Resources for Economics Majors
The economics major offers students the flexibility to study abroad, to double major or to pursue independent research. The following resources will help you to plan your path through the major and to stay on track.
Non-Majors: For non-majors wishing to transfer an economics course, please submit the following to Tammy Evelhoch, department coordinator:
- A completed Enrollment at Another Institution form from the Registrar's Office forms page
- A written description of the course taken or to be taken
- A copy of the course syllabus (from the current or recent semester)
Majors: Discuss all plans to take an economics or math course at another institution, including summer school or study abroad, with your major advisor prior to course selection and enrollment.
All math courses must be approved by the math department. In addition to approval by the math department, you will need your advisor's signature on your Enrollment at Another Institution form.
For transfer of an economics course, please submit the following to Tammy Evelhoch, department coordinator:
- A completed Enrollment at Another Institution form
- A written description of the course taken or to be taken
- A copy of the course syllabus (from the current or recent semester)
Economics Honors Thesis Guidelines
Click here for the Departmental Honors Archive
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 - Overall GPA 3.50):
- 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 next step).
- Draft 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 online sources that 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 preregistered 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. PowerPoint 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 5 p.m. on the seventh day after your defense, the economics department will inform the registrar that you will graduate with honors.
Important Information: Student and Alumni Letters of Recommendation or Reference
Students and Alumni who require Letters of Recommendation or Reference are strongly encouraged to read the Important Information on the Registrar's Office webpage. To remain compliant with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), students must complete the online Letters of Recommendation or Reference form, which will automatically notify the faculty or staff member of the student's consent to share protected academic information. Alumni requesting Letters should use the PDF form, which does not require Gateway access. Questions should be directed to the Registrar's Office (email@example.com) or by calling 717-245-1315.Letters of recommendation, required by potential employers and almost every graduate school application, are a very important part of the application process.
In order to prepare a strong and accurate letter of recommendation, please include the following information when making your request to a professor:
- All the courses you have taken with the professor.
- Grades received in those courses.
- Information about the program or job for which you have applied.
- A brief explanation of why you have chosen the program (be honest) or why a particular job interests you.
- Any internships or job experiences that may serve as indicators of your chances of success.
- GPA in your major.
- Overall GPA.
- Examples of your willingness to take advantage of educational opportunities outside of class.
- Any extracurricular activities that reflect on your ability to organize and finish projects in a timely manner.
- Any extenuating circumstances that reflect on your GPA.
- Any hardships that you have had to endure to achieve your goals.
- A copy of your current resume.
- Essays you have written for your application.
- A web link to the program or call for applications.
Please allow the professor at least 3–4 weeks to prepare your letter of recommendation.
Virtually all economics graduate programs require as a minimum four semesters of college mathematics, including multivariable calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra. Several other math courses offered at Dickinson would also significantly help prepare students for success in graduate school, such as probability and statistics, real analysis, and discrete mathematics. Entry into any top ranked programs is far more likely with a minor or even a double major in mathematics. Courses in mathematical economics offered by the economics department also provide valuable preparation in the quantitative skills that graduate students usually need. In addition, students pursuing an economics graduate degree are strongly encouraged to take econometrics, preferably during the junior year. Completion of econometrics will also increase the opportunities for students interested in graduate school to pursue summer or independent research options. With an adequate mathematics background, a Dickinson economics major can compete successfully at any top economics program. Dickinson graduates have successfully completed Ph.D.'s at top graduate economics programs such as Northwestern, Wisconsin, Virginia and Brown, among others.
NOTE: If you think you might like to purse a graduate degree, make sure that you consult early and work closely with your economics faculty advisor.
Graduate economics Links:
- Information about and rankings of economics departments, institutes and research centers in the world. The index is organized by countries and fields. Included are economics departments, research centers and institutes in universities, as well as finance ministries, statistical offices, central banks, think tanks and other nonprofit institutions where mainly economists are working.
- International list of all undergraduate and graduate heterodox programs.
- Choosing a graduate school in economics and advice for applying.
The economics major graduates with a wide range of opportunities within and beyond the private sector. Based on the experience of our graduates, the general analytical skills of the economist are highly valued in certain areas of the private sector, such as finance, consulting, economic forecasting, and general management. Economic analysis is also valued in the public sector, which employs many economists as policy analysts and economic forecasters. Other desirable fields pursued by economics majors include law, academics, and social services, along with the full range of careers available to the liberal arts major. Furthermore, graduate study in related fields such as business, public administration and policy, urban and regional planning, labor relations and international affairs often involves a great deal of economics. The economics major has an advantage in such programs. Dickinson has sent economics majors to top business schools such as Harvard, Pennsylvania, Duke and Michigan, to top law schools such as Harvard, Michigan, and Chicago. The study of economics provides the analytical ability and breadth of understanding which permit the student to develop into an informed and effective person, regardless of one's career. For more information visit the Dickinson College Center For Advising, Internships & Lifelong Career Development web page What Can I Do With This Major?
- Anthony Mach Scholarship - This scholarship is approximately $2,000 in tuition credit. The prize amount will be credited to the student's account, if their account is paid in full a check will be issued to them. It will be presented to the student "who has demonstrated a high academic standing in economics and who seems particularly motivated to apply their knowledge toward improving the quality of life for people."
- The C.W. Fink Memorial Economics Prize - This prize is awarded to a senior for excellence in economics. Dr. C.W. Fink was a respected professor in the economics department. Dr. Fink died during the 1955-56 school year, and his family established a memorial award fund in 1961. Monetary amounts for this award vary from year to year.
- The Class of 1875 Award - This award is endowed in memory of John H. Ahl, class of 1875, by his son John C. Ahl. Awarded to the senior who compiles the highest GPA in economics. Monetary amounts for this award vary from year to year.
- FEI Central PA Chapter Outstanding Student Award - The Central Pennsylvania Chapter of Financial Executives International (FEI), located in Hershey, presents an Outstanding Student Award to seven Pennsylvania college seniors. The award recognizes scholarly achievement and community engagement. Monetary amounts for this award vary from year to year.
The Economics Research Guide is located on the library website and can be found here.