Economics Department

Junior Year: Preparing for the Thesis

Students following the optimal sequence of courses will have completed the core courses in micro and macro theory as sophomores, opening up the entire range of economics electives for them as juniors. You are encouraged to use the junior year to explore broad topics of interest by taking two or three economics electives. The junior year is also the time to complete your methodological foundation by taking an econometrics course (if you have not done so earlier).

Junior Qualifying Examination

The junior qualifying exam is normally taken in April of the junior year. Juniors should watch for a sign-up sheet appearing mid-semester (usually sometime in February) on the door of the department's administrative assistant (Julie Shannon in Vollum 112). Information about the qual will also be announced on the department's informational email list econseminar. Students writing a spring-fall thesis, those studying abroad, and others with unusual circumstances may take the exam in November or August.

The exam has two parts. One part of the junior qual is a set of three one-page thesis-topic summaries. These need not be full-blown proposals, but should be specific ideas that you think might be interesting to work on for a thesis.

The second part of the qual consists of written answers to questions on micro and macro theory. The faculty will prepare a set of eight questions in each subject in March of each year and distribute these to all students registered for the qual. On the date of the qual, students will be asked to write answers to three of the eight questions (selected by the faculty).

Students who perform satisfactorily on all parts of the qual will be advanced to senior standing. Those who show promise of eventually passing, but are deficient on one or more parts are often given a “conditional pass.” The condition is that the students prepare more extended essays on the exam questions on which their answers were inadequate, to be submitted to the faculty at the beginning of the next semester. Students receiving a conditional pass will be notified of the questions that require rewriting and of what is expected in the rewrite.