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Senior Honors Thesis

Writing a Successful Senior Honors Thesis

Writing a Senior Honors Thesis in economics requires more preparation than simply completing the minimal requirements toward an economics major.

Success involves

  1. defining a researchable question or a testable hypothesis. This is the task that takes the most experience and requires consultation with your primary thesis advisor. If your thinking about a topic is at the stage of "I want to do research on Italy's economic growth" or "I want to study poverty issues," you do not yet have a research question. Your question must be specific and must contain a conjecture that can be supported or refuted by evidence that you are capable of producing. Good research questions can come from anywhere but the safest strategy is to look in areas of economics that you have already studied.
  2. having a set of economic tools that you can apply to your research question. The appropriate set of economic tools normally consists of intermediate economic theory and econometrics. These courses should be completed by the end of your junior year.
  3. having some background in an area of economics that relates to your research question. This will most often be from economics courses that you have already taken. For example, you may have taken International Finance (Economics 162) and be familiar with economic theories that explain exchange rates movements. This background gives you a head start in identifying a good research question and keeps you from having to spend many weeks learning background material.
  4. preparing a thesis proposal. A good proposal spells out your research question, why it is important, and how you intend to carry out the research. It should include a short review of other important research on the subject, sources of data, and the analytical tools (ie. regression analysis) that you will use. It is recommended that this work be completed by the beginning of your senior year.
  5. beginning regular consultation with your primary thesis advisor before the fall of your senior year. This could take place during the spring of your junior year or the summer before your senior year. Study abroad may make this consultation more difficult and should be factored into your foreign study plans.