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Economics Remains Most Popular Concentration for Class of 2023

Students crowd the opening lecture of Economics 10b: Principles of Economics in 2017. The Economics department has retained its spot as the most popular undergraduate concentration this year.
Students crowd the opening lecture of Economics 10b: Principles of Economics in 2017. The Economics department has retained its spot as the most popular undergraduate concentration this year. By Casey M. Allen
By Natalie L. Kahn, Crimson Staff Writer

Economics remained the most popular concentration for the Class of 2023, with 186 declared sophomores, according to data provided by Faculty of Arts and Sciences Director of Institutional Research Karen Pearce.

The number of new Economics concentrators decreased only slightly from 193 for the Class of 2022, despite markedly lower enrollment in the fall semester due to students taking leaves during the Covid-19 pandemic. A total of 1,292 sophomores declared concentrations this year, compared to 1,633 last year, a decrease of 20 percent.

“We are delighted that large numbers of students find economics interesting, useful, or both,” Jeffrey A. Miron, the director of undergraduate studies in Economics, wrote in an email. “Our only regret is that we can’t greet our new (or existing) concentrators in person for now.”

Computer Science retained its position as the second most popular concentration, with 120 declared sophomore concentrators, a slight decline from 156 in the Class of 2022. In the past decade, the number of concentrators in the department has nearly tripled — just 47 sophomores declared the contraction in 2010.

Boaz Barak, co-director of undergraduate studies in Computer Science, cited the appeal of the department’s flexibility in allowing joint concentrators to explore multidisciplinary research as an explanation for the number of concentrators.

“Computer Science these days does indeed interface with many areas, including the sciences, economics, health, policy, and even the humanities,” Barak wrote in an email. “One thing that helps is that we take a ‘big tent’ view of computer science. CS is not just about coding, and correspondingly not every CS thesis needs to be about coding.”

Government retained its spot as the third most popular concentration, with 111 sophomores declared as of January 2021.

Despite its rank among concentrations, the Government department has seen a decline in concentrators over the past decade. The department had 473 total concentrators in 2011, compared with 313 in 2019.

Nara Dillon, director of undergraduate studies in Government, attributed the net decline to the increase in students who choose STEM-related fields given a changing job market, with fewer law and public sector jobs.

She also credited new tracks within the concentration — public policy, political economy, tech science, and data science — for attracting concentrators this year.

“These voluntary programs are designed to help students choose courses that will help them develop skills and expertise within political science, which is a very diverse discipline,” Dillon wrote in an email. “We hope this is an early indication that our new programs are drawing some interest from students.”

Other popular concentrations included Applied Mathematics and Neuroscience, at 100 and 78 declared sophomore concentrators, respectively.

Social Studies saw a marked decline in concentrators, with just 52 new concentrators, compared to 100 in the previous academic year.

“Our best guess is that a lot of sophomores who are on leave now will enroll in Social Studies 10a next fall and declare Social Studies as their concentration,” Anya B. Bassett, director of undergraduate studies in Social Studies, wrote in an email. “We are enjoying getting to know our smaller class of sophomores (2023) and we are looking forward to welcoming a larger class of sophomores (former members of the class of 2023, plus members of the class of 2024) next fall.”

By division, the Arts and Humanities division continued its gradual decline in declared concentrators, falling from 263 in the Class of 2013 to just 115 in the Class of 2023. SEAS, meanwhile, rose from 174 declared concentrators to 293 in the last 10 years.

Environmental Science and Engineering, the newest concentration at the College, also saw decreased interest, with just two declared sophomore concentrators, down from eight. Theater, Dance, and Media, another recently added concentration, also had only one declared sophomore concentrator, down from eight last year.

Sophomores were required to officially declare their concentrations by Nov. 19. However, they may change their path of study after that date.

—Staff writer Natalie L. Kahn can be reached at natalie.kahn@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @natalielkahn.

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