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ECON 315: Labor Economics Syllabus

Credits: 3

Prerequisites: ECON 102

Delivery: Web (Canvas,

Dates: See the Calendar tab in Canvas.

Instructor: Dr. Jadrian Wooten


Course Outline


ECON 315 is an analysis of the Economics of Labor and Human Resources. This course is designed to develop the concepts and techniques of labor economic theory and its applications (employment and unemployment, labor market trends, human capital, earnings, labor supply, labor demand, wage determination, collective bargaining, wage differentials, and related government policies). Considerable emphasis will be placed on problem solving and the application of labor economics to selected public policy issues and current economic events.


Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Use the methods and tools of economic analysis as they are applied to the labor market

  2. Apply these tools to current issues in the labor market today


This course is made up of 12 lessons.

  1. Introduction; What is Labor Economics?

  2. Introduction to Labor Markets

  3. Labor Demand

  4. Labor Supply

  5. Unemployment

  6. Compensating Differentials

  7. Frictions in the Labor Market

  8. Human Capital Theory

  9. Labor Mobility; Migration; & Turnover

  10. Discrimination

  11. Pay & Productivity

  12. Unions & Inequality


For each lesson, you will complete the following activities and assignments:

  • Explore online course content

  • Read a few assigned readings

  • Complete an ungraded practice quiz


In addition, you will participate in graded discussions and complete activities that culminate in a course capstone project due at the end of the semester. You will also take four midterm exams. The grade breakdown for these assignments is provided in the Assignments section of this syllabus.


Online Learning & Attendance

This course has been developed to promote asynchronous learning. The instructor and students do NOT meet on a designated day and time each week. For each lesson, there is a timeframe to complete all activities and assignments, and you may work at your own pace within that timeframe. However, you must adhere to the deadlines outlined on the calendar. (Click the Calendar tab in Canvas. Or check the Orientation page under the Modules tab.) You should log into the course daily to check for updates, review lessons, and participate in activities.


Texts & Other Materials

Ronald G. Ehrenberg and Robert S. Smith. Modern Labor Economics: Theory and Public Policy [12th edition]. Routledge Publishers (ISBN: 978-0133462784)*

 There are two recommended (but not required) texts.

  1. Deirdre McCloskey. Economical Writing (ISBN: 978-1577660637)

  2. Microeconomics. Quickstudy: Business (ISBN: 978-1423208556)

*E-Book Option: An online version of one or more of your texts is available at no cost as a Penn State Libraries E-Book, which is indicated by an asterisk (*). You can access the E-Book through the Library Resources tab on the course navigation menu. Some E-Books will only be available online, while others will be available to download in full or in part. You may choose to use the E-Book as an alternative to purchasing a physical copy of the text. For questions or issues, you can contact the University Libraries Reserve Help (UL-RESERVESHELP@LISTS.PSU.EDU).

Library Services

Penn State Libraries provides a wide variety of services and resources. To learn how to take advantage, refer to the Online Student Library Guide at This guide serves as your starting point for access to all that Penn State Libraries can offer you as an online student. Use this guide if you have questions on library services offered to you, how the library can help you, how to use the library, or what resources you can access via the library! The guide will connect you to important pages and resources within Penn State Libraries and save time from you searching for the information you need.

Course Reserves

There are electronic resources on reserve for this course that can be accessed through the Penn State Libraries. To access your Course Reserves, please use the Library Resources tab in the course navigation menu. For any questions you may have about viewing or printing your Course Reserves, refer to the View and Print Electronic Course Reserves at

Other required article readings and videos will be posted to the course website.

You will need to have regular access to a scanner for exams. You will submit these by completing your work on paper (such as drawing graphs) and then scanning your papers to create an electronic file and submitting the electronic file to the appropriate page during the exam. Please make sure to familiarize yourself with the submission procedure and the appropriate deadlines.


Final letter grades will be assigned based on the scale below.

A = 93%  to 100%

A- = 90% to 92.99%

B+ = 87% to 89.99%

B = 83% to 86.99%

B- = 80% to 82.99%

C+ = 75% to 79.99%

C = 70% to 74.99%

D = 60% to 69.99%

F = 0% to 59.99%

Due Dates

All assignments are due by 11:59 PM Eastern Time on the date indicated on the Calendar (Due dates can be also be viewed under the Syllabus tab.) As a general rule, you will NOT be able to go back and make up missed assignments. It is your responsibility to keep up with your assignments. Students with an excused absence (e.g. hospitalization, jury duty, family emergency, or military service) may be asked to produce proper documentation in order to make up graded work. All make-up work is at the discretion of the instructor.

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g. upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

  • To Do List: Some assignments may not appear in the To Do list under the Home tab. Use the Calendar or Syllabus to ensure that you are fully aware of assignment due dates.


Valid Excuses

A major advantage of an online course is the flexibility it affords students for doing assignments. All assignments are intended to be accessed and completed within a window of several days duration and can be done from anywhere in the world. (The necessary technology, even if you are not at home, will frequently be available at internet cafes, copy shops, or libraries.) The dates of these assignments have been provided to you well ahead of time in the course calendar. Given this flexibility, an unexpected event that makes it impossible for a student to complete an assignment on time should be very rare. It is expected that students plan ahead and allocate their time accordingly.

A student must inform the instructor as early as possible if they anticipate it will be impossible for them to execute an assignment on time. If a student does not notify the instructor and fails to submit the assignment on time, that student will receive zero credit. If a student only notifies the instructor of a valid conflict after the assignment window has opened (or, for homework, less than 48 hours before the assignment is due), the instructor may arrange to have the deadline changed for that student, but the penalty will be 20% of the available credit per 24 hours late. These penalties are not negotiable.

If a student anticipates a valid conflict and informs the instructor before the assignment window opens (or more than 48 hours before the homework is due), the instructor may allow the student to submit the work at a later (or earlier) time without penalty. Valid conflicts are items that make it impossible for a student to complete the assignment at the scheduled time, primarily including illness, or family emergencies. Travel plans (except as required by university-sponsored activities) DO NOT constitute a valid conflict. Students should plan to be available online until they finish the assignment. Encountering technical problems at the last minute is not a valid conflict. For more information on valid excuses, please see the Department of Economics policy on valid excuses, which is available on the Department website.



Basic information about each assignment group is provided below. For detailed directions about an individual assignment, see the assignment information under the Modules tab.

Midterm Exams:  72%

Projects: 20%

Discussions: 8%

Total Available: 100%

Midterm Exams (4 x 18% = 72% total)

There are four exams made up of a mix multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank and file upload/essay questions. The multiple choice will typically be quantitative, you will have to solve for a numerical value suggested by the problem. The fill-in-the-blank questions can be typed directly into the exam form. File upload questions will have you hand-draw answers to be scanned and uploaded. Each Midterm will only cover topics from the three preceding lessons. The fourth exam is non-cumulative and worth the same grade weight as the other exams, but will be taken during Finals Week.

Projects (20%)

Scattered throughout the course are small activities that are part of a larger project to help you figure out the value of a degree in your chosen field. Each activity will have you taking a stance or investigating a facet relating to economic theory and the labor market, collecting and analyzing data related to your major.

Discussions (8%)

There are also graded discussions relevant to course concepts. You are expected to contribute to the discussion and give meaningful insight and commentary.


University Policies

Academic Integrity

Penn State defines academic integrity as “the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner.” (Senate Policy 49-20). Dishonesty of any kind will not be tolerated in this course. Dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarizing, fabricating information or citations, facilitating acts of academic dishonesty by others, having unauthorized possession of examinations, submitting work of another person or work previously used without permission from the instructor or tampering with the academic work of other students. Students facing allegations of academic misconduct who drop the course will be returned and will be expected to complete course work and meet course deadlines until the allegations are dismissed and the drop is permitted. Students responsible for academic misconduct often receive academic sanctions, which can be severe, and put themselves at jeopardy for disciplinary sanctions assigned by the University’s Office of Student Conduct (see Senate Policy G-9).


Unless your instructor tells you otherwise:

  • Always include an in-text citation that includes the author(s) last name(s) and the year the source was published at the end of any sentence or below any image that includes words, images, or ideas you found in a source, always include quoted text within quotation marks, and always include a reference for any source at the end of your paper (ask your instructor about the format you should use).

  • All of your graded coursework must be created by you without help from anyone in the course or otherwise. If you have questions about this, you should ask your instructor before submitting work for evaluation.


All course materials you receive or access are protected by copyright laws. You may use course materials and make copies for your own use, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

Disability Access

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. If you have a disability-related need for reasonable academic adjustments in this course, contact the Office for Disability Services (ODS) at 814-863-1807 (V/TTY). For further information regarding ODS, please visit the Office for Disability Services Website at

In order to receive consideration for course accommodations, you must contact ODS and provide documentation. (See the documentation guidelines at If the documentation supports the need for academic adjustments, ODS will provide a letter identifying appropriate academic adjustments. Please share this letter and discuss the adjustments with your instructor as early in the course as possible. You must contact ODS and request academic adjustment letters at the beginning of each semester.


Penn State is committed to equal access to programs, facilities, admission and employment for all persons. It is the policy of the University to maintain an environment free of harassment and free of discrimination against any person because of age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, physical or mental disability, gender, perceived gender, gender identity, genetic information or political ideas. Discriminatory conduct and harassment, as well as sexual misconduct and relationship violence, violates the dignity of individuals, impedes the realization of the University’s educational mission, and will not be tolerated. For further information, please visit the Affirmative Action Office Website at


The materials on the course Website are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated.

University Emergency Procedure

In the event of a University-wide emergency, the course may be subject to changes. Exigent circumstances may require alternative delivery methods, class materials, and interactions with the instructor and/or classmates. In addition, there may be revisions to grading policies, attendance policies, and the course calendar, including assignments and their deadlines.

In the event of a University-wide emergency, please refer to the ANGEL Website at for specific information related to the course. For more general information about the emergency situation, please refer to the Penn State Website at or Penn State News at

To register with PSUTXT Alerts, a service designed to alert the Penn State community when situations arise that affect the ability of a campus to function normally, please go to Subscribers can receive alerts by text message to cell phones, and also can elect to have alerts sent to an email address.

Syllabus Subject to Change

The class will likely adhere to the information outlined in the syllabus and calendar, but adjustments may be made based on what actually transpires during the term. Be sure to check with a classmate after an absence to see if activities and assignments have changed. Remaining in the course after reading this syllabus will signal that you accept the possibility of changes and responsibility for being aware of them.

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