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The Tepper School undergraduate economics program welcomes members from the Carnegie Mellon community to learn more about the program. Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter where we provide information about classes, faculty research, professional and career development, student clubs, and showcase our community through student spotlights.

It is an exciting time to be an economist and a student of economics.   We are all inspired by what we can do with our training.  After all, our field's purpose is to identify, study, and solve societal problems.  


We want you to know that the Undergraduate Economics Program is committed, as always, to providing you with a supportive and nurturing learning environment.  In addition, we feel, a heightened sense of urgency in delivering a curriculum and a learning environment in which we can grapple with the social and economic problems resulting from racial discrimination, social injustice, and economic disparity that threaten civil society.  This year, you will have academic, research, classroom, and meta-curricular opportunities to investigate these very human  topics.


If you have questions, let us know.  If you have concerns, let us know. If you want to talk through your feelings, let us know.  Please set up an appointment with us using the Undergraduate Economics Program Online Scheduler.

Over the past few years, we have seen changes to our curriculum, introductions of new concentrations and clubs, a move into the new Tepper Quad, and more.  While our program has always announced new innovations and changes, there has not been a single location with our rules and policies information that can be easily accessed. 

So why now?  

During the summer of 2020, the Journal of Economics Perspectives published an article How You Can Work to Increase the Presence and Improve the Experience of Black, Latinx, and Native American People in the Economics Profession.  While the research behind the article focused on graduate students and professionals, the authors recommendations  can be equally applied to the undergraduate world.  Specifically, the authors encourage departments to take actions that "inform, mentor, and welcome".  We hope that you will find that this policy page not only provides our community with a list of rules and policies, but provides the intellectual and organizational reasonings underpinning these rules and policies.  So, this handbook has been written with a new editing lens -- a lens that focuses on complete and transparent information that Black, Latinx, and Native American students will benefit from, but also first-generation students, international students, LGBTAIA+, and many more.  

If you are a student at CMU, you have been admitted because the Admissions Office believes that you can succeed.  Remember this.  You belong here. 

This policy page has been created to provide you with a high-level view of our program -- while also providing you with information that affects your daily life as a student. But it should not be considered a substitute for discussions with your advisors (you have many and we will introduce you to them later in this handbook) and faculty. 

Throughout this policy section, you will find tips 🎓  that will help you succeed at CMU. There is nothing magic to these tips, but sometimes they are not always immediately apparent to all students. 


🎓 #1:  Familiarize yourself with the contents and resources contained in this section.

🎓 #2: College is not an extension of secondary school -- you might need to rethink how you approach your studies and non-academic life.  What do we mean by that? It is true that  the skills and intuition that you developed to succeed in high school remain valuable.  But these skills and intuition were for a rather fixed and homogenous environment, and you were usually provided with quite a bit of support  that you now need to take ownership for.  Some of the differences you will experience are the classroom experience, time management, teaching styles, setting priorities, assessments, increased responsibilities for learning the material. You will experience a shift of responsibility away from the faculty and friends and towards you vis a vis the choices you make and their consequences.  ...  We are here to help make your transition as smooth as possible -- so stop by our offices as often as you need.

Academic Program Policies

In addition to the university academic policies, Dietrich-college level policies, and Tepper-level college policies, the Undergraduate Economics program has policies that govern its degrees, curriculum, and courses.  Students are encouraged to talk with their academic advisors about policies governing their time at CMU.

Dietrich-specific and university-specific forms may found here (including overloading petitions, General Education course substitutions, requests, etc.).

 

Economics courses taken outside of CMU can be categorized into two boxes: courses taken before enrollment at CMU and courses taken during one's time as a CMU student.  Regardless of whether a course is taken before or after matriculation, a course may only be eligible for transfer credit if it is comparable in quality and scope to courses offered by our program.  Additionally, course approval is contingent on student satisfaction of pre-requisites, therefore, an approved transfer for a more senior student may not be approved for a more junior student.


Transfer of Credits for Courses Taken Before Matriculation into CMU

Courses taken before enrollment at CMU are typically AP/IB/Cambridge Advanced Level and EdExcel Advanced Level (or Singapore H2 Level) courses or courses taken at a local college or pre-college summer experience.  The university maintains a list of exams and credit award guidelines.

As a general rule, courses taken while a high school student at a local college or during a pre-college summer experience do not typically meet the standard for transfer credit.

Transfer students from other institutions are encouraged to work with their CMU academic advisor and the Undergraduate Economics Program to determine the eligibility of their transfer course requests.


Transfer of Credits for Courses After Matriculation into CMU

While at CMU, you will have opportunities to enroll in other academic institutions; you might wish to study abroad or spend a semester/summer at another U.S. institution.   When planning your course schedules, bear in mind that only the Undergraduate Economics Program can approve transfer credit for economics courses (73-xxx).   We recommend that you get approval for more courses than you intend to take so as to have flexibility when creating your schedule and to anticipate course cancellations at your host institution.


The Undergraduate Economics Program follows the University's policy that students must obtain pre-approval for all economics courses taken outside of CMU. To receive credit for an external course, students must submit a request through the online transfer credit application site.  In addition to completing the program's online transfer course credit request, students are responsible for completing the necessary transfer credit forms for their home colleges and providing University Enrollment Services with an official transcript upon completion of the course.


Following university policy,  units will transfer for approved courses, but  grades will not be factored into your Carnegie Mellon University Q.P.A. The one exception to this rule is that grades transferred from courses taken from PCHE institutions during the fall and spring semesters will count towards the CMU Q.P.A.


Failure to obtain pre-approval may result in not receiving economics credit at CMU for the course. 


In addition to the university's policies governing courses taken outside of CMU, the Undergraduate Economics Program has the following rules regarding credit for external courses.


  1. Our program aims to maintain the highest possible educational standard, and approval of a transfer credit request may be granted only if it can be demonstrated that the course contents correspond to a CMU-level course.
  2. All courses submitted for credit will be evaluated by the Executive Director of the Undergraduate and may involve input from program faculty, university registrar's office, university's study abroad office, and program staff.  Final determination regarding acceptance or denial of credits is made by the Economics-Education Affairs Committee. The following documentation will be needed in your submissions:
    1. University name
    2. Course name; number; and website (often a registrar's link)
    3. Current Course syllabus and description;
    4. Course textbook, author, edition, publication date (often included in the syllabus);
    5. Course pre-requisites 
  3. Core courses for degree seeking students may not be transferred.
  4. The number of courses that may be transferred and count towards the degree depend on the specific degree 

     

    Degree

    Minimum number of upper level electives that must be taken at CMU

    B.A. in ECO

    18

    B.S. in ECO
    or Additional Major in ECO

    36

    B.S. in ECOMTH

    18

    B.S. in ECOPOL

    98

    B.S. in ECOSTA
    or Additional Major in ECOSTA

    18

    Minor in ECO

    9


You may address all questions about transfer credits to the Undergraduate Economics Program's e-mail address: econprog@andrew.cmu.edu .   

Independent study courses provide self-directed students with an opportunity to pursue a topic that is not covered in the curriculum.

Independent studies may count as an upper level electives and count towards the degree requirements when the following conditions are met:

  • The topic is a deeper dive into an area which has previously been investigated in an upper level elective taken at CMU (and cannot be offered in a regular course) and an economics faculty member is willing to lead the course.  
  • The substance is the independent study does not duplicate the work of a regular course.
  • 73-230: Intermediate Microeconomics and/or 73-240 Intermediate Macroeconomics will have been completed.
  • Student is not counting other economics independent study courses towards their degree requirement.

 

Application process includes:

  • Students will be asked (via the online portal found a the bottom of: https://www.cmu.edu/tepper/programs/undergraduate-economics/our-economics-community/current-students.html  ) to describe the proposed independent study course.  Proposal should  include a reading list, list of assessments and deadlines, the way in which your academic work will be evaluated, etc.  The  number of proposed course units maps into  description of activities (FYI: units correspond to the weekly number of course hours (time spent with faculty + time spent on your own).  Additionally, proposal must explain how proposed course fits intellectually into their economics curriculum.

 

Application review process may include:

  • Review of relevant courses and grades as they pertain to the proposed topic by Director of Undergraduate Research and proposed faculty member.  Review includes performance in other upper level economics electives.
  • Review of proposed independent study to determine robustness (does the proposal map into the appropriate number of units, are there adequate means and number of assessments, etc.) by Director of Undergraduate Research and proposed faculty member
  1. Majors*: Students pursuing an economics primary major and any other additional major/minor combination, should consult with the secondary departments to determine their double counting rules. 
  2. Additional Major in Economics*: Fulfill the degree requirements and have four advanced economics electives that do not count towards a degree. Any course taken for the additional major may be double counted in the students’ general education program. 
  3. Minors*: 

    a. Fulfill the degree requirements. 73-265 and the three advanced economics electives must be unique courses and not count towards another degree. Any course taken for the minor may be double counted in the students’ general education program. 

    b. Economics courses used to fulfill a track/concentration requirement within a degree are not considered as unique courses when applied to the minor degree.

*Students pursuing a compuational finance degree may not double count their electives with the economics and mathematical science degree. Computational Finance majors should consult with their mathematics and economiocs advisors to determine whether it is possible to earn both degrees.

University policy states the following about Incomplete grades:

Carnegie Mellon students are expected to complete a course during the academic semester in which the course was taken. However, if the instructor agrees, a grade of I (incomplete) may be given when a student, for reasons beyond his or her control, has been unable to complete the work of a course, but the work completed to date is of passing quality and the grade of incomplete provides no undue advantage to that student over other students.

In awarding an I grade, an instructor must specify the requirements for completing the work and designate a default letter grade where no further work is submitted. Students must complete the required course work no later than the end of the following academic semester, or sooner if required by prior agreement. The instructor must record the permanent grade by the last day of the examination period of the following semester, or Enrollment Services will administratively assign the default grade. (https://www.cmu.edu/policies/student-and-student-life/grading.html).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   For Instructors: Undergraduate Economics Program Guidelines for assigning an Incomplete grade (effective Spring 2022): 

The program recommends instructors consult with either the staff member that best matches their course designation before assigning an Incomplete grade to a student:  Carol Goldburg for required courses, Kathleen Conway for electives. The guidelines below can help prepare you for that consultation. Please explain to students that you cannot grant an Incomplete grade without consulting the department and its guidelines.

  1.  A sufficient amount of coursework should be completed for a student to be eligible to receive an Incomplete grade. The Department recommends that the student already should have completed enough coursework that she/he/they has/have a reasonable chance of finishing the remainder of the coursework independently and successfully. If a student has completed less than 75% of the total coursework, an Incomplete grade should not be considered a reasonable option.
  2.  The student should be completing the same work that everyone else in the course completed. There shouldn’t be a different set of assignments for that student (except where different but equivalent assignments or examinations are necessary to discourage academic dishonesty).
  3. The Department uses an Incomplete Grade Agreement to advise both faculty and students about Incomplete grades. This agreement will outline the specific work that needs to be completed and the deadline by which that work should be submitted in order for the instructor to have the time to assess it and change the grade before the system triggers the default grade (which typically occurs near the end of the following semester).
    1. Your instructor will fill out and submit an Incomplete Grade Agreement on your behalf, which you will receive via a special email. In that email, you will be asked if you agree or do not agree to the terms of the Agreement.The instructor who assigns the Incomplete grade can specify an earlier deadline, but not later than that which is posted in the University Catalog's policies on grading.
    2. If you agree to the terms of the Incomplete Grade Agreement, the Department Head will either approve or deny the request for the Incomplete Grade. You will be notified of the decision via email.
    3. If you do not agree to the terms of the Incomplete Grade Agreement, your instructor will contact you to discuss other options.
  4. The Incomplete Grade Agreement is independent of specific disability accommodations, which may be provided as specified throughout the semester but should not be provided retroactively at the end of the semester. Please consult with the Office of Disability Resources and the Undergraduate Economics Program with questions or for clarifications.
  5. Most Incompletes are assigned because of unforeseen circumstances that have occurred in a student’s life. The Department may require documentation from another CMU entity (e.g., Student Affairs, Athletics, Disability Resources, University Health Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, Office of Title IX Initiatives) to verify the basis for an Incomplete grade. Such documentation does not need to include details of the unforeseen circumstances. Merely having trouble “keeping up” or maintaining balance with other coursework is insufficient justification for assigning an Incomplete grade.
  6. If a student is to receive an Incomplete grade due to unforeseen circumstances, chances are the student may also receive additional Incomplete grades in other courses. So that the student does not become overwhelmed with coursework due to multiple Incomplete grades, it is important for the instructor to consult with either the program’s academic advisor (Kathleen Conway) so that a well-informed decision can be made. At times, a Leave of Absence is more appropriate for a student than multiple Incomplete grades.
  7. There must be an agreement that outlines the specific work that needs to be completed and the deadline by which that work should be submitted in order for the instructor to have the time to assess it and change the grade before the system triggers the default grade (which typically occurs near the end of the following semester).
  8. Instructors assigning an Incomplete grade to a graduating student should discuss with that student the possibility of her/his/their graduation date being pushed back as a result.  For graduating students, an "I" grade with a deadline more than a week after the final grade deadline is likely to affect the student's graduation date. Please refer to the academic calendar and consult with the economics academic advisor and Executive Director.




 

 

 

The economics honors thesis program provides qualified students with an opportunity to pursue an independent research question at depth under the guidance of a research mentor. 

The honors thesis is not an independent project; it is more rigrorous and requires more intellectual initiative on the part of the student.  Click here to read previous honors theses.

Students pursuing any of the primary economics degrees have the choice of writing either a Dietrich College hojors thesis or a Tepper College honors thesis.  Elgibility for the two programs differ and are listed below. 

Announcement

Each spring, the Dietrich College Dean's Office writes to elibigle student  inviting them to submit a thesis proposal to the DC Honors Program.  At the same time, the Director of the Undergraduate Research Program in Economics reaches out to eligible students inviting them to submit a thesis proposal to the Tepper Honors Program.  Students may not write both a Deitrich College and a Tepper College honors thesis for the same degree program.

Eligibility
The Dietrich College Honors Thesis
  • Be a declared Economics, Economics and Mathematical Sciences, Economics and Politics, or Economics and Statistics primary major;
  • Have a minimum cumulative QPA of 3.25 and a minimum cumulative QPA in your economics major of 3.50 at the time of application;
  • Have successfully completed 73-274: Econometrics 1, 36-226: Introduction to Statistical Inference, or 73-265: Economics and Data Science by the end of your junior spring term;
  • Identify an economics faculty member who will serve as your advisor for this two-semester 18-unit course;
  • Receive programmatic sponsorship for your research proposal in the form of an approval by the Director for Undergraduate Research in Economics 
The Tepper College Honors Thesis
  • Be a declared Economics, Economics and Mathematical Sciences, Economics and Politics, or Economics and Statistics primary major;
  • Have no academic integrity violations;
  • Have a minimum cumulative QPA of 3.50 and a minimum cumulative QPA in your economics major of 3.50 at the time of application;
  • Have succesfully completed 73-274: Econometrics 1, 36-226: Introduction to Statistical Inference, or 73-265: Economics and Data Science by the end of your junior spring term;
  • Identify an economics faculty member who will serve as your advisor for this two-semester 18-unit course; and
  • Receive programmatic sponsorship for your research proposal in the form of an approval by the Director for Undergraduate Research in Economics 
 
Who Must Complete Senior Work and What is Senior Work ?

If you are a student pursuing the B.A. in ECO, B.S. in ECO, or B.S. in ECOPOL, your degree requires “Senior Work”;   if you are pursuing the B.S. in ECOSTA, you degree has no specified Senior Work.  Senior Work is a     For information about “Senior Work”, please read through your degree requirements (http://coursecatalog.web.cmu.edu/schools-colleges/tepper/undergraduateeconomicsprogram/ or http://coursecatalog.web.cmu.edu/schools-colleges/dietrichcollegeofhumanitiesandsocialsciences/ ) or take a look at your Stellic audit. 

During the 22-23AY, we will allow seniors pursuing the B.A. in ECO, B.S. in ECO, B.S. in ECOMTH, or B.S. in ECOPOL to count Senior Project as an upper level elective if they are completing either a Dietrich College or Tepper School senior honor thesis.  Students pursuing the  B.S. in ECOSTA may not count Senior Project as an upper level elective.  If you are a rising ECOSTA senior, you are invited to enroll in Senior Project, but please be aware that these nine units count towards graduation and not towards your  ECOSTA degree requirements.

Degree

Does Senior Project Count as An Upper Level Economics Elective? (Y/N)

B.A./B.S.  in ECO

Y

B.S. in ECOPOL

Y

B.S. in ECOMTH

Y

B.S. in ECOSTA

N

Senior Project Course Substitution

The senior project (73-497) course provides students with an opportunity to apply disciplinary knowledge in a "real world" context to identify and solve complex problems.  This experiential learning course is a hall mark of our program.  While all students are encouraged to enroll in the course, on occasion a student asks to substitute another course for 73-497.  With permission from their economics academic advisor, students may substitute two upper level economics electives for 73-497.

Minimum Grade Standard Necessary to Progress through Economics Curriculum

All prerequisite courses for any economics course shall be completed with a grade of “C” or better in order for a student to be eligible to take the course. Students who fail to receive a grade of “C” or better in a economics course prerequisite will be dropped or not permitted to enroll in the associated economics course.

Minimum Grade Standard for Degrees Granted by Economics Program

Economics courses counting towards any degree in economics shall be completed with a grade of “C” or better.  Students who fail to receive a grade of “C” or better in an economics course will not be able to count the course towards any economics degree requirement.  

Omicron Delta Epsilon was created in 1963 through the merger of two honor societies.  It is currently is one of the world's largest academic honor societies. The objectives of Omicron Delta Epsilon are recognition of scholastic attainment and the honoring of outstanding achievements in economics; the establishment of closer ties between students and faculty in economics within colleges and universities, and among colleges and universities; the publication of its official journal, The American Economist , and sponsoring three national awards for outstanding work by young economists.

The CMU requirements for induction into ODE are:

  • Earning a degree awarded by the Undergraduate Economics Program;
  • Having completed 36 units of economics courses;
  • Attaining a cumulative 3.33 QPA in all economics courses;
  • Attaining a cumulative 3.33 QPA in all CMU courses; and
  • Having no academic integrity violations

There are a limited number of student openings in this program; interested students may apply as early as their sophomore year.  Acceptance into the degree program is based on academic performance, rigor of coursework, and initiative while at Carnegie Mellon.  Acceptance into the program is based on meeting the following requirements:

  • Cumulative QPA of at least 3.5
  • Earned a "B" or better in 21-127 or 21-128
  • Earned a "B" or better in 21-241
  • Completed 73-102
  • Earned a "B" or better in 73-103
  • Earned a "B" or better in either 73-230 or 73-240

In order to graduate with the B.S. in Economics and Mathematical Sciences, students must maintain a cumulative Q.P.A. of 3.33.  All economics courses counting towards an economics degree must be completed with a grade of "C" or higher. 

Our program invites from all majors to apply for instructional team positions; there is no minimum cumulative QPA to apply.  You can find the application at: https://forms.gle/cpzbEKRPpebJ6Dxw8 (or at the bottom of this webpage).

Forms for Current Students

If you have questions about these forms, email econprog@andrew.cmu.edu.