BA in Economics & Mathematics

Mathematics and statistics are key tools in many aspects of economics. The joint major in Economics & Mathematics aims to provide foundational skills in both subjects while focusing course selection on both subjects’ common goals. The major is appropriate for economics students with interest in the mathematical techniques and for mathematics students interested in applications in economics. The major provides credentials in both subjects, leaving room for elective units for students with other interests. The degree program’s required courses include advanced courses in mathematics in addition to higher-level economic theory and econometrics courses.

Learning Outcomes

  • Develop a systematic understanding of the theoretical and mathematical structure of economic models, and develop the capacity to engage in the economic modeling of real-world events and economic policy. To this effect, advanced work in mathematics, probability, and statistics will be undertaken in order to correctly model the stochastic structure within which choices are often made and policy must correspondingly be evaluated.
  • Demonstrate focused expertise in one or more areas of economics.
  • Locate the necessary data to analyze and evaluate world events, and analyze data using appropriate econometric methods.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of optimization theory, particularly constrained optimization techniques, and be able to apply these methods to both microeconomic analysis (price theory) and macroeconomic analysis. The tools of calculus and linear algebra, in addition to statistical decisionmaking methods, will be covered.
  • Develop an understanding of multivariate econometrics, economic forecasting, choice under uncertainty, and programmatic policy evaluation. These techniques, in addition to cost/benefit analysis, will be applied in numerous settings, including individual decisionmaking, government policies, and business economics in the context of understanding the behavior of firms.


All BU undergraduate students, including both entering first-year and transfer students, will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, the University’s general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements can be satisfied in a number of ways, including coursework in and beyond the major as well as through cocurricular activities. Students majoring in Economics & Mathematics will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Social Inquiry, Quantitative Reasoning, and some of the Intellectual Toolkit. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major or, in some cases, cocurricular experiences.

The joint major requires 4 prerequisites plus 16 principal courses, as outlined below.


  • CAS EC 101 Introductory Microeconomic Analysis (4 units) and EC 102 Introductory Macroeconomic Analysis (4 units)
  • CAS MA 123 and 124 Calculus I & II (4 units each), or 129, or equivalent

Principal Courses

A minimum of nine additional economics courses and a minimum of seven additional mathematics courses, all completed with a grade of C or higher and distributed as follows:


  • CAS EC 221 Intermediate Microeconomic Theory (4 units)
  • CAS EC 222 Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory (4 units)
  • CAS EC 223 Statistical Analysis (4 units)
  • CAS EC 224 Econometric Analysis (4 units)
  • Any five other 4-unit economics electives, at least three of which are at the EC 400 or EC 500 level. (Note that EC 501, EC 502, EC 507, and EC 508 may not be counted toward this elective requirement.)

Mathematics (and Computer Science)

  • CAS CS 111 Introduction to Computer Science 1 (4 units)
  • CAS MA 225 Multivariate Calculus (4 units) or MA 230 Honors-Level Vector Calculus (4 units)
  • CAS MA 242 Linear Algebra (4 units) or MA 442 Honors-Level Linear Algebra (4 units)
  • CAS MA 569 Optimization Methods of Operations Research (4 units)
  • Electives: three other 4-unit courses, with at least one being above the 400 level, selected from CAS MA 226 or 231, MA 415, MA 416, MA 433, MA 511, MA 512, MA 568, MA 570, MA 577, MA 581, MA 582, MA 583, MA 584, MA 585, CAS CS 112


  • All 500-level and above economics courses are graduate-level courses. Special permission from the instructor is required for undergraduates wishing to take these courses.
  • Petitions for approval of transfer courses in economics must be submitted to your Economics Academic Advisor. Petitions for approval of transfer courses in mathematics must be submitted to your Mathematics Academic Advisor. Students must submit a Transfer Course Equivalency Form along with a copy of the course syllabus.
  • A maximum of four courses in total (economics and/or mathematics courses) at the 200 level or higher (i.e., this does not include transfer courses to fulfill CAS EC 101, CAS EC 102, CAS CS 111, CAS MA 123 and/or CAS MA 124) may be transferred toward your major from other schools after matriculation to Boston University.
  • For this program, CAS EC 505 may not be counted as an elective.

Honors in the Major

Students may earn the distinction of departmental Honors in the Major by achieving a 3.7 or greater GPA in their major courses and successfully completing the two-term honors thesis classes CAS EC 401 and EC 402 (students may count these classes as fulfilling two of the required five electives in the major). The CAS EC 401/402 sequence culminates in a thesis (written under the supervision of an economics department faculty member) and oral defense of the thesis before a committee of three faculty in April. Students must complete the 200-level core classes (CAS EC 221/222/223/224) before enrolling in CAS EC 401. Qualified students who are interested in writing a thesis should contact Professor Todd Idson, Director of Undergraduate Studies in the economics department, no later than the second term of their junior year, and if approved will be directly registered in EC 401 by the Department of Economics staff.