Apr 01, 2023  
Rensselaer Catalog 2017-2018 
Rensselaer Catalog 2017-2018 [Archived Catalog]


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Department Head and Virginia and Lloyd W. Rittenhouse Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences: Vivek Ghosal

Director Ph.D. Program: Ken Simons

Department Home Page: http://www.economics.rpi.edu/

B.S. in Economics equips students with the quantitative, theoretical and conceptual tools of economics to understand decision-making by individuals, businesses, and governments in areas related to the environment, intellectual property rights, health care, law and economics, and regulatory policies. Tools related to demand-supply modeling, game theory, behavioral economics, and advanced econometric methods are used to gain insights.


•Examine various facets of industries like healthcare, energy and Information Technology.

•Examine advanced econometric and statistical methods for the analysis of high-dimensional data, otherwise known as “Big Data.”

•Examine complex policy-making in key areas such as the environment, health, education, technology, and immigration.

•Integrate theory from psychology, neuroscience, and other social sciences into traditional economic models of human behavior.

Prospective students should also be aware that the department administers the Edward J. Holstein Memorial Award for Excellence in Economics and the Shavell-Weinman Fund. Faculty members are actively involved in research that provides numerous opportunities for undergraduate students to engage directly in research projects.

Undergraduate Programs

Rensselaer’s undergraduate major in economics differs from other programs in three important respects. First, it requires that about one-fourth of the student’s program be in mathematics and the natural sciences. Second, students must apply quantitative tools to real economic problems, notably in problem labs that employ regression, linear programming, and risk analysis. Finally, in addition to dedicated courses, students can pursue various courses relevant to their interests and other courses at Rensselaer. Students interested in economic policy questions or data analytics will find a wide array of course offerings.

Outcomes of the Undergraduate Curriculum
Students who successfully complete this program will be able to demonstrate:

  • an ability to apply the concepts and models of microeconomics to current events and issues facing today’s domestic and global economies.
  • an ability to apply the concepts and models of macroeconomics to current events and issues facing today’s domestic and global economies.
  • an ability to use mathematical and other analytic tools to rigorously model economic behavior and market performance.
  • an ability to analyze economic issues using an appropriate theoretical framework, designing an empirical analysis that formulates testable hypotheses, applying statistical and econometric methods, collecting data, and using statistical software.
  • an ability to communicate the results of economic and empirical analyses in written, verbal, and visual forms.

Dual Major Programs

Students are encouraged to consider a dual major as a means of enhancing their employment and graduate school prospects. Training in economics can provide an edge in either situation. A dual major is NOT a double degree, which requires 30 additional credits beyond the first degree. Dual majors may use their economics courses to fulfill the social science portion of the 24-credit HASS Core. Otherwise, the requirements are the same as for the single major in economics.

For those students who are interested in a degree that emphasizes both science and technology and environmental issues there is an opportunity to pursue a dual major in Economics and Science, Technology and Society. This combination of majors combines the best of both departments – economic analysis and a broader humanities and social science analysis that emphasize the role science and technology plays in today’s global economy and culture.

Graduate Programs

The Department of Economics offers a Master of Science degree in Economics aimed at developing skills in economic analysis and an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Ecological Economics. These programs stress important applications in industry, government, and education.

Graduate level research projects cover a wide range of economic issues, including technological change and the structure and scope of economic activity, energy and environment, international competitiveness and global economic cooperation, industrial development, regulation, and other topics in law and economics.

Master’s Programs

Though students must become competent in certain fundamental areas such as economic theory and econometrics, programs in economics are quite flexible and can readily accommodate those wishing to combine a graduate-level major in economics with a minor concentration in some related area. An economics minor can also be developed to complement a graduate program in another discipline.

Research Innovations and Initiatives

At the graduate level the program allows students to apply the body of economics knowledge and techniques to a variety of issues in academic, government, and business settings. Department faculty and students focus their research in selected areas, including economics of technological change, environmental economics, law and economics, behavioral economics, economic regulation, and international competitiveness.

Course Descriptions

Courses related to all economics curricula are described in the Course Descriptions section of this catalog under the department code ECON.



Duchin, F.—Ph.D. (University of California, Berkeley); input-output analysis, structural economics, ecological economics, economic development, technological change.Duchin, F.—Ph.D. (University of California, Berkeley); input-output analysis, structural economics, ecological economics, economic development, technological change.

Estrella A.—Ph.D. (Harvard University); macroeconomics, econometrics, financial modeling, financial regulation.

Ghosal, V.—Ph.D. (Warrington College of Business, University of Florida); firm and business strategy, environmental regulation, antitrust/competition law, and regulatory reform. 

Gowdy, J.M.—Ph.D. (West Virginia University); ecological economics, industrial organization and public regulation, regional economics.

Associate Professor

Simons, K.—Ph.D. (Carnegie Mellon University); industrial organization and technological change, dynamics of economic systems.

Assistant Professors

Hun, J.—Ph.D. (University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign); Health Economics, Econometrics, Applied Microeconomics, Public Policy.

Lin, J.—Ph.D. (University of Arizona); Health Economics, Econometrics, Industrial Organization, Applied Microeconomics.

Shih, K.—Ph.D. (University of California, Davis); labor, immigration, education, globalization, public economics, trade.

Stecher, C.—Ph.D. (University of California-Los Angeles); Health Economics, Behavioral Economics, Econometrics, Social Networks, Applied Microeconomics.

Yatsynovich, Y.—Ph.D. (University of California, Berkeley); interntional trade, technological changes, economics growth, macroeconomics.


Jones, R.—Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); money and banking, macroeconomics, introductory economics, econometrics.

Parrales, S.—Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); introductory economics, money and banking.

Emeritus Faculty

Hohenberg, P.M.—Ph.D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); economic history, economics of technological change.

Vitaliano, D.—Ph.D. (City University of New York); private and public sector efficiency, corporate social responsibility, gender pay differences.

* Departmental faculty listings are accurate as of the date generated for inclusion in this catalog. For the most up-to-date listing of faculty positions, including end-of-year promotions, please refer to the Faculty Roster section of this catalog, which is current as of the May 2017 Board of Trustees meeting.


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