General Information for Undergraduates
departmental Honors in economics
The Department of Economics Honors Program allows students to take courses in a variety of fields in our discipline, while pursuing a well-rounded liberal arts education that should serve them well in graduate education and economics-related careers. Graduation with honors is a distinction that has helped a number of our alumni pursue MA and PhD degrees in economics and business; and has contributed to professional placements in many public, private and non-profit organizations.
Admission to the University Honors Program
Graduation with honors in economics requires good standing in the Commonwealth College Honors Program. Commonwealth College, located in 504 Goodell, should be contacted for application material and for an admissions interview. In general, students applying to the Honors Program should have a 3.2 or better cumulative average and time enough to complete 8 course requirements and 45 credits in residence before graduation. For more information about becoming a Commonwealth Scholar, you might want to visit their web site: www.comcol.umass.edu. Click on academics and then requirements for a quick overview of the courses students must complete for graduation from the University as a Commonwealth Scholar.
Economics Departmental Honors Requirements
The Economics Department requires students to take at least four honors courses in order to graduate with honors in economics. All four of these courses can be used to satisfy 4 of the 8 course requirements for Commonwealth College, provided a grade of B or better is attained.
For departmental honors in Economics, two honors economics courses (one any level, and one 300-level or above) must be completed with a grade of B or better. Both courses may be entirely enriched honors courses, or both could be regular economics course offerings tied to a 1-credit honors independent study or colloquium. No more than one of these two honors economics courses may be an honors independent study course for 3 or more credits. When a requirement is met by combining an independent study or colloquium and a regular course offering, the grade in both the course and independent study/colloquium must be a B or better.
Departmental honors requires two other courses, 499Y and 499T, for which a grade of B+ or better must be achieved. This course sequence comprises the departmentís thesis requirement. Thesis students typically pursue this course in a 2-semester sequence. Thesis Research, 499Y, is usually registered in the fall and is usually registered as a year-long course. The grade received at the end of the first semester, Y, has no effect on the fall semester or cumulative GPA. Typically the Y is converted to a letter grade when the thesis is completed in the spring. Commonwealth College membership is not required for registration in either 499Y or 499T, though course registration is by contract with a thesis committee and the contract must be submitted to Commonwealth College for course registration.
The Honors Thesis in Economics
The thesis should reflect an understanding of the importance of the studentís topic to debates within the discipline of economics, careful and critical reading of literature relevant to the studentís topic and original thought or empirical evidence pertaining to the topic. Though masters or doctoral quality results in an undergraduate honors thesis are not expected, neither is a mere recitation of readily available literature on the topic. The appropriate length of the thesis is left to the discretion of the thesis committee chair but in general the thesis should be in the 25-100 page range, depending in part on the nature of the topic.
An Honors thesis is prepared under the guidance of a thesis committee of at least 2 members. The chair of the committee must be a regular, non-visiting faculty member of the Economics Department. The second member may be a faculty member or instructor from the Economics Department or any other department at the University. Upon completion of the thesis the student will make an oral presentation to the thesis committee. The grade for the thesis is based primarily upon the quality of the completed manuscript.
The Honors Thesis should be completed and approved by the studentís thesis committee no later than the last day of classes of the semester of the studentís graduation. Upon completion and approval by the studentís committee, the theses must be delivered to Commonwealth College. Requirements for print formatting, acid-free paper, etc are explained on their website. If approved for archiving by the committee chair, the thesis will be placed in the archives of the University Library.
Latin High Honors in Economics
Students who complete the requirements above and attain an overall cumulative grade point average of 3.50-3.79 and a grade of B+ or better on both Economics 499Y and 499T will graduate Magna Cum Laude in Economics.
Students who complete the requirements above and attain an overall cumulative grade point average of 3.8 or better and a grade of A- or better on both Economics 499Y and 499T will graduate Summa Cum Laude in Economics.