Honours program

Daniel Lake

Daniel Lake, JCURA winner 2019-2020

Jamie Emery

Jamie Emery, JCURA winner 2019-2020

William Thomas

William Thomas, JCURA winner 2019-2020

Seyed Sina Seyed-Ali

Seyed Sina Seyed-Ali, JCURA winner 2019-2020

The Honours program, both BA and BSc, offers top economics students a fourth-year experience that includes small classes, increased access to faculty, a stimulating intellectual environment, and the camaraderie of working with a small group of like-minded students.

Economics offers two honours programs. Both the BA Honours and the BSc Honours are excellent preparation for graduate studies in Economics or a related area (e.g. Agricultural Economics, Business, Industrial Relations, International Relations, Law, Public Policy). However, the intent to pursue graduate studies is certainly not a requirement for admission.

The focal points for the program are:

  • Honours seminar (ECON 499 in the Fall and Spring of same academic year);
  • Personal supervision on a research project leading to completion of an Honours Thesis;
  • Two Advanced Theory Courses (ECON 400 and ECON 401).

BSc Honours students are required to participate in all three components. BA Honours students are  encouraged, but not required to take the advanced theory courses.

Honours advisors:

Honours seminar

The centrepiece of the program is a fourth-year Honours seminar (ECON 499), open only to Honours economics students. The seminar is supervised by the Honours Advisors and will meet weekly throughout the year. Other faculty members may also participate occasionally.

The purpose of the seminar is to provide outstanding students in economics with an introduction to conducting research in a cooperative and engaging intellectual environment. We anticipate many of the students who participate will go on to consider graduate work in economics and other fields.

The seminars are devoted to a range of topics including both economic issues and how to write and present research papers. Students are asked to prepare discussions of papers and are expected to contribute to a lively debate of issues.

Part of the seminar is devoted to discussion of progress on students' thesis projects, with students giving each other feedback and advice throughout the year.

Advanced theory courses

In addition to the seminar, BSc Honours students will take ECON 400 (Advanced Microeconomic Theory) and ECON 401 (Advanced Macroeconomic Theory).

Although not required, BA Honours students are encouraged to take these courses (especially if they are interested in pursuing an MA in Economics). The class sizes will be kept small to provide a further opportunity for the sharing of ideas across the cohort of Honours students. Small class sizes allow Honours students greater access to the faculty who teach these courses.

Research project and thesis

Students in the program will write a thesis on a research project chosen in consultation with the Honours supervisors. The thesis is intended to be a substantial paper that furthers understanding in the student's chosen area of inquiry.

Students are supervised by a faculty member with expertise in the area. They also receive advice from their fellow students in the Honours seminar and from the Honours Advisors. The thesis is due in April of the student's final year, and it is presented in the Honours Seminar in a session open to all students and faculty.

Past Honours students' theses and supervisors.

Application and admission

Students apply to the Honours program in their third year of studies. Successful applicants join the Honours Seminar (ECON 499) in the Fall of their fourth year.

Students are selected on the basis of their overall academic performance, their performance within the Economics major, communications skills, and intellectual promise. The students who are admitted typically have high grades in core courses such as ECON 203, 204, 225, 313 and 345 or 365 as well as in a few upper-level courses (e.g. ECON 366, ECON 400-level courses). BSc students should also have high grades in ECON 350, 351,365, 366, and MATH 208.

Interested students should submit a one-page essay explaining why they wish to be admitted to the program and what field(s) of economics they are (currently) most interested in. Specify clearly whether you are applying for the BA or BSc Honours program, and remember to include your student number. Please submit your application electronically to the Honours Advisors at econhnrs@uvic.ca by the end of March. Admission announcements will be made by the end of April.

Honours pro-tips

We compiled these tips by asking former and current Honours students what kind of advice they would give to students who are considering applying for the Honours program. We thank Taryn Blaney, Hector Demarco, Tessa Devakos, Luke Frymire, Emma Kinakin, Bruna Kopic, Daniel Lake, Ben Lukenchuck, Jerome Lyons, Sydney Rowe, Ryan Scott, and Brooklynn Trimble for their thoughtful advice.

General tips (BA or BSc):

  • Be sure to complete most required courses by 3rd year; you do not want to be in too many courses while taking ECON 499.
  • Take some interesting electives so you’re not taking all the required courses at once! Careers in economics will depend on your ability to apply your knowledge to real world problems.
  • Try taking some summer courses. They are super helpful to get ahead or catch-up on degree requirements, or even just to lighten the work load in the fall and spring sessions.
  • Don’t fear having your writing torn apart. This was the most helpful thing I left the honours seminar with: the ability to write scientifically in the style of Economics. 
  • Think of a thesis topic and supervisor early!

Tips from BA Honours students:

  • Take courses that are part of a sequence (e.g. ECON 103, 203 and 313; 104 and 204; and 245, 246 and 345/365) as fast as you can, so that you don’t have to go back to review the material so often.
  • Even if you don’t take ECON 400, ECON 350, or ECON365 you should take MATH 208 as an elective.
  • Think about taking CSC in your second year in your program, so that your programming skills are fresh in your mind when you need them in your 3rd or 4th
  • Many BSc required courses are prerequisites for 300- and 400-level elective courses. Go through the course list and figure out which electives are of interest to you early on. Then make sure to take the prerequisite courses such as MATH 208, ECON 350, ECON 365 etc. early enough to take your favourite electives in your last year.
  • A sequence that works well is to take ECON 345 in 3rd year, and then take ECON 365 and 366 in 4th year during ECON 499. Most of the required MA metrics classes are on the applied side, and any papers you undertake are almost certainly applied econometrics.
  • Anyone going to grad school should do ECON 400. Pretty much all MA micro classes are the same and follow ECON 400 except with some more challenging functions.
  • Most Honours students decide to do empirical research. BA Honours students should seriously consider the econometrics specialty route.
  • Make it a priority to take MATH 208 and ECON 365 and 366. This is helpful if you are planning on pursuing an MA in Economics.
  • On the math side, anyone going to grad school needs to do ECON 350 and 351. It’s good advice to take as much Math as you feel you can do well in.

 Tips from BSc Honours students:

  • Taking the harder math sequence (i.e. MATH 100 or 109 instead of 102; and MATH 101, 200, and 211/110 instead of 208) can come in handy as prerequisites for ECON courses in 4th year. However, grades are important for other things (e.g. scholarships), so be realistic about your strengths and abilities.
  • Take ECON 345 before ECON 365/366 – the background context helps a lot, and although the courses are similar, they are different enough that they will provide a larger understanding of econometrics.
  • If at all possible, take the ECON 365 and 366 sequence before your Honours year. If you want to go to grad school, the things you learn in 365/366 set you up well for master’s-level econometrics.
  • Taking further econometrics courses beyond 366 (or even the statistics course in time series analysis) would have been really helpful. It would be really applicable to a lot of avenues of academic research.
  • Take a little more math in the first two years. I took Calculus I & II (MATH 100/101), Matrix Algebra (Math 211), and Logic and Foundations (Math 122). All were good foundational courses that I think paid off.
  • Work hard early on in the first 3 years so that 4th year Honours is less difficult. I recommend Math and lower level ECON requirements (103, 104, 203, 204, 225, 245, 246) be completed by the end of 2nd year so that 3rd year can be set up as the student's "most challenging.” In 3rd year I took (and recommend people take if they can) ECON 313, 350, 351, 365, 366, and two of the three BSc Honours ECON 400-level electives.
  • Take 350 in the summer between 2nd and 3rd year if it is offered. This lightens the load and also frees up a slot for a course such as Competition I (which is a prerequisite for Competition II later on).
  • Take at least one 300-level ECON course in the second semester of your 2nd year – it saves you from having to take multiple 300-level courses in one semester later on, which can be difficult and much more stressful!