Departmental Honors

The Department of Economics values intensive work by students.  To encourage and recognize high quality work, the department awards departmental honors to students who meet the following criteria:

  • Earn a departmental grade point average of 3.5 or above in Economics courses numbered 240 and above, or at the discretion of the department.
  • Must complete three of the four following core courses (Economics 241, 243, 245, 249) by December of the Junior year.
  • Satisfactorily complete the Honors Research Seminar (Economics 420).
  • Complete a senior honors thesis.
  • Successfully defend the honors thesis before the faculty of the department, who make the final decision on the granting of the honors degree.

Outstanding Honors Theses for 2011:

Svetoslav Semov: "Monetary and Fiscal Policies: Ordinary Recessions and Financial Crises"

Nevena Todorova: "The Price of Being Ethical: Consumer Purchasing Behavior in the Face of an Ethical Dilemma. An Experimental Approach."

Outstanding Honors Thesis for 2010:

Denitsa Koleva: "Flight or Fight? Us versus Them: Intergroup Dynamics and the Provision of Public Goods"

Outstanding Honors Theses for 2009:

Justin Holz: "The Effects of Framing, Risk, and Uncertainty on Contributions Towards a Public Account: Experimental Evidence."

David Krisch: "The Federal Reserve's Monetary Policy Response to Credit Market Stress."

Tammy McBeth: "Does a Child Labor Kuznets Curve Exist?" 

Procedures for Thesis Application

1.      Students should prepare a brief (200 word) thesis proposal by mid September of the senior year.

a.       Students are encouraged to work with at least one faculty member in putting together the thesis proposal.

b.      A committee composed of three faculty members from the Economics Department will review the proposals and assign a faculty advisor to supervise each thesis, assigning these according to faculty research interests and expertise.

2.      The thesis proposal should include a bibliography containing eight or more scholarly items, as well as material drawn from an encyclopedia of economics (e.g., Palgrave's).

a.       A minimum of five bibliographic items should be annotated.

3.       Individual faculty should recommend a time framework for various stages of the thesis work to be completed, and should ensure that work is turned to be completed, and should ensure that work is turned in regularly during the first and second semesters. Student and advisor should meet regularly (i.e. weekly).

a.       A faculty member with more than one advisee can choose to hold a regular thesis seminar in which students present their ongoing work to each other for critical comment.

4.      Student with approved thesis proposals should register for the Honors Research Seminar (Econ 420).

Expectations for the Thesis

1.      The student and advisor should meet regularly. By December 1st, the student must submit copies of a completed literature review and methodological plan to the advisor and to Ms. Holz (the Economics Department Academic Administrative Assistant).

a.       This is an enhanced version of the original proposal that spells out very precisely the question you seek to answer, shows how your work will fit in with previous research on the topic, and provides a roadmap of how you will go about answering the question. This may serve as the first third or so of your thesis.

b.      Also at this point you should have located the essential documents and/or data that you need for your thesis. Your advisor will determine whether this work is sufficient to allow you to continue with the honors thesis in the spring. Finally, you will need to register for Econ 420, Honors Research Seminar, offered in the Spring.

2.      The thesis should have a clearly stated research question or hypothesis.

a.       It should provide a brief analysis of the relevant literature, showing how the author's research relates to this literature.

b.      It should support its argument with one or more generally recognized modes of economic reasoning: modeling, logical analysis, empirical testing, using textual and other documentary evidence.

c.       The thesis should also make clear how the methodology used is appropriate to the question at hand and why the evidence cited, qualitative or quantitative, is pertinent to the question being examined.

3.      The thesis should contain an abstract, notes and bibliography.

a.       Style of notes, bibliography and general usage of language should follow the guidelines in Hacker, A WRITER'S REFERENCE.

4.      Thesis students will participate in a poster session in April at Get Acquainted Day of their senior year. The presentation of the thesis before the faculty will occur during the final three weeks of the spring semester.

a.       Each presentation will last one-half hour: a twenty-minute presentation followed by ten minutes of faculty questions.

b.      Honors will be granted based on the quality of the written thesis as well as the quality of the presentation.

5.      The Economics Department awards a plaque to the author of the year's outstanding honors thesis. Honors theses may also be submitted for consideration for the Eisenhower Prize, which is a cash award for the best quantitative analysis paper by an economics student.