Undergraduate Research Opportunities for Economics Majors

From all accounts, getting into research is one of the more rewarding experiences students can have in college. Research can open doors - academic or career - that you hadn't imagined before. Delve into a topic and seek answers to questions of great interest to you. Establish an easy camaraderie with one of the faculty or graduate students. Here's how...

Engage in Faculty-led Research

URAP. Apprentice with a faculty member in the Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (URAP). The URAP program provides opportunities for you to work with faculty on some cutting-edge research. Working closely with faculty, you can cultivate professional relationships, enhance your research skills, and deepen your knowledge and skills in areas of special interest. Applications are online. For a complete listing and description of research projects, check out the URAP website or stop by 2412 Dwinelle Hall.


Engage in Graduate Student-led or Faculty-led Research

If you are a declared economics major, watch your email early each term for a department bCourses announcement offering you an opportunity to sign up to let graduate students and faculty in the Economics Department know that you are interested in working as a research assistant.  Whatever your current skill set, there may be an opportunity for you. Those students who have completed Econ 140/141 are in high demand, so be sure to take econometrics as soon as possible.  A very few projects are funded and can pay; most are available as independent study (Econ 199) credits. The database created from your applications is shared with faculty and graduate students who are looking for undergraduate students to assist in their research projects.  Submission of the form to receive Econ 199 credits is due by Friday of the 3rd week of classes. 

The Economics Department program for undergraduate students who work as a research assistant for graduate students is the Undergraduate Student Researcher Mentoring Program. As part of this program, undergraduate RA's receive academic and career mentoring from the graduate student they are working with, have opportunities to interact with other undergrads who are working with graduate students that term, and have the opportunity to prepare and present a poster summarizing the research at an end-of-term poster session. The opportunity to indicate interest in the mentoring program is on the application form, the link for which is sent via the bCourses list for declared majors early each term.

When you enter your information, you are able to signal your interest in up to three projects.  Signalling your interest lets the grad student or faculty member know that you are likely to respond positively if you are offered the opportunity to interview.  Additional projects may be developed after the call for applicants is issued, so you may hear from others who are conducting additional research projects beyond those listed in the application.


Design Your Own Research

Please note that these courses require a significant level of departmental approval. See links provided for important details.

Independent Study Courses. Think about your own research, perhaps as an independent study. In such cases, a faculty mentor can help you stay focused and develop skills in asking and answering research questions. You can receive credit for your independent research by enrolling in one or more units of Econ 199. Courses vary from one to three units, depending on the extensiveness of the project, and are only offered on a Pass/Not Pass basis. During the regular academic year, forms are due the Friday of the 3rd week of classes. For additional details, visit the undergraduate advisors.

Honors Thesis. About 5 to 10% of Economics majors write an Honors Thesis. If you have a strong interest in a particular topic and would like the experience of researching and writing a long research paper, consider writing an Honors Thesis. Students who write an honors thesis work independently with a faculty sponsor. In order to qualify for honors, Economics majors must have 1) a 3.3 or higher GPA in all their UC coursework; 2) a 3.5 or higher GPA in thier upper-division Economics courses at UC Berkeley; and 3) complete an honors thesis, as noted by a passing grade in Econ H195B. For specifics, please refer to the Honors website or speak with an undergraduate advisor.

The Haas Scholars Program. The Robert & Colleen Haas Scholars Program funds financial aid eligible, academically talented undergraduates to engage in a sustained research, field-study or creative project in the summer before and during their senior year at Berkeley. Each year, twenty Haas Scholars are selected from all disciplines and departments across the University on the basis of the merit and originality of their project proposals. For more information, call (510) 643-5374, go to the website, or visit the program office at 2414 Dwinelle Hall.

Identify Sources of Funding

Various units on campus offer or administer grants, scholarships, and awards for purposes ranging from: introductory and senior thesis research, study abroad and research related travel, community and university service projects, and merit based awards acknowledging outstanding scholarship. For more information about these funding opportunities, check out the listings below.

Publish Your Research

The Berkeley Undergraduate Journal is dedicated to publishing the academic work of undergraduates from the Humanities, Social Sciences, and related fields at the University of California, Berkeley. Essays are selected on the basis of academic content, general interest, and clarity of writing. Papers should be 15-60 pages long, on topics that would be of interest to the generally well-educated reader. For submission instructions, applications to the all-undergraduate Editorial Board, or further information, call (510) 664-4410 or email buj@berkeley.edu.

Issues in Political Economy is edited and refereed by undergraduates and publishes essays by undergraduates. This journal is published by Elon University and the University of Mary Washington.

Undergraduate Economic Review is edited by undergraduates and publishes essays authored by undergraduates. It is based at Illinois Wesleyan University.

The Michigan Journal of Economics, founded in 1979, is the oldest undergraduate economics journal in the country. The MJE provides an opportunity for outstanding undergraduates interested in economics to have their papers published. Furthermore, it provides undergraduates with models of how to write economics papers. It encourages students to become interested in economics by providing examples of what is studied within the discipline.


Summer Opportunities for Undergraduates

American Economic Association Summer Training and Scholarship Program
Since 1974, the American Economic Association has sponsored the Summer Training and Scholarship Program (AEASP). The AEA Summer Training Program, currently hosted at Howard University, seeks to prepare talented undergraduates for doctoral programs in Economics and related disciplines, by offering a unique opportunity for students to gain technical skills in Economics and conduct research with prominent faculty.  All US citizens and permanent residents are eligible for scholarship assistance. Preference will be given to applicants who, by their background, life experience, and scholarship can show they will bring greater diversity to the field and who also demonstrate financial need. The purpose of the Summer Training Program is to provide a strong basis for the professional success of individuals from diverse backgrounds who will inform the profession and broaden the scope and impact of high quality research agendas that are pursued in economics and in related fields.

Information about upcoming conferences, events and fellowships through AEA for current undergraduates can be found here.


Post-Baccalaureate Research Opportunities

Pursuing research after completing an undergraduate degree is a great option for students who would like to gain more experience prior to graduate school. Post-baccalaureate research opportunities can be found through the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and PREDOC: Pathways to Research and Doctoral Careers. For research opportunities outside of the NBER, click here and follow @econ_ra on Twitter.

Visit the American Economic Association (AEA) for information about conferences, events and fellowships for post-bacs.

For additional research opportunities visit the Office of Undergraduate Research.

Last updated 5/3/2021