A candidate for honors must have a GPA of 3.3 or better in economics courses beyond Principles at the end of his or her junior year. An economics major who expects to meet the grade requirements noted above and who wishes to do research leading to department honors should consult the member of the department in whose field the project would be. Ideally, preliminary discussion should take place the semester before undertaking the work. If the faculty member approves the project topic, the student registers for Economics 4050.
Honors and Independent Study
Each year, the most promising independent studies are considered for departmental honors.
The attached materials are intended to provide prospective majors with an understanding of the requirements and procedures for honors and also with ideas for research projects. You will see that the range of honors topics over the past ten years has been enormous.
Members of the department also have a wide range of research interests and, in recent years, several students have developed honors projects based upon collaboration with faculty in their areas of research.
At any time prior to the senior year, feel free to discuss your prospective research interests and the honors program with your advisor.
- First draft: three weeks before reading period.
- Second draft: one week before reading period.
An independent study either builds on previous course work or explores a topic not in the curriculum. It is, therefore, expected that students taking independent study will have already taken any existing courses in their area of interest if such a course exists.
An independent study may substitute for a 3000-level course as a major requirement, but not substitute for a 3000-level seminar. The substitution for a 3000-level non-seminar is not automatic. (For example, there may be cases in which an independent study is pursued at the level of 2000-level elective.) Once you and your advisor work out the structure, you may petition the department for 3000-level credit.
An honors project provides students the opportunity to engage in research with close supervision of a faculty member, and moves the student beyond classroom learning.
Under present College procedures, the economics department can recommend to the faculty that a degree with honors, high honors, or highest honors in economics be awarded to a student who has a distinguished record. Based upon a student's grades in economics courses and the quality of the honors project, the department may award "honors," "high honors," or "highest honors." The criteria for awarding honors are as follows:
- Honors — A GPA of 3.3 or higher in economics courses beyond Principles and the honors committee awards the project honors.
- High honors — A GPA of 3.6 or higher in economics courses beyond Principles and the honors committee awards the project honors.
- Highest honors — Awarded to students who meet the criteria for high honors and also have a truly exceptional honors project.
Please note that the norm is that students will receive honors in economics for a well executed project. The designation of high honors and especially highest honors is quite rare.
The Honors Project
The honors project consists of a written report based on research in some area of economics. The report should discuss the relevance of the topic, relate it to recent scholarly work in the field, use methods of analysis appropriate for an advanced student in economics, and contain some own contribution to the question addressed. The own contribution may consist of testing of a new hypothesis, using new data, offering a new model, or the an evaluation of existing analyses in a new context. The honors project should provide new insights into questions of interest to economists, other social scientists, or policy makers.
While honors-quality projects occasionally can be completed in one semester, most require two semesters—one for thorough review and preparation of background materials and another for the development and/or testing of a hypothesis. In some cases, preparatory work may be done in a regular course, particularly at the 3000-level. It is also conceivable that a project could be done outside the formal framework of Economics 4050-4051.
The College catalogue describes the general rules for independent study. The independent study registration form is available from the registrar.
During the semester(s) the student is enrolled in Economics 4050 and 4051, the student and faculty supervisor should meet regularly to discuss the progress of the work. In two-semester projects, the faculty supervisor may require interim papers.
Prospective honors candidates will normally have an opportunity to present their work-in-progress to other Economics 4050 students and faculty at an honors seminar. Candidates are required to present at least once at the honors seminar during the year, in addition to the final honors project defense.
In one-semester projects, or in the concluding semester of two-semester projects, a typed first draft of the project report should be ready for review by the faculty supervisor and second reader at least three weeks before the beginning of the reading period.
Following the faculty advisor and second reader's review of the first draft, the student should prepare a second draft taking account of criticisms and recommendations by the two readers. It is normal to expect substantial revision between the first and second drafts.
The second draft is due at least one week before reading period. The grade for Economics 4050 and 4051 will be based on this draft. This draft should be complete and in good form. A manual, such as A Manual for Writers of Papers, Theses, and Dissertations by Kate Turabian, should be consulted for proper form, documentation of references, and organization.
If the faculty supervisor believes the project to be of honors caliber, copies of the second draft are circulated to the second and third readers, additional members of the department who thus comprise the Honors Committee. An oral presentation is scheduled, normally, during reading period. The oral presentation concerns primarily the honors project; however, a student may also be asked to explore the connections between the project and the core of economic analysis.
Additional changes in the paper are usually required after the oral presentation. These should be incorporated in the third and final draft, three copies of which are to be prepared by the student. The original is placed on file in the library, the second copy remains in the economics department, and the third is kept by the student.