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MA Program

Submitted by srtariqu on Wed, 02/19/2014 - 10:55pm

MA Program Details


The MA program at the University of Calgary supplies students with a strong foundation of theoretical and empirical knowledge. Students can also diversify their academic portfolio by choosing their own areas of specialization. Areas of specialization at our Department of  Economics  include, but are not limited to: international trade, environmental economics, industrial organization, and behavioral economics.

We offer two different M.A. programs: Course- Based and Thesis-Based.

Our Course-based MA program is a twelve month program consisting of both course work and a major research project. Approximately 20 students are admitted to this program every year. This program is designed to prepare students for employment in the public or private sector, or to pursue further studies in a PhD program. Recent graduates have taken positions at such institutions as Canadian Pacific, BMO Financial Group, and the Alberta Utilities Commission.

Our Thesis-based MA program is intended for MA students with a greater interest in independent research. In return for a slightly reduced course load, students are required to prepare and orally defend a formal thesis (original research). Students usually complete this program in 12 to 24 months and recent graduates have gone on to work in such institutions as Industry Canada and have earned placement in PhD programs ranging from UBC to Princeton University.

Our faculty continuously receive funding from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council as well as other agencies. Some members of our faculty also hold Tier I and II Canada Research Chairs. Because of this, we can offer our M.A. students ample opportunity to gain research experience at the University of Calgary. Given our large undergraduate base, M.A. students have a very high likelihood of consistently getting a full Teaching Assistantship position each semester.

Our students have access to a plethora of information pertinent to their  research and learning through our libraries which includes textbooks, handbooks and journals in all the specializations that we offer.  We are also home to a federal data centre that permits students to apply directly for their own research agendas. 

We encourage our senior students to participate in a mentoring program for incoming students. If you are anxious about joining our Economics department, coming to the university, or living in Calgary in general, you can request a mentor to help you adjust to the University of Calgary  lifestyle.

M.A. students have access to a number of recreational facilities including a fully equipped gym, swimming pool, and squash courts. Access to such facilities is included with tuition. Our department holds start of semester welcoming parties, Christmas parties and a variety of social events are carried out by our student graduate association.

We invite you to look further into what the M.A. programs can offer you. Any additional questions or concerns can be emailed to

MA Course-based

The standard course-based MA program is a twelve month combination of formal coursework and closely supervised structured research. Students complete two  semesters of course work in the fall and winter terms and must complete no less than seven one semester graduate courses. In addition to the standard seven one semester graduate courses, students are required to enroll in a set of four research methods courses over the course of their twelve  month program of study. These courses are conducted by active researchers in the economics department and are intended to provide structure  and help for students through the process of conducting original research in economics.  The program is capped by a formal research paper which is completed over the spring and summer semesters. Students are required to present their paper at the department’s annual “open conference” held in August.

The typical twelve month program is itemized below.

Prior to the Fall Semester: Students are encouraged to attend a week long “Block Week” course in mathematical economics. This course is intended to be a combination refresher and primer for formal mathematical techniques used at the graduate level in both core micro and macroeconomics courses. This is a non-credit course and no formal grades are assigned.

Fall Semester: Students are required to register in an Advanced Econometrics (Econ 615) , Microeconomic Theory (Econ 657) and a research methods course (Econ 691). Typically, students will also register in a single field course in the fall term.

Note: Students, with the approval of the Graduate Program Director, may replace ECON 657 and ECON 659 with ECON 707/757 and ECON 709/759, respectively.

Note: The department suggests that students register for only three and a half courses in the fall term and four and a half in the winter term. This is due to the workload associated with the required core Micro and Macroeconomics theory courses.

Winter Semester: Students are required to register in Macroeconomic Theory (Econ 659) as well as the second component of the research methods course (Econ 693). Typically, students will also register in three field courses to satisfy the requirement of seven one semester graduate courses (not including the research methods courses).

Spring and Summer Semesters: The spring and summer terms are devoted to individual research and completion of the paper requirement. The atmosphere in the department during these terms is largely informal, and students typically consult with each other on their own individual projects. Students are required to register in the final two research methods courses (Econ 611.55 Spring, and Econ 611.57 Summer) which provide structure and supervision for the independent research. At the end of the summer term, students present their papers at the department’s annual open conference.

MA Thesis-based

The Thesis based MA program is similar to the course based but replaces the closely supervised structured research with a less formal supervision arrangement. Instead of enrolling in the four research methods courses, thesis based students will be expected to find a single faculty member to supervise their research. The research paper requirement is also replaced by a formal thesis. The quality and originality of a formal thesis is required to be higher than that of the course based research paper. Additionally, thesis based students are required to undergo a formal oral thesis defense. Given the increased demands of a formal thesis, thesis based students are required to take six one semester graduate courses rather than the seven required for course based students.

MA Program Admission Requirements

Acceptance to graduate programs at the University of Calgary is competitive.  Success in meeting our minimum entrance requirements does not guarantee admission to the M.A. program.

Applicants must hold or obtain the following minimum qualifications before the Faculty will give consideration to admission:

  • University of Calgary four-year baccalaureate degree or an equivalent degree from a recognized institution. Degrees and grades from foreign institutions are evaluated for their equivalency to those of the University of Calgary.
  • A minimum of four full-year equivalent economics courses with at least a grade of B in each course.  The Department prefers the equivalent of the following courses but is willing to consider applications without them. 
    • ECON 395/495/497- Econometrics
    • ECON 387/389 - Mathematics for Economists
    • ECON 557 - Topics in Economic Theory 1
    • ECON 559 - Topics in Economic Theory II

Course outlines can be viewed at

Applicants deficient in the above mentioned courses, who wish to make up the deficiencies at the University of Calgary, can do so through the University of Calgary Open Studies. As an open studies student, you will be taking the required credit courses without being in a specific program. If you are interested in meeting the course requirements this way, please complete the application for Open Studies and submit it to Enrollment Services. Once you are registered, you may contact the Undergraduate Advisor to obtain permission to register in these courses.

The minimum GPA requirement for the MA program is 3.0 on a scale of 4.0 over the last two years of the undergraduate program

Once students have been admitted to a graduate program at the University of Calgary, they must maintain a B average to remain in the program.  Students receiving less than a B- on any course, or more than one mark below a B- may be asked to leave the program. 

MA Program Funding Opportunities

Funding Opportunities

Students in the department receive funding from a number of sources, including scholarships and positions as teaching and research assistants. This funding depends largely on the student’s academic standing, level of involvement in the department’s research series and to some extent entrepreneurship on the student's part in seeking out funding opportunities. 

MA Program Tuition Fees

MA program tuition fees are set by the university. 

Interdisciplinary Experience

Students who would like an interdisciplinary experience can consider taking the Energy and Environmental Systems (EES) Interdisciplinary Specialization

If interested, please apply direct to economics for admission and then email ISEEE to state your interest and ask for details on admission to the specialization. 

Additional Resources

Visiting Students

If you are a graduate student from another institution, you can take courses or pursue research at the university for credit towards your degree.   Start your application here:

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