Departmental honors are granted to students who demonstrate exceptional performance in a senior thesis. To be eligible for honors in Economics, students must maintain a minimum cumulative average of 3.20 overall and 3.50 specifically in Economics.

Students considering the pursuit of departmental honors should begin discussions with a faculty member from the Economics Department well in advance of their senior year. These discussions should begin early and reach a substantial conclusion by the end of the spring semester or summer before the start of the senior year’s fall semester.

Students pursuing departmental honors register for the two thesis courses, Econ 495 and Econ 495, during their senior year. A faculty member will supervise your work in these courses, and performance will be graded using standard procedures.

Students who achieve this honor will have transcripts that include the statement “Honors in Economics with Thesis.”

The Courses

Students undertaking Honors work in this department register for Econ 495 in the first semester of senior year and Econ 496 in the second semester of senior year.  While Econ 495 counts toward the minimum number of courses required for the degree, it does not count toward any of the requirements for the Economics major. Only Econ 496 counts towards the capstone required of an Economics major.  Econ 496 also counts as one of the writing (W) courses required by the Common Course of Study.

Students writing a joint thesis will register for 495 in one department in the fall and register for 496 in the other department/program in the spring.  The order in which you register for the courses in the two departments/programs matters because Econ 496 counts as a writing (W) course and as a capstone course for the Economics major, while Econ 495 does not.  Therefore, if you need to have the thesis count as an in-major W (for the common course of study) and/or as a capstone course for the Economics major, register for the other department/program’s 495 in the fall and then register for Econ 496 in the spring.  If you register for Econ 495 in the fall and the other department/program’s 496 in the spring, you will need to take a 400-level Economics seminar to satisfy the capstone requirement for the Economics major.

Students registered in the honors course will attend scheduled group meetings with the department honors coordinators.  Participation in these meetings is mandatory, and a student missing two sessions may be asked to withdraw from the honors program.

In Econ 495 and 496 the student works one-on-one with their thesis supervisor.  In the first course the student defines a problem, reviews the relevant literature and develops a methodology for conducting the research.  The first semester culminates with a formal written proposal.  This is a report of the first semester’s progress and a description of the analysis to be completed in the second semester.  The student makes an oral presentation of the proposal to the department in December.  If the proposal is accepted, the student receives a grade of “A” for Econ 495 and approval to register for Econ 496.  If the proposal is not accepted, Econ 495 is converted to an independent study, with a grade assigned by the supervising faculty member.

In the second semester, the student completes the analysis described in the proposal and completes the writing of the thesis.  At the end of the semester the student defends their thesis before a committee, and the defense is open to all members of the College.  The thesis committee consists of the thesis supervisor, another member of the Economics Department, and a faculty member from outside this department.  The latter two members of the committee are selected by the student in consultation with the thesis supervisor.  There may be additional committee members if the thesis supervisor considers it appropriate.  A successful defense of the thesis earns a grade of “A” in Econ 496 and the graduation designation of Honors in Economics.

The Economics Department requires students writing honors theses in Economics to apply to The National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) and the Omicron Delta Epsilon (ODE) Conference at Ursinus College and, if accepted, to attend and present their work.  Both of these conferences are in the spring semester.

Getting Started:

As the College catalog states, “Discussions about pursuing honors should be held with faculty well in advance of the senior year.”  In order to register for Econ 495 you must have the agreement of one of the faculty members in this department to be your thesis supervisor.  That agreement should be reflected in a written statement of your proposed research.  This preliminary proposal should clearly identify the topic, the question you are attempting to answer, and the methodology you will employ.  We do not expect that you will have written this before your first meeting with a potential thesis supervisor; we do expect that you will not obtain agreement to register for Econ 495 until you have written this preliminary proposal in a form that the supervisor finds acceptable.

If you are interested in writing an honors thesis next year, this is the time when you should be speaking with potential thesis supervisors and developing a preliminary proposal.  You do not need a detailed topic in order to begin this conversation.


The Assante Fund for Honors Research Travel provides support for students doing fieldwork for their honors projects. Preference will be given to those projects that involve international travel and direct engagement with the local population or agencies, institutions, or other stakeholders. Proposals for domestic travel funding should contain a global focus.

Previous Honors Theses:

The following is a list of some of the Economics honors theses completed in recent years. All Economics honors theses are bound and available in the Lafayette College Library and in the lobby of the Simon Center.

  • The quality of financial reporting by financial institutions during the 2008 financial crisis. Chuma, Andrew. 2019
  • Vertical wage gap structure in the retail industry and its effects on firms’ performance. Duong, Hoa. 2019
  • The contingent valuation of riparian ecosystems along recreational trails. Ellis, Jenna. 2019
  • Developing a sustainable food pantry system at Cheston Elementary School. Foley, Michelle. 2019
  • A crutch for clusters : the impact of formal business networks on geographic industrial clusters. McQuillen, Samuel. 2019
  • Can low income households benefit from better access to formal credit without borrowing? : access to formal credit in developing countries. Rasamoelison, Jean Donovan. 2019
  • An agent based approach to CO2 reduction in automobiles. Stralka, Brandon. 2019
  • The short end of the stick : income inequality and populist sentiment in Europe. Botelho, Austin. 2018
  • An analysis of foreign aid and its effects on capital flight after civil war. Brown, Adam. 2018
  • Impact of neighborhood quality on Airbnb prices : evidence from Boston, Massachusetts. Doan, Oanh. 2018
  • The effects of unemployment on obesity: an examination of racial and gender differences. Ganzman, Lindsey. 2018
  • The role of building information modeling in improving project management. Liu, Jingchen. 2018
  • Macroeconomic effects of financial openness in inflation targeting developing countries. McNamara, Brendan. 2018
  • The effects of temperature rise in rich and poor state economies. Owen, Colby. 2018
  • Studying income inequality via innovative estimation methods: a case study in Latin America. Smith, Dana J. 2018
  • Medical marijuana laws and their effect on opioid-related mortality. Smith, Emily, 2018
  • The effect of inflation targeting on foreign dirext investment flows to developing countries. Vasileva, Iuliia. 2018
  • The effect of global hospital budgets on quality of care in the Maryland hospital system. White, Andrew. 2018
  • Can green bonds contribute to global climate finance goals? Wolfe, Aaron. 2018
  • The role of special drawing rights in the international monetary system : past, present, and future. Ye, Xun. 2018