402, 414, 424, 425, or 426
  • Two 300 or 400 level ECON Courses of Choice designated for the BA                                                 
  • Three 400 level ECON Courses of Choice designated for the BA
  • ECON386 OR approved experiential learning course
    OR an additional 300 or 400 level ECON-BA Course of Choice
BACHELOR OF SCIENCE (BS)   Effective Fall 2021*
  • ECON200 Principles of Microeconomics
  • ECON201 Principles of Macroeconomics
  • MATH140 Calculus I
  • ECON300 Methods and Tools for Economic Analysis
    OR MATH241 Calculus III plus any statistics course
  • ECON321 Economic Statistics
    OR STAT401 Applied Statistic & Probability II
  • ECON325 Intermediate Macroeconomic Analysis
  • ECON326 Intermediate Microeconomic Analysis
  • ECON422 Econometrics I
  • Three 400 level ECON Courses of Choice designated for the BS
  • One 400 level ECON Course of Choice designated for the BS or BA
  • One 300 or 400 level ECON Course of Choice designated for the BS or BA


*Effective for current UMD students who officially declare the ECON-BS as their major
after February 5, 2021 and all new freshmen and transfer students entering UMD in
Fall 2021 or later. Information on the previous BS curriculum is below.

A checklist of degree requirements in a pdf format can be downloaded below:


ECON-BS Curriculum Prior to Fall 2021

If you officially declared the Bachelor of Science in Economics as your major by February 5, 2021 then you are allowed to finish your degree under the old requirements or you can choose to switch to the new curriculum.  An outline of the old ECON-BS curriculum can be found here. Given the increased flexibility of the new curriculum, it is likely advantageous for students under the old curriculum to make the switch. Be sure to speak with an ECON advisor if you have any questions.


Important information for all ECON majors

  • Economics courses are sequential in nature and all prerequisites are strictly enforced. Students should refer to their major cards and the schedule of classes for detailed prerequisite information.
  • All major requirements must be completed with a grade of C- or better.
  • Students must also achieve a combined grade point average of a 2.0 in all major requirements.
  • The courses utilized to fulfill major requirements may not be used to "double-count" for other major requirements.
  • Students may take a maximum of 3 ECON courses per semester.

Every student must also complete their General Education requirements, as well as enough electives to reach the required minimum of 120 cumulative credits for graduation. For detailed information about GenEd requirements click here.

Academic Benchmarks

In accordance with the University's policies, the Department of Economics expects students to make timely progress towards graduation. Under normal circumstances, a full-time student is expected to complete his/her degree requirements in four years. The student should successfully complete a specific number of courses each academic year. To help measure progress during the early stages of a student's studies in economics, students will have to complete courses designated as benchmarks within a specified number of semesters in order to continue in their major.

Bachelor of Arts - Students must complete the following five courses within two semesters of entering the major:

  • ECON200, ECON201, and MATH120/220 or MATH140 with grades of C- or higher
  • One additional GenEd course with a D- or higher
  • Academic Writing with a C- or higher

Bachelor of Science - Students must complete the following six courses within two semesters of entering the major:

  • ECON200, ECON201, MATH140, and ECON300 (or MATH241 plus any statistics course) with grades of C- or higher
  • One additional GenEd course with a D- or higher
  • Academic Writing with a C- or higher

These benchmark deadlines may not be appropriate for all incoming students (depending upon credit earned prior to entering the major and math placement). All students complete an individualized benchmark contract with an ECON advisor, either at orientation or in the process of declaring the major. If you have any questions as to when your benchmarks must be completed, please refer to your signed benchmark contract or meet with an ECON advisor.

Switching Curriculums

If you want to switch from the BA to the BS, or vice versa, follow the instructions listed here.