Other Rules and Grading Guidelines
Majors must complete their core courses and Junior Independent Work with an average grade of C or better by the end of their junior year to advance to senior standing. They must also earn a departmental average of C or better on all remaining requirements by the end of the senior year in order to graduate as an Economics major.
Note: With the exception of courses taken in Spring 2020, all courses and independent work that are undertaken to satisfy an ECO departmental requirement must be completed on a graded basis.
Advancing to Senior Standing
To advance to Senior Standing, rising seniors must be recommended by the Faculty Committee on Examinations and Standing. Students will not be advanced to Senior Standing if they meet any of the following circumstances:
- The student has not completed, with grades of C or above, the three core courses of the major: Microeconomics (ECO 300 or 310), Macroeconomics (ECO 301 or 311), and Econometrics (ECO 302 or 312)
- The student has failed two or more departmental elective courses, including approved cognates.
- The student has an average below C on their departmental elective courses through the junior year.
- The student has not completed or has received a failing grade in, their Junior Independent Work.
If the student has completed but received a grade of F in a single core course, the department may exercise discretion and recommend advancement to senior standing and allow the student to take that course again in the senior year if the student’s overall performance in departmental courses is otherwise acceptable.
Departmental Average Calculation
To graduate, students must pass all general university requirements and have a C departmental average. The departmental average is a weighted average of the grades for all Economics requirements and is comprised as follows:
- 55% is from the average of the grades received in the eight departmental (core and elective) courses. Grades in the three core courses are always included, followed by your highest five grades in departmental elective courses (which can include up to two cognate courses). For the purpose of computing this average, one-third grade point is added to grades received in graduate (500-level) economics courses. Pre-approved departmentals taken during study abroad count towards the requirement of eight departmentals but do not figure in calculation of the departmental average, so that the departmental average of a student who has studied abroad may be calculated with fewer than eight departmental courses.
- 15% is from the grade from Junior Independent Work
- 25% is from the grade from the Senior Thesis
- 5% is from the Senior Comprehensive Exam
Leave of Absence
Students contemplating a leave of absence should refer to the university’s Time Away from Princeton website. The standard leave of absence lasts for two semesters to keep students In-Phase with the sequential nature of Princeton’s curriculum.
Due to the year-long structure of independent work in our department, it is not possible to take a one-semester leave of absence during the junior year. Furthermore, we will only consider a request to return Out-of-Phase after a one-semester leave during the senior year if the student is in good standing and is facing an emergency circumstance such as a serious health issue. Out-of-Phase requests based on employment opportunities are not eligible for consideration.
Princeton University Max-12 Rule
In choosing your early courses, remember that the university restricts students to taking no more than 12 one-term courses (plus up to two prerequisites and independent work) in a given department within the basic A.B. program of 31 courses.
This excludes up to two prerequisites. If you take all three of our prerequisites ECO 100, 101, and 202, you can take at most 11 other ECO courses within the major. Thus, if you anticipate the constraint of the “Rule of Max-12” to be binding, you should take ORF 245 instead of ECO 202.
For this rule, courses that are cross-listed count as within Economics if the ECO number comes first in the dual listing (as in ECO 370 / HIS 378 American Economic History), but not if the ECO number is listed second (as in WWS 307 / ECO 349 Economics and Public Policy). Of course, both types of cross-listed courses count as departmental electives and count towards the department’s requirements for the major.
If you wish to take additional courses in the department, you may only do so above the normal course load required for graduation (31 courses). Princeton credits courses over four years, and all of the additional ones can be ECO courses.
If you have unanswered questions about the Rule of Max-12, talk to a member of the undergraduate advising team.
Since departmental courses vary substantially in content and methodology, grading expectations for economics coursework are set at the individual faculty level. These expectations should be clearly articulated in each course’s syllabus. Expectations for the Junior Independent Work and the Senior Thesis are centralized at the department level and are described below.