Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate students are encouraged to seek out research opportunitites within the Department through coursework, as well as on campus through the Academic Enrichment Programs, and Research Experience and Applied Learning (REAL) Portal.

These opportunities supplement and enhance coursework, provide a chance to participate in ongoing research in the Department, and foster collaboration with faculty (helpful for obtaining letters of recommendation).

Departmental coursework related to research include ECON 191A-B: Senior Essay Seminar and ECON 199: Special Studies.

ECON 191A-B: Senior Essay Seminar 

These classes give students with superior records in the Department of Economics an opportunity to write an original research paper. Enrollment is limited to seniors who have completed their microeconomics and econometrics core course requirements, earned typically a 3.5 or above GPA in their upper-division economics courses, and who show promise for conducting original research.

These courses are requried for those who wish to graduate with the "highest distinction" honors designation on their diploma.

How to Apply

  1. Complete a short research topic proposal that represents your research work plan, and indicate why the topic is of interest.
  2. Submit the proposal to kescobedo@ucsd.edu by the specified submission date (electronic copies only).

There is no penalty if you decide later to depart from your original research plan.

Selection to the course will be based on research originality. If the class becomes full, your proposal, overall record, and possible interview with the instructor will determine admission.

Below is a list of titles of representing the various topics of previously submitted papers:

  • The Effects of High Frequency Trading
  • Effects of Offshoring on U.S. Income Distribution
  • The Economic Effects of Bidding to Host the Olympics: An Analysis of the Changes in the Tourism Sector
  • Calories vs. Fat: Effect of calorie posting in UCSD
  • Microfinance as a Poverty Alleviant: Have we given it too Much Credit? An Analysis of Variance in Welfare Outcomes
  • Scarring of Graduating during a Recession across Different Skill Groups
  • Capturing Risk-Premiums in Major League Baseball Contracts: An Analysis of player variance in performance and the subsequent effect on player compensation
  • The Application of Crowdsourcing on Active Portfolio Management
  • Matching In The Labor Market With Signaling
  • Does the local provision of public goods affect an American’s willingness to pay for the mitigation of climate change (a global public bad)?
  • To Donate or Not to Donate- A Preference Space Spatial model for Public Charity Sector

You can examine some of the more successful papers written in previous years. More recent successful papers can be reviewed in Sequoyah Hall, 245.

ECON 199: Special Studies

Special Studies courses provide the opportunity to explore a particular topic in greater depth. The course may be used for upper-division Economics elective credit (Pass/No Pass) if taken for four units, but not if taken for two units. The topic, frequency and nature of meetings with the faculty member, and method of assessment are all determined in advance with the faculty member.


  • Completion of at least 90 units of undergraduate study.
  • Cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better.

Helpful Hints to Obtaining Faculty Support

  • The topic is not one already covered in a course.
  • You have taken the classes that are related to your topic.
  • You ask faculty who might have an interest (see faculty profiles) and know something about your topic (typically the faculty who teach the classes related to your topic).
  • You have done a brief search of the economics literature on your topic (look for articles written on your topic on EconLit or JStor for example).

How to Apply

  1. Discuss with a faculty member the possibility of a Special Studies project in the faculty's field of interest.
  2. If the faculty member agrees to working with you, print the Special Studies 197, 198 & 199 enrollment application from Triton Link.
  3. Complete sections I and II of the form and bring it to the Undergraduate Advising Office, Sequoyah Hall room 245.
  4. Upon final Department approval, take the form to the Registrar's Office to enroll in the course. Please note that this needs to be done by the second week add deadline.