Economics Major To Split

With almost 1,100 students enrolled in the economics major at UC Irvine, changes in the undergraduate program will affect many. The restructuring of the major and introduction of two new majors, business and quantitative economics, will take effect fall 2006.
‘Economics is the biggest major on campus,’ said Department Chair David Brownstone. ‘We wanted to reorganize it so the different sorts of people in our major can be better accommodated.’
The three majors will allow students to specialize in different areas according to their educational goals. The quantitative economics major will require students to take math-intensive courses and give them an edge in preparation for graduate school and quantitative careers. Business economics will cater to those many students desiring exposure to the business arena.
‘A bulk of our students are interested in business, and the new business economics major is tailored to them,’ Brownstone said. ‘More classes in accounting, finance and personnel will be offered. It is not an undergraduate business program. It is an undergraduate economics program with an emphasis on business application.’
In addition to the new majors, the economics program will increase the opportunity for specialization. A specialization in international issues and economics will also be available to all economics majors.
‘The international concentration will provide a designation on the diploma,’ Brownstone said. ‘Students will take additional courses in international affairs. We want to encourage students who want to [add the specialization] to enroll in the Education Abroad Program.’
Changes in requirements will also encourage students to pursue their diverse interests.
All economics majors will be required to take at least one econometrics course.
‘The lower-division sequence Econ 20 A-B-C is condensed to 20 A-B, one quarter of micro and one macro,’ Brownstone said. ‘We are going to put on some more lower-division electives.’
All three majors will have an honors program available for high-achieving students. The new structure allows for students without extensive math skills to graduate with an honors major distinction.
‘There is a strict GPA requirement to be admitted and an application,’ Brownstone said. ‘Students will have to write an honors thesis. Currently, the only way to get honors is the highly quantitative route. … We wanted to allow for the fact that there are very excellent students and good work that aren’t very quantitative.’
The details of the new changes are still being worked out, such as what previous courses will count toward the new major prerequisites. Current students have the option to graduate under the rules in which they started or to join the new majors.
Faculty on the undergraduate committee will be present to answer questions at information sessions, which will be held on May 22 in Social Science Lecture Hall from 3-4:50 p.m., May 23 from 12:30-1:50 p.m. and May 25 from 5-5:50 p.m. in Humanities Instructional Building 100.