Economics is the scientific study of how society allocates its scarce resources. The many choices of individuals and firms — and how they interact in markets — influence resource allocation. Economics is about people and their decisions — how they work, what they buy, how they organize themselves to produce goods and services, and how firms and consumers interact to determine prices of goods and services. Economics is also about how forces such as overall changes in income, employment and prices affect society.
As in other disciplines, economics can be studied at different levels. At the microeconomic level, we study individual and firm behavior, and also how groups of individuals or groups of firms interact in markets for goods and services. In macroeconomics, we study the sum of all of these activities at the economy-wide level. Macroeconomic topics include the effects of international trade policy on a nation's imports and exports, or the effects of borrowing by a national government.
As a student of economics at Sweet Briar College, you will learn foundational theoretical concepts that are important for a broad variety of career paths, as well as for advanced graduate education in economics and other fields such as business, finance and public policy. By understanding the concepts and methods of economics, you will be well positioned for leadership roles in your career.
Our faculty work closely with students to ensure their academic preparation aligns with their career plans. For example, students like Kelly Winer '13, pictured here at the Southern Economic Association conference, are afforded the opportunity to present their original research at professional meetings. There are also numerous internship opportunities available for students, and the demand for their skills in the market after graduation is very strong.
The department offers two rigorous, contemporary curricula in economics within the framework of the liberal arts: a B.A. in economics and, jointly with the Department of Mathematical Sciences, a B.A. in mathematical economics. The economics program requires two levels of microeconomics and macroeconomics, and coursework in calculus and statistics. Numerous elective courses are offered both within the major and throughout the College, which along with independent studies and research, are used to tailor the program to each student's individual interests. The mathematical economics program combines the same core curriculum with more extensive quantitative studies for students who wish to delve more deeply into the theoretical underpinnings of the discipline. This major is recommended for students who wish to pursue graduate education in economics. Upon graduation, a student in either of our majors will have received a strong education in the core of economic theory, while having had the flexibility to prepare for her particular life goals.