Political Economy

Posted 6-25-13; Updated 08-28-15

All students who declare Political Economy in the Fall 2014 semester or later (after August 14, 2014) must meet the new eligibility requirements, listed below:

- must have a cumulative UC Berkeley GPA of 2.7 or higher


- must have completed IAS 45 with a grade of B- or higher on the 1st attempt

Students who do not earn a B- or higher in IAS 45 in their 1st attempt will not be eligible to declare the Political Economy major beginning in Fall 2014, regardless of the semester in which IAS 45 was taken.

All other eligibility requirements will remain the same. See Requirements and Policies booklet below.

Questions? Please come in to the IAS office to speak with an advisor. We look forward to seeing you!


The Political Economy major examines the relationship between politics and economics in modern societies, focusing on problems of both domestic and international policy. The curriculum is both multi- and interdisciplinary and is based on the assumption that political-economic relationships are affected by society, culture, geography, and demographics.

Contemporary problems form the central focus of the major, although a strong historical perspective is emphasized. Students can choose to study planning and problem solving, environmental issues, resource distribution, and the challenges of institutional adaptation, value innovation, and changing political systems.

Some of the questions addressed in the major include:

  • the tension between rising consumer demand versus the need to minimize resource depletion and pollution;
  • the different priorities served by capitalist, socialist, and traditionalist varieties of political economy;
  • the different priorities served by democratic and authoritarian political systems;
  • how interdependence may undermine the efforts of national governments to cope with urgent national issues such as unemployment, inflation, health, and housing.
  • the importance of organizational structures for policy-making in both the public and private sectors.
Major Requirements
Lower Division: 

3 courses

  • Economics 1, 2 or C3 (You must earn a C or better to declare. This course can only be repeated once.)
  • IAS 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, 20, or 21 (We do not accept STAT 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 booklet. 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, IAS 106, UGBA 101A)
  • Intermediate Macroeconomics (one of the following: Econ 100B, Econ 101B, IAS 107, UGBA 101B)
  • PEIS 100, Classical Theories of Political Economy
  • PEIS 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.
How To Declare

Applications are accepted during the fall and spring semesters from the third week of instruction until the last day of instruction (not the last day of finals). Applications are accepted during the summer from the last week in May until the beginning of the fall semester (not the beginning of classes).

To be eligible to declare students must have:

  1. completed IAS 45 with a grade of B- or better on the 1st attempt. (IAS 45 may not be repeated to achieve a grade of B- or better) or received a score of 5 on the AP World History exam.
  2. completed Econ 1, 2, or C3 (also cross-listed as EEP 1) with a grade of C or better (Econ 1 may be repeated only once to achieve a grade of C or better.) or completed the equivalent at another college or received AP scores of 4 or 5 on BOTH the micro-economics AND macro-economics exams.
  3. are not in their final semester of undergraduate work.

Additionally, students are encouraged – but not required – to complete two semesters of college-level foreign language or the equivalent before applying to the major.

To get declared, students must both:

  • attend a Major Declaration Workshop (Check the Teaching Program Calendar for dates) and
  • meet with an advisor to submit the PE Application materials.

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