Department Honors Program


 Jeanne Kiernan '14, an economics major in the health professions and College Honors programs, presents during the 2014 Academic Conference.

 Jeanne Kiernan '14, an economics major in the health professions and College Honors programs, presents during the 2014 Academic Conference.

Director: Conor Carney

Honors informational session:  Friday, September 22nd, 2023 at 12pm, in Stein 314

Application Deadline: The application process is open for third-year economics and accounting students and are due on Thursday, October 5th, 2023 at noon

Honors interviews: Monday, October 23rd, Thursday, October 26th, and Friday, October 27th, 2023


An excellent opportunity for faculty-student collaboration is offered by the department Honors Program. Program participants gain valuable experience in research, writing, and public speaking.

The program consists of three parts. In the spring of the junior year, department honors students take a research methods seminar (ECON 460 Research Methods I) in which they learn the tools of economic research, develop a thesis topic and literature review, and choose an advisor. This course is also a lower-level elective for economics majors.

In the fall of senior year, honors students write a thesis under the guidance of their advisor. The thesis counts as course credit (ECON 462 Honors Directed Research), and also an upper-level elective course for economics majors. In the spring of senior year, students prepare a presentation to be given at the College’s Academic Conference, and provide guidance to the juniors in the research methods class. This is a half-course overload called ECON 461 Research Methods II. To be granted honors at graduation, students must meet the standards in each course.

Please direct all questions to the director of the program, Conor Carney or the department chair, Melissa Boyle.


To be considered, email the following materials to Chelsea Mahoney, the department’s administrative assistant.

  • An unofficial transcript printed out by you from STAR. Make sure it is fully legible.
  • A separate typed list of economics and accounting courses (including current courses) with faculty names.
  • A letter of reference from a faculty member in the Department of Economics and Accounting. Ask the professor to send letter directly to the department office.
  • A one or two-page statement or purpose. Why do you want to participate in the Program?
  • A short writing sample, e.g., a short paper from a class you've taken
  • A completed application cover page (doc)

After all the applications are submitted, we will send out a follow-up email to schedule an interview. Decisions will be made prior to course enrollment.

Economics honors applicants will normally finish ECON 255 (Microeconomics), ECON 256 (Macroeconomics) and ECON 249 (Statistics) by the fall of junior year, though exceptions are routinely made for candidates with other strong credentials. Applications are competitive, and require a recommendation, transcript, essay, and other materials. Decisions are made by the Honors Selection Committee following interviews. Accounting majors should have taken accounting courses through ACCT 278 (Intermediate Accounting II), and ECON 111/112 (Principles of Macroeconomics and Microeconomics) or ECON 199 (Principles of Economics), ECON 249 (Statistics), and the second semester of calculus equivalent by fall of junior year. Students studying away from the College in the spring of junior year or anytime during senior year are not eligible for the program. The program usually admits between four and six students per class.

Special Considerations for Accounting Majors

Accounting majors face special challenges in completing the program due to the large number of courses that are required for the major as well as the 16-course cap placed on economics and accounting department courses.

  • Accounting majors must be aware that admission to the honors program may affect course selection and possibly require taking additional coursework as overloads or away from the College. Given the CPA exam requires 150 hours of coursework to sit for the exam, in reality this may not be an unreasonable burden.
  • Majors often take electives such as Corporation Finance, Accounting Information Systems, Financial Institutions and Markets, Ethics, and other economics or accounting courses. Some students need some specific electives in order to sit for the CPA exam in some states. The research methods course qualifies as an elective for accounting majors and may qualify as "business" hours for purposes of the CPA exam in certain states. 
  • The honors program will take up two of the electives. If an honors student wishes to take Econometrics to help with the thesis, that will use another of the student's electives that may count towards graduation. Econometrics has Microeconomics as a prerequisite, which normally would require an overload.

Recent Honors Theses

2023 Theses

2022 Theses

2021 Theses

2020 Theses

2019 Theses

2018 Theses

​2017 Theses

2016 Theses

Published Honors Theses

Several previous honors theses have been published in academic journals as joint papers by the student and advisor. Below is a partial list:

  • Robert Baumann and Katie Lucia '05, "Differences in the College Enrollment Decision Across Race," American Economist, Vol 53, Issue 1 (Spring) 2009.
  • Miles B. Cahill and Alaina C. George '03, "Executive Compensation Incentives in a Volatile Market," American Economist, Vol. 49, No. 2 (Fall), 2005: pp. 33-43.
  • Scott Hinds '00, Nicolas Sanchez and David Schap, "Public Enterprise: Retrospective Survey and Prospective Theory" in Jurgen G. Backhaus and Richard E. Wagner (eds.) Handbook on Public Finance, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2004: pp. 277-300.
  • David Schap and Andrew T. Young '97, "Enterprise and Biodiversity: Do Market Forces Yield Diversity of Life?" Cato Journal, vol. 19, no. 1 (Spring/Summer), 1999: 49-67.
  • David Schap and Deirdre K. Valvo '96, "Recoverable Damages for Wrongful Death in the States," Journal of Forensic Economics, Vol. 10, No. 3 (fall), 1997: 279-84.
  • John R. Carter and Shannon A. McAloon '94, "A Test for Comparative Income Effects in an Ultimatum Bargaining Experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Vol. 31 (December), 1996: 369-380.
  • John R. Carter and Stephen D. Guerette '90, "An Experimental Study of Expressive Voting," Public Choice, Vol. 73 (April), 1992: 251-260.