The discipline of economics is the study of how markets and economies operate and the role of government in an economy. The discipline is traditionally divided into microeconomics and macroeconomics. Microeconomics is the study of the behavior of individual consumers and firms, how they interact in markets, when markets succeed and when they fail, and how government policy should intervene in the latter case. Macroeconomics is the study of economic outcomes at the aggregate level, and typically consists of the study of economic growth, inflation, unemployment, and the business cycle. Monetary policy and the regulation of the monetary system by the Federal Reserve Bank is another key feature of the study of macroeconomics.

The study of economics requires both the mastery of theoretical models of consumers, firms, markets, and economies, as well as practical questions of economic policy. Mastering both theory and practice allows students of economics be educated and informed citizens who can understand public economic arguments over proper government policy. Indeed, the discipline offers unique and powerful insights into which policy tools are likely to be more effective, which less effective, and which actually counter-effective. Those familiar with the basic principles of economics also make more informed decisions about their own personal financial affairs, career decisions, and other facets of everyday life.

Economics is notable for requiring mathematical and statistical skills as well. Quantitative reasoning needs to be combined with an understanding of consumers, firms, and markets to reach correct judgments and conclusions. The study of Economics at Johns Hopkins therefore requires the acquisition of mathematical and related skills.

Learning how to communicate economic ideas effectively and clearly to others is another important goal of economics at Johns Hopkins. Economic arguments can be seemingly complex, and learning how to express those ideas is an important skill regardless of any occupation or industry a student may later go into. Many of the elective courses in the major make use of open discussion of the material during class, where oral skills are improved.

The economics department offers a major, a minor, and a minor in financial economics through the Center for Financial Economics. Please view these degrees on the webpages appearing above. Many students who take economics courses are majors in other disciplines as well.

Economics graduates go in a variety of directions after Hopkins. While some like economics enough to go to graduate school in the discipline, many others go to other professional schools where an economics training is valuable background, such as law school or medical school.

Others go into the workforce, sometimes in the area of finance or banking, others into other private industries, and yet others into government or public service of some kind.

Coffee, Anyone?

If you see me in the Gilman Atrium with my coffee cup and my Kindle, please get your own cup of coffee and join me. I’m there because I’m looking for conversation.

Bruce W. Hamilton
Director of Undergraduate Studies