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Honors Projects in Economics

The Honors Program provides a special opportunity for you to work on a large project of your own. You will work on your Honors Project during your entire senior year. Each semester, you will earn 3 credit hours through the Honors course (ECON 495-496). At the end of the project, you will produce a major thesis paper and will defend your thesis in an oral exam.

Although the Honors Program is administered through the Charles Center, economics majors interested in the Honors Program should read these departmental guidelines carefully. Please read the Honors Guide for information on admission to the Honors Program. You can also take a look at past Honors projects.

Eligibility Requirements

Not everyone is eligible for the Economics Honors Program. To enter the Honors Program, you must have

  1. a minimum 3.2 cumulative grade point average, or a minimum 3.2 grade point average for the junior year, and
  2. a 3.5 cumulative grade point average in economics by the end of your junior year.

The Registrar and Charles Center will certify your eligibility. You may petition the Economics Honors Committee for entry into the program if you don't meet these requirements.

Getting Started

Students are encouraged to explore possible research topics during their junior year. The best way to do this is to discuss potential areas of interest or specific topics with individual faculty members. You will select a potential Honors Project advisor during your junior year. This professor will supervise and help guide your project. Together with that faculty mentor, you will come up with the broad outline of a research topic. We strongly recommend that you and your project advisor agree on a topic before you leave for the summer.

Please consult the Economics Department Honors Thesis Guidelines for the requirements/criteria for successful honors theses.

Project Proposal

During the summer between your junior and senior years, you will read widely about your chosen topic. You will also prepare a formal honors proposal for the department to evaluate in September. The proposal should include a detailed discussion of the project's purpose, methods, and a bibliography. Proposals are normally three to five pages in length.

You will review your proposal with your honors advisor before submitting it to the honors committee. You must submit the written project description to the Economics Honors Committee no later than the end of the first week of the first semester of your senior year.

In some years, we offer a one-credit course entitled Junior Research Seminar (Economics 491). If you are considering an independent research project, please consider enrolling in this class.

You will be admitted into the program after the Registrar and Dean of A&S certify your eligibility and after the Economics Honors Committee accepts your project proposal.

Honors Committee

In addition to your honors advisor, you need to select 2 other faculty members to serve as your honors committee. One should be another member of the Economics Department, and one should be from another department.

They are the ones grading your project. This committee will judge your thesis and conduct the oral defense of your project.


If your project earns the designation Honors, you will receive an "A" for ECON 495 and 496. This indicates excellent work that fully meets expectations. If your project does not merit the designation Honors, you will be awarded credit for independent study (ECON 490).