Department of Economics is as old as the College itself. B.A. Course was introduced in St.Joseph?s College right from the time when the Madras University started granting affiliation to Colleges in BA. The University Calendar of 1880-81 explicitly mentions that the collegiate department of St.Joseph?s College was formed in 1868. The year 1911 was an important year for the department of Economics, when Rev. Fr. Carty, S.J. became the Professor of Economics after completing his studies in England and in the year1918-19, Rev. Fr. Carty, S.J. was promoted as the Head of the Department of Economics. He was a student of Alfred Marshall, a proud product of Cambridge University. The Department had several luminaries like Rev.Fr. Adisayam S.J. and Rev. Fr. Ehrhart SJ. Even before the genesis of NSS, the Department was actively involved in the activities organized by Institute of Social Service to serve the helpless people.
In 1930 MA course was introduced. After Rev.Dr. M. Sebastian, S.J. took-up the reins of the department, research was introduced in the Department. The Research facilities are available both for M.Phil and Ph.D in Economics since 1976. The Department came under College Humanities and Social Sciences Improvement Programme (COHSSIP) for five years and did much experimentation in teaching methods. Business Administration Course was started in July 1999 as a branch of the Department of Economics under the headship of Prof.A.Susairaj. Under the auspices of Economics Association, meetings are arranged and several eminent personalities address the students. The Department conducts a regional level workshop on Research Methodology annually and it helps to be a boon for the budding research scholars. There are annual lectures like CADAR memorial lecture, Rex Fernandez Endowment lecture, and Kulandaisamy Arockiadoss Endowment lecture. Students of the department organize "ECONS" competition at the intercollegiate level every year. The most important milestone in the growth of Department of Economics is the starting of the Association of Economists of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry 'AETP'in 1980. Rev. Dr M. Sebastian, S.J. a former HOD of Economics was the founder president of this AEPT. Presently Rev. Dr A G Leonard SJ, former principal of St.Joseph's College has been the Chairman of the Association of Economists of Tamil Nadu (AET). It conducts annual conference and publishes a journal "Peninsular Economist" (ISSN: 0976-8270) with the motto of ?Publish and Prosper?. In December, 1973, the Department hosted the 50th All India Economics Conference and subsequently National Level Conferences. The Department started ?Population Education Club? to spread the message of ?Perils of population bomb?. The Department is having project at the UG level and takes keen interest in giving practical exposure to the students. The Department arranges study tours, field visits, industrial visits etc. The Department has been organizing remedial courses for the slow learners to pick up their lost opportunities and to quench their thirst of knowledge. The gifted students are given special coaching through the "Civil Service Club". The Department has linkages with Ramco Cements, Ariyalur and MoU with Trichy Ceramics (P) Ltd.
The Department offers U.G., P.G., M.Phil., and Ph.D Programme.
The following are those who have been heading the department of Economics: