Field experience

Department Assistantships

Individual faculty members frequently hire advanced students to work as teaching or research assistants in Economics. Student assistants help faculty members in a variety of ways, including grading homework or conducting help sessions in introductory and intermediate courses, and assisting with research projects. Economics majors with strong academic records and an interest in working as Department Assistants should speak to individual faculty members.

Off-campus Study

Many students majoring in economics spend one semester or one academic year studying in a program abroad. This experience offers courses complementary to the Bates experience and our catalog in economics. Many students can transfer courses from their study-aborad programs back to Bates and apply some of them to the economics major requirements. For more details, please see Off-Campus Study for economics.

Work experiences

There are many ways Bates students can obtain work experience and explore various career options throughout their four years at Bates. The Center for Purposeful Work maintains up-to-date information on available opportunities.

The Economics Department does not grant academic credit for summer jobs or internships.

Unpaid internships

Students occasionally inquire about receiving academic credit for unpaid internships. Bates has no program through which such work experience credit can be granted.

Why do some corporations have this requirement?  The employer may not be primarily interested in your academic career. Instead, they may simply want highly talented students to work for free.  However, they are subject to minimum wage laws, which prohibit them from hiring unpaid interns, even if those interns are willing to work for free.  So, in order to hire an intern legally, the intern must receive ‘something of value’ in return.  In this exchange, Bates provides the ‘something of value,’ namely academic credit.  In short, the employer wants to use Bates’ resources to pay you to work for them.

The economics faculty do not have the time nor the desire to advise independent studies that are outside of our expertise and of questionable academic value. (Work experience is valuable, but it is of a different nature than the academic experience.)  Also, we have concerns about large, well-capitalized firms pushing their summer labor costs onto colleges and universities, while exacerbating inequities for students who rely on employment income to pay their expenses.  The Bates faculty as a whole stated in 2002 that they do not want to participate in such a system.

If employers are unwilling to pay you, there is nothing more that the Department or the College can do. We understand that this may prove to be a great disappointment.  However, the faculty strongly believes that we cannot disingenuously promise and provide syllabi for independent studies we have no intention of offering.

Graduate study

The economics major provides valuable training for growing employment opportunities as well as preparation for graduate study in business, economics, law, and computer science. We encourage you to discuss your interests in pursuing graduate studies with the faculty members in the department. In particular, the American Economic Association curates a rich set of information on graduate studies in economics and related fields.


The curriculum teaches general analytical skills that are in demand in many areas. For example, the importance of quantitative skills (statistics and econometrics) is rising steadily as both private and public organizations seek individuals who are able to work with economic data and forecasts. In addition, business schools look for students who have demonstrated an ability to use mathematical and quantitative skills. Moreover, employers and graduate schools have always sought individuals with flexibility and basic intelligence, who are able to write and speak effectively.

Both the Economics Department and the Center for Purposeful Work can assist you in making plans for the future. The Department can put you in touch with some recent graduates who have gone on to further study.

Students who are considering graduate study in economics are strongly advised to take several courses in mathematics beyond those required for the major, such as Math 106, 206, 219 and 301. Students should also discuss the various programs at different universities with faculty members. Some prestigious universities have weaker programs in economics, while less famous schools may be especially strong in the field. Where you decide to go should depend on the particular department and individual faculty members in your planned field of specialization. In applying to graduate programs you should be clear and definite about your interest in the specific program.

To assist you in your applications for graduate study and employment, the Economics faculty are happy to write letters of recommendation. You should consult faculty members who will be able to write strong letters for you. It is important that you discuss your future plans with them and get an idea about how strong a letter they can write on your behalf.

The Center for Purposeful Work can help you with both graduate study and job searches. They have information about test dates for the GRE, LSAT and GMAT. If you plan to go on to graduate study immediately after Bates, you should take these exams by the fall of your senior year. The Center for Purposeful Work’s file of Bates alumni advisors is a valuable resource to help you explore various postgraduate opportunities.

In addition to providing counseling services, the Center for Purposeful Work brings to campus some representatives, both of business schools and of firms seeking to hire new graduates. Take advantage of the opportunity to talk with these visitors to campus.