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Independent Research

The Economics Department encourages Economics majors to consider an independent research project (ECON 4398) as part of their degree program (although independent research is not required for the major). In order to enroll in Econ 4398 students should submit a general petition and obtain approval of the faculty independent study supervisor and the undergraduate director. The course requires a full semester of work and it provides 3 credits. The requirements and procedures for an independent research project are described below.

In addition to allowing a student to spend a semester investigating in detail an individually-chosen topic, such a project demonstrates the focus, perseverance, and analytical and quantitative research skills necessary for success in many careers and may provide invaluable experience for students considering applying to graduate school. Students should choose a general area of interest and then consult a faculty member whose research falls in that area, after taking the departmental course or courses that cover the research topic. During a one semester independent study a student typically produces a 10-15 page long research paper.

In order to enroll in Independent Research, a student must have declared Economics as his or her major and have at least a B (3.0) average in the following courses:

  • ECON 2370: Statistics
  • ECON 3332: Intermediate Microeconomics
  • ECON 3334: Intermediate Macroeconomics

Projects using data analysis will also require ECON 3370(Introduction to Econometrics) with a grade of B or better (please consult your faculty advisor to determine whether you need this pre-requisite)

In addition, the ideal candidates will have taken at least one advanced class (3000 or 4000 level) related to the topic they want to do research on and will have a clear goal for why they want to start their own research (such as wanting to produce a writing sample for graduate school applications, planning to study of a given industry where you plan to seek future employment, etc.). You should be committed to working hard in the semester when you decide to do the independent research.

For guidance on choosing a topic and a faculty adviser, email Dr. Andrea Szabo at for an appointment.