Honors & Independent Study

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The Undergraduate Honors Program in Economics (Econ 4990-4991) is an opportunity for students who have demonstrated academic excellence in the major to pursue an independent research project. The program runs for the entire senior year, and the research is conducted under the close supervision of a faculty advisor.

Admission to the Honors Program is selective, and it is based upon the following criteria:

  1. the content of and performance in coursework, both in economics and in general,
  2. a description of the proposed research question,
  3. a letter of recommendation from a member of the faculty, and
  4. prior research experience if any. Students typically develop empirical projects, but it is also possible to do experimental, theoretical, or historical work.

During the fall semester, students develop thesis proposals that articulate the research question, survey the relevant literature, and assess the relevant data. After the approval of the thesis proposal, students are enrolled for a second semester. Four of the Honors Program’s eight credits count toward the major, and all eight are applicable toward the 100-credit requirement in Arts and Sciences. Students who successfully complete the program graduate cum laude. Awards of the higher levels of honors—magna cum laude and summa cum laude—take into account not only thesis quality but also performance in the major and other factors.


Application forms can be found here and are also available from Ulrike Kroeller in Uris 404 (uab1@cornell.edu). Admissions are on a rolling basis. Please note that, while highly unlikely, it is possible for the program to fill before the final application deadline. Applications are due by Sunday, March 15, 2020.

Independent Study

This program is less selective and less formal than the Honors Program, but also offers Economics majors an opportunity to work closely with a faculty member and to conduct original research. Students participating in this program enroll in Econ 4999, Independent Study in Economics; this course carries variable credit, and is available both fall and spring semesters. Before enrolling in Econ 4999, the student must submit a proposal for independent study, approved by a member of the Economics Department.  

To apply for A&S independent study, you will need to complete an online form which you can access via data.arts. The form should be completed within the first two weeks of the semester.  

For further information, see any member of the Economics Department, and visit the College of Arts & Sciences Academic Advising Center, G17 Klarman Hall.