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Master of Arts in Economics

The Masters of Arts in Economics (MA) is a one-year program that provides a thorough grounding in modern economics, blending both theoretical and empirical methods. Graduates of the program normally pursue one of two career tracks. One track is immediate placement in a position as an economic analyst. Graduates regularly take up positions in a variety of public- and private-sector organizations. A second track is advanced study of economics, usually at the PhD level.

M.A.Master of Arts in Economics

The Masters of Arts in Economics (MA) is a one-year program that provides a thorough grounding in modern economics, blending both theoretical and empirical methods. Graduates of the program normally pursue one of two career tracks. One track is immediate placement in a position as an economic analyst. Graduates regularly take up positions in a variety of public- and private-sector organizations. A second track is advanced study of economics, usually at the PhD level.

A fundamental goal of the program is to prepare students for such advanced study of economics. For this reason, the program emphasizes rigorous training in microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory, and econometrics, while enabling students to take elective courses in their areas of interest, including fields such as labour economics, health economics, public economics, industrial organization, population economics, monetary economics, international economics, and international finance.

The following courses are compulsory for MA in Economics students: 

  • a one-term course in microeconomic theory
  • a one-term course in macroeconomic theory
  • two one-term courses in econometrics (one each semester)
  • a short course in mathematical methods

In addition to these compulsory courses, students take four electives.  Many of these elective courses provide students with an opportunity to undertake a substantial economic project of their own, most commonly but not exclusively, an original empirical economic analysis.  Such work is supported by research facilities affiliated with the department, such as the Public Economics Data Analysis Laboratory (PEDAL), the Statistics Canada Research Data Centre (RDC), and the McMaster Experimental Economics Laboratory (McEEL).  Students in the M.A. in Economics program who have successfully completed ECON 761 may apply for the Co-op option associated with this degree program.

In order for your online application to be considered complete, please ensure the following items have been uploaded prior to submission:

  • Letters of reference
  • Scanned Copies of Official Transcripts - **Official transcripts are required only when offer has been made and accepted
  • Statement of Interest
  • C.V. (Curriculum Vitae)
  • Application Fee
  • **English proficiency requirements (if applicable)  Originals must be sent directly to the Department of Economics

A student whose native language is not English, and who has not completed an English-language degree in a predominantly English-speaking country, must submit a TOEFL or IELTS score. The minimum acceptable TOEFL score for the Dept of Economics is 580 (237 on the computerized exam; 92 iBT); the minimum acceptable IELTS score is 7+.  Please note, the minimum requirement for the Dept of Economics is higher than the School of Graduate Studies minimum of 6.5. 

Two Letters of Reference

A complete application includes two confidential letters of recommendation from instructors most familiar with your academic work. McMaster University uses the Electronic Referencing System. You must enter the email addresses of your referees as part of the on-line application form. The system will automatically send an e-Reference request on your behalf to the referees.

Academic Transcripts

Applicants must provide one official transcript of academic work completed to date once offer has been accepted sent directly from the issuing institution.  

Statement of Interest

All applicants must provide a one-page statement (12pt font, single-space, 1-inch margins) explaining why you would like to pursue the M.A. in Economics at McMaster University.

For more information on this program please visit our FAQ's Section for the MA in Economics.


Information on Graduate Program fees can be found on the Student Accounts and Cashier's website. To visit this page, click here.

Financial Aid


Students to whom we offer admission are automatically considered for financial assistance – no special forms need be filled out. Funding is awarded on academic excellence and the availability of funds. Funding is open to all domestic and international students.


Information on external scholarship support can be found at the following sites:

700 Topics in Economics

For Fall 2016 - MAEP Course on Selected Topics in Labour Market Performance and Policy - Instructor Jim Stanford.

This course will consider a range of current topics related to work and employment, labour market functioning, and labour market policy interventions.  Potential topics will include: employment strategies of firms; sectoral and regional trends in job-creation; “precarious” work and its consequences; demographic change and the ageing of the workforce; trends in labour force participation; unemployment and underemployment; trade unions and collective representation; new models of employee “voice;” trends in wage determination; inequality and low-wage work; wage and employment regulation.  Each topic will be introduced and considered in light of economic theory and published applied research, with policy implications explored in the context of Canadian labour market experience.

703 Experimental Economics 

An introduction to the design of laboratory environments in economics, to the conduct of laboratory sessions, and to the analysis of laboratory generated data. Applications to public economics, industrial organization, and the evaluation of economic theory are studied.

710 Population Economics I

A survey of topics in population economics, including the economic consequences of population aging, the economic theory of fertility, and the interrelations between economic and demographic phenomena generally.

711 Population Economics II

An advanced course in population economics, open only to Ph.D. students choosing population economics as a field.

Prerequisite: *710

716 History of Economic Thought

The development of economic analysis from its beginning through mercantilism through the classical school of political economy, Marx, marginalism, institutional economics, and Keynes to modern macroeconomics and microeconomics.

721 Microeconomic Theory I

This course covers basic graduate-level microeconomic theory. It includes choice under uncertainty, general equilibrium, competitive market with adverse selection, and contract theory. Students are expected to be familiar with linear algebra, optimization technique, and basic real analysis.

722 Microeconomic Theory II

Topics include the theory of public goods and externalities, non-cooperative game theory and the economics of information such as adverse selection, moral hazard, and mechanism design. Applications can include bargaining, monopoly and oligopoly pricing, insurance and employment contracts, and auctions.

723 Macroeconomic Theory I

This course is an introduction to advanced macroeconomic theory which is based on dynamic optimization and general equilibrium. Applications will vary from year to year and may include economic fluctuations, economic growth, asset pricing, and fiscal policy.

724 Macroeconomic Theory II

The course focuses on theories that help explain business cycle fluctuations and economic growth. Some additional topics will also be covered that change from year to year.

727 Microeconomic Theory for Public Policy

This course covers graduate-level microeconomic theory, but with an emphasis on how the tools of microeconomics can be used to inform public policy. Topics include theory of the household and the firm, decisions under uncertainty and over time, and an introduction to welfare economics.

728 Macroeconomic Theory for Public Policy

This course takes a public economics approach to macroeconomics, stressing both efficiency and equity dimensions of each policy issue. The three modules focus on short-run stabilization problems, structural unemployment and income inequality, and long-run growth in living standards. Usually all three modules are included, but in some years more in depth treatment is given to just two modules.

731 Public Finance

Topics may include positive and normative theories of taxation, the provision of public goods, collective decision-making, the theory of local public goods, and issues in fiscal federalism including tax and expenditure competition and inter-governmental transfers.

Prerequisite:  *733

733 Topics in Public Economics

Topics may include: capital taxation; economic theory of redistribution; empirical assessment of the effects of taxation and government expenditure; and the measurement of welfare, poverty and inequality.

735 Economics of Public Sector Policies

This course will study a current topic or theme in Public Economics. State of the art research will be surveyed with an emphasis on the policy relevance of research. Possible themes include: politicians v. bureaucrats in the provision of public goods, the effects of government policy on the provision of education, the alleviation of racial segregation through government policy, the relationship between federal and local governments.

736 Environmental and Resource Economics 

The course covers selected issues in the management of natural resources and the environment. Possible topics include the theory of externalities and policy instruments for remedying the associated market failure, management of renewable and non-renewable common property resources, contingent valuation, ecological indicators and the measurement of natural resource and environmental variables in the national accounts.

741 Monetary Economics

This course is devoted to the discussion of some key issues in monetary theory and policy. It does not assume prior knowledge of dynamic optimization techniques. Topics that use modern macroeconomic methods will be discussed at the end of the semester.

742 Topics in Money and Macroeconomics

The course covers stochastic dynamic general equilibrium models in different fields of macroeconomics. Topics may include business cycle theory, numerical methods, open-economy models (real and monetary), heterogenous-agent models, asset pricing and growth theory.

Prerequisite: *724

751 International Trade, Development and Investment

The neoclassical or real theory of international trade is presented in a general equilibrium format using geometrical and mathematical methods. A central application of these methods is to the trade problems of developing countries. Topics therefore may include North-South trade, export-led growth, commercial policy, elective protection, foreign investment, integration, savings, financial development and income distribution.

752 International Finance

This course examines international real and monetary business cycle models to explain economic fluctuations of main macroeconomic variables within and across countries. The course also covers empirical evidence and theories of sovereign debt and default.

753 Topics in International Economics

This course builds on the material in ECON 751 . The course covers advanced topics in international trade, such as the welfare gains from trade, productivity and international trade, and border effects.

761 Econometrics I

Topics include linear regression and generalized least squares.

762 Econometrics II

Topics include time series and robust variance estimation.

765 Mathematical Methods

This course provides a systematic review of mathematical and statistical methods commonly used in economic modeling.

766 Quantitative Methods 

Topics include methods of seasonal adjustment, alternative forecasting techniques, price indexes, demographic modeling and projection, interpreting econometric models, and input-output analysis.

768 Advanced Econometrics

This course builds on the material in ECON 761 and ECON 762. Topics may include: nonparametric estimation, robust estimation, asymptotictheory, econometric programming.

769 Applied Microeconometrics

The main topic of the course is the application of econometric techniques to the study of household behaviour. Topics may include expenditure systems, the relationship of consumption patterns, labour supply, and savings behaviour, aggregation, price indices and household production. There are extensive illustrations employing household microdata.

770 Advanced Analysis of Survey Data

The course is divided into two parts. The objective of Part I is to have students identify a suitable data set (research study) and develop a proposal describing their secondary analysis project. Students will be helped to develop their 1-2 page proposals which will include: the research question, a brief outline of its relevance and importance; identification of the appropriate data set(s); a brief statement about analytical approach to be used; and the identification of 3-4 key references. The instructors have access to several data sets that can be used for this course. This part will occur between October and December. There will be two class sessions-one in October and the other in November and the opportunity for two individual sessions. The objective of Part 2 is to complete the research paper (review of the literature, analysis of data, write-up and revision of the report) with the purpose of submitting the paper for review to a peer-reviewed journal. This part will occur between January-May and include 10 class sessions.

773 Economic Policy Analysis I

This course is the first semester of the two-semester sequence that will provide a grounding in policy processes, policy issues, and important institutional structures, in relevant policy sectors in Canada, and provide an introduction to the basic research designs appropriate for establishing causal relationships through program/policy evaluation.

774 Economic Policy Analysis II

This course is the second semester in the two-semester sequence in Economic Policy Analysis. It will survey more advanced issues in policy evaluation and culminate in a major policy project.

781 Labour Economics I

A survey of basic labour economics. Topics include labour demand, labour supply, and the determination of equilibrium wages in competitive markets. Sources of wage differentials in competitive markets, such as human capital investment and compensating differentials, are examined, as are the effects on labour markets of government policies such as minimum wages, immigration restrictions, occupational health and safety regulations, and subsidies to education.

782 Labour Economics II

This course surveys state-of-the-art research in labour economics. Recently covered topics include asymmetric information models of strikes; estimation of duration models; recent trends in wage structure, firm size, unionization, and self employment; the impact of international competition and technological change on labour markets; and modeling dynamic family labour supply decisions.

Prerequisite: *781

784 Industrial Organization

This course examines the strategic interactions of firms in markets, and their implications for firms’ profits and consumer welfare. The course provides analytical concepts for analyzing firm behavior in different market structures. The course has two main goals: (i) introduce micro-economic and game-theoretic tools to understand competition and market power; (ii) develop an active understanding of econometric analysis of market power and competition. Both goals are illustrated with applications to competition policy and competitive strategy. Upon completion of this course, students will be able to develop and actively understand econometric analysis of market power and competition.

785 Economics of Human Resource Policies

This course will study a current topic or theme in Human Resource Economics. State-of-the-art research will be surveyed, with an emphasis on the policy relevance of research. Possible themes include: the design of social insurance systems for unemployment, disability, or retirement; policies to foster human capital formation; methods for evaluating labour market interventions; the human resource policy implications of globalization, technological change, or aging populations.

788 Health Economics

This is a basic graduate survey course on the economics of health and health care. Topics include the organization, financing and utilization of health care services. Both theory and evidence relating to patterns of consumer and provider behaviour are examined, as are the functioning and regulation of “markets” for health services. Major public policy issues in the provision of health care in Canada are identified and the economic aspects of such issues are considered in detail.

791 Topics in Advanced Health Economics

This course focuses on issues relating to the economics of health and health care. It builds on ECON 788 and exposes students to more advanced topics and aspects of recent research in health economics. The specific topics presented depend on the instructors for each offering. Recent topics have included methods of economic evaluation and health technology assessment, the economics of work and health, the evaluation of health-care related interventions, advances in the empirical analysis of income and health inequalities, health human resources, and the evolution of health from childhood to adulthood.

Prerequisite: *788

793 Health Economic Policy

This course will study specific topics or theme areas of health economics. State-of-the-art research will be surveyed, with an emphasis on the policy relevance of research. Possible topics include the economics of health, health care financing, health care funding, the economics of the pharmaceutical sector, health and aging, and labour market experiences and health.

795 Analysis of Health Data

This course is designed to introduce students to methods for the analysis of health data, with a particular focus on the use of survey datasets used in health-related micro-econometric research. Investigating features of health data requires the recognition of and methodology to cope with several characteristics not regularly (and rarely simultaneously) encountered in other areas. During the course, we will focus on the use of cross-sectional and longitudinal observational data to estimate causal parameters of interest and test hypotheses relevant to the econometric analysis of health data. At the end of the course, students should be able to perform their own econometric analyses of health data, and interpret and evaluate related studies.

796 Economics Co-op Work Term I

Students registered in either a Master or PhD program in the Department of Economics may optionally work a total of eight months in either one or two co-op placements.  Students must be registered in this course for the first four months of a co-op placement. This course is not for credit.

797 Economics Co-op Work Term II

Students registered in either a Master or PhD program in the Department of Economics may optionally work a total of eight months in either one or two co-op placements. Students must be registered in this course for the second four months of a co-op placement. This course is not for credit.

798 Workshop in Economics I

799 Workshop in Economics II

Economics Graduate Handbook MA in Economics FAQs TA Handbook International Student Services Graduate Students Association Apply Now
For more information:
Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economics, Graduate Program
KTH 426
905-525-9140 ext.24731
1 Year
Required Credential:
Honours B.A. in Economics
Program Type:
Course based
Program Options:
Full-time, Part-time
Typical Entry:
Current Deadline:
January 30