Frequently Asked Questions from ECO Students
- How do I declare my ECO major?
- How do I get an advisor in economics?
- How do I transfer ECO credits from another school?
- What can I do with an ECO degree?
- How do I go to graduate school in economics?
- How do I get letters of recommendation?
- How do I develop strong writing skills?
- How do I do independent study?
- How do I do an internship for ECO credit?
- How do I graduate with honors?
How do I declare my ECO major?
Go to the ECO Department offices (SBS S-601), fill out the declaration-of-major form, and give it to the undergraduate program coordinator. You must do this even if you have declared your ECO major when entering the University as a freshman or transfer student.
How do I get an advisor in economics?
We do not assign students to advisors. All ECO Department faculty members are available to talk with you. We ask that you speak with faculty members you feel most comfortable approaching. You might start with the faculty teaching the courses you are taking, or with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. William Dawes. You can often get information about courses or instructors by talking with other students.
How do I transfer ECO credits from another school?
You can transfer as many as four ECO courses from other schools to use towards your ECO major requirements. You will find a list of some equivalent courses from colleges and universities in the New York area or by logging in to the blackboard. You can also consult with the undergraduate program coordinator. It may be possible to receive economics credit for courses taken elsewhere that we do not offer here, if they are courses we might offer if we had the resources. High school AP economics courses may count towards your ECO major, but only if you have a score of four or higher on the AP exam.
If you want to use a course taken at another school to satisfy an ECO major requirement involving another department's course (math or one of the elective courses), you must have the course evaluated by that department. We will accept the course towards the ECO major only if the department involved certifies that the course you took is the equivalent of the Stony Brook course you want to use towards your ECO major. ECO Department faculty will not evaluate any course from another discipline.
What can I do with an ECO degree?
People with economics training find jobs in business, government, unions, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) devoted to environmental, health, and many other issues. The specific content of the work varies widely. It may require the application of economics training, quantitative methods and computer proficiency to analyze specific market or industry conditions, or the state and likely future of the aggregate economy. The job you get may not require specific economics skills, as with many management positions. In general, strong writing and presentation skills enhance your chances of finding or rising to positions of authority.
An ECO degree is also a good foundation for graduate study leading to a PhD in economics, a law degree, or an MBA. Almost all MBA programs require applicants to have at least two years' work experience after college. PhD programs and law schools typically admit students directly after college graduation.
The University has a Career Center where people can help you connect with potential employers and help you prepare yourself to enter the labor market. Talk with ECO Department faculty about your plans for graduate study.
How do I go to graduate school in economics?
To prepare for graduate school in economics you must develop strong skills in math. You should be comfortable with calculus of several variables and linear algebra as well as statistics and econometrics. You should also develop competence in applying these tools to economic analysis by taking some of the more technically oriented upper-division ECO courses. You should develop strong writing skills (see below) and you should develop relationships with professors so they know you well enough to write strong letters of recommendation (see below).
How do I get letters of recommendation?
You will need letters of recommendation to apply for graduate study or to get a job after you graduate. A strong recommendation must be specific, which means that the writer needs to know something about you personally: your intellectual ability, your character, your interests. During your studies at Stony Brook, make it a point to get to know some of your professors. Go to office hours. Talk with professors after class. Talk about the course material, about your plans, about your interests, about their work, about the world. Get to know them and let them get to know you. This can be difficult, especially in large classes where it seems like the professor is far away. Don't be put off by these circumstances. ECO professors will welcome you if you come around to talk. Since analytic and writing skills are important issues in letters of recommendations, working closely with a professor while writing a paper can be an important basis for a strong letter.
How do I develop strong writing skills?
Writing skills develop through repeated experience with writing, and by reading. You should take courses that require short papers and longer term papers. You should read widely. Taking on an independent research project or internship study (see below) can be important writing experiences. You can develop your writing skills in many courses outside of economics as well as in some in the ECO curriculum. Take advantage of the Writing Center in the English Department to help develop your skills.
How do I do independent study?
Independent research (ECO 487) allows you to go deeply into a question in economics based on your interests, typically resulting in a substantial term paper. Before enrolling in ECO 487 you should take at least one upper-division ECO course that provides some background in the subject, and which may spark your interest to go further with study of a specific topic. Independent research must be done under the supervision of an ECO Department faculty member. You should approach the faculty member with whom you wish to work well in advance of the start of the semester to make proper arrangements, including formulating the subject of your study, preparing an initial bibliography, and setting the rules for consultation and the expectations of the final product.
How do I do an internship for ECO credit?
You do not receive credit for working as an "intern" in the business world or for a government or other agency. This is often a source of confusion. Credit for ECO 488, Internship in Economics, is for academic work done in the context of an employment, volunteer, or intern setting. It is like ECO 487 except that the research involves a question that you can study using data or interviews with people available to you in the work environment. As with ECO 487, you should have taken at least one upper-division ECO course that provides a foundation for the study you propose. You should make advance arrangements with an ECO Department faculty member to supervise your internship study, which typically involves keeping a journal of your work experiences as they deepen your understanding of economics, and a paper. The academic internship must be done while the work internship is in progress. It cannot be done after the work internship is over.
How do I graduate with honors?
You need to satisfy the grade point and course distribution requirements described in the Undergraduate Bulletin, 2001-2003 (p.151). The Honors Thesis must be a substantial paper in the student's own voice presenting the student's views and findings about the problem at hand, supported by appropriate theoretical reasoning and empirical work. The honors thesis might have served as a term paper for an ECO course, or it might be the product of an independent research project through ECO 487 (which also provides one of the two 400-level courses required for Honors). You must do the honors thesis in a course at Stony Brook; it cannot be submitted as transfer credit from another school. Upon completion of all honors requirements, your final transcript will note graduation with honors in economics.
Graduation with honors is different from membership in Omicron Delta Epsilon (ODE), the national economics honor society. To be inducted into ODE, you must satisfy grade point and service requirements (http://moya.ic.sunysb.edu/Clubs/ode/). An honors thesis is not required.