Economics is the largest concentration at Harvard College, with roughly 750 students. The
concentrators are, as far as their geographical distribution and grade point averages are
concerned, a random draw from students who take Ec 10. One appeal of the department is
that it is large enough to accommodate students with a wide range of interests, both in
terms of subject matter and approaches to learning.
Economics is a more heavily quantitative discipline than the other social sciences.
Quantitative measures of economic life are omnipresent – prices, quantities, revenues,
expenditures, and so forth. As a result, economics courses rely relatively heavily on
mathematical tools. All concentrators are expected to have a basic preparation in calculus,
and it is required for concentrators to obtain such preparation before they take the
intermediate microeconomics courses, Ec 1010a or 1011a. Over three-fifths of
concentrators are satisfied with mathematics at the level of Math 1a (or of the BC Advanced
Placement exam). The remainder continue with mathematics by taking either Math 20 or
21a and 21b (or equivalent courses) and possibly higher level mathematics. Those
considering going on to graduate school in economics should plan to take more
mathematics. Some Economics concentrators take computer science courses as well. The
more applied and empirical subfields of Economics use computers intensively in statistical
and analytical work.
Faculty time (with the possible exception of dissertation supervision) is split about evenly
between the undergraduate and the graduate programs. However, calculations of average
student/faculty ratios within the Economics Department are bound to be misleading.
Undergraduates interested in international economics, for instance, may find themselves in
small classes from early in their undergraduate career. Undergraduates interested in capital
markets or corporate finance are likely to find themselves in large courses, even in their
senior year.

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