What defines excellence as an undergrad econ major?

I was talking to a few friends in CS and they seem to be very clear on excellence for them - straight As, widely used/well built programs, and a solid understanding of the math behind CS/algos (for interviews). However, I noticed that I am unclear about what excellence as an Econ major is.

Getting straight As is obvious, but I can't think of much more beyond that (perhaps a good senior thesis?). Yet, many people have straight As (or almost straight As) and asking for a groundbreaking paper as a senior thesis seems to be a bit much. Thus, how would I differentiate excellent undergrad econ achievement from merely good undergrad econ achievement?

  • 1
    Out of curiosity, how does one measure "widely used/well built programs"?
    – NelsonGon
    Sep 1, 2020 at 8:52
  • 2
    @NelsonGon Widely downloaded is perhaps an indicator of widely used. Well-built can surely be evaluated by any professional, just like a carpenter can evaluate furniture.
    – user2768
    Sep 1, 2020 at 12:05
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    @NelsonGon user2768 is right but there are also some crossovers (ex. forking a repo - probably useful and well enough built)
    – user760900
    Sep 1, 2020 at 14:47

1 Answer 1


Excellence demands outstanding performance, topping the class. Mastery of the subject is required. Best marks are likely, but not necessary; good marks suffice. Outstanding performance goes beyond marks. For example, a broad understanding of a discipline's application to the world, being able to apply knowledge to real problems, a thesis fit for publication (i.e., advancing domain knowledge). A good student will achieve good marks, perhaps the best marks; an excellent student will achieve something beyond marks, such as the examples listed.

  • So beyond top marks and understanding the material, the only thing to set apart excellent from good is simply the thesis? Sep 1, 2020 at 14:50
  • @qme91143yuoia I gave three examples. There are more.
    – user2768
    Sep 1, 2020 at 14:58
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    I mentioned this in a previous answer, but people downvoted it and I realized it might not be as relevant as it is. You want to gain relevant experience for success as an econ major. This could be in the form of internships or relevant research experience. Something that makes you stand out from the crowd.
    – Daveguy
    Sep 1, 2020 at 20:56
  • @Daveguy +1 Excellent point, that's something that could be added to my list of examples
    – user2768
    Sep 2, 2020 at 4:31

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