Senior Thesis and Departmental Honors

Econ 355: Thesis

Taken in the spring semester of the student's senior year, Econ 355 provides academically outstanding and highly motivated economics majors the opportunity to produce a rigorous thesis. The thesis will be developed using a process writing method and ultimately presented to the economics faculty. Ideally, the thesis will be written at a level of analytical rigor and writing skill that exemplifies undergraduate scholarship. Both the eligibility requirements and the project requirements aim at (1) establishing the highest expectations for academic rigor at the undergraduate level, and (2) ensuring a reasonable schedule of progress toward successful completion of a senior thesis that both meets the department's expectations and results in accelerated and deep intellectual growth for the student. Econ 355 is the culminating independent study project following (1) in the spring semester, junior year, the preparation and defense of a thesis proposal and (2) in Econ 350 (fall semester, senior year), the production of a literature review chapter, a revised thesis proposal, and a draft of a second substantive chapter.

Eligibility Requirements

  1. A GPA of 3.50 or higher in economics courses.
  2. The proposed project must significantly build on prior or present coursework in economics. The project must deepen and expand the understanding the student has already developed through coursework; it should not introduce the student to a line of inquiry that is completely new to her.
  3. Successful completion of the following by the end of the spring semester, junior year (The Department, during the inaugural period of Econ 355, will be somewhat flexible about the due dates listed in this section.):
    • Project proposal: Developed in consultation with a faculty thesis adviser, a five-page project proposal should describe the topic and the relevant literature, and it must state a working thesis. A completed draft ready for review by the thesis adviser must be submitted by March 15. A revised and final draft will be due April 7. If the thesis adviser recommends that the proposal be considered for approval by the department faculty, the student will be authorized to schedule a proposal defense.
    • Proposal defense: Assuming the department faculty have already read the proposal, the student will make a very brief comment about the proposal to the faculty and respond to questions posed by the faculty. The defense must be scheduled by April 15 and take place before the beginning of the final examination period.
    • Proposal approval: The department faculty will decide whether or not to approve the proposal and authorize the student to proceed to the Econ 350 phase of the thesis project.
    • Signed agreement: Submission to the department chair of the agreement, signed by student and a faculty adviser, of the project schedule and requirements.

Project Requirements

Econ 350: Independent Study—fall semester, senior year (4 credits)

  1. The student must enroll in Econ 350, Independent Study, and, in consultation with her thesis adviser, perform a literature survey and write the literature review chapter of the thesis. The literature review will consist of a substantial summary and analysis of the relevant literature. The student must meet with her adviser at least four times, at the beginning of each month of the semester.
  2. Due at the October meeting with the thesis adviser: detailed plan for the literature review; the plan should outline the core components of the relevant literature and the priority of each component relative to the overall thesis.
  3. Due at the beginning of the final examination period
    • Literature review chapter, including a bibliography.
    • Revised thesis proposal. The proposal's revisions should be guided by the literature review and must include a clear thesis statement and an outline of the thesis.
    • Draft of an additional substantive chapter.
  4. Note regarding grading. Each required item in section C above will be graded separately. The grade for Econ 350 will be based on these grades and the thesis adviser's evaluation of the student's overall progress toward completion of the thesis. The student must earn a grade of A— or higher on the literature review chapter and on Econ 350 as a whole to proceed to Econ 355.

Econ 355: Thesis—spring semester, senior year (4 credits)

  1. The student must enroll in Econ 355: Senior Thesis, listing the thesis adviser as the instructor. In consultation with her thesis adviser, the student will produce the following (the due dates will be enforced under normal circumstances)
  2. Due March 21: Complete thesis, prepared in a form as close to "final" as possible. The thesis will be critically reviewed by the adviser and returned with comments. Note: Normally, the thesis will consist of three to five chapters, including the literature review chapter. Therefore, the department will expect the thesis to be a significant work of at least fifty pages.
  3. Due April 30: Final version of the thesis. Date for the thesis defense.
  4. Between April 30 and the last day of the semester: Thesis defense. Following brief comments about the thesis, the student must also satisfactorily respond to questions posed by the faculty.
  5. First day of the final examination period: Post-defense version of the thesis; this ultimate version should effectively respond to issues raised in the defense.

Honors in Economics

Students who complete the Senior Thesis (econ 355) and earn an A or A– grade will qualify for Honors in Economics.