Interdepartmental Major in Economics and Mathematics B.A.

Economics models the production and consumption of goods and services, and one of the natural languages of economics is mathematics. Businesses, industries, and government agencies actively seek graduates with analytical training in mathematics, technical training, and knowledge of core economic and financial principles.

The Interdepartmental Major in Economics and Mathematics involves coursework in both the Department of Economics and the Department of Mathematics, each of which is part of the Indiana University College of Arts and Sciences.

When pursuing the Interdepartmental Major in Economics and Mathematics you work with economics faculty and mathematics faculty whose expertise spans economic analysis and policy and the frontiers of mathematical understanding respectively. Both departments are highly ranked nationally, offering comprehensive coverage of the major areas in modern economics and mathematics.

The Interdepartmental Major in Economics and Mathematics can prepare you for graduate work in a variety of fields, giving you the quantitative tools needed to measure economic indicators, make sense of big data, and analyze strategic interactions arising in economics, business, and international relations. The degree also prepares you for a possible career in the actuarial sciences.

Both the Department of Economics and the Department of Mathematics offer undergraduate minors for students majoring in other subjects.

Coursework

Getting started

Interdepartmental majors in Economics and Mathematics take eight core classes, four in Economics and four in Mathematics. These focus on mathematical modeling, microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory, and they establish a strong foundation in calculus.

 Your starting point with the Economics and Mathematics interdepartmental major is introductory level micro and macroeconomics and the first two semesters of calculus:

  •  MATH-M 211 Calculus I
  • ECON-E 201 Introduction to Microeconomics
  • MATH-M 212 Calculus II
  • ECON-E 202 Introduction to Macroeconomics

These four courses provide you with the foundation to move on to the intermediate level in both Economics and Mathematics. You can satisfy the statistics requirement with either ECON-E370 Statistical Analysis for Business and Economics or MATH-M 365 Introduction to Probability and Statistics. 

Contact an economics or mathematics academic advisor to discuss your options and interests.

Tracks and concentrations

By pursuing the Interdepartmental Major in Economics and Mathematics, you establish a strong foundation in microeconomic and macroeconomic theory, gaining the ability to model economic questions mathematically and to analyze and solve those models.

You can choose electives at the upper level in both economics and mathematics, concentrating on one particular area of mathematics. Because this is an interdepartmental major, there are no official tracks. Some of the specific areas in which you can take upper level courses are:

  • Financial and monetary economics
  • International and development economics
  • Analysis of economic data using statistical and computational methods
  • Economics of the public sector and labor markets
  • Economics of industry and strategic interaction
  • Calculus and analysis
  • Differential equations
  • Applied mathematics
  • Probability and statistics

The economics department offers a variety of undergraduate seminars (ECON-E309, E390, E490) with topics and titles that vary across semesters. Seminar courses supplement courses in various areas.

In addition, high-achieving students can supplement concentration areas with independent research (ECON-E391) and honors thesis research (ECON-E499). Students with an interest in conducting original research should become familiar with the Indiana University Journal of Undergraduate Research (IUJUR).

Contact an economics or mathematics academic advisor to discuss your options and interests.

Upper level coursework

The Interdepartmental Major in Economics and Mathematics allows you to personalize the upper level curriculum through specialization in related courses. You will specialize in one area of math. You should consult with an economics and a mathematics academic advisor, as well as faculty, to discuss the best courses to suit your interests in both areas.

Beyond the foundation courses you can choose upper level electives to explore in depth areas of interest in both subject areas. Through upper level electives you learn about an array of issues, such as:

  • Supply and control of money
  • Roles government entities play in the economy
  • Functioning of labor markets
  • Trade relations between countries
  • Obstacles to sustained growth in less developed nations
  • The functioning of financial asset markets

In mathematics you must choose to concentrate on one of four areas:

  • Analysis
  • Differential Equations
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Probability and Statistics

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

Your major represents about a third of your degree requirements. With the help of your academic advisor, you may be able to combine several areas of interest with additional majors, minors, or certificates.

There are over 90 areas of study in the College of Arts and Sciences, any of which you could potentially add as an additional major, minor, or certificate. Some examples of areas that can complement the Interdepartmental Major in Economics and Mathematics are:

Sometimes students majoring in other schools, such as the Kelley School of Business, Informatics, or the Jacobs School of Music express an interest in also pursuing the Interdepartmental Major in Economics and Mathematics. Meet with an economics or mathematics academic advisor to see if adding a second degree or major would be a good option for you.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

Both the Economics and Mathematics departments offer weekly workshops on a myriad of topics in the fields of economics and mathematics respectively. This is a valuable opportunity to work with faculty and other students in a setting outside the classroom.

Academic Year Undergraduate Internships (UGI) - This opportunity provides a small stipend and gives you applicable work experience grading papers, assisting faculty, and tutoring your peers.

The Economics Department offers a variety of undergraduate seminars (ECON-E 309, ECON-E 390, ECON-E 490) with topics and titles that vary across semesters. These seminar courses supplement the concentration-area courses.

In addition, high-achieving students can supplement concentration areas with independent research (ECON-E391) and honors thesis research (ECON-E499). Students with an interest in conducting original research should become familiar with the Indiana University Journal of Undergraduate Research (IUJUR).

Contact an economics or mathematics academic advisor to discuss your options and interests.

REU program in Mathematics: For over four decades, the Department of Mathematics has offered experiences in mathematics research to students from all over the country. During the summer, a select group of undergraduates participates in research projects with individual faculty mentors on a wide variety of topics. The National Science Foundation supports the program via a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) grant.

As your interests develop, you might want to take an independent readings course under the guidance of faculty. Talk with the academic advisor or your instructors about this possibility.

Honors

The Department of Economics and the Department of Mathematics both offer a departmental honors program for students interested in taking more challenging honors coursework. Most students enter the Mathematics Honors program with MATH-S 212 Honors Calculus 2 in the fall of freshman year. You can also start math honors with MATH-S 311 Honors Calculus 3 or S 303 Honors Linear Algebra during your freshman or sophomore year.

Outstanding Economics students are eligible to graduate with departmental honors. Under the guidance of a faculty mentor, students complete an economics honors thesis of their own design. Interested students should consult an academic advisor. Honors in math might also be possible with careful planning and consultation with the mathematics academic advisor.

High achieving students may be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

Each spring the Department of Mathematics offers departmental awards to outstanding majors. Students pursuing the Interdepartmental Major in Economics and Mathematics are also eligible.

Information and resources concerning funding and grant opportunities are listed with the American Economic Association and through Omicron Delta Epsilon, the International Honor Society for Economics.

Additional options for pursuing scholarships and awards include:

Internships

Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. You can begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as your freshman year.

Each year the Department of Mathematics offers a significant number of Academic Year Undergraduate Internships (UGIs), offering students the opportunity to work as assistants and graders for certain freshman-level courses. See the UGI/UGG information page on the math department web site for more details on work assignments and current stipends. You will find many more internship opportunities posted on the math major blog. Also, the American Mathematical Society keeps a list of companies that look for math majors as interns. Many internship deadlines are in the fall semester.

Learn more about internships, including the possibility of receiving credit, through the Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you'll find many resources for both domestic and international internships.

There is an Internship in Economics (ECON-E 398) course, which does not count toward requirements for the major. The internship consists of supervised work experience as an academic teaching assistant for undergraduate economics classes. Performance evaluation is by a faculty mentor.

Some companies at which student have found internship opportunities are:

  • GE Energy
  • Robert Bosch LLC
  • Department of State
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Bank of China
  • Net Worth Management Group
  • KPMG Korea
  • PNC Bank

Another valuable resource is the Department of Economics at Indiana University Bloomington LinkedIn group, where the academic advisors and career coach will post relevant opportunities.

Foreign language study

If English is not your native language, you can provide appropriate official documentation that you have proficiency via formal education in a language other than English. More information about this option is included on the Application for Establishment of Foreign Language Proficiency for Non-Native Speakers of English.

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 70 languages.

Here is partial list of resources available to students at IU Bloomington:

Overseas study

Study abroad may be an important part of your undergraduate education in an increasingly globalized world. Many programs offer courses that can count toward your major and degree requirements, allowing you to stay on your desired timeline for graduation. Here are just some of the many options from which Economics and Mathematics interdepartmental majors can choose:

Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with your academic advisor and the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

The IU Economics Club provides a community for all students interested in economics and related fields, holding regular meetings and organizing special events to promote interest in and understanding of economic issues. Members participate in networking trips and community engagement.

The Mathematics Department sponsors a Math Club. This student-led group meets each Wednesday evening at 6:30pm in Rawles Hall 107. Most meetings feature a speaker. Some involve playing mathematical games or other math-related activities, such as competing in the annual Putnam Competition and Indiana College Math Competition.

The Mathematics Department also sponsors a Wednesday evening student-led Actuary Club for students interested in the actuarial profession. In this club you can join a study group, review skills essential to the profession, and hear professional actuaries speak about their careers.

Math majors of any gender may join the student chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics, a group established by a math major. The student chapter's purpose is to encourage women who are studying mathematics to continue their studies, and to inform all students, male and female, about the lives and contributions of women mathematicians.

The Women in STEM Living-Learning Center at IU is home to a group of undergraduate women of all levels who are driven to achieve in the fields of science, technology, informatics, and mathematics, or STIM.

For a complete list of Living Learning Communities, Academic Communities, and Thematic Communities, visit the Residential Programs and Services website.

Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.

Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. The organizations below can help you connect with others from the university and beyond:

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

Joining professional organizations is a great way to connect and network with professionals working in econ and math related fields. The following are just a few of the professional organizations with interests in Economics and Mathematics.

The American Mathematical Society (AMS), founded in 1888 to further the interests of mathematical research and scholarship, serves the national and international community through its publications, meetings, advocacy and other programs.

Use the Indiana University Library system to search for Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, non-profit organizations, and much more.

Build your skills

Through the major

The Interdepartmental Major in Economics and Mathematics provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work. These include:

  • Application of economic models: apply microeconomic and macroeconomic theory and data to the analysis of contemporary economic problems and policies
  • Math-modeling skills: understand the basic math-modeling techniques used in microeconomic and macroeconomic theory
  • Organization and description of data: understand how to organize economic data and to generate and interpret its descriptive statistics
  • Data analysis and statistical inference: understand the principles of statistical inference, including hypothesis testing and ordinary least-squares regression modeling
  • Econometric software expertise: possess expertise in the application of econometric analysis software, to present and analyze data
  • Critical thinking: learn how to read technical information and analyze complex problems
  • Quantitative skills: use spreadsheets to perform statistical analysis, gain fluency with numbers and rates of change, and create and use mathematical models
  • Logical reasoning: create clear and convincing rigorous arguments or proofs to explain why things are true.
  • Problem-solving: Use math and information technology to solve hypothetical and real world problems
  • Independent research: develop evidence-based arguments, defend your own position, and make informed oral and written presentations
  • Communication and leadership: Communicate with precision and organization, both orally and in writing, with both experts and non-specialists
  • Perseverance: Learn not to give up when confronted with a challenging problem

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following abilities, as identified by the 11 Goals of the College of Arts and Sciences:

  • Achieve the genuine literacy required to read, listen, speak and write clearly and persuasively
  • Learn to think critically and creatively
  • Develop intellectual flexibility and breadth of mind
  • Discover ethical perspectives
  • Cultivate a critically informed appreciation of literature and the arts
  • Practice and apply scientific methods
  • Learn to reason quantitatively
  • Develop historical consciousness
  • Investigate and study the international community
  • Develop and practice communication skills in public settings and in the study of at least one foreign language
  • Pursue in-depth knowledge of at least one subject

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates. The following abilities are sought in the job market across many employment sectors:

  • Communicate effectively with persons both inside and outside the organization
  • Work in a team structure
  • Make decisions and solve problems
  • Plan, organize, and prioritize work
  • Obtain and process relevant information
  • Analyze quantitative data
  • Create and/or edit written reports
  • Obtain technical knowledge related to the job
  • Proficiency with computer software programs
  • Create and edit written reports
  • Ability to persuade or influence others

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic and career advisors about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.

Launch your career

Plan your search

A good starting point for exploring your career options is an appointment with a Walter Center career coach. The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume and prepare for job interviews, too.

Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.

You might want to take a career course to help you maximize your time at IU. Students completing an Interdepartmental Major in Economics and Mathematics should consider taking one (or more) of three career development courses. Consider taking ASCS-Q 294 College to Career I: Explore Your Options within your first two years at IUB. Q 294 helps you solidify your major choice by understanding your values, interests, personality, and skills.

Sometime in your second or third year you should take ECON-E 298 Careers in Economics and/or MATH-M 298 Careers in Mathematics.

Then, before the end of the second semester of your third year, consider taking ASCS-Q299 College to Career III: Market Yourself for the Job and Internship Search. Q299 prepares you to make the transition to life after college by learning about issues such as networking, interviewing, personal finance, and researching locales.

The job market

The employment outlook is positive for students with an Interdepartmental Major in Economics and Mathematics. Economics and mathematics are truly global in their scope and it could be argued that mathematics is a universal language. As such, the Economics and Mathematics Interdepartmental Major is relevant all over the world.

Students pursuing the Interdepartmental Major in Economics and Mathematics take their education in many directions, whether moving directly into a career or going on to graduate or professional studies.

Initial and long-term destinations for graduates include positions in many job sectors: federal and state government, military or civil service, non-governmental organizations, non-profits, the cooperative job sector, education, research and policy think tanks, banking and business.

Students who graduate with the Interdepartmental Major in Economics and Mathematics can become researchers, information analysts, linguists, policy advisors, educators, translators, tourism advisors, businesspersons, security personnel, journalists, or aid workers, among many other options.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

The beginning of your post-graduate career might be an ideal time to explore an international internship or other short-term experience through organizations such as these:

Using these and other resources, your career coach can help you craft a unique post-graduate short-term experience, whether in the United States or abroad.

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund your education. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profits, and government organizations.

Good resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

The Interdepartmental Major in Economics and Mathematics will prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, from economics and applied mathematics, to finance, information systems, public affairs, politics, international studies, and business or professional schools.

With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other programs in the health professions.

Students who pursue graduate studies in economics and/or mathematics have gone into careers with top academic and research institutions, the United Nations, World Bank, non-governmental organizations, media, private entrepreneurship, and the military and intelligence communities.

Graduate programs offered at IU that may be of interest to Economics and Mathematics Interdepartmental Majors include:

Alumni connections

Talk with faculty, your academic advisor, career coach and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by students who have graduated with the Interdepartmental Major in Economics and Mathematics.

Another resource is the Department of Economics at Indiana University Bloomington LinkedIn group. Participating in this group allows you to connect with other current majors and alumni, see and appreciate the wide range of internships and careers obtained by economics majors, and identify the graduate programs through which alumni seek advanced degrees.

The IU College of Arts and Sciences organizes Alumni events. Check out the IU College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join and use the IU Alumni Association to remain in touch, network directly, and let others know where your path takes you.


Is it for you?

The Interdepartmental Major in Economics and Mathematics attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically have some of the following qualities:

  • Interest in quantitative analysis
  • Critical and analytical thinking
  • Aptitude in, and enjoyment of, mathematics
  • Fascination with economic theory, especially as it is related to a broader social context
  • Curiosity about what influences decision making
  • Creative and disciplined analytic thinking
  • Appreciation for an interdisciplinary approach to understanding complex issues
  • Enjoy exploring patterns in numbers, space, nature, music, science, and art
  • Awareness of geopolitical issues in an increasingly globalized world
  • Intellectual curiosity and imagination

Learn more

Contact an economics or mathematics academic advisor and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Department website
Advisor email address
econadvi@indiana.edu