Senior Honors Thesis

If you are a junior, with a minimum of 3.40 GPA and have enjoyed writing a research paper in one of your economics classes, this might be the right thing for you. A thesis is a great opportunity for a real capstone experience as part of your economics major.

It is important to find a faculty member to be your thesis advisor. If you have ideas about a thesis topic, talk with your advisor or a member of the economics faculty with similar research interests (see the department website for faculty research areas).

Senior Honors Thesis Information

  • A Senior Honors Thesis is a two-semester (three units) long project that results in a thesis paper.
  • Students also enroll each semester in a two-unit pass/fail course (EC 197: Senior Thesis Research Seminar)
  • Counts as two upper-level electives towards the economics major
  • It is overseen by (at least) a two-person committee consisting of an advisor and a reader.
  • A Senior Honors Thesis should answer a (very) specific question or test a particular hypotheses
  • It usually has an empirical component (but not necessarily)
  • Generally the narrower the topic/ the more specific the question, the better the thesis
  • Can be in any area of economics

Research Classes for Majors & Undertake a Senior Honors Thesis for Juniors

Many economics majors are interested in making research experience a part of their major. There are several ways to accomplish this goal.

  1. A number of elective classes in economics require a research paper. This can be a very good introduction to the research process because the selection of a topic, definition of the paper's structure, and research mentoring are built into the class. Economics classes that require a research paper are designated with a * on the semester class schedule published by the department.
  2. A research paper is often part of the requirements of a Special Topics (Economics 193) class. Since the content and requirements of these classes are constructed on a case-by-case basis, it would be up to the student and their faculty sponsor to agree on a research topic and the extent of the research requirement for the class. An Independent Study Form must be completed and submitted to Debra Knox.
  3. Seniors who wish to undertake a one-semester research project may do so by undertaking a Senior Thesis (Economics 198) class. Every Senior Thesis must have a faculty member from the Economics Department as an advisor and supervisor. The credit awarded for a Senior Thesis will vary according to the scope of the project. A Senior Thesis Agreement Form must be completed and submitted to Debra Knox.
  4. Seniors who wish to undertake a more formally organized, two-semester research project may do so by undertaking a Senior Honors Thesis (Economics 195 and 196) class. This is a larger and more complex research project that requires certain advance preparations. The regulations are described in the Tufts Bulletin under the heading Thesis Honors Program. A Senior Honors Thesis Agreement Form must be completed and submitted to Debra Knox.

These regulations specify that by the end of your junior year you must have:

  1. qualified for the Dean's List at least twice.
  2. identified an Economics faculty member who agrees to chair your thesis committee and serve as your primary thesis advisor.
  3. worked with your primary thesis advisor to choose a specific thesis topic.

By the end of the first two weeks of the Fall semester, you must submit the Senior Honors Thesis Candidate Declaration Form.

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.

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2021 Theses

Gabriela Crestina Delela
"Women's Empowerment and Conditional Cash Transfers: A Study of Brazil's Bolsa Familia Program"
Advisor: Kyle Emerick

Lily Campbell
"The Effects of Wildfires on House Prices in the Western United States"
Advisor: Ujjayant Chakravorty

Ty Vinick
"Messaging and Mask Wearing: How Political Identity Affects Pro-Mask Message Effectiveness"
Advisor: Laura Gee

Eleanor Jenke
"Portfolio Rebalancing and Wealth Inequality Among US Households During Quantitative Easing Era"
Advisor: Yannis Ioannides

Qiyuan 'Mike' Feng
“Colonial Legacies in Education: The Persistent Effect of Colonial Missionary Schools on Contemporary Education in Zimbabwe”
Advisor: Eoin McGuirk

Lillian Miller
"Who's Leaving Africa and Why"
Advisor: Margaret McMillan

Yiyun Ma
"Mind the Gap: The Impact of School and Neighborhood Characteristics on Education Inequity in Massachusetts Suburbs"
Advisor: Jeffrey Zabel

Benjamin MacLean
"Is Plate Discipline Properly Valued in the MLB Free Agent Market?"
Advisor: Thomas Downes

  • 2020 Theses

    Henrik Tiemroth
    "Distributional Implications of Carbon Taxation: Lessons from British Columbia"
    Advisor: Gilbert Metcalf

    Kamen Velichkov
    "Does Democratization Lead to a More Dispersed City Size Distribution and More Spatially Dispersed Economic Activity?"
    Advisor: Yannis Ioannides

    Zhuoran (Betty) Cao
    "Effects of Paid Family Leave Policy on Women’s Fertility Decisions and Career Outcomes in the US"
    Advisor: Melissa McInerney

    2019 Theses

    Julian Goldhill
    "The Effects of Colorado's Recreational Cannabis Industry on Colorado Gambling: An Empirical Approach"
    Advisor: Marcelo Bianconi

    Ara Kharazian
    "A New Look at Coordination of Financial Aid at America's Elite Colleges"
    Advisor: Silke Forbes

    Giorgi Nikolaishvili
    "The Dynamics of Noisy Information Acquisition in Financial Markets"
    Advisor: Marcelo Bianconi

    Jacob Solomon Ryan
    "The Sensitivity of Firms' Proprietary Program Trading to Financial News Article Sentiment About the Volcker Rule"
    Advisor: Marcelo Bianconi

    Eva Sachar
    "A Data Science Approach of Identifying Gentrification in Providence, Rhode Island"
    Advisor: Jeff Zabel

    Noah Weinflash
    "Political Betting Markets: Inefficiencies, Information Integration, and Effectiveness"
    Advisor: Thomas Downes

    Hung-Da Wen
    "Does Imposing Conditions in Cambodian Apparel Factories Increase Efficiency and Profitability?"
    Advisor: Drusilla Brown

    Jiaqi Yuan
    "The Interaction of Manager Characteristics with Compliance: Evidence from the Cambodian Apparel Industry"
    Advisor: Drusilla Brown

    Visit Tufts Digital Library for archived Senior Honors Theses