Research Opportunities

The Economics Department strongly encourages undergraduates to engage in Economic research during their time at UCSB, a top-tier research university. All research opportunities within the department are only open to students in the Economics or the Economics & Accounting Major. Students may do individual research with a faculty member or participate through one of the programs below.

Departmental Opportunities

Research Fridays

Research Fridays is a program wherein undergraduate students collaborate with faculty members and PhD students on academic research projects. Students are eligible for one unit of Upper Division credit through their enrollment in ECON 199RA.

If interested, please contact Career Connection at or visit the Career Connection office at North Hall 2119.

Researchers with Undergraduates Mentoring Program (RUMP)

The Researchers with Undergraduates Mentoring Program hosts Research Assistants in the Experimental and Behavioral Economics Laboratory (EBEL). The program, which is run by Professor Emanuel Vespa, provides students with the opportunity to assist EBEL faculty with computerized experiments and investigate how human behavior is linked to Economics. Students are eligible for one unit of Upper Division credit through their enrollment in ECON 199RA.

If interested, please contact Career Connection at or visit the Career Connection office at North Hall 2119.

Gretler Fellows Research Assistants

In partnership with the Gretler Foundation, the Department offers the Gretler Fellowship to encourage undergraduates to participate in Economic research. The fellowship will provide Research Assistants with a stipend and a faculty member with research funding. Fellows are chosen in the Fall of each year and are expected to work through the academic year (October-June).

If interested, please contact Career Connection at or visit the Career Connection office at North Hall 2119.

Economic Forecast Project (EFP)

The Economic Forecast Project was established in 1981 to provide the community with information on Economic trends in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura County areas. Each year, the EFP hires undergraduate Research Assistants to help with statistical analysis.

University Opportunities

College of Letters & Science Faculty Research Assistance Program (FRAP)

The Faculty Research Assistance Program allows undergraduates to gain research experience and simultaneously earn academic through the Research Assistance courses 99RA or 199RA. Students who are interested in the program should visit the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities website for more information.

McNair Scholars Program

The McNair Scholars Program prepared qualified undergraduates for entrance to a PhD program in all fields of study. The program aims to increase the number of first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students in PhD programs. For more information, please visit the McNair Scholars website.

External Research Opportunities

American Economic Association Summer & Scholarship Programs (AEASP)

The American Economic Association (AEA) offers a prestigious Summer Training Program and a Scholarship Program to help students develop technical skills and prepare for graduate studies. Students receive two months of training in Microeconomics, Mathematics, Econometrics, and Research Methods with leading faculty. A significant portion of minority Economic PhD candidates in the past 20 years were once graduates of the AEASP Program. For more information, please visit the AEA website.

Federal Reserve Research Assistantships

Most Federal Reserve banks offer Research Assistant Internships and full-time positions to undergraduates. Students will have to apply separately to each bank, which are linked below:

National Bureau for Economic Research (NBER)

The National Bureau for Economic Research offers research positions to undergraduates. NBER is a private, non-profit, non-partisan organization that studies a wide range of topics. Interested students can find more information on the NBER website.

The NBER also provides a forum for other research institutions to post available positions. Many of the available listings are seeking bachelor’s degree candidates, graduate students, or post-docs to assist Economic Researchers in preparing academic papers for publication. Positions typically have an expected duration of one to three years, and typically give priority to candidates who are looking to continue their academic career upon completion of the position. For more information, please visit the Non-NBER Jobs website.

Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) Job Site

J-PAL and its partner organizations recruit for hundreds of positions on a regular basis. Positions may be located at universities, research centers, and non-profit organizations. Recruits will gain experience in field research, project management, data analysis, policy outreach, finance, and administration. For more information, please visit the J-PAL & Affiliates Job Site.

Columbia University Bridge to PhD Program

Columbia University offers a Bridge to PhD Program to increase the participation of underrepresented students in doctorate studies. Students will gain experience in research, academia, and mentoring to prepare for their transition into graduate schools. Scholars who are accepted to the Economics Program will be paired with a mentor in the Economics Department and take part in activities tailored towards PhD programs in the field. For more information, please visit the Bridge to PhD webpage.

National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)

The Research Experiences for Undergraduates supports active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the National Science Foundation. Participants in the program must be US citizens, US nationals, or permanent residents of the US. Some areas of research that may be of interest to Economics Majors are listed below:

Applications will be posted on the Career Connection blog. Before applying to any of the programs, please review the qualifications students need for Independent Study, which can be found in the Undergraduate tab.