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.

Study Abroad

Many economics majors study abroad during their junior year. The College offers a number of opportunities to study for a full year in countries around the world. There are also a few select programs that provide a chance to study abroad for a single semester. Visit the Study Abroad site for details.

The department strongly encourages students to participate in the study abroad program but reminds interested students of the importance of planning ahead.

Study Abroad/Study Away Policy

Economics majors may receive credit for at most two economics courses taken at institutions other than Holy Cross. These courses may include principles, statistics, lower level electives or upper-level electives provided the courses are commensurate with our offerings and are pre-approved by the department study abroad coordinator Thomas Gottschang. Students must complete their intermediate theory courses at Holy Cross. Note: This policy does not apply to transfer students.

Accounting majors may receive credit for three accounting courses taken at institutions other than Holy Cross. These courses may include principles, statistics, or accounting electives. Students intending to study abroad/away are encouraged to discuss their academic plan with an accounting faculty member. 

Learn More

Study Abroad Advisor

Contact Thomas Gottschang (economics) or Professor Karen Teitel (accounting) if you have any questions about studying abroad as a major.

Freeman M Saltus Prize

The Freeman M. Saltus Prize is awarded each year for the best student essay in economics. Any topic in economics is acceptable, and the paper may be descriptive, empirical, or theoretical. The prize carries with it a substantial cash award.

To be eligible for the prize, an essay must be submitted via email to Ms. Chelsea Mahoney (chmahoney@holycross.edu), the Economics and Accounting administrative assistant, by noon Wednesday, April 3, 2024, and the subject line should be "Saltus Prize submission." To preserve anonymity, the paper must be submitted as an attached file with a title only – do not include the name of the author on the paper itself. In the body of your email, please state the title of your paper and your full name. Submissions that do not follow these instructions will not be considered. 

Be aware that according to College policy, a particular written work may be submitted for only one academic prize at Holy Cross.

Please consider entering the competition, perhaps with a new paper or with a revision of an economics paper written this past fall. If you have questions, feel free to consult any of the committee members, Professors Miles Cahill, Monica Carney, Luna Goldblatt, and Karen Teitel.

The Washington Semester Program

Many economics and accounting majors spend a semester working as an intern in a Washington, D.C., government agency or private organization in either the junior or senior year. Washington Semester Program participants also take a public policy course and write a thesis. 

Participation in the program counts as one semester's worth of credit (four units) toward graduation. However, credit towards economics and accounting major requirements is not granted for any of the elements of the Washington Semester Program. 

The economics and accounting department strongly encourages students to participate in the Washington Semester Program but reminds interested students of the importance of planning ahead.

More Information

Contact your academic advisor to plan your course of study. You may also contact the department chair, Melissa Boyle, if you have any questions about department policy.

Omicron Delta Epsilon Honor Society


Omicron Delta Epsilon is the international honor society for economics. Members receive The American Economist, a well-regarded economics journal.


To be considered for Omicron Delta Epsilon, you must:

  • Have completed Econ 255 (Microeconomics) and Econ 256 (Macroeconomics) at Holy Cross
  • Have a combined GPA in all economics courses of at least 3.5 and an overall Holy Cross GPA of 3.0

Application Materials and Process

  • Print out and fill out the application form (PDF)
    • Notes: The "Chapter name" is Zeta. Leave "Initiation date" blank.
  • Print out a transcript from STAR.
  • Write a check for the $40 membership fee made out to Omicron Delta Epsilon.
  • Write a separate check for any ODE jewelry item or plaque made out to Omicron Delta Epsilon (see application form for details).
  • Please submit the material to the Economics and Accounting Department Office,  Stein 519, by Tuesday, April 25, 2023.

Contact Information

Victor Matheson vmatheso@holycross.edu


The John D. O'Connell Prize for Accounting Excellence

The award was established to honor the longstanding service of the College's distinguished accounting professor, John D. O'Connell '53. Applicants for the prize must have an excellent academic record, a record of meaningful service to the College community and a demonstrated interest in the profession of accounting. The College's accounting faculty review the applications each spring and select the annual recipient. The prize includes a cash purse and an engraved desk set.

Winners from the previous three years include:

  • Bridgette Dwyer '20
  • Jackie Brewster '19
  • Brittany Scott '18

Applications from members of the class of  2022 will be solicited in spring 2021.  Questions about the award should be directed to Professor Nancy Baldiga


Ryan Bathon ’18, an economics major, interns at Eaton Vance Investment Managers in Boston during summer 2017.

Ryan Bathon ’18, an economics major, interns at Eaton Vance Investment Managers in Boston during summer 2017.

The department encourages students to complete internships. Please visit the Center for Career Development for more information.

Tutors and Graders

There are also opportunities for students to become tutors or graders to introductory classes. To learn more, contact department chair Melissa Boyle.