1997 study ranked the Williams economics department first among economics departments at national liberal arts colleges based on research publications. A 2008 study of citations to faculty research at selected economics departments finds that Williams does better than the other top liberal arts colleges included in the study, and compares favorably to well-regarded mid-tier research universities. We have an active seminar series where department members and economists from other institutions present their research. The department maintains three working paper series, including a general departmental series, and specialized series on development economics and topics in the economics of higher education.

The department is part of Northeast Universities Development Consortium (NEUDC), a major forum for the field of development economics. The location and sponsorship of the annual NEUDC conference rotates among the organizing institutions: Williams College, Boston University, Brown University, Cornell University, Harvard University, Tufts University, and Yale University.