ChairR. Turner

The objective of the Department of Economics is the development of students’ understanding of economics as the social science that deals with production, consumption, and market exchange activities with an emphasis on enhancing problem solving, deductive reasoning, and quantitative skills.  Students may major in economics, mathematical economics, or environmental economics.  

Interested students should plan to take ECON 151 in the first year, however, students can still stay on track if it's taken after the first year. In order to declare a major or minor, students must have already completed either ECON 251 or ECON 252 with a grade of C or better. ECON 151 is the prerequisite for ECON 251 and ECON 252. Majors advance through a core of analytical courses and choose among a series of options in theoretical and applied economics. Students with an interest in graduate work leading to careers in such fields as economics, law, business, or public administration are asked to discuss these objectives early in their college careers in order to plan an appropriate program in economics. While not an undergraduate business or professional school, the department provides essential background for a variety of career interests.

As a basic theory course, ECON 151 stresses problem-solving and deductive-reasoning skills essential to a successful major in the field. It is the first course for all potential majors unless they enter with AP or transfer credit. In the last instance, the department chair must be contacted as early as possible.

Because the introductory course is in great demand, students may not secure a seat in their first semester. Students do not have to take this course during their first year in order to become an economics major, but prospective majors should aim to complete 151, 251, 252, and statistics by the end of sophomore year, especially if they plan to study abroad during their junior year.

Introduction to Statistics (MATH 105 or CORE 143S) and Calculus I, II, or III (MATH 161, 162, or 163) are prerequisites for ECON 375 and for the economics major. Other statistics courses (such as MATH 316) may be substituted for MATH 105 or CORE 143S, subject to departmental approval. Similarly, other calculus courses may be substituted subject to departmental approval. A good mathematics background makes advanced work in economics at Colgate more accessible and more interesting. Students with a strong interest in mathematics should consider the major in mathematical economics. Visit the Department of Mathematics page for fall course offerings for statistics and calculus. 

Advanced Placement

Colgate course credit for ECON 151 is awarded to students receiving a score of 4 or 5 on both the AP Microeconomics and AP Macroeconomics exams. Credit is not awarded if only one exam is taken or if a score of 3 or lower is received on one exam.



A general introduction to the subject matter and analytical tools of economics including micro- and macroeconomic theory.

Professor Sparber 

Economics is about decision-making: How do people respond to incentives? How do we allocate scarce resources? How can a country’s elected officials act to improve the welfare of its citizens? Economists examine questions like these using advanced mathematical and statistical tools, but we also try to share our thinking using intuitive arguments and simple data summaries. In this course, students read several recent books – written for a general audience – that analyze current economic challenges. The course should be especially appealing to students interested in policy issues, whether they intend to major in economics or not. Students who successfully complete this seminar will satisfy one half of the Social Relations, Institutions, and Agents area of inquiry requirement. 

Chad Sparber is entering his 14th year at Colgate and is an external research fellow at the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration at University College London and The Institute for the Study of Labor in Germany. His research examines the economic causes and consequences of immigration with a focus on the connection between immigration and skills in the American economy. He received a National Science Foundation grant in 2015 to support his research on the H-1B program. His research has been published in The Review of Economics and StatisticsThe American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, and The Journal of Labor Economics. It has also been covered by media outlets that include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and NPR. Chad received his PhD from the University of California – Davis in 2006 and his BA from Western Washington University in 2000.