The senior thesis is widely considered to be the culmination of a Bates student’s education. The thesis experience in economics provides students the opportunity to investigate an advanced topic in society and the economy, form an individual research question, conduct in-depth empirical or theoretical research, and write a lengthy report in the form of an academic paper in economics.
Most students complete their senior economics thesis through the thesis seminar course, which is offered in both Fall and Winter semesters. A faculty member serves as the thesis advisor of a small group of students. The advisor guides students through group meetings and facilitates seminar conversations about their various research efforts, while each student works on their individual research questions.
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. For more information on the expectations and procedures of the Honors thesis, please see this page.
The best preparation for the thesis 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 enroll in the thesis seminar in the senior Fall or Winter semester. For a fall thesis, you should select a topic in March when you register for your senior year. A prerequisite for enrolling in the thesis seminar is the successful completion of two 300-level economics electives.