On April Fool’s Day, suddenly everyone (on Twitter, at least) was talking about freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) purported economics degree from Boston University. The conversation began with this tweet:
Ferguson’s tweet was based on a piece at Bastion of Liberty that questioned the following sentence on AOC’s Wikipedia entry:
“Ocasio-Cortez majored in international relations and economics at Boston University, graduating cum laude in 2011.
By viewing Boston University’s degree requirements online, the author concluded that AOC most likely had been awarded a BA in International Relations with a Track in Economics, Business, and Politics:
“NOT an Econ major, although that has been the implied degree in many of the stories written about her. Many of them skate over the actual major, preferring to word the details as though she were a budding Milton Friedman (only smarter and more woke).”
AOC herself has made seemingly different claims. Her website states that “she earned degrees in Economics and International Relations.”
In a June 2018 tweet, she didn’t mention the International Relations degree.
Science was my first passion. Asteroid named by @MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory in honor of longevity experiments I conducted out of Mt. Sinai.
My research won 2nd place globally in Microbiology at @intel ISEF. At BU I started as science major, changed to Econ 🤓#nerdalert https://t.co/MICD5me2Wm
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 12, 2018
But earlier that year, in February 2018, she’d implied that she had two bachelor’s degrees – one in economics and “another in international relations.”
“May not have an education?”
I have a degree in Economics and another in Intl. Relations from Boston University.
Before that MIT honored my work in microbiology.
“No career?” I started under Ted Kennedy and served as Educational Director for the National Hispanic Institute.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 1, 2018
Twitter users on both sides of the argument pointed to a “2019 Distinguished Alumni Award” entry on the Boston University Economics department webpage stating that AOC graduated with a “BA in International Relations and Economics” to prove their point. One side claimed that meant she had degrees in both economics and international relations; the other claimed it meant she had a degree in international relations with a concentration or emphasis in economics.
By viewing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s listing in the Boston University Alumni Directory, in which the graduation year, degree, and major(s) listed are controlled by the University Registrar, and having an understanding of the differences between a double major and a dual degree, the matter should be cleared up. Below, a screenshot of AOC’s listing in the Boston University Alumni Directory.
It states that she graduated in 2011 from the College of Arts and Sciences with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and that her Primary Education Major is International Relations. But wait, there’s more.
AOC’s Primary Education Major 2 is economics. It appears that Ocasio-Cortez has a Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in both International Relations and Economics. International Relations and Economics are both departments within Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences (this author is also a graduate of Boston University who initially majored in International Relations and has familiarity with how the school is structured).
Technically, this would mean AOC double majored. Prepscholar.com explains the differences between a double major and a dual degree:
Typically, a double major means you’ll be studying two fields that are based in the same school and that’ll earn you the same type of degree, such as a Bachelor of Arts (BA), a Bachelor of Science (BS), or a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA).
By contrast, a dual degree usually means you’ll be studying two unique fields that are based in two different schools and that’ll earn you two different types of degrees (e.g., a BS and a BFA).
AOC could have bypassed all of this confusion had she simply stated that she double-majored at Boston University, in International Relations and Economics. But, since when has clarity of communication been something the public expected or received from AOC?
There are plenty of criticisms to be made about AOC’s policies, tactics, and her level of economic understanding. A wonderful question that should be asked is, in light of her BA in International Relations and Economics (with honors), her scientific accolades, and the fact that she resided in the capital of the world’s financial markets, why was she bartending before she ran for Congress to make ends meet? Was that just part of a ploy to connect with the Bernie Bros, concocted by the Justice Democrats and her Chief of Staff?
So, let’s not get distracted by a discussion of which degree she has and by speculating about how many hours of economic instruction she took based on an out-of-date course bulletin. (The one in effect for AOC can be found here.) Quite a few of AOC’s fellow Terriers would be happy if the first thing people thought of when the name “Boston University” is mentioned is *not* an economic illiterate.
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