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The Dual Degree Is Improbable But Not Impossible

One thing commentators and fans love to remark on is the authenticity and passion of Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. Those of us on the right tend to take note of her lack of knowledge of basic concepts when it comes to basic history and the economy.

This is especially odd since Ocasio Cortez purports to have both an International Studies degree and an Economics degree from Boston University.

People have regularly questioned the quality of the University’s Economics curriculum since she started pontificating. Between relating the price of croissants in an airport to wages and having no idea how tax incentives work, snarky commentary ensued.

To be fair, I do not believe she is the only one who operates her Twitter account. The difference between how she speaks and how she tweets are significant and too many of the tweets sound canned. However, her dual degree in International Relations and Economics is also noted in other places. Her boigraphy and her Wikipedia page both note this education as well as a number of interviews and public statements. Wikipedia goes so far as to specify she earned a Bachelor of Arts (BA) at Boston University.

So imagine the eyebrow raise when I was sent this tweet:

Well, that bears a little snooping. So I hopped over to Boston University’s website.

A BA in Economics at BU requires 32 credit hours in the core curriculum which is standard for most majors. There is no offering in the department for a dual degree in Economics and International Relations. The only one offered is in Economics and Math. There is an option for a minor in Economics with seven additional classes.

A BA in International studies is described as:

Undergraduates studying international relations choose from a wide range of interdisciplinary courses in history, economics, political science, anthropology, sociology, and religion, among other disciplines

In the description, the degree requires two prerequisites to any track within the Pardee School.

Twelve courses and two prerequisites, CAS EC 101 and CAS EC 102, are required for an undergraduate major in International Relations (IR). 

Contrary to other blog posts which either missed this requirement or stated they were not the foundational classes for an Economics degree, they actually are. Descriptions of these classes are standard Microeconomics and Macroeconomics courses. So anyone graduating from this curriculum should have a basic understanding of pricing, supply and demand, unemployment and economic cycles.

There is an International Economics, Business, and Politics track within the Frederick s. Pardee School of Global Studies. The curriculum is as follows:

Advanced courses within the track are as follows:

So to complete this track within the International Studies curriculum, six classes in the Economics department are required and there are three advanced classes in the department that are optional. Could this track be viewed as a minor in Economics? It is not explicit in the Pardee School information that this is the case and the Economics department is silent on the issue.

So based on Ocasio Cortez’s statements, I am going to be generous and assume this is track she took. In common parlance, it would be referred to as a concentration. And if she took the International Economics, Business, and Politics track she should have some specialized knowledge of foreign economies. However, she should have some foundational knowledge of how an economy functions just based on the prerequisite courses.

Her public statements regarding her education may be misleading. To imply a dual major or separate degrees based on any other track, would be impossible. I also find it notable that in her Rolling Stone interview she said she originally was studying to be ab OB-GYN and studied abroad in West Africa. She stated during this study abroad she contracted malaria. This would make a true dual degree improbable.

According to the BA in Economics site, it requires 4 years of full-time study as does the BA in International Relations. It appears Ocasio Cortez graduated in a standard four years. However, looking at the requirements and the six to nine classes required for the concentration above, it is possible if she managed her electives and core correctly and took a heavier caseload that she could have achieved a dual major. But her initial track of study and study abroad, if true, seem to make it unlikely.

The good news is this. Based on what she should have learned in college, you can rightly mock her economic commentary in either case. She should know full well just from the prerequisites she had to take that the Green New Deal proposes a centrally planned economy and massive Keynesian redistribution. I know because I took the same classes.

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