Academic Programs

Division of Social Studies



Adam Smith (1776) defined "political economy" as the science of "the nature and causes of the wealth of nations." The basic methodological approach of economics is to analyze the ubiquitous problem of human choice among alternative uses of limited resources. Economics examines how decisions are influenced by incentives, opportunities, and resource constraints, and explores the interacting consequences of those choices in our private and public lives.

The Bard Economics Program emphasizes the policy applications of economic theory at the local, national, and global levels. A wide range of courses in economic theory, applied economics, quantitative research methods, economic history, and economic thought are regularly offered. For students who wish to pursue a career in the financial world, Bard offers a five-year program leading to a B.S. degree in economics and finance and a B.A. degree in any other program. Click here for more information on the Program in Economics and Finance.

Areas of Study

Students are encouraged to construct their academic program in a sequence of cognate courses that culminates in a Senior Project. To help guide this process, economics courses have been classified in the following fields of specialization: economic theory and methodology; economic thought; economic history; macroeconomic theory and policy; industrial organization and theory of the firm; labor and household economics; economic development; environmental and ecological economics; and international economics.


Three economics courses are required for Moderation, including Economics 100 and two 200-level courses. At Moderation students identify an area of focus and discuss their preliminary ideas for the Senior Project. It is recommended that students take several 200- level applied courses during the sophomore and junior years. Graduation requirements include: (1) The theory sequence (Principles of Economics, Intermediate Microeconomics, and Intermediate Macroeconomics); (2) Statistics or Econometrics; (3) a course in economic history; (4) a course in economic thought; (5) at least four electives at the 200 level or above in economics, two of which must be at the 300 level (students with joint majors or interdisciplinary concentrations may replace one 300-level elective with two 300-level courses in a related discipline); (6) Calculus I (Mathematics 141) or the equivalent is a prerequisite for Economics 201 (Calculus II, Mathematics 142, is recommended); and (7) the Senior Project.

Recent Senior Projects in Economics

  • "Employer of Last Resort: Program Implications for the Ecuadorian Case"
  • "Local Political Budget Cycles: The Chinese Case"
  • "Minskyan Reregulation of the Financial Market"
  • "The Mediterranean Sea: Ecological Issues, Economic Solutions"


Students typically begin their study of economics by taking the principles course (Economics 100). The 200-level courses typically assume knowledge of introductory theory and are of special interest to students in political studies, historical studies, sociology, philosophy, human rights, global and international studies, social policy, and environmental and urban studies. Students who have completed introductory theory are encouraged to take at least one 200-level applied course before proceeding to more advanced course work in economics. The 300-level Upper College courses and seminars provide advanced treatment of theory, research methodology, and applications for moderated economics majors.

Students contemplating graduate school in economics are encouraged to take advanced theory courses and to develop their quantitative skills with additional courses such as Introduction to Mathematical Economics (Economics 205), Econometrics (Economics 329), and related courses in mathematics (Linear Algebra, Proofs and Fundamentals, Probability and Statistics).

Sample curricula for all areas of study within the Economics Program are available on the Economics Program website.