Senior Honors Thesis
Writing a senior thesis is an excellent way for students to build upon their economics coursework and pursue research that is meaningful and interesting to them. It also allows students to hone the skills they’ve developed and apply frameworks and knowledge in a way that develops an even greater analytical perspective.
Writing a senior thesis requires organization, planning, and focus. Students interested in writing a senior thesis should consult the Senior Honors Thesis Guidelines. The guidelines document describes the philosophy behind the senior thesis and walks you through the process of selecting a topic, engaging a faculty adviser, and registering for the two-semester senior honors thesis seminar.
Past thesis students have found this experience richly rewarding. Read the testimonials below to learn how the opportunity to work closely with a faculty adviser and to think critically and deeply about a significant intellectual problem of their own selection helped these BC alumni grow as researchers, analysts, writers and critical thinkers. While a thesis is arguably essential for students who intend to pursue graduate work in economics, it is also incredibly valuable for the majority of thesis students who follow other paths.
Students who are interested in writing a senior thesis should begin the process in the spring of their junior year (identifying a faculty adviser and developing a research idea in late March or early April). The resources below will help you learn more about the senior thesis and help you get started. Please reach out to Thesis Program Co-Directors Professor Michael Grubb and Professor Bob Murphy for help and advice.
- Senior Honors Thesis Guidelines
- Senior Honors Thesis Application Form (Due April 30 Junior Year)
- Senior Honors Thesis guide to selecting a topic and writing a topic proposal
- Thesis Program Co-Director - Professor Michael Grubb
- Thesis Program Co-Director - Professor Bob Murphy
- To see samples of past theses by economics students, please visit the eScholarship page on the BC Library’s website.
- Current and past years’ thesis topics
“Impact of Face Mask Mandates on the Growth Rates of COVID-19 Cases in the United States” (Baum)
"The experience of writing a thesis is valuable for me. I am able to dig deep down on what I am interested in and get solid exposure to independent research. It also provides me with the opportunities to work closely with faculty and learn about research of other thesis students. Narrowing the research topic and searching for data may be challenging but talking with my advisor and hearing others’ feedback in the seminars are very helpful.
I am planning to pursue graduate studies in Economics. (For now I don't know which school I will be going to.)"
Shaokai (Kevin) Wang
“The Invisible Hand: Political Cycles, Economics, and the Stock Market” (Ireland)
"I actually began to write my senior thesis in the fall of my senior year. Unlike a regular class where you have a specific schedule and deadlines, the senior thesis is an independent study, and you are responsible for planning your own deadlines. It requires students' commitment and dedication. After speaking with my advisor, I was able to schedule twice a month meetings with him in order to go over the progress that I had made thus far. Though the process of writing a thesis can be time-consuming, exasperating and even tiring at times. However, this is no doubt the most rewarding experience I have had at BC. I learned so much about my interests and passions and was able to explore them in a way that created a piece of work. My project has provided me with an opportunity to discuss my research in interviews, and I will continue to develop after I graduate from BC.
I am going to do economic consulting right after my graduation. )"
“Is a Helping Hand Better than an Invisible One? The Effect of Helpfulness on Employee Engagement” (Cox)
"Writing a thesis has been the perfect culmination of my undergraduate education. While it has certainly been a commitment, it has also given me the freedom to explore a topic I am curious about in a way that synthesizes and furthers so much of what I’ve learned here at BC. Writing a thesis teaches you how to set your own direction, how to communicate clearly and concisely, and how to think both creatively and critically - all while you contribute to existing knowledge. It is a unique experience, and it was something I was consistently asked about in job interviews. I really enjoyed writing a thesis and I would highly recommend taking on the challenge.
After graduation, I will be starting as a Strategy Analyst at Deloitte Consulting."
“Minimum Wages and Labor Unions: How Minimum Wages Impact an Individual's Decision to Vote For or Against a Labor Union” (Sanzenbacher)
"In deciding whether or not to write a thesis during my junior year, a piece of advice I received from my academic advisor Professor Can Erbil convinced me that it was worthwhile. He told me that no one economics course is going to be as memorable, impressive, or impactful as writing a thesis during my senior year. A thesis is something that sticks out, something that I can speak towards in my future, and an opportunity to do a deep dive into something that I am truly passionate about. I am thankful to have taken Professor Erbil’s advice. Under the supervision of Professor Geoffrey Sanzenbacher, I am writing my thesis on how minimum wage policies influence someone’s likelihood to vote for or against a labor union. Labor unions, which often coincide with higher wages and improved workers rights, have been on the decline for decades. I hope to provide color as to how the presence and strength of outside options, specifically local minimum wages, influence an individual's decision whether to vote for a labor union in my thesis. Writing a thesis requires intense discipline which can be a challenge, though I am grateful to have the support of my peers, the BC Economics Department, and my advisor. This year-long process has taught me a lot about my work style, such as that I work well with deadlines and enjoy collaboration.
Learning this about myself will surely be helpful as I start my full-time position as an Investment Analyst at John Hancock in their Boston office beginning in July 2022."
“The Great Unequalizer: The Impact of COVID-19 Policies on Racial and Ethnic Groups’ Employment Outcomes” (Sanzenbacher)
"After taking numerous economics courses, one thing I knew I wanted to accomplish before graduating from BC was to write a senior thesis. I was interested in many topics, and with the desire to stay in academia and conduct research, completing a senior thesis would fulfill my curiosities but also help me learn more about the research process. The impact of COVID-19 and its multidimensional nature inspired me to further examine the pandemic's impact on different populations, leading my thesis to investigate how COVID-19 impacted different racial and ethnic groups, and whether or not it exacerbated inequality. Writing a senior thesis has been one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences I’ve had during my four years here. Despite some obstacles I’ve encountered, like a lack of available literature and ideal data, and determining the best methodological approach to employ, my thesis has allowed me to pursue my interests, improve my data skills, and engage in a process where I can complete my own independent research. Conducting my own research and writing a thesis has been a valuable experience that has helped prepare me for the future.
After graduation, I’ll be working at Charles River Associates as an Analyst in the Antitrust and Competition practice."
“Disinformation as a Negative Externality” (Wesner (CSOM))
"Writing a thesis has really been the hallmark of my undergraduate experience. Taking econometrics and the theory courses is one thing, but actually being able to apply these conceptual frameworks has proved to me that studying economics, above all, equips you to be a problem solver. Identifying the right problem to solve, however, is much easier said than done. But, it’s this process of discovery, of exploration, and of examination that makes a thesis unique. I was originally stuck in the familiar mold, that a thesis should be centered-around a regression that addresses a purely empirical question; but in reality, economics theses can address any problem — empirical or not. For me, my interests outside of economics led me to my topic, but my background in economics allowed me to approach it critically and practically. My advice to anyone considering a thesis in economics is this: the best way you can fully come to understand what you are now capable of doing is to actually do something. Nobody’s going to do it for you."
“The Social Effect of Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Subsidies” (tentative title) (Sweeney)
"Writing an economic thesis has been a comprehensive experience that has run the spectrum from empowering to frustrating. My thesis has taught me a lot that I wouldn’t learn from standard classes, such as planning and initiative. Whether you are a capable planner or somewhat unorganized (like myself), a thesis requires you to plan, set goals, and evaluate your progress consistently. Moreover, a thesis requires greater initiative than any class because the short-term objectives and the path to get there are ambiguous. Two important lessons I have learned are to be passionate and be flexible. A researcher must be passionate about their topic, and their question or the other aspects decline. An economic researcher must be flexible because the world is imperfect, data may not exist, and maintaining forward progress is essential for project success. Overall, writing a thesis provides many experiences and lessons that reflect the business world and have boosted my confidence to contribute to that world.
I don’t yet know what I am doing after graduation, but I am in the process, so hopefully, I will discover soon."
“Understanding Green Gentrification in Boston: A GIS Approach” (Maxwell)
"Writing a senior thesis has helped me develop connections with faculty and students within the economics department and has served as an exciting outlet for me to explore my academic interests. I like the freedom we are given as students to research topics that closely align with our skills and goals, and I feel well supported by the economics faculty and staff. I have found it enriching to hear and learn from other students about their topics and their struggles while completing their research. Additionally, as a double major in Computer Science and Economics, writing a thesis has allowed me to further explore the connections between my two degrees making me a more confident student in both disciplines. By overcoming challenges throughout this process I feel that I've gained many valuable skills as I enter the professional world.
Upon graduation I will be working as a Consultant at FTI Consulting doing Data and Analytics in their Forensic Litigation and Consulting segment."