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Economics Undergraduate Research

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The Department of Economics encourages undergraduate students to conduct research or complete an independent study project with faculty to gain a better understanding of economic concepts and add to their experience for a future career or graduate studies. We have compiled information on opportunities to add to your economics degree here at UIUC.

research symposium

Econ Research Symposium

Every Spring we have a research symposium where students may present their research to gain experience and feedback. Please check back in the future for a date.

Past Economics Research Symposiums

The Department of Economics held their first annual Economics Research Symposium on April 28, 2015 and have been continuing them every April since. They are a valuable experience in presenting research work for students within economics. Research projects were from independent studies, research courses, or any class where the student worked on a project, paper, or conducted research. Some of the research was in proposal form, or will be ongoing, while others were completed projects.

View Pictures from the Research Symposium

2016 Presentations:


2015 Presentations:

Estimating the Price Elasticity of Electricity: Evidence from Municipal Electric Aggregation (Gautam)
U.S. Personal Income Emperical Evidence (Lou)
Measuring the Success of Soy in Northern Ghana (Highfill)
Online Change Detection with Applications to Internet Security (Tang)
How did Chinese Yuan Appreciation Affect Export Diversification? (Ao)

Malaysian Tax Reform: GTS and Others (Aziz, Roslan, & Baharuddin)

Digital Auctions in MMO's (Beer)

A Comparison and Prediction of Economic Growth in China and India after Major Economic Reforms (Bao)

Research Guides & Workshopseconresearch

View our Econ Research Guide to find out more about conducting research and learning valuable skills that compliment an Economics degree.

During the semester, we provide workshops on finding/conducting undergraduate research (please see our events section for any upcoming research related events). We encourage you to read the information on this page and view the different resources provided.
View our Slideshow: "Economics: Finding and Conducting Undergraduate Research"

Below are just some of the workshops offered on this campus that we recommend to students:
Library, University of Illinois:
How To Guides (Data, Research, Writing, etc.):
R (Introduction):
Resources in Economics:
Data & Statistical Sources:
ATLAS Workshops for students in LAS: R, SAS, SPSS, Stata
Market Information Lab (MIL) at UIUC: Bloomberg, Capital IQ, Excel, Matlab, & Morningstar Direct (go through– free for students): Big Data, MATLAB, R, SPSS, SSL, Excel, Access, A+, etc.

Writing Guides:

Economics Independent Study and Faculty Research

Independent Study

Completing an Independent Study Project is one of the most popular options for undergraduate students. Students work with faculty on a project they have both agreed upon that fits the student's interest. The faculty member will oversee and guide the student through the different parts of the independent study from the initial proposal to the completed project. Independent studies my include: research, collection of data, data analysis, writing, and literature reviews. Not all independent study projects are papers, there are many different outcomes that may be approved by the overseeing faculty, including: presentations; curricular development (class lesson); surveys; community outreach or projects; multimedia essays or projects; interdisciplinary projects; etc. Please see 'Finding an Independent Study/Research Opportunities. '

Faculty Research

Students may assist faculty with any of their ongoing research. The faculty research varies as they may be working under a research grant, gathering information for a book, writing journal articles, or various other types of research. Mmost research opportunities are secured directly by students who have built a relationship with faculty in the Department (see section below). You may gain an idea of the economics faculty and visiting faculty research interests on our website and also by taking classes with them and discussing during office hours.

Finding Independent Study or Research with Faculty

As opportunities become available, the undergraduate studies office emails the information to all economics students (contact our office if you are not on the mailing list). Our office works with the faculty and collaborates with different departments to secure as many opportunities as possible for students, but the majority of these opportunities are secured by the student directly with faculty. The undergraduate office does not post a list of faculty searching for research assistants as they vary during the semester.

In order to approach faculty to do an independent study or work with them on research, we have the following recommendations:

  • Understand what it means to do an independent study or research (attend a workshop, read through the information on this page, view the slideshow, or look online for information).
  • Put together a proposal or list of possible research areas you would like to discuss with a faculty member- make sure to read articles and/or current events about the topic so you know what has already been done and how you will be able to add to the field of research.
  • Approach faculty you have taken one or more courses from and whom you know outside of class (attended office hours or other projects). Ensure you are building connections with faculty on campus during your time on campus. Attending talks, engaging in class discussions, and learning more about their research or interests helps you understand the field of economics better and may lead to great opportunities.
  • Set up a meeting to speak with the faculty member in person (remind them you have taken their class and briefly explain what you would like to do- why you would like to meet).
  • Faculty may not have their independent research or they may not have the time to oversee a project, so it is good to have different options in mind (do not be offended if they are unable to oversee you, you want someone who will be able to take the time to provide you with good feedback and guidance).

Once you have secured an independent study or research, make sure that you

  • Follow-up with the faculty member to ensure that you are on the same page about the project, timeline, feedback/guidance they will provide, requirements, outcomes, and final project- we recommend typing up a research proposal that includes all of this information.
  • Sign-up for ECON 199 or 399 (see section below) and include the research proposal.
  • Schedule frequent meetings with the faculty member to receive feedback on your progress.
  • Be proactive about sending them any questions, drafts, information throughout the semester (this is your project, they should not need to reach out to you).
  • Present your project (with guidance from your faculty advisor) at research symposiums or consider submitting to a journal.
  • Include your research on your resume/CV and see if the faculty member would agree with being your reference for jobs/graduate school (make sure that you provide them with information on where you are applying and provide your updated resume/CV).

ECON 199 and 399 Independent Study (Research Course)

Students may take an independent study course any semester (fall, spring, summer).

Independent Study hours count towards current semester hours, and overall graduation hours (please see Independent Study Limitations below).
If taking an ECON independent study, students must work with a Faculty member within the Economics Department (other departments have independent study courses as well). Students are responsible for securing the independent study with the Faculty on their own, unless it is coordinated through the undergraduate office (see section above).

  • Students should work with Faculty to decide what is required for the Independent Study and you will need to include this information on the form.
  • A paper or project, research, or other pre-determined work.
  • Independent study forms should be picked-up from the undergraduate receptionist in 214A DKH and filled out completely, then returned to the office.
  • Student will receive a CRN to add the course.
  • Student must select the number of hours listed on the approval form.
  • Please see information below on the credit hours available and grading options.
  • Undergraduate Economics office holds onto all Independent Study forms.
  • If student adds past the add deadline, a late add form is needed as well which will be turned into the student's college (each college has a different form, so please ensure you get the correct form from your college).
  • Economics Students who successfully complete an ECON 399 course are eligible for graduation with distinction as long as they fulfill the other criteria.
  • Recommended by ECON 399 Faculty Member to graduate with distinction.
  • Receive 3.25 Overall UIUC GPA and 3.5 UIUC Economics Major GPA.

ECON 199

  • Credit: 0 TO 5 hours.
  • Approved for both letter and S/U grading. May be repeated.
    • If taking for a grade, students must take between 1-5 credit hours.
    • 0 hours must be S/U grading.

ECON 399

  • Credit: 0 TO 9 hours.
  • Independent study course covering topics not treated by regular course offerings.  
  • This class does not satisfy departmental graduation requirements.
    • Does not count as advanced hours.
    • Does not count towards 30 hours needed in Economics.
  • Approved for both letter and S/U grading.  
    • If taking for a grade, students must take between 1-5 credit hours.
    • 0 hours must be S/U grading.
  • May be repeated.  
  • Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing. ECON 302 required as prerequisite.


  • No more than 18 hours of independent study credit may count towards graduation.
  • Only 12 hours of 199 credit can be applied to the total 18 semester hours.

Other Campus Research Offices

Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) is run through The Office of the Provost with a committment to enhancing and expanding undergraduate research opportunities. We encourage you to visit the website and read out various opportunities, and if you are involved in research currently, you may find information on presenting at conferences or receiving funding.
OUR is guided by the philosophy that all Illinois undergraduate students should learn about current disciplinary research, take part in research discussions, and be exposed to research experiences in their regular coursework. Furthermore, where practical, an advanced research experience should be among the capstone options in all major programs of study. Undergraduate research opportunities should be designed to support the pedagogical goals and the research mission of the University.

Research as Students at Illinois (RSI) helps explain to students how to get involved in undergraduate research on campus! They will walk you through how to narrow down your research focus, find potential professors to work with, and what to expect once you find a lab.  
For more information, find them on Facebook: