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Planning and designing your degree

Submitted by Erin Booker on Mon, 10/29/2018 - 4:27pm

Economics is a craft learned and honed over time. Unlike disciplines like sociology or political science, where courses can be taken piecemeal and a la carte, economics degrees are structured deliberately, intentionally, and sequentially, so that higher-level courses build upon knowledge and skills developed in lower-level courses.

Understanding and structuring your degree

Submitted by Erin Booker on Mon, 10/29/2018 - 3:16pm

First year — Establish a foundation

First year is a time for finding your feet and exploring new things. Step into economics scholarship with our principles courses, solidify your data fluency stills by taking calculus and statistics, and start thinking about if you'd like to pursue a minor or a double degree so you can plan your courses strategically.

Here's what you need to take (and when you should take it)

  • ECON 201 — Introduction to microeconomics (fall term)
  • ECON 203 — Introduction to macroeconomics (winter term)
  • MATH 249 — Introductory calculus* (fall or winter term)
  • STAT 213 — Introduction to statistics I (fall term)
  • STAT 217 — Introduction to statistics II (winter term)

Thinking about honours?

  • MATH 211 — Linear algebra (fall or winter term)

MATH 211 isn't required for the traditional major, but is it a requirement for the honours program. If you're considering the honours program, take MATH 211 early in your program—in your first or second year—to keep your options open.

* Did you take Math 31 in high school? Take MATH 265 instead.

Remember —

In order to complete an economics degree, you'll need to complete between 42 and 60 units in economics for the traditional major, or between 60 and 72 units in economics for the honours degree.

When deciding which other courses to take, it's a good idea to think strategically about what you want to learn and if you want to pursue a minor or a double major in addition to your economics program.

Second year — Develop economic intuition

In second year, you'll take on the four intermediate theory courses, which form the theoretical heart of our program. These are important, and help you to establish a bedrock of economic intuition that you'll carry with you throughout the rest of your career.

Here's what you need to take (and when you should take it)

  • ECON 301 — Intermediate microeconomic theory I (Fall term)
  • ECON 303 — Intermediate macroeconomic theory I (Fall term)
  • ECON 357 — Intermediate microeconomic theory II (Winter term)
  • ECON 359 — Intermediate macroeconomic theory II (Winter term)

ECON 395 can be completed in your second or third year; however, there are advantages to completing it sooner rather than later. Not only will it give you a deeper understanding of the application of statistics in economics, it will also open courses to you that have ECON 395 as a prerequisite. The Concentration in Applied Energy Economics capstone courses are a prime example — if you'd like to take ECON 427 in the fall term of your third year, be sure to complete ECON 395 in your second year. ECON 395 is often held in the spring and/or summer terms.


Remember —

ECON 301 and ECON 357 are the most important courses in the economics program. Take them early, take them seriously, and utilize the resources available to you. These courses will enable you to develop and deepen your economic intuition, and they are likely going to be like no other class you've taken before. Try not to get lost in the math, it's job is to illuminate the theory—understand the theory and the grades will follows. If ECON 301 doesn't go well, you can repeat it; however, take your second attempt very seriously, because third attempts are granted only under exceptional circumstances, and without a grade of at least a C- in ECON 301, students are unable to progress in the program.

As ECON 357 is so fundamental to the program, it's the main prerequisite for most upper-level (400- and 500-level) ECON courses. Be sure to take it in your second year so you can space out your upper-level ECON requirements across your third and fourth years — otherwise, your final year might be a bit intense. 

Because ECON 357 and ECON 359 are so important and require such intellectual heavy lifting, we don't offer them in the spring and summer terms.

Third year — Explore your options and create opportunities

Third year is a great time to start exploring subfields that you might want to specialize and develop expertise in, which means tucking into your ECON options coursesIf you've completed ECON 357, you could also start taking upper-level ECON courses, particularly opportunity stream courses (see below for more info). 

If you haven't completed ECON 395 yet, be sure to take it in your third year.

If you'd like to complete the Concentration in Applied Energy Economics capstone courses in your third year, be sure to take ECON 395 prior to the fall semester of your third year, as it is a prerequisite for ECON 427.


Remember —

You can think of the 300-level ECON courses as being for breadth and exploration — they introduce you to fields in economics like money and banking, and the economics of health care.

The 400- and 500-level ECON courses require knowledge and application of intermediate economic theory, so you can think of these as being for depth and application. (That's why they require ECON 301, 303, 357, and/or 359 as prerequisites, so you can apply and build upon what you learned in those courses.)

Fourth year — Apply and deepen your knowledge

By fourth year, you should be hitting your stride—and your upper-level (400- and 500-level) ECON requirements. This is a great time to pursue opportunity stream courses


Remember — 

Students sometimes put off taking their upper-level ECON requirements until their last year or even term, which can make scheduling (and their course load) really difficult.

As ECON 357 is the prerequisite to most upper-level ECON courses, be sure to take it early enough in your program that you can space out your upper level ECON courses. We often offer at least one 400-level ECON course in the spring and summer terms.

Opportunity streams

As an economics student, you know how important it is to weigh costs and benefits and to maximize the utility of your resources—planning and designing your degree should be no different.

Why are you taking the courses you're taking? 

What will they enable you to do?

Which skills, knowledge, and opportunities will they afford you?

We've created a suite of opportunity streams to help you choose your courses more strategically and effectively. While these won't result in formal designations on your transcript, they will give you specialized expertise that will make you more valuable to prospective employers.



Submitted by Erin Booker on Mon, 10/29/2018 - 4:50pm

Industrial organization and regulatory economics


  • ECON 471 — Industrial organization
  • ECON 477 — Regulatory economics
  • ECON 571 — Competition policy


Money, banking and finance


  • ECON 341 — Money and banking
  • ECON 355 — Canadian Public Finance
  • ECON 541 — Monetary theory


  • Develop expertise in money, banking and finance
  • Become eligible to join the Department of Economics' team for the Bank of Canada's Governor's Challenge

Business economics and decision making


  • ECON 311 — Computer applications in economics
  • ECON 491 — Managerial and decision economics
  • ECON 499.57 — Business applications in economics


  • Develop expertise in business economics and decision making
  • Gain marketable skills in modelling and forecasting
  • Learn material until recently restricted to students in the Haskayne School of Business

Public economics


  • ECON 355 — Canadian Public Finance
  • ECON 401 — Public sector economics: Expenditures
  • ECON 403 — Public sector economics: Taxation
  • ECON 405 — Political economy of public policy
  • ECON 431 — Labour economics


  • Develop expertise in public economics

Natural resources & environmental economics


  • ECON 377 — Economics and the environment
  • ECON 475 — Economics of natural resources
  • ECON 487 — Environmental economics


  • Develop expertise in the economics of the environment and natural resources

Behavioural and experimental economics


  • ECON 373 — Game theory and strategic thinking
  • ECON 479 — Experimental economics
  • ECON 481 — Behavioural economics


  • Develop expertise in the field of behavioural economics

* Honours capstone courses


  • ECON 387 — Introduction to mathematical economics I
  • ECON 389 — Introduction to mathematical economics II
  • ECON 495 — Econometrics I
  • ECON 497 — Econometrics II
  • ECON 557 — Topics in economic theory I (microeconomics)
  • ECON 559 — Topics in economic theory II (macroeconomics)


  • Deepen your data fluency skills and theoretical knowledge
  • Shadow the honours program to strength your application and gain a competitive advantage for graduate school


Remember — 

You don't need to be in the honours program to take these courses — just be sure to have completed ECON 301 (and preferably ECON 357) and MATH 211 before taking ECON 387.

Students typically take ECON 387 and 389 in their third year, and the four remaining capstone courses in their fourth year.

* Concentration in Applied Energy Economics capstone courses


  • ECON 427 — Energy economics and policy
  • ECON 493 — Empirical energy economics


  • Gain real-world skills and knowledge that will make you stand out in energy-orientated job interviews
  • Deepen your knowledge of energy economics without pursuing the full concentration


Remember — 

You don't need to be in the concentration to take these courses — just be sure to have completed ECON 357 and 395.

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