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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 learn how to do research and then 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.


The Econ 191A/B class for the 2018-19 academic year will take place in the Winter and Spring quarters.  We had an Information Session on November 6, 2018. Professor Bharadwaj said to find a research topic by looking for a question that needs to be answered.  A question that isn’t too broad, that could be answered with the help of empirical research and preferably on a microeconomic topic.  He said your research will not be unique research but will use research done by others with your specific question addressed. You will do your research to answer the question that you pose.

He put a lot of emphasis of the quality of writing that will be expected from the students.  The proposal must be 3-5 pages long and include an overview of the topic you wish to explore and the question you would like to ask and find the answers for.  In the proposal, he would also like to see the types of data you anticipate using (even though you are not expected to know how to do research yet, just some ideas).  He also would like you to have read some academic journals on your subject and include those in your proposal.  

How to Apply

  1. Complete a 3-5 page proposal to include the information mentioned in the above paragraph.
    1. Submit the proposal in PDF format to by :
                                                                           Tuesday, November 20th at midnight.

Selection to the course will be based on the proposal you submit and your academic history.  Since this is an honors class, a student must have a 3.5 GPA along with a clear and concisely written proposal. Selection to this course is limited.

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


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 deadlin

Research Assistants

Research Assistants

Undergraduate Research Assistants work with faculty, or advanced graduate students, on their research projects.

If you are interested, please complete the information below. Be sure to press submit, after entering all of the requested information.

If a faculty member, or graduate student, is interested in working with you, they will contact you directly.


Contact Information

First Name *
Last Name *
UCSD email address *
Phone number
Year of graduation *
Major *
Are you proficient in any language other than English? If so, please list the language(s) and indicate whether you are proficient in speaking, writing and/or reading the language.

Microeconomics courses taken

Econometrics courses taken

Other relevant courses taken, including economics electives (if any)

Faculty previously worked with (if any)

Software familiarity *


Programming and web development familiarity*


Research areas of special interest (if any)

Preferred types of work (if any)

Faculty you are particularly interested in working with (if any)

Desired hours / week*

Available to work starting on...*

Available to work until...*


UC San Diego's McNair Program

Are you interested in pursuing a Ph.D? Are you considering a career in research or university teaching? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you should think about applying for admission to the UC San Diego McNair Program. 

Learn about UC San Diego's McNair Program, which helps low-income, first-generation college students prepare for doctoral study.

If you are interested in the McNair Program, please first see our Vice Chair of Undergraduate Education, Dr. Melissa Famulari, for details. Vice Chair's Office Hours and contact information is available here.