Undergraduate Programs

Economics at Mines

Economics is a vital part of the curriculum at the Colorado School of Mines. It may seem surprising that economics matters at a university focused on engineering; however, economists and engineers care about many of the same questions. What is the best way to solve a problem? How can we do things more efficiently? How can we optimize the way we make and distribute goods and services?

Students at Mines have a number of options for integrating economics into their studies. These options range from a single required core course, Principles of Economics, to a BS degree in Economics. Students may take more economics and businesses classes as electives, pursue a minor in economics and business or add an economics degree to their degree in engineering, mathematics or applied science.

A Unique Focus

Economics at Mines has a unique focus on the key interests of the Colorado School of Mines:  Earth, Energy and the Environment. Our faculty includes experts in the economics of minerals, traditional and renewable energy markets, and environmental economics.

We offer classes on the economics of energy, environment and natural resources to help all Mines students understand the business and regulatory context of these markets. We also offer a B.S. in Economics with a Specialization in Energy and Environmental Economics for students who want to maximize their knowledge and skills in these critical areas.

We also offer other undergraduate courses that provide important tools and topics tailored for engineering students:  engineering economics, optimization modeling and the economics of technology.

Cassidy HarrisMines has lived up to my expectations and then some. It’s more than I could have ever asked for and I’ll always be grateful for my time here.

Cassidy Harris
BS Economics
Class of 2018

Bachelor of Science in Economics

Engineering HallWhy study at Mines?

As you might expect from an economics program at an engineering school, the B.S. in economics at Mines is unique. Most economics degrees at other universities are awarded as a Bachelor of Arts and are based on either a strong liberal arts or business component.

Our Bachelor of Science degree is grounded in mathematics, engineering and the sciences. Many private companies and public organizations need leaders and managers who understand not only economics and business, but also science and technology. We graduate technologically literate economists with quantitative economics and business skills that give them a competitive advantage in today’s economy.

How is the Mines B.S. in Economics different?

The three main distinctives of the Mines economics degree are:

  • A strong focus on energy and environmental economics;
  • Mathematical rigor that builds on the Mines math and science core; and
  • A focus on developing practical tools for applying economics to real problems.

The Colorado School of Mines is focused on three key areas:

  • Earth
  • Energy
  • Environment

The Mines B.S. in Economics emphasizes these same key areas. Economics faculty also teach in our world-renowned graduate program in Mineral and Energy Economics, and we are able to leverage their expertise in our undergraduate classes. Within the economics degree, we offer an optional specialization in Energy and Environmental Economics for students who want an explicit focus on these important topics.

Mines B.S. in Economics is more mathematical than most

The Mines B.S. in Economics is more mathematical than almost any other undergraduate degrees in economics. We can do economics with more mathematical rigor because economics majors take the same math and science core as all the other students at Mines. Every economics students takes 3 semesters of calculus and differential equations as part of the Mines core. That math background gives our students another important set of tools to learn and apply economics.

B.S. in Economics at Mines is Practical

Finally, the B.S. in Economics at Mines is practical. Mines is primarily an engineering school, and most of our students come to Mines to learn how to solve problems. The economics program has much of the same practical outlook. All economics students at Mines take unique problem-oriented courses like engineering economics and operations research in addition to more traditional courses in statistics and econometric modeling.


The BS in Economics requires 128 credit hours of study.

  • The Mines core of 59 credit hours covers math, science, engineering design, humanities and social sciences
  • The Economics and Business core of 9 courses / 27 credit hours covers microeconomic and macroeconomic theory, statistical modeling, optimization, engineering economics, and mathematical economics
  • Economics and Business electives, 7 courses / 21 credit hours, includes energy economics, environmental economics, economics and technology, strategy, regional economics, accounting, corporate finance and many others
  • Free electives are 7 courses / 21 credit hours. Because of our flexible curriculum, many Mines economics majors pursue a dual degree or a minor.

The department also offers an optional specialization in energy and environmental economics with the bachelor’s degree. This replaces four of the economics and business electives with two-course sequences in energy economics and environmental economics.


Economics for Non-Majors

Knowledge about economics and business is very important for the engineers and applied scientists. Most engineers and scientists are also managing and making decisions about projects, budgets and teams. It’s important to know about markets, decision-making, business principles and optimization—all topics that we cover in economics and business.

There are a number of opportunities for students at Mines to learn more about economics and business courses even if you aren’t pursuing a degree in economics:

Economics in the Mines Core

Economics is an important part of the curriculum for every student at the Colorado School of Mines. All students will take at least one economics course as part of the Mines core along with courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering design and humanities. Many students take more economics classes like Energy Economics, Environmental Economics and Economics and Technology as part of the Humanities and Social Science General Education requirement.

Economics is part of the core curriculum because it is a central part of an engineering education. Economics at Mines addresses 6 of the 11 student outcomes for engineering programs required by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Specifically, we help students to attain

  1. an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering
  2. an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data
  3. an ability to communicate effectively
  4. the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context
  5. a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning
  6. a knowledge of contemporary issues

Economics plays two specific roles in the Mines core curriculum:

  • Principles of Economics: Principles of Economics (EBGN201) is a required one-semester introduction to economic decision-making, microeconomics and macroeconomics.
  • Humanities and Social Science General Education electives: Every student at Mines will take at least three upper-division humanities and social science courses. Several economics courses count for this requirement.
Economics as part of the HASS requirement

All Mines students must complete a 19-credit-hour curriculum in the Humanities and Social Sciences, ranging from freshman through senior levels of course work. These courses are offered by the Division of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) and by the Division of Economics and Business (EB).

The 10-credit humanities and social sciences core curriculum consists of

  • Nature & Human Values (LAIS 100) – 4 credits
  • Human Systems (SYGN 200) – 3 credits
  • Principles of Economics (EBGN 201) – 3 credits

The remaining 9 credits—three courses—must be chosen from the Humanities and Social Sciences General Education restricted electives. Here are the rules:

  • The three courses must be chosen from the approved courses listed in the HASS section of the catalog.
  • At least one of the three courses must be taken in HASS.
  • Single majors in Economics must take all three courses in HASS.
  • At least one of the three courses must be an approved 400-level course.
    No 100-level courses may be used for these restricted electives (except foreign language courses).
  • AP and/or IB credit may not be applied to the restricted electives.

This part of the humanities and social science requirement is often a source of confusion. Part of the problem is that this requirement has had many names over the years and may be called different things by different departments:  LAIS credit, Clusters, H&SS, LAIS/EBGN electives, Distributed Humanities and Social Sciences.

Another source of confusion is that not all EBGN courses may be used to satisfy this requirement. The approved EBGN courses are the following:

  • EBGN301 Intermediate Microeconomics
  • EBGN302 Intermediate Macroeconomics
  • EBGN310 Environment & Resource Economics
  • EBGN320 Economics and Technology
  • EBGN330 Energy Economics
  • EBGN340 Energy and Environmental Policy
  • EBGN342 Economic Development
  • EBGN437 Regional Economics
  • EBGN441 International Economics
  • EBGN443 Public Economics
  • EBGN470 Environmental Economics

No other EBGN courses may be used for the H&SS requirement.

Minor in Economics and Business

Undergraduate programs within the Division of Economics and Business include a minor in Economics and Business. Use your minor to broaden your technical major with a economics and business skills. Join the more than 200 students pursuing a minor in Economics and Business. All Mines students must complete, for their major, nine credits of H&SS electives. You will notice many EBGN classes in the list of approved courses. Students are able to count up to six hours of EBGN credits towards the HS&S electives and apply the credits towards a minor.


18 credit hours of EBGN courses (6 courses) as detailed:

  • Required Courses – 6 credit hours (2 courses)
    • Principles of Economics (EBGN201) and
    • Either Intermediate Microeconomics (EBGN301) or Intermediate Macroeconomics (EBGN302).
  • EBGN elective courses – 12 credit hours (4 courses)*

*At least 9.0 of the hours required for the minor must not be used for any part of the degree other than Free Electives.

Minor in Operations Research

Operations Research is applicable to all majors at Colorado School of Mines. Specifically, Operations Research involves mathematically modeling physical systems (both naturally occurring and man-made) with a view to determining a course of action for said system to either improve or optimize its functionality. Examples of such systems are: manufacturing systems, chemical processes, socio-economic systems, power systems, mechanical systems, e.g., those that produce energy, and mining systems. The formal approach includes optimization, (e.g., linear programming, nonlinear programming, integer programming), decision analysis, stochastic modeling, and simulation.

The Operations Research minor consists of a minimum of 18 credit hours of a logical sequence of courses. Only three of these hours may be taken in the student’s degree-granting department. Three of these hours must consist of a deterministic modeling course, three must consist of a stochastic modeling course, and no more than three must draw from a survey course (combining both stochastic and deterministic modeling). Eligible courses include:

Deterministic Modeling

  • EBGN452: Nonlinear Programming*
  • CSCI262: Data Structures
  • CSCI/MATH406: Algorithms
  • CSCI404: Artificial Intelligence
  • EBGN455: Linear Programming*
  • EBGN456: Network Models*
  • EBGN457: Integer Programming*
  • EENG307: Introduction to Feedback Control
  • MATH332: Linear Algebra
  • EENG417: Modern Control Design
  • MEGN502: Advanced Engineering Analysis

Stochastic Modeling 

  • EBGN459: Supply Chain Management*
  • EBGN461: Stochastic Modeling in Management Science*
  • EBGN528: Industrial Systems Simulation
  • EBGN560: Decision Analysis
  • MATH424: Introduction to Applied Statistics
  • MATH438: Stochastic Models
  • MNGN438/PEGN438: Geostatistics
  • MTGN450: Statistical Process Control and Design of Experiments

Survey Course

  • MNGN433: Mine Systems Analysis

*Equivalently, a student may take the corresponding 500-level course.

Area of Special Interest in Economics and Business


  • 12 credit hours/4 courses in EBGN.
  • Complete Principles of Economics EBGN201
  • Take 3 other EBGN courses*

*At least 9.0 of the hours required for the ASI must not be used for any part of the degree other than Free Electives.

Student Organizations

US Association for Energy Economics

The Colorado School of Mines Chapter of the United States Association for Energy Economics (USAEE) is committed to expanding the reach of energy information in both the private and public sectors. The Chapter focuses on current energy issues and research at the state, national, and international level. It provides an excellent forum to meet, network, and exchange ideas in the regional energy community. The Chapter hosts several events and field trips a year, the most notable of which is the annual Rocky Mountain Energy Economics Banquet which takes place each fall.

You can learn more and stay up-to-date on Chapter activities by accessing our public website.

To get in touch with us at the Colorado School of Mines Chapter, please contact one of the representatives below. They can help answer any questions you may have.