Department of Economics

Thesis

Junior year is the time to start thinking about eligibility requirements, topics of interest, and potential advisors for an honors thesis.

An Honors Info Session is held each spring to answer junior’s questions about their senior year, and interested students must fill out the honors thesis form by the end of junior year.

We strongly encourage students to write an honors thesis. This is very valuable for students interested in graduate school or careers requiring independent research skills, as well as for students interested in tying together their academic experience with an in-depth investigation of one topic.

More than a good course paper

An honors thesis is more than a good course paper. It must represent a substantial effort in research and exposition. A thesis must be an original contribution to knowledge, beyond a simple replication exercise. The department does not specify page lengths, methods, or topics. Instead, an honors thesis candidate should establish his or her goals – and a timeline to meet those goals – in an understanding with the thesis advisor. To see the range of topics and methods prior students have pursued, take a look at examples of past honor theses here or by visiting the academic office in person. To find a faculty advisor who would be a good match for your topic of interest, see their research questions here. 

Requirements

To graduate with honors, students must satisfy the following requirements by the end of junior year,

  • Complete at least 70% of the courses required for the concentration.
  • Have earned a grade of “A” or “S with distinction” in at least 70% of grades earned in the economics concentration, or 50% in the joint concentrations in APMA-Econ, CS-Econ, and Math-Econ (excluding courses transferred to Brown without a grade, and those taken Spring 2020).
  • Economics Concentrators must find a faculty thesis advisor in the economics department.
  • Joint Concentrators must find a primary faculty thesis advisor in either economics or the partner department. CS-Econ concentrators must have a secondary reader in the other department by the fall of senior year. APMA-Econ and Math-Econ do not require a secondary reader, unless the primary advisor deems it necessary. Joint concentrators need to satisfy the honors requirements of the economics department if their thesis advisor is in the economics department; while they need to satisfy the honors requirements of the partner department if their thesis advisor is in the partner department.

During senior year, thesis writers must:

  • Enroll in ECON 1970 with their primary thesis advisor in the fall & spring semesters (Note that 1970 does not count toward the concentration)
  • Submit a thesis proposal to their thesis advisor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies by September 15.
  • Submit their work in progress to their thesis advisor by December 20.
  • Depending on the nature of the thesis work, the thesis adviser may require the student to successfully complete one or more courses from among the data methodsmathematical economics and/or financial economics course groups in the fall of senior year, if they have not already done so.
  • Complete an honors thesis by the deadline agreed upon with their primary advisor and obtain the final approval of their advisor(s) by April 2nd.
  • Thesis writers are encouraged, but not required, to participate in the departmental Honors Thesis Presentation session held in May, with a brief presentation of their work and findings.

More information

For students interested in finding out more, please attend the information session on honors theses that will be given at the beginning of every spring semester. For students interested in undertaking research, but not wanting to pursue honors, the department offers senior capstone options.