The Political Economy Major

All students must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • must have a cumulative UC Berkeley GPA of 2.7 or higher AND
  • must have completed GLOBAL 45 with a grade of B- or higher on the 1st attempt

Students who do not earn a B- or higher in GLOBAL 45 in their 1st attempt will not be eligible to declare the Political Economy major. (AP scores posted later than July 1, 2018 will not be accepted.)

For complete information on declaring PE, please consult the PE Requirements & Policies booklet

Student Learning Goals

Undergraduates should have the following knowledge and skills when they graduate with a major in Political Economy from UC Berkeley:

Interdisciplinary Training in the Social Sciences

  • Develop a working knowledge of the approaches to understanding modern societies found in the classical social theory tradition from Machiavelli and Hobbes to Keynes and Polanyi.
  • Develop a working knowledge of the core concepts of modern political economy approaches since Keynes and Polanyi.
  • Understand the analytical tools of each of the relevant social science disciplines.

Analysis of Political Economy Theory and Practice

  • Build specific expertise in that particular area of modern political economy studied by the student’s individual concentration.
  • Understand and analyze the impact on their concentration area of modern global economic, political, and civil society conditions.
  • Understand the processes of historical development that have led their particular concentration area to its current civilization.

Historical Knowledge

  • Be able to use the history of the North Atlantic region since the industrial revolution as a set of benchmarks, contrasts, and yardsticks useful for analyzing and understanding modern political economy issues.
  • Understand the historical process that has created our modern global economy, polity, and civil society.

Language Skills

  • Acquire competency in a foreign language.
  • Participate in the education abroad program, if possible.
  • Demonstrate Research, Critical Reading, and Writing Skills.
  • Formulate well-organized arguments supported by proper use of social-science disciplinary tools; of historical and comparative contrasts and models; of top- down systemic and bottom-up individual analytical perspectives; and of aggregate statistical and individual case-study evidence.
  • Write clearly and effectively.
  • Apply appropriate quantitative analytical skills.
Major Requirements

Lower Division:
3 courses

  • Economics 1 or 2 (You must earn a C or better to declare. This course can only be repeated once.)
  • GLOBAL 45 (You must earn a B- or better to declare. This course may not be repeated to achieve a grade of B- or better.)
  • Statistics 2, C8, 20, 21 or W21

Foreign Language:
All students must demonstrate proficiency in a modern language other than English by the last semester of their senior year. Proficiency is equivalent to the ability achieved in four college-level semesters (or two years). Proficiency can be achieved through coursework, AP credit, examination and/or study abroad. For more information on how to complete the language requirement, please consult the PE Requirements & Policies handbook. Languages accepted by the College of Letters and Science are not automatically accepted by the PE major. Please check with the department for eligible languages.

Upper Division:
9 courses

  • Intermediate Microeconomics (one of the following: Econ 100A, Econ 101A, ENVECON 100, POLECON 106, UGBA 101A)
  • Intermediate Macroeconomics (one of the following: Econ 100B, Econ 101B, POLECON 107, UGBA 101B)
  • POLECON 100, Classical Theories of Political Economy
  • POLECON 101, Contemporary Theories of Political Economy
  • Historical Context Requirement (one course chosen from the those listed in the PE Requirements & Policies booklet)
  • Concentration (four courses): The Concentration requirement is the unifying focal point within the major. In the Concentration students are asked to apply the theoretical and historical knowledge already gained in the other upper-division coursework to an issue area in political economy.
More Info

To be eligible for honors, students must have senior standing and a GPA of 3.6 in the major and 3.5 in all work completed at UC Berkeley. Doing honors includes a year-long course sequence (GLOBAL H102 in the fall and POLECON H195 in the spring) in which students learn how to formulate a hypothesis, conduct supporting research, and complete a thesis paper of approximately 75 pages or longer.

After Graduation:
The PE major is designed to provide a broad-based liberal arts background as well as the intellectual skills appropriate for careers in either the public or private sector. Additionally, the major offers an excellent background for students planning postgraduate careers in social science disciplines and professional schools.

More information:
This description is for introductory purposes only. Students interested in completing a major or minor in PE should consult the PE Requirements & Policies booklet.

Political Economy Major Map

How to Declare a Major

The Berkeley Economy & Society Initiative (BESI)