Department of Economics

Senior Honors Program

Economics majors with a GPA of at least 3.5 in the major and have completed a course in Econometrics are eligible to participate in the department's honors program, which involves research and writing a thesis under the supervision of a member of the Economics Department faculty.


  • Completion of Econometrics (Econ 184) with a grade of B+ or higher
  • Enroll in ECON 99a in the fall semester of senior year
  • Enroll in ECON 99b in the spring semester of senior year
  • Maintain a GPA of 3.5 within the Economics major (calculation includes all economic courses, including Copenhagen, and cross-listed classes taken at Brandeis)
  • Write and present a thesis under the supervision of a faculty member
  • Students must be on campus (not abroad) to participate.

Candidates will be admitted to ECON 99b only if their progress reports on work completed in ECON 99a are judged satisfactory by the assigned thesis advisor and the Honors Coordinator (Professor Betsy Brainerd, Fall 2024). Each Econ 99 course carries four credits; these do not count towards the major. Students must register for both Econ 99a and Econ 99b to be considered for Honors in Economics.

How to Apply

All students considering an honors thesis should begin early to think about a topic and to plan their senior year to accommodate a substantial research program. 

  • Submit a one-page thesis proposal to the Honors Coordinator at least a week in advance of the Registrar’s deadline for fall enrollment

Thesis Proposal

The proposal should specify the question(s) the student's research will address and the methods and data to be used. The Honors Coordinator will consult with potential advisors to judge whether the project seems feasible and appropriate and also assign an advisor with expertise in the relevant area of interest. Our department attempts to distribute advising responsibilities fairly among faculty members. While we try to honor a student's request to work with a particular faculty member, in some cases it may not be possible to assign a student's first choice of advisor.

The Economics Department faculty will determine which thesis proposals are accepted into the program. As not all proposals are accepted, students should sign up for an additional course in case they are not able to enroll in Econ 99a. If your proposal is accepted, you must contact Leslie Yancich to get enrolled in Econ 99a. It is your responsibility to get this and enroll in the course before the last day to add classes.

Advisors Assignments

Each potential thesis writer will be assigned two faculty advisors — a primary one that he/she consults regularly, and a secondary one that he/she also consults, but less frequently. Although students may consult with faculty beforehand and request to work with particular faculty members, in the interest of matching students with faculty whose research interest best align with the proposed topics and in the interest of distributing the burden of advising equitably, students should know that they may not always get their first choice of advisors.

December Graduates

Students scheduled to graduate in December should consult the Honors Coordinator as early as possible, but in any case before the start of the spring term prior to their expected graduation. To be admitted to Econ 99a, December graduates must submit a one-page thesis proposal to the Honors Coordinator at least a week in advance of the Registrar's deadline for spring enrollment. 

Considerations & Resources

Writing a thesis can be very rewarding, but it takes a surprising amount of hard work. Most candidates feel pressed for time in the senior year as thesis research competes with job hunting or graduate school applications for their attention. Choosing a suitable topic is often the toughest part. Some thesis writers start with a research paper written in a course and extend and deepen the work to the scale of a thesis. Others select an interesting published article and extend its scope to another time and/or place. It is also helpful to discuss potential topics with one or more faculty members.

Looking at some past honors theses is a good way to learn what kinds of work have gained approval in the past. Past years’ theses are catalogued and kept in the Brandeis Library, and some recent examples are available in the Economic Department office for students’ perusal.