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MIT Course Catalog 2014-2015

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Department of Economics

Economics is the study of all those aspects of individual and social activities related to the choice, production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. In relation to these decisions, economics is concerned with the behavior and interaction of individuals, private firms, and other institutions and government agencies. Economics contributes to the understanding of many important social problems: changes in efficiency and productivity, fluctuations in the overall levels of economic activity and employment, inflation, the effects of government deficits, the growth and decline of industries, changes in foreign exchange rates, increases in international indebtedness, and the behavior of the centrally planned and less developed countries.

Subjects are offered in the major areas of economics: theoretical and applied analysis at the levels of the individual consumer, the firm, and the industry, as well as aggregate economic activity, industrial organization and health economics, econometrics, public finance, energy economics, urban economics, labor economics, game theory, international trade and finance, economic history, economic development, and political economy.

Undergraduate Study

Bachelor of Science in Economics/Course 14
[see degree chart]

Course 14, leading to the Bachelor of Science in Economics, combines training in technical economics with opportunities for a broad and balanced undergraduate education. Students may choose from a diversified group of undergraduate subjects and are encouraged to engage in independent research.

The aims of the undergraduate degree program are threefold: to give students a firm grounding in modern economic theory and a basic understanding of economic processes; to provide a descriptive knowledge of the US and world economies; and to develop in students the capabilities for quantitative analysis and independent thought. These aims correspond roughly to the requirements in the Course 14 program of theory, electives, statistics and econometrics, and research.

The requirements allow substantial freedom for students in designing individual programs within economics and balancing the programs with subjects in other disciplines. The large amount of unrestricted elective time encourages students to shape programs close to their own needs and interests. Students may select programs that concentrate on economics and other social sciences or may combine economics with other fields. They may emphasize the relation of economics and technology by choosing their free electives in engineering and science, or they may combine their studies in economics with subjects in history and the other humanities.

The successful completion of the degree program prepares students for further study in economics or for careers in business administration and finance, consulting, law and related fields, and public policy.

Although there are several satisfactory alternative subject sequences, students who by the end of their second year have taken 14.01 Principles of Microeconomics and 14.02 Principles of Macroeconomics can follow a program that permits considerable depth in electives in their third and fourth years. The student can complete 14.04 Intermediate Microeconomic Theory, 14.05 Intermediate Macroeconomics, 14.30 Introduction to Statistical Method in Economics, and 14.32 Econometrics in the third year. This program satisfies the prerequisites for all subjects, including 14.33, and prepares students for research on their thesis and in other elective subjects.

The department specifies one Restricted Electives in Science and Technology (REST) Requirement subject and one laboratory subject, and strongly recommends that students take additional subjects in mathematics if professionally interested in economics.

Minor in Economics

The objective of the minor is to extend the understanding of economic issues beyond the level of the concentration. This is done through specialized analytical subjects and elective subjects that provide an extensive treatment of economic issues in particular areas.

The Minor in Economics consists of six subjects arranged into three levels of study:

Tier I   Three subjects:
14.01 Principles of Microeconomics*
14.02 Principles of Macroeconomics*
    and either
14.30 Introduction to Statistical Method in Economics
18.05   Introduction to Probability and Statistics

Tier II   One subject from the following three:
14.03 Microeconomic Theory and Public Policy
14.04   Intermediate Microeconomic Theory
14.05   Intermediate Macroeconomics

Tier III   Two elective undergraduate subjects chosen from the fields of applied economics. A list of specific subjects is available in the Economics Department Office.

*Note: Under no circumstances may a student complete a minor with fewer than six subjects. Any student who receives permission from the Economics Department to skip 14.01 and/or 14.02 and take a higher-level subject must take replacement subject(s) for 14.01/14.02.


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Graduate Study

Entrance Requirements for Graduate Study

The Department of Economics specifies the following prerequisites for graduate study in economics: one full year of college mathematics and an appreciable number of professional subjects in economics for those qualified students who have majored in fields other than economics. Applicants for admission who have deficiencies in entrance requirements should consult with the department about programs to remedy such deficits.

Master of Science in Economics

Under special circumstances, admission may be granted to current MIT students seeking the Master of Science degree. The general requirements for the SM are given in the section on Graduate Education in Part 1.

Doctor of Philosophy

A candidate for the doctorate must demonstrate a mastery of economic theory, including both microeconomics and macroeconomics, and four other fields of study; achieve a specified level of competence in econometrics; submit and defend a dissertation that represents a contribution to knowledge; and be in residence for a minimum of two years. Two of the four fields, including economic theory, are covered by the written General Examination. Two minor fields may each be satisfied by one year of coursework. The four major and minor elective fields may be chosen from advanced economic theory, econometrics, economic development, finance, industrial organization, international economics, labor economics, monetary economics, organizational economics, political economy, public economics, and urban economics.

There is no required minimum number of graduate subjects in the department. However, candidates ordinarily need two full academic years of study to prepare adequately for the General Examinations and to meet the other pre-thesis requirements. The doctoral thesis must be written in residence, which typically requires three years of research.

Economics and Urban Studies

A doctoral program offered jointly by the departments of Economics and Urban Studies and Planning at MIT integrates the analytic emphasis of economics with the institutional and policy orientation of urban studies. Students desiring to enter the program must be admitted to both departments and then explicitly to the joint degree program. Specific requirements for economics are the same as for the economics PhD with only two major fields and one minor, instead of two major and two minor fields. The specific requirements for urban studies are the same as for the PhD except for substitution of an economics general examination field for one of the required urban studies fields. One dissertation is required with acceptance by both departments. The program is administered by an informal standing committee. Further information is available from Professor William C. Wheaton,

Teaching and Research Assistantships

A limited number of students are supported by scholarship and fellowship grants, as well as by teaching and research assistantships. Typically, the assistantships are available only to students who have passed their general examinations, but in special circumstances research assistantships may be held by second-year students.


For more information regarding admissions or financial aid, contact Eva Konomi, 617-253-8787, For undergraduate admissions and academic programs, contact Gary King, 617-253-0951, For any other information, contact Kara Nemergut, 617-253-3807,

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Faculty and Staff

Faculty and Teaching Staff

Whitney K. Newey, PhD
Jane Berkowitz Carlton and Dennis William Carlton Professor of Economics
Department Head

David Autor, PhD
Professor of Economics
Associate Department Head


K. Daron Acemoglu, PhD
Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics

George-Marios Angeletos, PhD
Professor of Economics

Joshua Angrist, PhD
Ford Professor of Economics

Abhijit Banerjee, PhD
Ford International Professor of Economics
(On leave, fall)

Ricardo J. Caballero, PhD
Ford International Professor of Economics

Victor Chernozhukov, PhD
Professor of Economics

Esther Duflo, PhD
Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics
(On leave, fall)

Glenn D. Ellison, PhD
Gregory K. Palm (1970) Professor of Economics

Amy Finkelstein, PhD
Ford Professor of Economics

Robert S. Gibbons, PhD
Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management and Economics

Jonathan Gruber, PhD
Professor of Economics

Jeffrey E. Harris, MD, PhD
Professor of Economics

Jerry A. Hausman, DPhil
John and Jennie S. MacDonald Professor of Economics
(On leave, fall)

Bengt R. Holmström, PhD
Paul A. Samuelson Professor of Economics

Benjamin Olken, PhD
Professor of Economics

Parag Pathak, PhD
Professor of Economics

James M. Poterba, DPhil
Mitsui Professor of Economics

Drazen Prelec, PhD
Digital Equipment Corporation Leaders for Global Operations Professor of Management
Professor of Marketing, Management Science, Economics, and Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Nancy L. Rose, PhD
Charles P. Kindleberger Professor of Economics
MacVicar Faculty Fellow

Stephen Ross, PhD
Franco Modigliani Professor of Financial Economics

Robert Townsend, PhD
Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics
(On leave, spring)

Iván Werning, PhD
Professor of Economics

Muhamet Yildiz, PhD
Professor of Economics

Associate Professors

Arnaud Costinot, PhD
Associate Professor of Economics
(On leave, fall)

Mihai Manea, PhD
Silverman (1968) Family Career Development Associate Professor of Economics

Anna Mikusheva, PhD
Castle-Krob Career Development Associate Professor of Economics

Assistant Professors

Nikhil Agarwal, PhD
Assistant Professor of Economics

Alp Simsek, PhD
Rudi Dornbush Career Development Assistant Professor of Economics
(On leave, spring)

Paulo Somaini, PhD
Assistant Professor of Economics
(On leave)

Juuso Toikka, PhD
Assistant Professor of Economics

Heidi Williams, PhD
Assistant Professor of Economics
Associate Member, Broad Institute

Alexander Wolitzky, PhD
Assistant Professor of Economics
(On leave, fall)

Senior Lecturer

Sara Fisher Ellison, PhD

Visiting Professors

Pol Antras, PhD
Visiting Professor of Economics

Thomas Fujiwara, PhD
Hal Varian Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics

Alfred Galichon, PhD
Visiting Professor of Economics

Seema Jayachandran, PhD
Visiting Associate Professor of Economics

Jean Tirole, PhD
Visiting Professor of Economics

Professors Emeriti

Olivier Blanchard, PhD
Robert M. Solow Professor of Economics, Emeritus

Peter A. Diamond, PhD
Institute Professor, Emeritus

Richard S. Eckaus, PhD
Ford International Professor of Economics, Emeritus

Stanley Fischer, PhD
Professor of Economics, Emeritus

Franklin M. Fisher, PhD
Jane Berkowitz Carlton and Dennis William Carlton Professor of Economics, Emeritus

Paul L. Joskow, PhD
Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics and Management, Emeritus

Michael J. Piore, PhD
David W. Skinner Professor of Political Economy, Emeritus

Jerome Rothenberg, PhD
Professor of Economics, Emeritus

Richard L. Schmalensee, PhD
Howard W. Johnson Professor of Economics and Management, Emeritus
Professor of Applied Economics, Emeritus
Director, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research

Robert M. Solow, PhD, LLD, DLH
Professor of Economics, Emeritus
Institute Professor, Emeritus

Peter Temin, PhD
Elisha Gray II Professor of Economics, Emeritus

Lester C. Thurow, PhD
Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Professor of Management and Economics, Emeritus

William C. Wheaton, PhD
Professor of Economics and Urban Studies, Emeritus


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