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25+ Research Ideas in Finance for High School Students

Finance, often referred to as the lifeblood of the business world, is a dynamic field that delves into the allocation, management, and utilization of funds. If you’re a high schooler with a penchant for numbers, analytical thinking, and a curiosity about the economic world and how money makes the world go round, then you should strongly consider pursuing a research project in finance. It is a field with an abundance of theory and plenty of opportunity for even beginners to research core concepts and contribute to the application of financial theory.

In this blog, we present 25+ research ideas across various subdomains within finance that you could consider exploring.

How should you go about pursuing research in finance as a high schooler?

Ideally, you should narrow down on which aspect of finance you’re interested in, as it is a vast field with a lot of depth. You should try to find a topic that allows you to either help solve an existing problem in the field, or where your effort both expands your knowledge while contributing to the larger body of research on the topic. Once you've finalized your topic, decide your methodology, presentation of results, and of course be especially aware of any ethical considerations.

Topic 1: Personal Finance and Financial Literacy

Personal finance is the art and science of managing one's money, something that people of every age struggle with. Your work in this topic will explore the importance of financial literacy, budgeting, and saving, and also equip you with skills that will serve you for a lifetime.

Good to have before you start: Basic understanding of money management and interest in personal financial growth.

Some potential topics:

1. Budgeting for Young Adults: Understand the principles of budgeting and its significance for financial independence.

2. Credit Cards - Boon or Bane?: Explore the advantages and pitfalls of credit card usage among young adults.

3. The Importance of Saving Early: Research the power of compound interest and the benefits of starting savings early.

4. Financial Apps for Teens: Investigate the effectiveness and safety of financial apps targeted at younger demographics.

Ideas contributed by Lumiere Mentors from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Cambridge.

Topic 2: Stock Market and Investments

The stock markets go beyond just the buying, selling, and trading of stocks - they are the lifeblood of global trade. By venturing into this topic, you'll gain insights into how companies raise capital, how stocks are valued, and the strategies investors employ.

Good to have before you start: A foundational understanding of economics and a keen interest in market dynamics.

Some potential topics:

5. Basics of Stock Trading: Learn the fundamental principles behind buying and selling stocks.

6. Portfolio Diversification: Understand the importance of spreading investments across various assets.

7. Behavioral Finance: Explore how psychological factors influence investment decisions.

8. Cryptocurrencies and the Future of Finance: Delve into the world of digital currencies and their impact on traditional finance.

Ideas contributed by Lumiere Mentors from INSEAD, Washington University, and Rutgers.

Topic 3: Banking and Financial Institutions

Banks and financial institutions play a pivotal role in the global economy. They are the guardians, and repositories, of currency, and often the orchestrators of national monetary policy. This topic will introduce you to the inner workings of these institutions, their functions, and their significance in the financial ecosystem.

Good to have before you start: Basic knowledge of economic systems and interest in institutional finance.

Some potential topics:

9. The Role of Central Banks: Understand the functions and influence of central banks on national economies.

10. Digital Banking Revolution: Explore the rise of online banking and its implications for traditional banking systems.

11. Microfinance and Financial Inclusion: Investigate the role of microfinance in uplifting underserved communities.

12. Banking Security and Cyber Threats: Delve into the challenges and solutions related to securing financial data in the digital age.

Ideas contributed by a Lumiere Mentor from Harvard University and Georgetown University.

Topic 4: Corporate Finance and Business Valuation

Corporate finance delves into how businesses manage their financial resources. If you are interested in the practical applications of finance in a corporate setting, then these topics will help you understand how companies make investment decisions, manage risks, and determine their value.

Good to have before you start: Familiarity with business operations and a keen interest in corporate decision-making.

Some potential topics:

13. Capital Budgeting Techniques: Learn the methods businesses use to evaluate potential investments.

14. Risk Management in Corporations: Explore the strategies companies employ to mitigate financial risks.

15. Mergers and Acquisitions: Understand the financial implications and motivations behind corporate mergers.

16. Business Valuation Methods: Delve into the techniques used to determine the worth of a business.

Ideas contributed by a Lumiere Mentor from Yale University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and INSEAD.

Topic 5: International Finance and Global Markets

In an interconnected world, understanding international finance is crucial. No country or economy operates in isolation, and the smallest of financial policy changes can have a ripple effect through nations. This topic will introduce you to the complexities of global financial markets, exchange rates, and international investment strategies.

Good to have before you start: A grasp of macroeconomics and an interest in global economic dynamics.

Some potential topics:

17. Exchange Rate Dynamics: Explore the factors influencing the fluctuation of currency values.

18. Global Financial Crises: Understand the causes and consequences of major financial meltdowns.

19. Emerging Markets and Investment: Investigate the potential and challenges of investing in developing economies.

20. Trade Wars and Financial Implications: Delve into the economic repercussions of trade disputes between nations.

Ideas contributed by a Lumiere Mentor from Stanford University.

Topic 6: Real Estate and Property Finance

Real estate finance focuses on the financial aspects of acquiring, developing, and managing property. With rising populations and climate change, the availability of land is reducing and its usage becoming more contested. Researching this topic will provide you insights into property valuation, investment strategies, and the role of finance in the real estate sector.

Good to have before you start: Basic understanding of property markets and interest in real estate development.

Some potential topics:

21. Mortgages and Home Financing: Understand the principles behind home loans and their impact on property markets.

22. Commercial vs. Residential Real Estate: Explore the financial dynamics of different types of real estate investments.

23. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs): Delve into the world of REITs and their role in property investment.

24. Sustainable Real Estate Development: Investigate the financial implications of green and sustainable property development.

Ideas contributed by a Lumiere Mentor from Pennsylvania State University.

Topic 7: Financial Ethics and Regulations

The financial world is governed by a set of ethics and regulations to ensure fairness, transparency, and integrity. The last two decades have seen both the breaches and the reinforcement of financial regulations, and the scrutiny on them is greater than ever in the wake of recessions and inflationary periods. This topic will introduce you to the moral dilemmas in finance, the importance of ethical behavior, and the regulations that keep financial markets in check.

Good to have before you start: Interest in law, ethics, and a keen sense of justice.

Some potential topics:

25. Insider Trading and Market Manipulation: Understand the ethical concerns and legal implications of unfair trading practices.

26. Financial Scandals and Their Impact: Explore major financial scandals and their repercussions on global markets.

27. Regulatory Bodies in Finance: Delve into the institutions that oversee financial markets and ensure their smooth operation.

28. Ethical Investing and Social Responsibility: Investigate the rise of investments that prioritize social and environmental impact.

Ideas were contributed by a Lumiere Mentor from Boston University, the University of Southern California, and Washington University in St Louis.

Finance by its very nature is a solid field of research where there is both plenty of data and enough opportunity to apply it. Any research you attempt in it will inevitably equip you with knowledge, skills, and insights that are invaluable in today's globalized world. Whether you aspire to be a savvy investor, a financial analyst, or simply wish to manage your finances better, the world of finance has something for everyone. Dive deep, ask questions, and let your research shape your academic and personal growth. Happy researching!

Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you’re looking for the opportunity to do in-depth research on the above topics and more, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.

Image Source: Unsplash

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