Interdepartmental Major in Economics and Political Science B.A.

Economics models the production and consumption of goods and services. Political science is one of the major arenas in which the principles of economics are used. In our society (and, in fact, in all parts of the world), the fields of economics and politics are tightly intertwined, exerting a great influence on each other. For this reason, businesses, industries, and government agencies actively seek graduates with economics training and a firm knowledge of political science.

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

This degree gives you the quantitative, analytical and critical thinking tools needed to measure economic indicators, make sense of big data, and analyze strategic interactions arising in economics and business. You also gain an understanding of the domestic and international political context in which these events occur.

When pursuing the Interdepartmental Major in Economics and Political Science you work with economics faculty and political science faculty whose expertise spans economic analysis and policy and the history, organization and operation of political systems, respectively.

Both departments are highly ranked nationally, offering comprehensive coverage of the major areas in modern Economics and Political Science. Undergraduates selecting this major have the opportunity to learn firsthand about politics through internships, overseas study, in-depth independent study or honors projects, and through faculty research grants.

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

Coursework

Getting started

By completing the Interdepartmental Major in Economics and Political Science, you establish a strong foundation in microeconomic and macroeconomic theory and an understanding of the history, function and process of political systems.

Because this is an interdepartmental degree, the timing of your coursework may be more flexible.

The starting points with Economics are mathematical modeling and introductory economic theory courses:

  • MATH-M 118 Finite Mathematics
  • MATH-M 211 Calculus I or MATH-M 119 Brief Survey of Calculus
  • ECON-E 201 Introduction to Microeconomics
  • ECON-E 202 Introduction to Macroeconomics

These courses provide you with the background knowledge needed for the other Economics courses you will take: ECON-E 321 and at least three upper level economics elective courses.

For Political Science, you will want to begin by choosing a few 100-200 level courses as an introduction to the discipline. These courses will prepare you for the required political theory class as well required upper level Political Science electives. Explore the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin and talk with one of the Political Science advisors to find courses that fit your interests.

For the interdisciplinary major you may choose to complete the statistics requirement in either Economics (ECON-E 370) or Political Science (POLS-Y 395).

Tracks and concentrations

You can choose electives at the upper level in both Economics and Political Science. 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
  • Political theory and methodology
  • Public policy, law and administration
  • American politics
  • International relations
  • Comparative politics

Both the Economics department and the Political Science department offer undergraduate seminars (ECON-E 309, ECON-E 390 and ECON-E 490, POLS-Y 401 and POLS-Y 490) with topics and titles that vary across semesters. Seminar courses supplement courses in various topic areas.

High-achieving students can supplement concentration areas with independent research (ECON-E 391, POLS-Y 480) and honors thesis research (ECON-E 499, POLS-Y 480 Honors Thesis Colloquium, POLS-Y 499 Honors Thesis Research). Students who would like to conduct original research should become familiar with the Indiana University Journal of Undergraduate Research (IUJUR).

Contact an Economics or  Political Science academic advisor to discuss your options and interests.

Upper level coursework

The Interdepartmental Major in Economics and Political Science allows you to personalize the upper level curriculum with a focused specialization in related courses or in a wide variety of courses.

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
  • International political economy
  • Politics of different countries and regions
  • How public policy is created
  • Interaction between politics, policy and economics
  • Constitutional law

Consult with an academic advisor, as well as faculty, to discuss the best courses to suit your interests in both fields.

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 your major are:

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

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing the Interdepartmental Major in Economics and Political Science, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise and experience in the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of readings and assignments, and how your courses help you work toward your goals. 

By connecting with faculty, you can find research, teaching, and independent study opportunities. As your interests develop, you might want to take an independent research course. Talk with your Economics or Political Science academic advisor, or your instructors about this possibility.

High-achieving students can supplement concentration areas with independent research (ECON-E 391) and honors thesis research (ECON-E 499) in Economics and Undergraduate Readings (POLS-Y 480) and Honors Thesis (POLS-Y 499) in Political Science. With both research options, you come up with a central inquiry, or set of inquiries, and independently devise a research plan under the guidance of a faculty mentor. These projects can provide you with excellent writing samples to include with your graduate school applications and/or professional portfolio.

The Department of Economics offers academic year Undergraduate Internships (UGIs). This opportunity provides a small stipend and gives you applicable work experience grading papers, assisting faculty, and tutoring your peers.

Undergraduate instructors (UGIs) perform a variety of teaching-related functions for ECON-E 201, ECON-E 202, ECON-E 321, and ECON-E 370 classes. The typical UGI assignment involves a combination of grading and student contact for 6 hours per week. This is a paid position.

As a undergraduate instructor you have the opportunity to receive credit through ECON-Y 398 Internship in Economics. Experience as a UGI is highly valued in the entry-level job market. It also allows you to gain valuable teaching experience prior to beginning a graduate program in which you might be required to teach undergraduate courses.

In Political Science, too, undergraduates selected by faculty members can serve as Undergraduate Teaching Instructors, typically helping advise students, grade papers under a faculty member's supervision, and work with students involved in the United Nations (ECON-Y 399) and European Union (ECON-Y 351) simulation courses. These experiences can be arranged by talking with faculty members.

The nationally recognized IU MoneySmarts team is comprised of IU students with a passion for financial literacy. Acting as a peer mentor is a great opportunity to gain consulting and advising experience. As a financial advisor, you can help your peers solve the money issues they face as college students.

Both the Economics and the Political Science departments offer weekly workshops on an array of topics. These workshops offer a valuable opportunity to work with faculty and other students outside the classroom setting. A variety of workshops concerned with American politics and other subfields of political science are held on Friday mornings at 10 a.m. Get more information from the Political Science advisors. 

Honors

The Economics and Political Science departments both offer honors programs for students interested in taking more challenging coursework.

Students pursuing a B.A. with a major in Economics have two options for receiving an honors diploma and should choose either the requirements for Option A or Option B below.

  • Option A:
    1. Economics GPA of 3.700 or higher and a cumulative GPA of 3.500 or higher upon graduation;
    2. E 321 or S 321, E 322 or S 322, and E 370 or S 370;
    3. At least 6 credits in economics courses numbered E 390 through E 490.
    4. Completion of 6 credits of E499 Honors Thesis with a grade of B or higher. 

Option B:

  1. Economics GPA of 3.700 or higher and a cumulative GPA of 3.500 or higher upon graduation;
  2. S 321, S 322, and S 370;
  3. E 471 and E 472, plus an additional course numbered E 390 through E 490, for a total of at least 9 credit hours at this level.

Note: Honors thesis research topics must be approved by an Economics faculty mentor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies. The thesis topic should be approved prior to the beginning of the semester in which ECON-E 499 enrollment occurs.

For honors in Political Science, students should have:

  • a minimum GPA of 3.5 in political science and 3.3 in overall university courses
  • at least 9 credit hours in political science, including at least one 300-level course
  • agreement from a political science faculty member to serve as the student's honors sponsor

Formal admission to the Political Science Departmental Honors program may occur as early as the end of the sophomore year, although most students begin the process in their junior year. Normally, honors students sign up for three hours of POLS-Y 480 (Readings in Political Science) in the spring of their junior year to hone the topic of their thesis. 

In your senior year, you can sign up POLS-Y 499 Honors Thesis Research with their faculty advisor, and are required to take the two-hour POLS-Y 480 Honors Thesis Colloquium in the fall semester and the one-credit POLS-Y 480 colloquium in the spring.

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 Political Science department offers departmental awards to outstanding majors. Interdepartmental Economics/Political Science majors are also eligible.

Scholarships include:

  • J. Bryan Collester Scholarship
  • The Ford P. Hall Scholarship
  • Louis E. Lambert Scholarship
  • Stephen R. Patton Scholarship
  • Walter H.C. Laves Award - SCUSA and NAFAC awards
  • Wendell Willkie Scholarships
  • William Jennings Bryan Award for Outstanding Honors Thesis

Information and resources concerning funding and grant opportunities in economics 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.

Political Science majors routinely find paid internships through the Indiana General Assembly internship programs, the Washington Leadership Program, and with local political parties. 

Previous Economics students have found internship opportunities with organizations such as:

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

Learn more about internships, and the possibility of earning credit for internships, at the Walter Center for Career Achievement. You have access to many resources there for finding both domestic and international internships. It may be possible to earn academic credit for an internship by enrolling in ASCS-X 373.

Another valuable resource is the department of Economics LinkedIn group, where the academic advisors and career coaches post relevant opportunities.

Foreign language study

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 60 languages.

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

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.

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 maintain your desired timeline for graduation. Here are just some of the many options from which Economics and Political Science interdepartmental majors can choose:

Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with your academic advisor and through 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.

Women in Economics was founded to provide a space for female economics majors to connect. They hold meetings every other week and host more formal events and panels throughout the semester.

The Political Science department sponsors a Political Science Club on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. Meetings involve playing political science games, hearing a speaker, or other political science-related activities. There is also a Political Science Undergraduate Advisory Board, whose members are selected from among those who petition, and from the IU chapter of the national Political Science honor society, Pi Sigma Alpha.

Becoming a member of a student group is a good way to make connections between your coursework and co-curricular activities. Both the Undergraduate Advisory Board (UGAB) and the Political Science Club are Political Science-affiliated organizations; majors are encouraged to join both groups.

The Undergraduate Advisory Board works with faculty to conduct research and plan departmental events. Students must apply and be selected to participate. The Political Science Club is open to any student interested in political science. The club hosts a variety of events, including lunches and presentations with faculty. Contact a Political Science advisor for more information.

For a complete list of Living Learning Centers, 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:

You can also search for volunteer opportunities through IU Corps or 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 economics and political science related fields. The following are just a few of the professional organizations with interests in Economics and Political Science majors.

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 Political Science provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferrable 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
  • Communication and leadership: Communicate with precision and organization, both orally and in writing, with both experts and non-specialists
  • Critical thinking: learn how to read technical information and analyze complex problems
  • 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
  • Independent research: develop evidence-based arguments, defend your own position, and make informed oral and written presentations
  • Logical reasoning: create clear and convincing rigorous arguments or proofs to explain why things are true
  • Political science analytical skills: understand the basic political science analytical techniques used in political theory
  • Organization and description of data: understand how to organize economic data and to generate and interpret its descriptive statistics
  • Perseverance: Learn not to give up when confronted with a challenging problem
  • Problem-solving: Use political science and economic information technology to solve hypothetical and real world problems
  • Quantitative skills: use spreadsheets to perform statistical analysis, gain fluency with numbers and rates of change, and create and use economic and political science models

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
  • Cultivate a critically informed appreciation of literature and the arts
  • Develop and practice communication skills in public settings and in the study of at least one foreign language
  • Develop historical consciousness
  • Develop intellectual flexibility and breadth of mind
  • Discover ethical perspectives
  • Investigate and study the international community
  • Learn to reason quantitatively
  • Learn to think critically and creatively
  • Practice and apply scientific methods
  • 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:

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

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 advisor and career coach about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor as well as your 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 the career coach for the Social and Historical Sciences Division.

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, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews.

You might want to take career courses to help you maximize your time at IU. Majors should consider taking ASCS-Q296 College to Career II: Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience. This course provides the opportunity for students to explore the relationship between their chosen field of study and life after graduation while developing a career and academic development plan for post-collegiate success. 

Students should also consider taking ECON-E 298 Careers in Economics and/or POLS-X 299 Careers for Political Science Students (usually offered in the Spring term).

The job market

The employment outlook is positive for students with this interdepartmental B.A. degree. Both Economics and Political Science are global in their scope: all countries have an economic system and a political system, most of which which are very closely connected. The interdepartmental major in Economics and Political Science is relevant all over the world.

Students with the Interdepartmental Major in Economics and Political Science take their education in many directions, whether moving directly into a career or going on to graduate or professional studies. Talk with the faculty, an academic advisor, career coach and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of the degree.

Initial and long-term destinations for IUB graduates include positions in many job sectors: federal and state government, military or civil service, non-governmental organizations, nonprofits, education, business, research and public policy think tanks, banking, business law, law enforcement, and journalism.

Graduates with the degree can become researchers, information analysts, 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.

Resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you'll need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career, to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.

The Interdepartmental Major in Economics and Political Science can prepare you for graduate work in a variety of fields, from economics and political science, 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 political science have gone into careers with top academic and research institutions, the United Nations, The World Bank, non-governmental organizations, media, private entrepreneurship, and the military and intelligence communities.

Alumni connections

Participating in the IUB Department of Economics LinkedIn 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 graduate programs through which alumni seek advanced degrees.

The Political Science department regularly hosts events for alumni, typically announcing them on their Science Facebook page. The department also posts information about alumni in Alumni News.

The IU College of Arts and Sciences organizes Alumni events. Check out the IU College Luminaries program, which connects students with the Colleges 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 Political Science attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically have some of the following qualities:

  • Interest in quantitative analysis
  • Interest in and enjoyment of politics
  • Fascination with economic theory, especially as it relates to a broader political context
  • Curiosity about what influences decision making
  • Creative and disciplined analytic and critical thinking
  • Appreciation for an interdisciplinary approach to understanding complex issues
  • Enjoy exploring patterns in economic and political events
  • Awareness of geopolitical issues in an increasingly globalized world
  • Intellectual curiosity and imagination

Learn more

Contact an Economics or a Political Science 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