Major in Political Economy

Overview (effective Fall 2019)

The Political Economy program offers an A.B. Degree in Political Economy that is jointly managed by the Department of Economics and the Department of Government. The major in Political Economy exposes students to the rich intersection between economics and politics. Students study the social, political, and economic factors that affect and are affected by systems of production, exchange, and distribution, as well as the mix of values reflected in them.

At the heart of the major is the methodological and substantive overlap between economics and political science. Methodologically, political economy emphasizes rigorous and frequently quantitative methods, including formal modeling, econometrics, and comparative case study methods. Substantively, political economy analyzes how international and domestic political factors interact with macro and micro economic factors to determine outcomes in a wide variety of areas including globalization, international trade, international finance, regulation, development, taxes, institutional design, the environment, and income distribution. The scope of inquiry ranges from developed countries to developing economies, to nations making transitions to market-oriented systems.

The strength of the major is its ability to analyze important issues that do not divide neatly along the classic disciplinary lines of economics and political science. The intellectual enterprise typically goes beyond the constituent disciplines by combining traditional economic concerns about efficiency with traditional political concerns regarding distributional issues and legitimacy in markets and nonmarket environments.

Requirements

The major in Political Economy requires eleven courses as follows:

  • Three of the following four foundational courses in the Government department:
    • U.S. Political Systems (GOVT-020)
    • Comparative Political Systems (GOVT-040)
    • International Relations (GOVT-060)
    • Elements of Political Theory (GOVT-080)
  •  Four foundational courses in Economics:
    • Intermediate Micro (ECON-101)*
    • Intermediate Macro (ECON-102) or International Finance (ECON-244)
    • Economic Statistics (ECON-121)
    • Intro to Econometrics (ECON-122)
  • Four courses in Political Economy:
    • Analytical Tools for Political Economy (PECO-201)
    • Two (2) electives (new window) in Political Economy (PECO) courses
    • Senior Capstone in Political Economy (PECO-401) or 1 additional PECO 300 or 400-level elective that includes a research paper

* Note: ECON-101 has Microeconomic Principles (ECON-001) and Calculus I (MATH-035) as prerequisites.

Integrated Writing Requirement

Effective expression of ideas through written work is an essential requirement of the major. Political economists develop models and statistical tools to facilitate analysis. The PECO major requires that students build, solve, test, and present political-economic models. To do this well requires that students achieve transparency and clarity of ideas in their written work.  To help students achieve this goal the political economy program requires all PECO majors to take a political economy course that requires a research paper which serves to guide students through the arduous process of creating and communicating (in written form) original research.  The research paper for this major is expected to analyze a theoretical or empirical puzzle relevant to political economy.

Honors

In order to graduate with honors in Political Economy, a student must:

  • Earn a cumulative grade point average of 3.33 and a grade point average of 3.67 in the major by the date of graduation.
  • Write an honors-quality thesis in the Capstone Course PECO-401. The paper must receive a grade of “A” from the professor(s) teaching PECO-401 and must also be approved as of “honors quality” by a designated committee.

Study Abroad

Up to two electives in support of the Political Economy major can be taken abroad with prior approval by either the Field Chair for Political Economy in the Department of Economics or the Field Chair for Political Economy in the Department of Government.  To obtain approval please submit a syllabus for the course for which you wish to receive credit.

Affiliated Faculty

Michael Bailey, March Busch, Matthew Carnes, Raj M Desai, Sharat Ganapati, Shareen Joshi, Mitch Kaneda (SFS Dean of IPEC), Marko Klasnja, Roger Lagunoff (PECO Field Chair for Economics), Rodney Ludema, Kate McNamara, Anna Maria Mayda, Irfan Nooruddin, Ken Opalo, Jenny Guardado Rodriguez, Nita Rudra, George Shambaugh (IPEC Field Chair & PECO Field Chair for Government), Joel Simmons, Yuhki Tajima, and Erik Voeten.


New: The MA Political Economy Option

The Georgetown Economics Department has partnered with the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (new window) to offer an exciting program: The Masters of Arts in Political Economy (MA-PECO).

The program lasts for one year, including a summer semester. Students in the MA-PECO program spend Fall and Spring studying in Brussels and then the summer on the GU campus.  The program offers an excellent opportunity to acquire advanced skills in a program with a global outlook and located in the respective capitals of the European Union and the United States.

In recognition of the excellence of Georgetown’s PECO and IPEC undergraduates, we  offer our students an option  to obtain the MA-PECO degree with the following features and subject to these requirements:  

  • The GRE requirement will be WAIVED  for any Georgetown PECO major or  IPEC concentrator  who applies to the program. Consideration for acceptance will be based on the student’s performance in GU courses, particularly in the PECO and IPEC courses.
  • PECO and IPEC majors satisfying the following requirements are considered ideally suited to the MA-PECO degree. Students who meet these qualifications are  strongly encouraged to apply.
    • Graduation with Honors in the PECO or IPEC major.*
    • Obtains at least a B+ in each of  Econ 121 (Stats) and 122 (Econometrics) courses.
  • A Georgetown student who gains admission to the MA/PECO program will be allowed to defer for up to 1 year.

* Obtaining Honors in PECO: Earn a cumulative grade point average of 3.33 and a grade point average of 3.67 in the major by the date of graduation. Write an honors-quality thesis in the Capstone Course PECO-401. The paper must receive a grade of “A” from the professor(s) teaching PECO-401 and must also be approved as of “honors quality” by a designated committee.

* Obtaining Honors in IPEC: Students can earn Honors in the IPEC Major by submitting a letter of intent during the junior year, writing an honors-quality thesis based on original research during the senior year, earning an A grade in the IPEC 401 Senior Seminar Capstone, earning a major GPA of at least 3.67, and earning a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5.