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Honours

Our honours program gives top economics BA and BSc students a fourth-year experience that includes small classes, more access to faculty and a stimulating environment.

Program components

  • 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 3 components.

BA honours students are encouraged but not required to take the advanced theory courses.

Reach out to our honours advisors.

Honours advisors 2023-24

Honours advisors 2024-25

Do you work through your problem sets and think, what if we changed this assumption? Do you wonder if you could apply the methods and models you studied in your ECON courses to address a question that intrigues you? In ECON honours, you can explore your own questions by doing an independent research project.  

The honours program is an amazing opportunity to lift your economics game to a new level. Conduct original research under the supervision of a faculty advisor. Learn advanced research methods that aren’t covered in regular coursework. Gain access to small courses restricted to top students. Write your thesis alongside a cohort of like-minded students who share ideas and support each other through the process in the honours seminar (ECON 499).
 
Honours economics students are regularly accepted into top graduate programs in Canada. Some have gone on to top programs around the world, including Berkeley, London School of Economics and Princeton. Spending your fourth year doing honours is a great way to explore economics at a higher level, connect more closely with faculty and set yourself on a course to succeed in grad school.

The main part of the program is a fourth-year honours seminar. The seminar is supervised by the honours advisors and meets weekly throughout the year.

The seminar covers a range of topics including 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.

In addition to the honours 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. Small class sizes give honours students greater access to the faculty who teach these courses.

Students in the program write a thesis on a research project chosen 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 other honours seminar students and the honours advisors.

The thesis is due in April of the student's final year. It is presented in the honours seminar in a session open to all students and faculty.

Past honours students' theses and supervisors.

Apply to the honours program in your third year of studies. Successful applicants join the honours seminar (ECON 499) in the fall of their fourth year.

We select students based on overall academic performance, performance within the economics major, communications skills and intellectual promise.

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.

To apply, write a one-page essay. In the essay, explain why you want to join the program. Also, mention which area(s) of economics interest you the most right now. Please indicate whether you are applying for the BA or BSc honours program. Don't forget to include your student number.

Please email your application to the honours advisors by April 15. Admission announcements will be made by mid-May.

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.

  • Be sure to complete most required courses by third 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 workload 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!

  • 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 third or fourth year.
  • 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 third year, and then take ECON 365 and 366 in fourth 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.

  • 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 fourth 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 fourth 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 second year so that third year can be set up as the student's "most challenging.” In third year, I took (and recommend people take if they can) ECON 313, 350, 351, 365, 36 and two of the three BSc honours ECON 400-level electives.
  • Take 350 in the summer between second and third 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 second 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!