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Director of Honors: Susan Sayre

The honors program offers qualified and highly motivated students an opportunity to work independently and on a more intensive basis with a faculty member. Students may pursue one of three paths when writing an honors thesis over the course of the senior year: i) complete a two-semester honors thesis, ii) extend a one-semester 4-credit special studies with one semester of honors thesis work in the following semester or iii) build on a research paper written for an economics seminar course with one semester of honors thesis work in the following semester. For paths ii) and iii), the special studies or seminar must be taken in the first semester of the senior year.

Applying for Honors

The GPA requirement for admission to the honors program is 3.50 or higher in the economics major at the time of application to the honors program.

For the year-long honors thesis option, students are strongly encouraged to talk to faculty members about potential thesis topics throughout their junior year and to submit a proposal to the Department through the Director of Honors during the second semester of their junior year. However, the Department will also consider proposals submitted through the Director of Honors before the Department’s first meeting at the start of the applicant's senior year.

Applications to extend a special studies project or seminar paper with one semester of thesis work will be considered at the last meeting of the first semester or at the first meeting of the second semester of the applicant’s senior year. Students should submit their proposals to the Director of Honors before the department meeting at which their proposal is considered.

Application for admission to the honors program and related instructions are available from the Class Deans' website.


It is highly recommended that honors students take ECO 220 (formerly 190), 250 and 253 before the fall semester of their junior year. Students planning to undertake statistical analyses in their thesis should also take econometrics (ECO 240) before their senior year.


The honors thesis is credited as a two-semester course (ECO 430D) receiving a total of 8 credits or as a one-semester course (ECO 430) receiving 4 credits combined with either a 4-credit special studies or a 4-credit economics seminar course. The normal course load is six additional 4-credit courses taken during the senior year. The honors student is encouraged not to take more than these 8 equivalent courses during her senior year so that she will have ample time for her thesis research. Financial support for student research is available.


Honors students must take an oral examination in economics, with emphasis on its application to the field of the thesis. For May graduates, the oral exam must be administered by the last day of classes of the spring semester, in line with the schedule outlined on the Class Dean's website. For January graduates, departmental deadlines require a final draft of the written thesis be submitted to the thesis advisor by the last day of classes and the oral exam be administered by the last day of the exam period in the fall semester.

Successful honors candidates will be graduated with honors in economics, high honors in economics or highest honors in economics. The level of honors is determined by the student's average grade in courses of her major, by the grade received on her oral honors examination and by the grade received on her written thesis. The grade received on the written thesis is by far the most important indication of the student's probable level of honors award. Most honors students receive honors in economics. Should the honors candidate's performance in the honors program be deemed unworthy of honors but still worthy of course credit, the student will receive a grade determined by her thesis adviser and will simply receive her degree without an honors designation.