Undergraduate Research

A group of people walking around and observing poster boards at a poster session

The Department of Economics and Heller-Hurwicz Economics Institute values the importance of undergraduate research at the University of Minnesota. This program offers the opportunity for undergraduate economics majors to work with world-renowned faculty and graduate students in the field of economics. Past undergraduate research students have assisted faculty members with topics related to healthcare, public pension policy, retirement financing, minimum wage and the resolution of state court cases. Each undergraduate research assistant will: 

  • Conduct research work for 10-15 hours per week
  • Receive a wage of $15.00 per hour for hours worked
  • Present their research findings to alumni and the general public, either at a poster session or an online seminar
  • Attend monthly meetings with the other undergraduate RAs
  • Attend meetings as required by the faculty member

To be eligible for this opportunity, applicants must meet the following criteria: 

  • Be declared economics majors of junior or senior status
  • Demonstrate exceptional interest and academic ability in economics
  • Applicants who reach the final round may be asked to participate in brief interviews

Aside from the requirements, here are some tips to make you a competitive applicant:

  • Complete or be enrolled in an introductory econometrics course (ECON 4211 or ECON 4261)
  • Complete or be enrolled in an introductory programming course (CSCI 1103 or CSCI 1113 or CSCI 1133)
  • Have experience working with statistical software packages, such as STATA or R

Previous research projects

Curious what it would be like to work as an undergraduate RA? Watch the video to hear from some of our 2020-21 participants about their research projects and the experience overall.

The cohort of 2021-22 participants presented their research at a poster session. Read about their research topics and view their posters with findings on a broad range of topics.

This experience will prepare you for a wide variety of careers after graduation, including:

  • Graduate school in economics, statistics, etc.
  • Data analytics
  • Quantitative analytics
  • Public policy

Application Process

Please fill out the application form form before the priority deadline of May 10. Advising staff and faculty members review applications and invite top candidates to interview.

If you have questions, contact econadv@umn.edu.

"The technical skills I've developed in my research this year are one of the main reasons I got a summer internship. Research is also a great way to meet professors, learn about opportunities, and generally get more involved in the department. I'm very glad I was offered the opportunity and would recommend applying to anyone interested in empirical economic work."

Alex Becker, Class of '19
Undergraduate Research Assistant for Professor Ellen McGrattan 
"My research experience has been so rewarding and I highly recommend it. My favorite part has been building relationships with the great faculty we have at the U of M and learning to solve problems independently. It is also great for getting more exposure to the what the research process is like. If you are passionate about economics, get involved!"
Sarah Brown, Class of '19
Undergraduate Research Assistant for Professor Amil Petrin
"Through my experience as an undergraduate research assistant, I have been exposed to the processes and methods that need to be undertaken in order to perform sound economic research."

Wesley Janson, Class of '18
Undergraduate Research Assistant for Senior Fellow Kurt Winkelmann
"Thanks to this research opportunity, I have the confidence and skills needed to apply to graduate school. The faculty and graduate students we work with are supportive, approachable, and concerned with equipping us with tools to be successful long after we move on from the research program. If you are looking to create meaningful relationships with faculty, contribute to real-world economic research, and gain technical skills, you should certainly apply!"

Grace Brang, Class of '18
Undergraduate Research Assistant for Professor Ellen McGrattan