I just looked up the current students in Intermediate Econ (micro and macro), and this fall there does seem to be a few more students than there were last Spring. I'd have to spend some further time and effort on this to give you an accurate indication of class sizes, as this could be because more people take these courses in the fall...or it could mean that this department is seeing more students this year and is growing - I don't know what the #s mean yet. Some of the more non-generic (i.e., specialised) econ classes have only 20-30 kids in them. Why are you interested in the level 300/400 at this point? What does knowing the #s in those classes tell you that would influence your decision about UA? Knowing what you are really trying to find out will help me/others to answer your question better - PM me if you wish.
If your student is in honors, the introductory honors econ classes are WAY smaller than the non-honors, I can tell you that! The reg micro econ class has about 260, and the honors micro econ has between 28 and 35 this term.
Class size is just one measure within a holistic assessment of schools but probably a reasonably important one for my kid.
Upper level class size seemed like a reasonable way of setting aside the large intro lectures. Another reason is that AP exams will significantly reduce (but not eliminate) the need for lower-level classes.
I generally don't pay any attention to student/faculty ratios and class size #s because they tell you absolutely nothing. Really. A great professor with 100 kids in the class who is completely interactive, approachable, and well connected with students (both in and out of class) is going to be a better experience than a poor professor with 20 kids in the class who is a bore, unapproachable, and/or otherwise unengaged.
On your visit to UA (and you simply must go to visit if it is a college of serious contention!), ask to have a personalised tour set up just for you - ask to sit in on an upper-division class (or two or three). (There are a bunch of other threads on UA CC about how to get this tour arranged.) Not only is it important to see how a few lectures/classes are taught, the experience will allow you to see how the students act within the class, and you can speak with a few of them afterwards. Talking with actual students is the absolute best way to see how classes are taught within a certain major, and whether the campus is a good fit for your student.
During our tour, my son sat in on a class which was a real snore-fest, and taught rather poorly (in both of our opinions), but talking with the students afterwards was invaluable in shaping his decision about UA and his major field of study there.
And, yes, AP results will help eliminate the need for those larger, lower classes. (And, don't forget about taking those CLEP tests, too!)
A class of 40 -50 is not too large to have "give and take" discussions between prof and students. Law classes often have such sizes and they frequently have "back and forth" discussions/arguments/etc.
When I've seen the classrooms of some of these sized classes, the seats are often "stepped" to provide better visibility and/or set in a wide curved panorama so that the students are closer to the prof and the depth of seats is minimized.
My son is an econ/political science major, and many of his classes have been smaller than that 40-50 range. His AP scores put him into the intermediate levels as a freshman. Professors primarily lecture. I know that my son has had some papers to write, as well some individual and group projects to do. He also works with one of his econ professors on a research project.
Would he be doing Econ through the college of arts and sciences or through the business school? There are some very large upper level business classes (the intro to management, marketing, operations mgt., etc. courses) that every econ major in CBA has to take for which there are no honors sections or ability to test out through AP. Just something to keep in mind.
I took a lot of the CBA requirements online and have otherwise worked to get into smaller classes. I've only had 1 200-person class and 1 109-person class at UA as I tested out of or had college credit for a lot of lower level classes.
Most of my upper level courses have had 40-50 students. 10 years ago, they would have had 20-30 students, but times have changed. That said, most of the classrooms in Bidgood and Alston Halls, where almost all economics classes are held, have fixed seating and are operating at maximum capacity, so class sizes cannot get larger.
For the record, all Economics faculty and staff work for CBA and all economics classes are subject to CBA course fees. Economics was historically offered through A&S and was later expanded to CBA. The A&S Economics major is better for those double majoring in a major offered by A&S other than mathematics or a foreign language. Mathematics and foreign languages are approved major combinations with CBA Economics which most often require less paperwork for everyone involved.