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Thinking about Economics



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or, if you're already convinced



Economics is one of the most popular majors at The College of Wooster. Students enroll in a beginning course in the department for a variety of reasons. They may intend to go to law school, and their adviser encourages them to take an economics course as part of a well-rounded pre-law education. Sometimes students enroll to satisfy their own curiosity about the subject or simply to fulfill a social science distribution requirement.

Whatever the reason, students soon discover that economics is a fascinating and important field of study. They learn the fundamental principles of a market economy, and the costs and potential benefits of public policy designed to alter them. They learn why some individuals have very high incomes while others are unemployed. They study the effects of government activity on the economy and learn why it makes sense to raise taxes sometimes and to lower them at others. They study how the various national economies interact with each other, and they understand how high interest rates in the United States can result in unemployment for a bicycle maker in England. They also learn that other countries make economic decisions in different ways and that all these matters are not just academic concepts.

The Major

At Wooster, we believe that economics should be a very practical subject, that it should be applied to the solution of problems faced by human beings. The first step toward this goal is to understand how the economic system works. After that, one may apply that knowledge toward making improvements. The Economics Major begins with a solid core of economic theory: Principles of Economics, Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory, and Intermediate Microeconomic Theory. These courses provide the preparation for a wide variety of applied economics courses, which students choose according to their own individual interests.

Among the current applied courses are:

In addition to selecting from these courses, each student also completes a course in economic statistics, two courses in mathematics, a junior independent study project, and a senior thesis.

Independent Study

Independent Study provides students with the opportunity to examine a topic of special interest in depth. In the junior year, students spend one semester learning the tools and skills of economic research and writing a short research paper. In the senior year, each (and every!) student works with a faculty member to conduct an intensive investigation of a subject of the student's choosing which results in the senior thesis. Some of the topics students have worked on recently include: an investigation of developing countries' foreign debts, an analysis of declining labor union membership, the relationship between a baseball player's performance and salary, an analysis of health care in the 1990s, and the effectiveness of minimum wage legislation as an anti-poverty policy.

These research efforts are supported by excellent research facilities. Andrews & Gault Libraries house over 900,000 items, including a very good undergraduate economics collection, and is a partial depository for government documents. The College's sophisticated computer facilities are available to students for research and course-related projects.

After Graduation

Graduates of the Economics program make good use of the Career Services Office and pursue a variety of careers. Approximately 40% enter a graduate or professional school upon graduation: economics, law, public administration, or business are the most common. The majority begin careers in business, commerce, or finance immediately after graduation, and alumni report that the Economics Major is good preparation for such careers. Approximately 30% of this group also enter graduate programs within five years of graduation, mostly in pursuit of the MBA degree. Wooster graduates have established good records in graduate programs, and it is common for them to be admitted to the most prestigious graduate schools.


Talk to us!

Have we answered your questions about our Program and how you might fit into it? If not, use the form below to send us a message. Or, send an e-mail to a faculty member listed at the bottom of this page. Be sure to include your e-mail address so that we can respond to you.


The Faculty

The department has a strong and versatile faculty with interests diverse enough to allow each course to be taught by a specialist in that area. The department is small enough that students and faculty members can come to know each other well. Student evaluations consistently rate the Economics faculty high in terms of accessibility and teaching effectiveness. All faculty teach Principles of Economics and intermediate theory courses.

Barbara S. Burnell, Professor of Economics. B.A. Connecticut; M.A., Ph.D. Illinois.

James D. Burnell, Professor of Economics and Department Chair. B.A. Western Illinois; M.A., Ph.D. Illinois.

Carol Mapes, Adjunct Professor of Business Economics.. CPA (Ohio)

Charles L. Grim, Visiting Associate Professor of Business Economics. B.A. Case Western Reserve; Ph.D., Purdue

Amyaz Moledina, Assistant Professor of Economics, B.A., Macalester College; Ph.D. University of Minnesota

John W. Sell, James R. Wilson Professor of Business Economics. B.S. Pennsylvania State; M.A., Ph.D., U.C.L.A .

James Warner, Assistant Professor of Economics, B.A. Bates 1983, M.A., New Hampshire, Ph.D. Utah

Alison J. Wellington, Associate Professor of Economics. B.A. Bucknell, M.A., Ph.D. University of Michigan.


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Last updated: 11 January 2009 by J. Sell