Political economy major to have new GPA requirement

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New eligibility requirements are being put in place for students applying to the political economy major due to increased student interest.

Beginning fall 2014, students declaring the political economy major will need to have a 2.7 or higher cumulative GPA at UC Berkeley. The major has seen an 84 percent increase in enrollment since 2005, when a previous enrollment cap on the major was lifted, and a 131 percent increase since 1995.

According to Director of International Area Studies Maximilian Auffhammer, political economy is already the largest major in the International and Area Studies Academic Program. It is also one of the fastest-growing majors in IAS.

UC Berkeley economics professor Brad DeLong, chair of the political economy major, said that the department is capping the major after being advised to do so by a visiting committee. DeLong said the committee did not think IAS had sufficient faculty and staff to have such a large political economy program.

“This cap will ensure that political economy has the same resources for students as other majors do,” Auffhammer said.

Until 2005, the political economy major had similar eligibility requirements.

“We took the cap off with assurances from Dean Robert Holub and others that if the major grew, it would get more resources — and we did get two professors, Chang-Tai Hsieh and Max Auffhammer,” DeLong said. “But that was all.”

Along with the GPA requirement, students applying to the major beginning fall 2014 will also need to get a minimum of a B- in the major prerequisite class IAS 45 and will not be allowed to retake the class for a better grade. Students who apply before fall 2014 are still allowed to retake IAS 45 once and must earn a C or better, according to current prerequisites.

“We just want people to pass with a B- to signal that they are ready to engage in this material,” Auffhammer said.

Daniel Dang, a UC Berkeley sophomore and intended political economy major, has already taken IAS 45. He said that he is worried the cap will make it difficult for students to enjoy the course material because of the added stress of needing to achieve a B-.

“I worked pretty hard in IAS, so I feel like if you work hard and you put time into it, a B- is pretty reasonable,” Dang said.

Contact Elise Aliotti at [email protected]