Research Opportunities

Research Opportunities

Research opportunities for economics majors, though not as plentiful as in other disciplines, e.g. the natural sciences, do exist.

While you probably will not be able to generate Nobel-Prize-winning research during your undergraduate career at Penn, as a major in economics or mathematical economics you might write a paper that is publishable in an undergraduate economics journal. One of those journals is published by Penn’s Undergraduate Economics Society

Here are links to the papers

These journals were written for the Econ 4900 (formerly 300) Honors Thesis course and won the Lawrence R. Klein Prize for Outstanding Research in Economics by an Undergraduate (an annual Student Award) in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 respectively.

As part of the year-long ECON 4900 Honors course students are required to write a thesis which typically involves an empirical analysis. Students formulate their own research questions, gather data, conduct an econometric analysis, and write a research paper summarizing the results. In addition, some of the advanced 4000-level (formerly 200-level) courses might require you to write research-style term papers.

Some faculty members hire undergraduate students as research assistants (RAs), but you will face strong competition from graduate students. Since the days when journal articles needed to be photocopied in the library have long passed, most of the RA assignments involve the collection and/or analysis of economic data. Thus, a background in statistical analysis and computer programming is very useful. Empirical analysis in economics often utilizes software packages such as EVIEWS, GAUSS, MATLAB, R, or STATA. Some projects involve coding in FORTRAN or C. Doing well in an advanced course, taught by a professor, increases your chances of getting hired as an RA by that person.