Undergraduate Research in Economics


Undergraduate students in Economics are exposed to research from the very beginning of their curriculum. Economics Department faculty are active researchers and bring the excitement and thrill of doing research into their undergraduate classes. Many courses forego the use of textbooks to expose students to the latest professional writings in the field. Even those courses with textbooks will supplement the reading list with the newest research findings.

Students begin doing research in our introductory course in the form of minor research projects. Upper level courses provide additional opportunities by requiring research papers to earn writing credit. The required econometrics course requires students to conduct an empirical analysis, using econometric methods, a task that is key component of empirical research in Economics. Upper level courses introduce research opportunities by assigning research papers in order for students to receive writing credit.

Students seeking to do further research in Economics can do so in a number of ways. The Department of Economics at the University of Rochester provides undergraduate students with the opportunity to pursue individual research projects through independent study. Independent study usually involves advanced, individual research supervised by an Economics Department faculty member. Students interested in pursuing independent study(Eco 391) are required to have completed the core requirements for the major (Eco 207, 209, 231) and to have taken the relevant lecture courses related to the independent study project they wish to pursue (to the extent that such courses have been offered by the department). For example, a student wishing to pursue research on an advanced finance topic, such as a study of new mechanisms for hedging risk, is expected to have completed the department's finance sequence. Similarly, a student interested in studying Rochester's fiscal structure should have taken electives in public finance and urban economics. Independent study is considered advanced research, going beyond the material presented in our elective economics offerings. (Students should not view independent study projects as substituting for an existing offering.) Students registering for Eco 391 must first identify a faculty member willing to supervise their project. Students should expect to have a well thought-out project in mind before attempting to begin an independent study project. It is advisable to meet with a prospective faculty member well in advance of the date you plan to register for independent study so that you can discuss your interests, what elective courses should be taken prior to beginning your project, and to determine whether the faculty member is an appropriate supervisor. Students seeking advice as to who may be an appropriate faculty supervisor should speak with a departmental advisor.

Students can also purse independent research by registering for Senior Seminar (Eco 389). Since the Senior Seminar is supervised by an Economics Department faculty member there is no need to obtain an additional faculty supervisor. A very important advantage of the Senior Seminar is that students can share their ideas and writings with other students also pursuing independent research and experiencing similar success and frustration (two common features of the research process). Students can expect to write a major research paper of approximately 30 - 40 pages in length. (Examples of past paper topics) Multiple drafts of your paper are likely to be required. Both Independent Study and Senior Seminar are considered writing courses and can be used to fulfill the research paper requirement necessary to graduate with high or highest honors.

Economics faculty will also occasionally hire undergraduate research assistants. Arrangements are handled on an individual basis. Interested students need to approach a faculty member–often inquiring first of a professor whom they have had for a class.