About Us

Research Centers

The Economics Department of UCSB hosts 4 research facilities for students, faculty, and visitors involved in economic discovery.

The Economics Department is affiliated with the newly formed (2009) UC Center for Energy and Environmental Economics. This Center was established by the UC Office of the President at two locations (UCSB and UC Berkeley) to foster research in energy economics and environmental and natural resource economics.


The Laboratory for Aggregate Economics and Finance hosts workshops and intensive seminars focusing on a specific topic or hypothesis involving modern Economics.

The Leonard and Gretchan Broom Center for Demography facilitates and engages in research and training in the areas of social demography, population studies, and social and economic inequality.

In addition the Economics department hosts the Experimental and Behavioral Economics Laboratory which hosts conferences and workshops by and for graduate students examining issues in behavioral and experimental economics.

Brief History of Economics at UCSB

Instruction in economics on the Santa Barbara campus antedates the establishment of the Department of Economics. It began in 1909 at the State Normal School of Manual Arts and Home Economics, a 2-year professional training school. The school evolved through several name and location changes and in 1944 the Santa Barbara State College was designated as the third University of California campus with an enrollment of 1,464. By 1955 the campus was settled in its present home on the former Marine Air Force base next to the ocean. 1960 signified the inception of the Department of Economics, an autonomous department within the Division of Social Sciences of the College of Letters and Science. Our first Chair was Fred Halterman - his tenure saw 241 economics majors. Three years later the major count had doubled to 500, and today it is over 2000.

The department has numerous affiliations with research units, housed both in and outside of the department and university. After Professor Finn Kydland received the 2004 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, the Laboratory for Aggregate Economics and Finance (LAEF) was established.  LAEF, headed by Professor Kydland, hosts workshops and intensive seminars focusing on a specific topic or hypothesis involving modern Economics. In addition to LAEF, the department also houses the Experimental and Behavioral Economics Laboratory (EBEL), which supports research in experimental and behavioral economics. Research in environmental and resource economics was enhanced in 2009 when the UC Office of the President established the UC Center for Energy and Environmental Economics, based at both UC Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara. Our most recent affiliated research unit is The Leonard and Gretchan Broom Center for Demography.  This center was established in October 2011 as an interdisciplinary research center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, with generous funding from Leonard and Gretchan Broom.

The department’s graduate program stresses a strong foundation in theory and econometrics, and offers students the unique opportunity of not only earning a Ph.D. in Economics, but through our joint efforts with the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, provides an emphasis in Economics and Environmental Science.  Recent graduates of the program have been placed at Vanderbilt University, University of Virginia, The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, RAND, University of Sydney and many other private and public institutions.

Our Undergraduate Program remains outstanding with Economics continuing to be one of the most popular majors on campus. Students graduating from the Economics department are prepared for careers in many different fields, and recruiters are consistently impressed with our students’ ability to apply the economic theory their major taught them to their careers. The Economics and Accounting major provides a rigorous series of courses for preparation for the CPA exam as well as independent and group studies in management to relate economic theory to real life. The Undergraduate Accounting Society remains extremely active, including annual career recruitment by the accounting firms for summer internships and full-time positions.