This summer, Boston College reclassified the economics major as a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) program and has renamed the program econometrics and quantitative economics (EQE). To supplement this decision, the economics department has also decided to slightly alter the structure of the program’s curriculum. In the fall of 2019, the two-semester sequence, Principles of Economics: Micro (ECON 1131) and Macro (ECON 1132), will become a one-semester course. To maintain the same number of required credits, however, another upper-level elective will be added.
Logically, it makes sense that economics would be considered a STEM program. Many principles and methods taught in STEM concentrations, such as statistics and data analysis, are also necessary for the study of economics—BC’s economics curriculum requires at least one econometrics course, a statistics course, and multiple labs and electives that utilize quantitative methods related to data analytics.
One of the primary goals of this shift, however, is to benefit international students. About 50 percent of international undergraduate students and over 80 percent of international graduate students study economics, according to Christopher Baum, chair of the economics department. This change could have major positive implications for international students, who might be underserved by the current structure of the economics department compared to domestic students in regard to post-graduate career searches. With a STEM degree, international students can extend their visas for up to 24 months with their involvement in optional practical training programs. This will provide them with a greater ability to remain in the United States post-graduation and further explore American career opportunities.
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