Admissions Frequently Asked Questions

General Admissions Questions

May I apply if my undergraduate degree is not in economics?

An Honours B.A. in Economics is the normal prerequisite for admission to the M.A. program. However, if you have a high standing in any other undergraduate discipline and also have adequate preparation in Economics and Mathematics, you may be eligible for admission. The minimum preparation is a full year of intermediate macroeconomics, microeconomics, and statistics, two semesters of introductory calculus and one semester of linear algebra.

If your education has been interrupted or if you do not have an undergraduate or graduate degree in Economics from a Canadian university, you must take the Graduate Record Examination (General Test) and arrange for your scores to be sent to us. Note that the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) cannot be substituted for the GRE. McGill University’s institutional code is 0935. The Department of Economics’ code is 1801. Please visit the GRE website for more information.

I will not have finished my Bachelor’s/MA degree by the application deadline, can I still apply?

Yes. Many students are currently in the process of finishing either their Bachelor’s degree or MA. In this case, you will need to submit current transcripts which will show that you are in progress. You will be evaluated based on what you have completed thus far.

If you are accepted into the program, you will then have to provide proof of graduation/completion of degree as well as updated transcripts.

How long should the Personal Statement be, and what specific aspects/qualities you wish to know about me in the Personal Statement?

The personal statement should be roughly one page long, and you should give some information about your background (which economics courses you have taken) and briefly explain why you want to study economics.

Can you review my transcripts and determine whether I qualify to apply to the program?

No. We do not do preliminary evaluations. If you wish to be evaluated for acceptance into the program, you must apply. You may review the Educational credentials and grade equivalencies on the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies to see how your degree will be evaluated for equivalency.

How do I know if I need to submit proof of English proficiency?

Since English is the primary language of instruction and communication at McGill, you must demonstrate an adequate level of proficiency in English. Please visit the English language proficiency website to determine if you must submit proof of English proficiency test scores.

Do you offer a part-time program?

We offer only full-time September admission. Incoming students should plan to be in Montreal by mid-August.

What undergraduate courses are prerequisites for admission to the MA and PhD programs?

To enter the MA or PhD programs you must have taken at least the following:
(a) two terms of calculus (differential and integral calculus, including constrained optimization methods, functions of several variables, partial derivatives, constrained optimization using the method of Lagrangian multipliers and Riemann integration);
(b) one term of matrix algebra (rank, inverse, eigenvalues, eigenvectors and quadratic forms);
(c) statistics: a full-year course in statistics from an economics or mathematics department.

What are the actual performance requirements to have a good chance of being admitted to the graduate program at McGill?

The minimum acceptable CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average) is 3.0 out of a possible 4.0, which is equivalent to “B” on a letter scale. The University assesses degrees earned outside Canada to determine if they are equivalent to a McGill degree based on the International Degree Equivalency Fact Sheets.

Due to the extremely competitive nature of our programs, students entering the program have CGPA’s above the 3.0 minimum outlined by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Do I need to contact a prospective supervisor ahead of time?

No. You will be assigned a supervisor once accepted into the program. The Admissions Committee makes all decisions on admissions applications.

Can I upload updated transcripts after the deadline?

Yes. Updated transcripts can be uploaded after the deadline.

How can I check the status of my application?

Applicants must check their application status on the online application system 


Qualifying Year Questions

May I do a qualifying year?

Yes. Graduate applicants who do not have an adequate background in either economics or mathematics may be admitted to the Qualifying Year (QY).

QY students take three full-year (September-April) Honours undergraduate level courses:
ECON 250D1/D2 Intro to Econ Theory: Honours
ECON 257D1/D2 Economic Statistics-Honours
ECON 352D1/D2 Macroeconomics - Honours
and either a fourth year-long course or two semester-long courses.

Substitutions for the core economics courses are possible in special cases. Students considered by the Admissions Committee to have an inadequate mathematics background must take one or two semester-long mathematics courses, most commonly MATH 223 Linear Algebra and multivariable calculus MATH 222 Calculus 3. Students whose ultimate objective is a PhD should take MATH 261 if they have not already done so.

To enter the MA from the Qualifying year program, a student must earn a Grade Point Average of at least 3.2 in the program approved by the QY academic advisor, and a minimum grade of B in all courses. Where mathematics courses are included in a Qualifying Year student's program, the requirement of a minimum grade of B applies to those courses as well. A student may be in the Qualifying Year program for only one year.

Neither the University nor most granting agencies provide financial support for QY students.

The qualifying year is not listed as an option on the online web application, what do I do?

You should apply for the MA non-thesis, the admissions committee will decide if you should be admitted to the Qualifying Year program instead. The Qualifying Year program is not a degree program.

If I am admitted into the qualifying year, will I automatically be admitted into the MA program the following year?

No. QY students must apply to the MA program.


General Program Questions

Where can I find more information about MA and PhD program requirements?

Please review our Graduate Programs page for detailed information on the four different MA’s we offer, and the PhD program.

For information on the admissions process please see Admissions.

How long is the MA program?

Residency requirement for the MA degree: Three full-time terms of residency, one of which can be the Summer Term. Students are expected to complete the MA requirements in one calendar year.

How long is the PhD program?

Students typically complete the PhD program in five to six years. It will vary depending upon subfield and specialty.


Funding Questions

What funding is available at McGill for incoming graduate students?

Economics Department. Financial assistance from the Department of Economics most often comes in the form of a teaching or research assistantship. Every year a few outstanding applicants are awarded scholarships by the Faculty of Arts or Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Neither the University nor most external granting agencies provide financial support for Qualifying Year students.

For Canadians. The Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) provides both master’s and doctoral funding to Canadian students on a competitive basis. If you are eligible, please apply. The deadline for applications varies depending on your current or most recent university attended but is normally in September. The Fonds de recherche du Québec sur la société et la culture (FQRSC) provides master’s and doctoral funding for Québec residents.

Other. The Fellowships and Awards Section of the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website provides information on many sources of support for Canadian and non-Canadian students, both new to McGill University and continuing. Further information on these and other sources of funding can be found in the Graduate Fellowships and Awards Calendar and on the GPS website. GPS can also be reached by email.

Is there any financial aid for international students? Will the aid cover the tuition?

Non-Canadian students can draw on a wide variety of fellowships and other forms of assistance. Several large, multidisciplinary programs fund studies in Canada by students from abroad. These include the Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Program; the Government of Canada Awards to Foreign Nationals; and the Technical Assistance Scholarships and Fellowships and Canadian Fellowship Program for French-Speaking Countries, funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). You must apply for assistance under these programs through your home country’s government, usually via the Ministry of Education. Applications sent by individuals directly to Canada are not considered.

Every year a limited number of students from countries or regions that have signed a tuition fee agreement with the Province of Quebec may be exempted from the higher tuition fees normally required of students from foreign countries. For further information visit the Quebec Ministry of Education, Leisure and Sports (MELS) website. As of 2010, the following countries and regions have an agreement: Algeria, Bavaria, Belgium (some members of the Communauté française and of the Flemish Community), Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Catalonia, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Germany (a certain number of holders of Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst scholarships [DAAD]), France, Gabon, Guinea, Haiti, India, Israel, Italy, Korea, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Niger, Peru, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, Tunisia, and Vietnam. You must apply to your home country government, usually the Ministry of Education, which makes an official recommendation for students to be exempted from higher fees.

The Fellowships and Awards Section on the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website provides information on many sources of support for Canadian and non-Canadian students, both new to McGill University and continuing. Further information on these and other sources of funding can be found in the Graduate Fellowships and Awards Calendar and on the GPS website. GPS can also be reached by email.


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