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Greetings from the Chair

Welcome to the Department of Economics of the University of California, San Diego.  Whether you are a current student, a prospective student or faculty member, a member of the media, or a member of the general public, this web site is designed to provide useful information about our department.

After its founding in 1964, the  Department rose rapidly in prominence along with the rest of UCSD.  Within four decades, two long-time faculty have won Nobel Prizes.  Numerous other faculty have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  The Economics Department established its reputation on the basis of world-renowned faculty working-groups in econometrics and microeconomic theory.  During the last two decades, the Department has developed leading groups in macroeconomics, international trade and development, behavioral economics, and education research as well as other fields in applied microeconomics.  We now have approximately 40 full-time faculty researching a broad array of economics issues.

Our Department is typical of the California innovative culture, where a casual atmosphere belies the cutting-edge ideas being generated.  The Department was built and is maintained predominantly by hiring at the junior level and by supporting junior faculty as they develop into world-class scholars.  As a result, it is a place that thrives on a flat organizational structure, with few distinctions between junior and senior faculty.  Everyone is expected to remain active in research and instruction.  We have numerous formal afternoon seminars with talks given by outside researchers as well as less formal lunch-time seminars in which faculty and graduate students give work-in-progress.  In addition, the Department norm is that faculty are present and available during the entire academic year. 

Our Ph.D. students come from many countries and are an integral part of the Department.  The entering classes typically number in the low 20s.  Our graduate students actively participate in the Department’s research agenda as research assistants and co-authors, and in the teaching mission as teaching assistants.  In some other universities, certain faculty members are off limits to some graduate students and do not teach undergraduate classes.  Here at UCSD, virtually all faculty members are active in both graduate and undergraduate instruction and in advising students.  In the last three years, we placed 55 percent of our Ph.D. students in universities, including placements at top universities such as Stanford, University of Chicago, Cal Tech, Carnegie Mellon, and Boston University; 30 percent in government and nonprofit institutions, such as the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and Bank of Japan; and 15 percent in leading private sector companies, such as Mathematica and Yahoo! 

We have a large and vibrant undergraduate program.  Each quarter, over 6,000 students enroll in our courses.  Our three undergraduate majors continue to be top draws.  Although enrollment pressures require the Department to rely on lecturers to staff some undergraduate courses, almost every required course, and most electives, are staffed at least partly by research faculty.  In other words, a selective and forward-looking undergraduate can take most of his/her classes from research faculty, including some from the Department’s highest profile researchers.  Furthermore, the Department strives to hire gifted lecturers whose subject knowledge and career experience enhance the undergraduate education. 

The Department has close ties with several other units on campus, including the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IRPS), The Rady School of Management, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), and other academic departments (such as Political Science and Mathematics).  The economics community at UCSD, in fact, spans the Department and some of these other units, and some of the faculty hold joint appointments.  We contribute to, and have an integral part in, the graduate programs of SIO, IRPS, and the Rady School.  At the undergraduate level, we play a major role in the International Studies Program and also contribute to the Environmental Studies, Environmental Systems and Urban Studies & Planning programs.  The Department has played a leadership role in UCSD’s Environmental Sustainability and Climate Institute and in the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, among others.  The Department also has connections with the Southwest Fisheries Science Center (of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).  

The Department has a fabulous staff of senior managers and student affairs and business specialists.  Students, faculty, and visitors can all rely on the expertise and wide-ranging experience of these outstanding staff members.

In the coming years, we hope to continue the Department’s march up the rankings, to increase the number of faculty and fields of strength, and to enhance our academic programs and collaboration with other units at UCSD.  On the graduate side, we are increasing the range of field offerings.  On the undergraduate side, we are developing programs to help our undergraduates compete for leading internships and private sector jobs.

It is an exciting time for UCSD and the Economics Department.  We hope your involvement with us will be productive and you will stay in touch over the years.

Sincerely,

James E. Rauch
Department Chair