Department of Economics
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742

Graduate Program:

Undergraduate Program:



ECON396 (Honors Workshop) and ECON397 (Honors Thesis) constitute a two-semester sequence in which outstanding seniors write an honors thesis in economics. Its primary emphasis is to help prepare the best economics undergraduates for graduate programs in economics and master's programs in business, public policy, and international relations.

Economics Honors Program

The Economics Honors program is a 12 credit sequence, which culminates in the completion of a senior thesis. The pre-requisites for beginning this sequence (i.e. for registering for ECON396) are as follows:

  • completion of ECON422 (Econometrics I)
  • an overall University GPA of at least 3.25
  • completion of at least 18 credits of upper level Economics courses with a GPA of at least 3.25
  • the 18 credits of ECON courses should include: 
    • ECON325
    • ECON326
    • at least one field course. Click here for a list of field courses.

For students to satisfy the Economics Honors Program, they must:

  • complete ECON422 prior to their senior year
  • complete ECON396 and ECON397 in their senior year **Please note that ECON396 is offered only in the fall semester and ECON397 is only in the spring semester
  • complete one of the following four courses:
    • ECON407 (Advanced Macroeconomics)
    • ECON414 (Game Theory)
    • ECON423 (Econometrics II)
    • ECON425 (Mathematical Economics)
  • the above 4 course requirements must be completed with a GPA of 3.5 or above

If you have any questions about this program, please feel free to email Dr. John Straub, Director of Honors Program, for an appointment at straub@econ.umd.edu.

Preparing for the Honors Sequence (Econ 396-397)

Given the high standards that must be met for the honors thesis (i.e. ECON396-397), it is never too early to begin to prepare for it!  In fact, if you are considering enrolling in the program, we would urge you to contact Dr. Straub for an appointment. This will give you a chance to ask any questions that you may have on the honors program and for him to offer you some guidance on how to best approach the honors sequence.

Since the main decision that you will have to make at the start of ECON396 is to choose a concrete topic and an advisor, doing some serious reading over the summer is strongly encouraged! Below you will find a link to some general readings on various topics that should hopefully help you in getting started on some topic that interests you.

Math Background

In terms of math background, a well-prepared honors student aiming at entering a good graduate program in economics should have taken MATH140, 141, and 241 (the 3-semester calculus sequence for math, engineering, and science majors), MATH240 (linear algebra), and MATH246 (differential equations). The two semester-sequence in real analysis (advanced calculus), MATH410 and 411, is also highly recommended. (In fact, good graduate programs like to see at least one course in real analysis on transcripts.) Other math courses worth considering are MATH340 and 341 (Multivariable calculus I and II), STAT410 (Introduction to Probability Theory), and MATH424 (Introduction to the Mathematics of Finance).

[It is worth emphasizing that this math background is not required to take the honors sequence (ECON396-397), but is strongly recommended if your goal is to be admitted to a good graduate program in economics.]

Useful Readings for Undergraduate Research in Economics

By clicking on the title above, you will be directed to a webpage that contains a host of readings written by leading researchers in various fields and which should be generally accessible to undergraduates with a good background and advanced courses in economics. This is, of course, just a suggestive list but please be careful in not wasting time on low quality material which may not only confuse you but also take you along the wrong track (believe me, there is a lot of junk out there!). If in doubt about the quality of an article or book, please do not hestitate to email Dr. Straub.