Department of Economics - University of Wisconsin - Whitewater | Undergraduate Programs - Wisconsin, USA

A Note To Students and Advisors About Enrollment In 200-Level Economics Courses

May 2005


In response to numerous enquiries and comments from students about the right time to enroll in the 200-level economics courses required for a degree in business (the B.B.A.), the Department of Economics has prepared this Note to guide your thinking. Please review it as you think about the best time to take these courses during the first 60 credit hours of your program leading to the B.B.A. degree.

Economics, and "the economic way of thinking", is at the heart of much business decision making and originated many of the basic principles behind other business-related disciplines such as finance, accounting, and marketing. Business programs around the world consider it sufficiently important that training in economics is not only available but actually required universally. Part of the knowledge of a college-educated business person is an understanding of economics. In many of the most famous universities, the closest thing to a "business major" is a major in economics.

Because economics represents a new way to think for most of us, understanding it requires more effort-for example, from class attendance, homework completion, and use of office hours-than many other subjects. We who teach economics, and were once also undergraduates studying it for the first time, have learned that understanding economics typically requires studying a topic repeatedly (e.g., reading and reviewing a text chapter several times) unlike some subjects where one reading conveys the idea. Many students claim to "understand" a topic and then have trouble with an assignment or test: we see a confusion between finding a lecture or reading "convincing" and actually understanding the topic. In this way, many topics in economics resemble mathematics; in fact, economics often uses mathematics and similar abstract logic.

Thus, in addition to requiring extra effort, an understanding of economics benefits greatly from a good background in mathematics: for 200-level courses, this means strong geometry and algebra skills at least. More background helps (even some calculus).

Finally, grades in our 200-level courses are lower-typically in the low-B and C-range-than many 200-level grades at UWW. This reflects, in part, the relative difficulty of the subject. However, once students have the fundamentals and move beyond the 200-level courses, we see significantly higher grades in our 300- and 400-level courses.

In conclusion, understanding economics is essential for a business student, but the subject is relatively difficult, it demands more effort than many other courses, and it rewards a strong background in mathematics. Grades in 200-level courses reflect these facts. Please consider this information carefully as you plan your courses. 

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