Honors in Economics
The Quick Version
To write a thesis (honors project) in Economics at Amherst, you must:
- Have an average grade of 11.00 or higher in Economics 300/301, 330/331, and 360/361 (For reference, conversion equivalents are A = 13, A- = 12, B+ = 11, B = 10, etc.)
- Present the department with the Intention to do a Senior Thesis form by May 1st of junior year
- Present the department with a Preliminary Thesis Proposal by September 1st in the Fall of senior year
- Enroll in Economics 498 in the Fall of your senior year
- Select a research question in a field of economics of your choosing
- Under the supervision of a faculty member, research your topic, and write a paper 50 pages in length
To write a thesis (honors project) in Economics at Amherst, you should:
- Discuss the possibility of doing a thesis with your academic advisor or other professors in your sophomore or junior year
- Aim to take 1 or 2 upper-level economics electives before senior year
- Try to get some experience doing economic research before senior year
- Read some past theses
In the spring and summer preceding senior fall, rising seniors will be contacted regarding their thesis plans. Seniors will be asked to turn in forms in April and in August detailing their thesis intentions. They may also be given summer reading and other related work.
Students wishing to seek departmental honors (write a thesis) should enroll in Economics 498: Senior Departmental Honors Seminar in the fall of their senior year. The seminar will introduce students to current research in economics and will prepare them to undertake original research in Economics 499: Senior Departmental Honors Project.
The Honors Project will consist of a research paper in a field of economics chosen by the student and will be undertaken under the supervision of a department faculty member. The Honors Project differs from a traditional thesis in focus as well as in length. While understanding a broad field will be necessary, the project will focus on a narrow research question, and unlike a traditional thesis will not need to include an extensive review of the literature. As such, the project will conclude with a paper 50 pages in length rather than the 100+ page thesis of years past. The project may be either empirical or theoretical in nature, and will generally be like an economics journal article in form.
For an overview of this process, you may find it helpful to review a timeline for the thesis process .
What to Do Now
Junior majors considering completing an honors thesis in their senior year should do the following:
- Discuss the possibility of doing a thesis with the academic advisor
- Consult the thesis timeline, consult a past syllabus for Econ 498, and browse past theses
- Try to take an upper-level economics elective in an area of interest to you
- Try to get some experience doing economic research
- Attend the thesis presentations in the Fall of junior year (usually first week of December)
- Read a draft of an economics thesis in early April
- Attend the thesis presentations in the Spring of junior year (usually last week of April)
- Attend the information session about the thesis process (usually the last week of April)
- Meet with one or more members of the Faculty to discuss areas of interest and design a plan of summer reading (April and May)
- Complete the Intention to do a Thesis form by May 1st of junior spring
- Complete summer reading and other preparation during the summer (following correspondence sent out by the department in the summer)
- Complete the Preliminary Thesis Proposal form by September 1st of senior fall
- Arrive fully prepared for the start of the semester in Econ 498