Honors in Economics

Economics Honors Thesis Guidelines

You will need to complete an in-depth two semester research project on your chosen topic with original research (where possible and appropriate) and produce a written thesis that meets the standards set by the Economics Department faculty.

Student initiative is crucial if you are to successfully complete a thesis and graduate with honors. Below is a list of steps you need to complete and deadlines you should meet. Consult with your faculty advisor at each step and keep in touch regularly.

Step 1 (Deadline: End of the Spring Semester Junior Year):

  • Register for a full course load for the fall semester of your senior year.
  • Select a potential thesis topic that raises issues of interest to you and in an area you would like to research further.
  • Seek out an Economics Department faculty advisor with expertise in this area.
  • Discuss your ideas with your potential advisor.

Step 2 (Deadline: Summer Prior to Senior Year):

  • Start reading material relevant to your research topic.
  • Start to draft 5-6 questions on your topic of interest. You will later cut these back to 1-2 core questions for your thesis.
  • Start to build a list of additional readings for the fall.
  • Think about appropriate ways to conduct additional research on your topic.
  • Work on your proposal. (See Proposal Outline below)
  • Thesis Proposal Outline
  • Working Title: Develop a short descriptive title for your thesis. Your title should be self-explanatory and give the reader a clear idea of your topic.
  • Introduction: Your introduction will identify the type of project you have chosen to undertake (e.g. statistical analysis, literature survey). Include the projected focus of your paper in the introduction.
  • Research question and approach: Your proposal must include a research question that you will examine or a hypothesis to be tested. Your question or hypothesis must be tied to a body of knowledge which currently exists (see below). What methods will you use in your research? If data are involved, how will they be collected and analyzed? What materials will be used? Are there challenges to be overcome? What timeline will you follow in completing your project?
  • Annotated bibliography: Include a preliminary annotated bibliography of at least 5 or 6 sources. This is the "body of knowledge" mentioned above. Select books or a combination of books, journal articles or on-line sources which address your topic. Follow an approved academic format in typing your bibliography.

Step 3 (Deadline: First Week of the Fall Semester Senior Year):

  • Meet with your potential advisor to discuss your reading over the summer and more advanced thinking about your research topic.
  • If your potential advisor agrees to work with you on an honors project, you should drop one course (or register for a 5th Course) and add a one semester independent research (ECON 550) for the fall.
  • You should continue to meet regularly with your advisor with a view to writing your formal thesis proposal.
  • You can continue to step 4.
  • If your potential advisor does not think your proposed research topic will succeed as an honors project, you should continue with your pre-registered courses.

Step 4 (Deadline: End September of your senior year):

  • Write a thesis proposal (see above) to share with all members of the Economics Department. You should work with your advisor in writing this proposal and make sure your advisor sees a strong draft and provides feedback before you share with other members of the Department.
  • The faculty will make suggestions regarding other members of the Department who might also have particular expertise in your research area.

Step 5 (Deadline: End of Fall Semester Senior Year):

  • Research and draft composition. Continue to build up your bibliography.
  • Gather data (where relevant); conduct initial data analysis.
  • Meet with all Economics Department faculty, particularly those highlighted as having relevant expertise, to seek additional guidance on your research.
  • First draft to be submitted to your advisor on the last day of classes in the fall of senior year. Students who are unsure of the merits of their work should submit a first draft earlier. All students are encouraged to meet regularly with their honors advisor.
  • Register for a full course load for the spring semester of your senior year.
  • Your advisor will read and grade your thesis draft.  If your advisor decides that your draft merits an A or an A-, you will be eligible to continue to pursue honors. (Your advisor may make this decision in consultation with other Economics Department faculty identified as having particular expertise in your research area.)
  • If given approval to continue with honors, you may register for another independent research (ECON 550) for the spring semester.
  • Your advisor will return your first draft to you with comments.
  • If your advisor decides that your draft merits a grade below A-, you will receive that grade for your fall independent research. You should continue with your pre-registered courses.

Step 6 (Deadline: April 15th - or the preceding Friday - Senior Year):

  • Final draft. Building on the approved and corrected first draft, write a final thesis paper. Your final paper should be as free from error as possible and must follow a recognized research paper format and style. The final draft must be submitted by to your advisor by April 15th (or the preceding Friday, if the 15th falls during a weekend). You should submit one hard copy and one electronic copy to your advisor.

Step 7 (Deadline: Last Week of Classes, Senior Year):

  • Thesis presentation. You will be asked to orally present your thesis to the Economics Department faculty. Power Point is recommended.  All faculty members present will have read your thesis carefully. You will be expected to answer questions.
  • Economics Department faculty decision. Immediately after your oral defense, faculty will convene privately to decide whether your thesis meets the standards required for honors. You will be informed of the committee’s decision the same day.
  • If are not awarded honors, you will still receive course credits for the Independent Research you have completed.

Step 8 (Deadline: Within One Week of Your Thesis Presentation):

  • Final revision. If the Economics Department faculty decides to award you honors, you may be required to make corrections and changes to the final copy. You should make these revisions quickly.
  • Submit a complete electronic copy of the final version of your thesis to both Tammy Evelhoch and your faculty advisor within one week after your thesis is passed. The Economics Department will produce one hard copy for the Waidner-Spahr library, one for the Economics Department library, and one for you. The Economics Department will pay all copying and binding costs.
  • Graduation with honors. Upon receipt of the electronic copy of your thesis by 5pm on the seventh day after your defense, the Economics Department will inform the registrar that you will graduate with honors.