The Harvard University Department of Economics was established in 1897 under the division of History, Government, and Economics, which was created at the same time.
Prior to this, Harvard was one among many academic institutions with faculty offering instruction in the study of economics in the late nineteenth century, at first under the auspices of graduate study in Political Economy, which later became the academic field of Economics in the early 1890s.
Following the acceptance of a $2 million gift by President Conant from alumnus Lucius N. Littauer in 1935 for a graduate school of public administration, the cornerstone of the Littauer Center for Public Administration was laid in May 1938. Littauer Center housed the new School of Public Administration as a center for Business, Law, Economics, and Government. Now, the Littauer Center houses the Department of Economics in the Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Harvard’s Economics Department today is ranked among the top institutions in the world for teaching and research in the study of economics. The department has 59 faculty members who teach in the areas of Applied Theory, Behavioral and Experimental Economics, Contracts and Organizations, Econometrics, Development, Economic History, Environmental Economics, Finance, Health, Industrial Organization, International Economics and Trade, Labor, Law, Macroeconomics, Monetary and Fiscal Policy, Political Economy, Public Economics and Policy, Science, and Theory.
The Department is home to the Quarterly Journal of Economics, which was established in 1886 as the first scholarly journal of economics in the English speaking world. The QJE is a world-ranked professional journal and ranks 8.147 on a 5-year impact factor. The journal is ranked 2/332 journals by impact factor.
In 2013, the department had 3370 undergraduate enrollments in 82 Economics courses with active enrollment. The doctoral program received 638 applications from 67 countries with 34 admissions.
In 2012, the Harvard Economics Department received the distinction of a top ranking for a third year in row in Tilburg University’s Worldwide Economics Research Ranking for Universities.