About the Department

The Department of Economics at Virginia Tech focuses on teaching, research and outreach in regard to economic issues at the state, national and international levels.

We offer both undergraduate and graduate training for students who wish to concentrate in economics. In addition, we offer general education courses that provide undergraduates from across the university with a background in the business, policy and international aspects of economics they need to support their programs of study.

The majority of our faculty are engaged in interdisciplinary or international research collaborations.

Click Here for Departmental Annual Reports on the College of Science webpage.

History of the Department

The Department of Economics was one of three departments that founded the College of Business on September 1, 1961; the other two departments were Accounting and Business Administration.)

In the late 1960, the then President of Virginia Tech, Dr. Marshall Hahn, and Vice President, Dr. Warren Brandt, provided the support necessary to create a first-rate Economics Department. Under the inspired leadership of Dr. Wilson Schmidt the Department attracted two world-class economists, Dr. Gordon Tullock, and Dr. James Buchanan, who together founded the Center for Study of Public Choice. In 1968 the Department also commenced its Ph. D. program, with primary focus in Public Economics.

During the period 1969-1983 the Department grew to a size of around 30 faculty members. It had a strong international reputation and was ranked in the top 20 nationally; it was, arguably, the top Ph.D. program in Public Economics and Political Economy. In 1983 the Center for Study of Public Choice (with 7 faculty) moved to George Mason University in 1983. Within three years of departing, Dr. James Buchanan received the Nobel Prize in Economics.

By 1988 the Department was doing well in terms of its efforts to recover from the departure of the Center, appointing some new world-class economists. In order to enhance its prospects to regain its former top 20 ranking, the Economics Department moved from the College of Business to the College of Arts and Sciences in 1989 in search of support from a more scholarly-oriented academic culture. In 2003 the Economics Department joined 7 other departments to create the College of Science.

In 1998, Nobel Laureate James Buchanan returned to Virginia Tech as a Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Economics and Philosophy. This has provided a tremendous boost to the moral of the Department because Dr. Buchanan has been contributing in a variety of ways, including organizing and financing series of lectures (James M. Buchanan annual lectures), workshops and symposia at Tech.