Thesis & Capstone

The senior thesis or senior capstone seminar are widely considered to be the culmination of a Bates student’s education.

A capstone seminar gives students the opportunity to investigate an advanced topic, study it in detail, do some in depth empirical research, and write a lengthy report. A capstone seminar is led by a faculty member who guides the students in the selection of topics and who throughout the semester facilitates seminar conversations about students’ various research efforts. The thesis experience allows a student to experience such research opportunities in the context of a topic chosen by the student, and to plan and pursue the experience with considerable independence and the counsel of a thesis adviser.

Recent topics of theses and capstones have varied widely, including such studies as:  Burden of the Federal Debt; The Savings and Loan Crisis; Eurocurrencies and International Financial Integration; Effects of Unionization on Monopoly Power; Analysis of the Municipal Bond Market; and China’s Population and Policy.

A few students each year opt to write Honors theses, a project completed over two semesters instead of one. Students are accepted into the Economics Honors Program by petition. All Economics faculty are involved with Honors theses, from the initial review of the proposal to the final oral examination in the spring with a distinguished outside examiner.

Students wishing to write an Honors thesis are strongly urged to begin discussing possible topics with faculty members during the Winter term of the junior year, and plan to do significant reading on the topic over the summer. Proposals for Honors theses are due to the Department Chair by the end of the first week of class of the Fall semester. Proposals are reviewed by the Department, and a decision is made whether to allow students to begin Honors work.

The best preparation for either thesis or a capstone seminar is the 300-level economics courses, where you can start thinking about ideas that might develop into a research topic. By March of your junior year you must choose whether to write a fall thesis or enroll in a winter capstone seminar. For a fall thesis you should select a topic in March when you register for your senior year. A prerequisite for either writing a thesis or enrolling in a capstone seminar is the successful completion of two 300-level economics electives.