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Student Research

Student Research

There are a variety of ways for students to become involved in economics research while at Swarthmore. Students can work with faculty members during the summer on research projects of mutual interest. Students can initiate their own summer research project. Outside of Swarthmore, students can arrange to work as summer research interns for the Federal Reserve, World Bank, Urban Institute, or other public policy organization. 

Students who would like to become involved in economics research while at Swarthmore or after graduation should be aware that many such positions require the student to have a basic or advanced knowledge of econometrics and statistical software. Students can acquire these skills in Economics 31, Economics 35, and Economics 135.

Research projects play a central role in selected classes and research seminars, including ECON 035 (Econometrics), ECON 091C (Research Seminar: Public Policy) and ECON 135 (Advanced Econometrics).  Department faculty also support a limited number of part-time student research assistantships each semester.    

Most department faculty work with one or more full-time student researchers during the summer, on projects that advance the faculty member’s research.  Students can obtain grant funding for these opportunities from the Social Science Division, which also supports summer opportunities with economists from other institutions.  The Department circulates information on faculty summer research in early November each year, and encourages students to be in touch with individual faculty well in advance of the Social Science Division’s summer grant application process in early February. 

The Social Science Division also provides summer grants to students who have initiated their own research project or will be undertaking an unpaid research internship at an outside organizations.  These grants require a letter of support from a member of the relevant department at Swarthmore.  Students interested in these options should seek the support of a member of the department well in advance of the early–February application process. 

A basic knowledge of econometrics and statistical software is highly relevant to many research positions in economics.  Students who would like to become involved in economic research while at Swarthmore are therefore advised to satisfy the department’s statistics requirement as early as they can conveniently do so. ECON 035 (Econometrics) is not a core requirement but provides valuable preparation for more technically demanding positions.

Advanced research skills are highly valued by outside economists and institutions seeking post-graduate research assistants.  Students interested in applying for post-graduation research assistantships should give serious consideration to gaining summer research experience while at Swarthmore, and to building their empirical skills in ECON 035 and ECON 135.