Research in Economics for Undergraduates

This worksheet is designed to be a guideline for students to gauge their interest in research. Complete this worksheet and bring it to an advising appointment to discuss research with an advisor.


This webpage can help you determine a student’s initial interest in research and give them tools to help start a conversation with their advisor. For specific advice related to pursuing research, please meet with an advisor. Declared economics students can set up an appointment online. Find specific instructions of how to do so by visiting our Advising page.

Undeclared students in economics should visit drop-in hours, also listed on the advising page.

If a student were to consider doing Honors in the Major for Economics research would be embedded in the curriculum. Following the Math Emphasis track within Economics, taking a specified writing course, and writing a thesis under the direction of a faculty member is a part of the honors curriculum here at UW-Madison. More specific information is found here, but all discussions about honors should begin with an academic advisor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some commonly asked questions about the logistics of research at UW-Madison. Follow up with an advisor for more information.

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Is research required as an economics major?

No. Research is not a required part of the economics undergraduate curriculum.

Can I earn credit for my research?

A student can receive credit for their work through the means of a Directed Study. Find out more information about earning credit through a Directed Study by reading this page, here.

Are there summer research opportunities?

Often, summer research opportunities are limited. Summer should not be considered a likely time to pursue collaborative research. Talking with a professor about their upcoming academic plans can assess the likelihood of summer opportunities.

Who is qualified to do research in economics?

A student must be a declared economics major, have completed the intermediate courses in macroeconomics and microeconomics, and hold a 3.0 GPA in economics overall. Successful completion of advanced economic and math coursework is strongly recommended. Typically, one of the advanced economics courses is econometrics. Read over the Directed Study page for more information.

Who should I talk to about research?

Academic advisors can help delineate student interests and make suggestions regarding preparation, faculty, timing, and format of research. Visiting an advisor should always be  the first step to determine if research is a route to consider. After talking with academic advisors a student may wish to speak with a TA, professor, or even an alumnus. For reference, economic professors and their general areas of study can be found here.

How do I know what makes a good research question?

Talking with an academic advisor about economic interests, intentions, and academic performance will be the first step. After a discussion with an advisor, a student might be referred to a specific professor from the Economics Department. A professor listing and their general areas of study can be found here.