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Honours Program

Description of the Honours Program in Economics

The Honours Program in Economics is available to students in the Faculties of Arts and Management, while joint honours programs with Economics are available to students in the Faculties of Arts, Management and Science.

One of the distinguishing features of the Honours Program in Economics is that the core parts and some of the electives in the program consist of courses which are oriented exclusively towards the honours students. Unlike most honours programs in the Faculties of Arts or Science at McGill, the Honours Program in Economics is not differentiated from the Major Program in the same field by the number of courses required of the students, but by the analytical rigour of the courses which form the central part of the requirements for Honours in Economics.

The Honours Program provides a very good undergraduate education for people interested in studying economics and pursuing a wide variety of careers. Upon graduation, some Honours students enter graduate programs in economics in Canada, the United States and elsewhere. Most graduates, however, do other things. Some enter law school or graduate programs in other disciplines. Some enter private business or government. Others work for a year or two, and then enter an MBA program. Students who wish to attend graduate school in economics should take courses in mathematics beyond the requirements of the honours program. Much useful information on graduate school in economics is available here.

Students should consult the Honours Programs handout for full details.


The Honours program in Economics consists of 30 core credits in required courses and another 12 credits in complementary courses.

Math Requirements for Entry into the Honours and Joint Honours Programs in Economics

For any other questions concerning math requirements, please contact one of our Honours advisors located here.

  • Before entering the Honours/Joint Honours Economics programs you must have met a calculus prerequisite of two semesters (terms) of calculus courses. This requirement may be satisfied by CEGEP calculus courses, by International Baccalaureate (IB); French Baccalaureate; A-levels; and Advance Placement (AP) math courses that include differential and some integral calculus. (It is, of course, also met by students who have taken MATH 140 and MATH 141.)
  • If you have not taken two terms of calculus you may NOT enter the Honours program. If you are in the U0 year this is not a problem. Honours begins in the U1 year, so if you are in U0 all you need do is complete the Math requirements in your U0 year. If you are already admitted to U1 and you have not met the calculus prerequisite, then you need to take the Math courses first. This means that you should plan on staying an extra year if you still want to do Honours. Otherwise, it is advisable to choose the Major Concentration in Economics.
  • With the calculus background described in point 1, you may go ahead and register for the first two Honours/Joint Honours courses in economics, ECON 250D and ECON 257D.
  • If the calculus courses you took at CEGEP, or in your IB, French Bacc, A-Levels, or AP courses are NOT deemed equivalent to McGill’s Cal I (MATH 140) and Cal II (MATH 141) calculus courses, you will need to take MATH 140 and MATH 141 in your U1 year alongside Honours Economics courses (ECON 250D and ECON 257D). However, if your calculus is strong enough that you do not need MATH 140, then you may go directly to MATH 141*.
  • With the exception of CEGEP students, equivalence to MATH 140 and/or 141 will appear on your McGill transcript, but probably not before late in August. For CEGEP students CEGEP Math 201-NYA and 201-NYB are deemed equivalent to McGill MATH 140 and 141, respectively. However, CEGEP Math 201-103-RE and 201-203-RE are usually NOT deemed equivalent to McGill MATH 140 and 141. CEGEP students who have taken 201-103-RE and 201-203-RE should take McGill MATH 141 during their U1 year.
  • You will also need to take Linear Algebra (MATH 133) during your U1 year unless McGill has credited you with the equivalent of MATH 133. (CEGEP Math 201-NYC is deemed equivalent to MATH 133.)
  • It is important that students planning to enrol in the Honours/Joint Honours Economics programs meet with an Honours Economics advisor after arriving at McGill in late August. At that time, you can address any questions you may have about your math background and/or what math courses you should take.
  • If you are planning to do a Joint Honours program you will also have to meet with an advisor in the Department/Faculty (e.g Political Science, Finance—Faculty of Management) of the joint discipline.

*To test whether you need MATH 140 before going straight to MATH 141, you may find it helpful to attend the first few classes of MATH 140 and MATH 141 to determine whether taking MATH 140 as a refresher course for your CEGEP, IB, French Bacc, A-Level or AP calculus is needed.

The required courses are:

  • Introduction to Economic Theory - Honours (ECON 250D)
  • Economic Statistics - Honours (ECON 257D)
  • Macroeconomics - Honours (ECON 352D)
  • Advanced Economic Theory I - Honours (ECON 450)
  • Advanced Economic Theory II - Honours (ECON 452)
  • Econometrics I - Honours (ECON 468)

In addition, three credits must be taken from the following courses:

  • History of Thought I (ECON 460)
  • History of Thought II (ECON 461)
  • Econometrics II - Honours (ECON 469)

The remaining 12 credits of Economics courses must be approved by an Honours Advisor. At least 9 of the 12 credits are expected to be at 400 or 500 levels. Note: Credit will not be given for a course towards the honours program if there is a more advanced undergraduate course in the same subject.

Honours Standing

Students are expected to enter the Honours Program in Economics at the beginning of their U1 year. Those who are unsure whether they wish to take Honours or Majors are advised to take the Honours Program since, in general, the transition from the Major to Honours is more difficult than the opposite transition. Majors students who decide to switch into the Honours program must complete all the Honours course requirements. Students may not substitute any Majors course for the equivalent Honours course.

To be awarded a Faculty of Arts Honours degree a student must obtain an overall 3.0 average GPA, a 3.0 average GPA in the required courses in economics, as well as a 3.0 average GPA in all required and complementary economics courses. Each of the above three requirements must be met for Honours standing. Instead of the 3.0 average GPA, a 3.5 average GPA is necessary to receive a First Class Honours degree.

Note: In cases where a student takes a Supplemental Exam in a course, both the original and the Supplemental Exam grades will be counted in the calculation of the GPA and CGPA averages.

The Faculty requires students entering the straight Honours Program to complete an 18-credit Minor Concentration in some field other than economics. For details, see the list of the "Minor Concentrations" and the requirements for these Minors in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Joint Honours

A Joint Honours in Economics and Accounting as well as a Joint Honours in Economics and Finance are available for both BA and BCom students.

Joint honours programs also exist between Economics and a number of other departments in the Faculties of Arts and Science.

All joint honours programs with Economics require the core courses listed under the heading of the Honours Program in Economics, as well as 3 credits from the set of courses in History of Economic Thought and Econometrics (ECON 460, ECON 461 and ECON 469) listed there.

Requirements of the department with which the joint program in economics is taken should be obtained from that department.