The Economics Department

Honors Program

The Department of Economics Honors Program offers exceptional economics majors a unique opportunity to take honors designated courses, research a topic in economics, and write a thesis based on their findings. Those who fulfill all of the requirements will be awarded with the distinction of "Special Honors in Economics" upon graduation. The Economics Honors Program challenges students to see the world as presenting questions that can be answered through the application of economic research and analysis. Intellectual curiosity and a desire to make personal discoveries are essential to students' success in this program.

Honors Advantages

* Enhanced opportunities for internships, scholarships, and graduate study
* Small classes that foster a stimulating intellectual environment with substantial faculty/student interaction
* Opportunity to develop a research project under the direction of distinguished faculty
* Interaction with other students with similar interests and goals

Entering the Honors Program

To enter the Economics Honors Program students must meet the following requirements:
* Completion of ECO 304K and ECO 304L with a minimum grade of B in each
* Completion of the required calculus sequence with a minimum grade of B in each
* Completion of at least two economics courses taken in-residence
* A minimum UT GPA of 3.0 and a minimum Economics GPA of 3.5

(If you claimed AP credit for ECO 304k, 304l, and/or the required calculus sequence that still fulfills the above requirement.)

Majors seeking honors in economics are encouraged to apply by the beginning of their sophomore year and must apply for admission before the first semester of their senior year.

Graduating with Honors

To graduate with Special Honors in Economics students must meet the following requirements:
* Completion of all degree requirements for the economics major
* Completion of ECO 378H and ECO 379H with a minimum grade of B in each
* A minimum UT GPA of 3.0 and a minimum Economics GPA of 3.5

Opportunities in Honors

Honors Symposium: Each spring semester the Department of Economics hosts an Honors Symposium in which honors students present their theses to an audience of faculty and fellow students.

Omicron Delta Epsilon: The international honor society in economics, ODE is dedicated to the academic advancement of its members, and the creation of a strong network of friends, faculty, contacts, and mentors through social events, speakers, and seminars. Find information about the UT chapter, ODE at UT, here.

Rapoport-King Scholarship: Scholarship and research support for students who are writing a thesis in one of the departmental honors programs the year they apply. Fellows will be chosen on basis of academic record, the quality of the thesis proposal, and financial need.

Honors Advising

Those interested in pursuing honors should see the economics honors program coordinator. The program coordinator facilitates the application process and provides general advising and registration assistance for future and current honors students. The faculty honors advisor assists honors students with class selection related to thesis development and guidance in academic and career goals.

Honors Program Coordinator:
Holly Smith
BRB 1.114, Ph# 512-471-2973

Faculty Honors Advisor:
Dr. Gerald Oettinger
BRB 2.148, Ph# 512-475-8523

Honors Timeline and Manual

This is a suggested timeline only. Each student's progression may vary.

  • Freshman Year: Complete introductory economics and calculus coursework and contact the Economics Honors Program coordinator to express an interest in the honors program.
  • Sophomore Year: Upon completion of the eligibility requirements, apply for admittance into the Economics Honors Program. See program coordinator for details. 
  • Junior Year: Upon admittance to the program, confer with the faculty honors advisor about choosing economics topics courses and developing a thesis. Complete topics courses and submit a thesis proposal by the end of junior year.
  • Senior Year: Take ECO 378H in first semester of senior year (must have supervising instructor and thesis proposal approval). Take ECO 379H in second semester of senior year.

You can view a more detailed Honors Timeline here.

Click here to view the Economics Honors Thesis Manual.  This includes information about when to start, where to start, how to choose a topic, finding a supervisor, registering for the honors thesis courses, writing the thesis, and other advice.

Honors Courses

The Economics Honors Program curriculum offers a combination of recommended and required coursework to challenge students to develop their intellectual sophistication, motivate self-directed learning, and promote in-depth study.

Recommended Courses: In addition to the core courses, all economics majors are required to complete 9-12 hours of upper division economics in topics of their own choosing (dependent on catalog reuirements). This flexibility allows students to pursue their areas of interest while completing degree requirements. Honors students will select their topics under the guidance of the faculty honors advisor who may recommend specific courses that will assist the student in developing their thesis topic. ECO 441K Econometrics and ECO 354K Game Theory are two courses that are generally recommended to honors students. Their analytical content is excellent preparation for those considering graduate school and/or a career in economics. 

Honors Tutorial Courses: Honors students are required to complete a thesis on a topic in the field of economics. ECO 378H Honors Tutorial Course I and ECO 379H Honors Tutorial Course II are faculty supervised courses designed to assist students with the research process and development of a paper, respectively. Students must submit, to the honors advisor, a thesis proposal by the end of their junior year. By the beginning of their senior year they must have an approved thesis proposal and have secured a faculty supervisor before registering for ECO 378H. ECO 378H is a prerequisite for ECO 379H and they cannot be taken concurrently.


Getting Started

Getting Started

To start the thesis you must:

  • Be in the honors program (have an approved honors application on file)
  • Have a minimum UT GPA of 3.0 and a minimum Economics GPA of 3.5 (in ECO courses counting toward the major)
  • Submit to the advising office no later than the sixth day of the semester in which you are starting the thesis: 1) an ECO 378H registration form signed by thesis supervisor, and 2) a thesis topic proposal attached to signed registration form.

Pick up an ECO 378H registration form from the honors coordinator, attach your thesis proposal, and take it to your faculty supervisor for their signature. Return the signed form and thesis proposal to the honors coordinator, who will obtain final approval from the faculty honors advisor and register you in ECO 378H.

Thesis Proposal Guidelines & Examples

Your thesis proposal should include the following:

  • the economic question you wish to investigate
  • the motivation and goals for your research (e.g., to analyze certain policy questions)
  • your preliminary ideas for the methodology to be employed (e.g., application of a relevant theoretical model or an empirical analysis using a designated data set).

Don’t worry if you are not 100% clear on the topic when you begin— writing a proposal can be a starting point for discussion with the honors faculty advisor and/or prospective supervisors, who can offer guidance in developing your thesis topic. It is more common than not that the question evolves once you get started—but it must be clear that at least provisionally, you have a good question and a feasible methodology for answering it.

Click here to view final theses as well as thesis proposals by economics honors alumni.  You will have to log in with your EID and password.

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  • Department of Economics

    The University of Texas at Austin
    2225 Speedway
    BRB 1.116, C3100
    Austin, Texas 78712
    512-471-3211 (main) & 512-471-2973 (advising)