Carnegie Mellon University

Bachelor of Science in Economics and Politics

The Economics and Politics major is offered jointly between the Undergraduate Economics Program (UEP) and the Institute for Politics and Strategy (IPS). Students are equal members of both academic units and receive advising from both units.

To discuss the major requirements and declaration process, please contact Emily Half, Institute for Politics and Strategy deputy director, and Kathleen Conway, Undergraduate Economics Program associate director.

Economics and Politics is available as both a primary and additional major.

Politics and economics are deeply interconnected. Political institutions and decision-making impact economic growth, income distribution, and many other aspects of economic life. Both fiscal and monetary policies affect the economy, but these policies are often employed with political considerations in mind and can influence political activity. Conversely, economic outcomes shape political preferences and policy choices. The overlap between these two disciplines is endless. For example, while the United Nations is often thought of in purely political terms, the Security Council can and does impose sanctions on countries- an example of an economic policy used for political change.

The Economics and Politics major is offered jointly between the Undergraduate Economics Program (UEP) and the Institute for Politics and Strategy (IPS). Students are equal members of both academic units and receive advising from both units. The major will appeal to any student interested in the design, evaluation, and political implementation of policy. It will be especially attractive to students considering careers in politics, government agencies, political and business consulting, lobbying, or the law.

The B.S. in Economics and Politics is an interdisciplinary major. The major will develop the political context and underpinnings of economic policy making. It will explore how political institutions resolve the tradeoffs and disagreements associated with policymaking and how they can facilitate or impede desirable economic outcomes.

IPS strengths lie in topics like national security, grand strategy, and globalization. Economic policy is just one facet of grand strategy, through which an administration pursues domestic and international goals. This major will also address key issues such as the complementarity between the multilateral economic institutions such as the IMF and World Bank and the use of economic coercion, and enable students to understand economic statecraft more broadly. Whether coercion is successful depends not just on the levers of power but on also on variations in authoritarian regime structure, and complex linkages in the international economy. This is also important for our understanding of the relationship between international economics on human rights practices, extending even to how treaty commitments can facilitate compliance with a global initiative to combat climate change. And, not least important, there is broad recognition that the viability of the “Euro Zone” depends on whether the political-economic agreements necessary to mitigate institutional weaknesses are politically feasible or destined to failure. 

Students must earn a grade of "C" or better in all courses taken in the Department of Economics (73-xxx).

Prerequisites (19 units)

Students must complete all of the following courses.

21-120 Differential and Integral Calculus
or 21-112 Calculus II
36-200 Reasoning with Data

Foundations (48 units)

Students must complete all of the following courses.

21-256 Multivariate Analysis
73-102 Principles of Microeconomics
73-103 Principles of Macroeconomics
84-104 Decision Processes in American Political Institutions
84-275 Comparative Politics
73-210 Economics Colloquium I   (3 units)

Core (63 units)

Students must complete all of the following courses.

73-230 Intermediate Microeconomics
73-240 Intermediate Macroeconomics
73-265 Economics and Data Science
73-274 Econometrics I
84-265 Political Science Research Methods
84-326 Theories of International Relations
84-310 International Political Economy


Communication (9 units):

Students must complete one course from the following list.

73-270 Professional Communication for Economists
84-250 Writing for Political Science and Policy

Electives (27 units)

Majors are required to take 27 units (three courses) from the elective lists below.  At least one course (9 units) must be taken from Economics (73-xxx) and at least one course (9 units) must be taken from the Institute for Politics and Strategy (84-xxx).  Students may complete electives through coursework in the Carnegie Mellon University Washington Semester Program (CMU/WSP) Politics and Public Policy elective sequence.

Economics Electives

73-328 Health Economics
73-332 Political Economy
73-338 Financial Crises and Risk
73-352 Public Economics
73-353 Economic Foundations of Regulation: Applications to Financial Markets
73-359 Benefit-Cost Analysis
73-365 Firms, Market Structures, and Strategy
73-367 Technology Jobs and the Future of Work
73-372 International Money and Finance
73-415 Data Driven Business and Public Policy Decision Making
73-421 Emerging Markets
73-427 Sustainability, Energy, and Environmental Economcs


Politics and Strategy Electives

84-308 Political Economy of Latin America
84-309 Political Behavior
84-311 International Development: Theory and Praxis
84-313 International Organizations and Law
84-318 Politics of Developing Nations
84-319 U.S. Foreign Policy and Interventions in World Affairs
84-322 Nonviolent Conflict and Revolution
84-323 War and Peace in the Contemporary Middle East
84-324 The Future of Democracy
84-325 Contemporary American Foreign Policy
84-362 Diplomacy and Statecraft
84-363 Comparative Legal Systems
84-364 Comparative Presidential Behavior: Leadership, Personality, and Decision Making
84-366 The American Presidency
84-369 Decision Science for International Relations
84-370 Global Nuclear Politics
84-372 Space and National Security
84-373 Emerging Technologies and the Law
84-380 Grand Strategy in the United States
84-386 The Privatization of Force
84-387 Technology and Policy of Cyber War
84-388 Concepts of War and Cyber War
84-389 Terrorism and Insurgency
84-390 Social Media, Technology, and Conflict
84-393 Legislative Decision Making: US Congress
84-402 Judicial Politics and Behavior
84-405 The Future of Warfare
84-414 International and Subnational Security

CMU/WSP Politics and Public Policy Electives

84-330 The Shading of Democracy: The Influence of Race on American Politics
84-331 Money, Media, and the Power of Data in Decisionmaking
84-332 Effects of US Policy on Businesses: Perspectives of Asian Americans
84-333 Power and Levers for Change in Washington, DC
84-334 Presidential Power in a Constitutional System
84-336 Implementing Public Policy: From Good Idea To Reality
84-337 Biomedical Science Research, Policy, and Governance
84-340 Making Change: How Organized Interests Work in Washington
84-343 Language and Power: How to Understand and Use Political Speech
84-346 Legal Issues in Public Administration
84-348 Advocacy, Policy and Practice

Additional Electives

19-411 Global Competitiveness: Firms, Nations and Technological Change
19-425 Sustainable Energy for the Developing World
70-365 International Trade and International Law
70-430 International Management
79-280 Coffee and Capitalism
79-318 Sustainable Social Change: History and Practice
80-135 Introduction to Political Philosophy
80-136 Social Structure, Public Policy & Ethics
80-321 Causation, Law, and Social Policy
80-335 Social and Political Philosophy
80-348 Health, Human Rights, and International Development
80-447 Global Justice
88-366 Behavioral Economics of Poverty and Development
88-419 International Negotiation
88-444 Public Policy and Regulation
90-810 Population and Policy

Capstone (15-21 units)

Students must complete all of the following courses.

84-450 Policy Forum
12 units if taken during CMU/WSP, 6 units if taken in Pittsburgh
73-497 Senior Project
or Senior Honors Thesis