Our students enhance Carnegie Mellon's programs by bringing analytical insights, creative problem-solving skills and a passion for making a difference to the business world.

undergraduate students converse between class

Why We Study Economics

Economics is a social science that investigates markets, governments and other resource allocation mechanisms with the goal of understanding how they work, what they do well, why they sometime fail and how to make them better. There is no shortage of important questions that economists study:

  • Why did we have a financial crisis? What can be done to repair the damage? How can we prevent such crises in the future?
  • Why have the returns to education and skill increased so dramatically in recent decades while earnings of the unskilled have fallen?
  • Do school choice, vouchers and other incentive mechanisms hold promise for improving education systems?
  • What does the evidence tell us about the effects of minimum wage policies?
  • Why have some countries experienced rapid economic development? What can be done to foster development of others that continue to languish?
  • How are new technologies affecting economic development and economic opportunities?
  • Can we improve design of electronic markets to take advantage of the vast opportunities for trade and exchange afforded by the internet?
  • Can the techniques of cost-benefit analysis provide meaningful estimates of the cost of climate change?
  • What are the tradeoffs in use of regulations, marketable permits, taxes and other mechanisms to control pollution?

In short, economists identify, model and analyze problems to develop solutions for the challenges confronting society. In addition to advancing understanding of these issues, economists are also active participants in implementing changes. Economists help businesses and other organizations make better decisions by evaluating alternative policies with an understanding of markets and strategic interactions, and by sophisticated data analysis. Economists also are active in the design of incentive and regulatory policies to improve government policies. Increasingly, economists are taking advantage of new technologies to design new markets and exchange mechanisms.

What You can Do With A Carnegie Mellon Economics Degree

Our graduates are highly sought after by academia, business and government. Roughly two-thirds of our graduates embark on careers as analysts and economists in the fields of banking, consulting, government, informatics, marketing and technology. Roughly one-third of our graduates go to graduate school to study business administration, economics, finance, informatics, law, medicine and statistics.

How We Study Economics at Carnegie Mellon

Carnegie Mellon enjoys a rich history of innovative research. The extraordinary impact of Carnegie Mellon is reflected in nine Nobel Prizes awarded for economic research conducted here. We bring this same innovative spirit to our teaching of economics.

Mathematical and Quantitative Analysis

We believe that models lead to insight and rigor leads to lasting innovation. Our curriculum begins with simple models, which we build upon as our students develop greater mathematical and quantitative knowledge and skills. We also recognize the importance of sophisticated skills in data analysis. We provide our students opportunities to learn by doing throughout our courses and culminating in our senior project course.

Cross Disciplinary Nature

Our students also benefit from a strong culture of interdisciplinary collaboration and exposure to a broad range of research. Our economics faculty bring into the classroom their own research collaborations with computer scientists, organizational behavior researchers, marketing researchers, statisticians, psychologists, professional sports teams analysts, government agencies, school boards and more. The resulting program provides a unique experience and strong placements in both the job market and graduate schools.

Exposure to Cutting Edge Research

The interdisciplinary nature of the university benefits students by providing them with opportunities to study, research and work with faculty and students across campus. We want our students to explore relevant research that has immediate and long-term effects on the world around us.

Faculty

Faculty teaching in the undergraduate economics program have been selected for their expertise, pedagogical styles, commitment to undergraduate studies, and desire to work with undergraduates. Thanks to our balanced emphasis on teaching and research, undergraduate students learn from faculty who are on the frontier in research and who delight in bringing new knowledge to the classroom and the student experience. Undergraduate economics courses are taught by Carnegie Mellon faculty, and not by graduate students. Reflecting the interdisciplinary tradition of Carnegie Mellon, our economics faculty also teach in doctoral and professional programs across campus including in the Ph.D. program in economics, the undergraduate business administration program, and the Master's programs in business administration and computational finance.

Curriculum

We are committed to an intellectually rigorous curriculum that encourages independent thinking. Our award winning faculty are able to offer innovative electives that reflect the changing world in which we live.