University of Chicago

Expanding Diversity in Economics:
A UChicago Summer Institute

Expanding Diversity in Economics (EDE) is a University of Chicago Summer Institute designed to identify and support talented undergraduate students from a broad range of backgrounds interested in the study of economics. Our goal is to diversify the pool of students majoring in economics, who may go on to a graduate program of study, or a career drawing on this important skill set.

The Diversity Challenge in Economics

There is little diversity among economics majors compared to other fields. Women account for 28.4 percent of the nation’s economics majors, according to a recent study, while just 14.7 percent of economics majors are Black, Hispanic, or Native American. Diversity is important because it can inform research questions and lead to otherwise unanticipated answers. A broader range of perspectives will enhance the field’s contributions to public policy and society.

Expanding Diversity in Economics Summer Institute

An important step in tackling this diversity challenge is to encourage more college students from a broad range of backgrounds to study economics at the undergraduate level. It is vital that the economics profession improves its outreach to students early in their academic career. The goal should be to excite students about the many ways the study of economics can have an impact on society, and to do so before students have already chosen other undergraduate majors.

Through the EDE Summer Institute, BFI’s aim is to attract extraordinary students from colleges and universities around the country who would not otherwise consider studying economics — and to get them excited about this important area of study through exposure to some of the most innovative faculty in the field. Each year, BFI accepts approximately 40-45 participants to the EDE Summer Institute, who engage in daily lectures and skill-building coursework as well as other activities to promote networking. Participants are exposed to a range of economic topics taught by a broad group of faculty. The EDE Summer Institute also promotes a mentoring network, linking participants with faculty for guidance and support and providing opportunities for ongoing research experience during the academic year.

For students accepted to the EDE Summer Institute, BFI provides a stipend of $1,200. Participants who are Pell Grant recipients receive a stipend of $2,400. BFI covers costs of travel and housing for Summer Institute participants for on-campus programing.

EDE Summer Institute Areas of Focus

The EDE Summer Institute covers three main areas of study drawing on the expertise of University of Chicago faculty:

  1. Microeconomic Inquiry. This course provides exposure to concepts, experiments, and data and quantitative aspects of microeconomics and price theory. Participants are introduced to economic theory, then use experiments and data as testing agents, before moving into advanced components of experiments. They dive deeper into firm level aspects of economic theory, including the labor and human capital side of markets.
  2. Analyzing and Exploring Data. This course provides an introduction to univariate and multivariate linear regression and its uses in econometrics. Participants will draw a sharp distinction between structural (or causal) and reduced form (or descriptive) uses of linear regression. Participants are instructed in the use of the programming language “R” to complement the more theoretically oriented.
  3. Using Economics to Answer Big Questions. An interactive speaker series with University of Chicago Economics scholars and other leaders in the field introduces participants to cutting-edge research and insights on a range of issues, including climate change, poverty and inequality, and global trade, among others.

View the list of faculty and speakers who presented at the 2021 EDE Summer Institute.

2021 EDE Cohort

From a pool of more than 200 applications, 45 participants were selected from 31 institutions for the inaugural cohort. The cohort GPA average was 3.78 on a 4.0 scale and included 24 freshmen, 17 sophomores, and four juniors, all of whom have expressed interest in learning more about the study of economics. The 2021 cohort included 33 women and 12 men, with 53% of participants self-identifying as Black or African American, and 22% as Hispanic or Latinx. Seventeen participants were Pell Grant recipients and 17 were first generation college students. More information about the inaugural cohort can be found here.

Watch the Recap Video

Ongoing Research Opportunities

As part of the EDE Summer Institute, BFI provides select opportunities for participants to engage in ongoing research projects with faculty.

Research Assistant Program

Participants may apply for a competitive research assistant program to work with UChicago faculty on research projects during the academic year. This research experience is invaluable to participants applying to graduate programs in economics, or for internships or research assistantships with other organizations or academic institutions.

Other Opportunities

  • BFI fosters an ongoing network and communication thread with each class of participants.
  • Over the years, we will create a broad network of EDE Summer Institute alumni who can connect virtually over time (via tools like Slack and Zoom) or during occasional BFI-hosted in-person events.
  • BFI also offers support to EDE Summer Institute alumni as they pursue graduate schools or jobs that engage their study of economics.

Additional Information and FAQ

Applications for the 2022 EDE Summer Institute will open in December 2021.

Who Should Apply?

Students ages 18 and older who are enrolled in an undergraduate degree-granting institution. The ideal candidate will be early in their college career (e.g., freshman or sophomore), have an interest in learning more about economics, and have an aptitude for quantitative coursework. Our goal is to recruit a diverse group of students from a broad range of backgrounds.

Eligibility Requirements

Successful applicants will:

  • Have a strong interest in learning more about economics
  • Be enrolled in an undergraduate degree-granting program
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale)
  • Have taken coursework (high school or college) in calculus, statistics, economics, or other quantitative fields


I will graduate from high school and have been accepted to college for the next academic year. Am I eligible to apply?

No, the Summer Institute is not open to rising freshmen. Students who have already completed at least one semester of an undergraduate program are eligible for the Summer Institute.

I’m a freshman and have not yet declared my major. How will I know if I’m a strong candidate for this program?

This program is designed for undergraduate students who are early in their college career and may not have declared a major. The most important factors are an interest in economics and an aptitude for coursework that is quantitative in nature and relies on strong analytical skills.

I will receive my BA by the summer. Can I still apply?

The Summer Institute is designed for undergraduate students who are early in their college career (e.g., freshman or sophomore) and are considering the study of economics. It is not open to students who have already completed their undergraduate degree.

How many students will be admitted to the EDE Summer Institute?

Each year, BFI accepts approximately 40-45 participants to the EDE Summer Institute.

Do I need to commit to the full three weeks of the program?

Yes, we expect students who accept an invitation to participate to stay for the full session, unless they have special circumstances they wish us to consider.

How much will this summer program cost?

There are no program fees for Summer Institute participants. Participants are awarded a summer stipend of $1,200. Pell Grant recipients receive a stipend of $2,400. The University of Chicago will cover the costs of economy-class domestic travel, housing, and meals, including several planned outings for the group if the Summer Institute is held in-person.

I am an international student. Can I apply?

Yes, the application process is open to all early career college students interested in learning more about the study of economics. BFI will not sponsor visas and will only cover costs of economy-class domestic travel for future in-person programming.

Will I receive academic credit for this summer program?

You will not receive academic credit from the University of Chicago for this program.

If I am not from a traditionally underrepresented group, can I still apply?

Yes, everyone is eligible to apply, regardless of gender or ethnicity.

What is the deadline to apply and how will I know if I have been accepted?

Please stay tuned for the summer 2022 application.

Please contact Quentin Johnson at with additional questions about the EDE program.

If you are interested in supporting EDE, please contact Erin Adcock, BFI’s director of development, at

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