PhD Program Information

PhD in Economics

Admission Requirements

  1. The equivalent of a baccalaureate degree from the University of Alberta with a grade point average of at least 3.0 (on the University of Alberta's 4-point grading scale) in the last 60 units of course weight (normally equivalent to 20 single-term courses) of study;  see the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research Prospectus for examples of grade point average equivalencies.

  2. The equivalent of a degree of Master of Arts in Economics with a grade point average of at least 3.2 (on the University of Alberta's 4-point grading scale) in graduate economics courses. Students with advanced degrees from universities outside North America are normally required first to complete the MA program and then, given satisfactory performance, are permitted to proceed to the PhD program.

Grading systems differ greatly across countries. Acceptance into a graduate program in Economics at the University of Alberta requires an academic background equivalent to at least one of the qualifications listed below:

Canada and USA: GPA of 6.7 on the University of Alberta's old 9 point scale, or 3.2 on most 4 point systems, including the current University of Alberta point scale, 75%, B (second class) standing, or equivalent in the work of the last two full years of previous degrees.

United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, and other Commonwealth countries whose university systems follow that of Great Britain: Upper second class honors degree.

India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh: First class or first division bachelor's degree and first class master's degree.

Japan: 2.3 out of 3, or 3 out of 4.

Philippines: 1.8/2.00, or 86%

People's Republic of China: 80%, or 4 out of 5.

Taiwan: "A" average, usually 80% or better.

Egypt: Honors degree with at least "Very Good", 75%

Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe: 2nd Class Upper, 70%-75%

English Language Proficiency Requirement 

Applicants who do not hold a baccalaureate degree or its academic equivalent from a recognized institution in which the language of instruction is English in a country where English is deemed to be the principal language are required to demonstrate English language proficiency. The minimum acceptable score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is 580 for the paper based test or 92 for the internet-based test. For the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), the minimum overall band score required is 7.0 with at least 6.5 on each band (Academic).

GRE Requirement

Applicants whose most recent degree is from a non-Canadian university are required to write the verbal, quantitative and analytical sections of the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) administered by the Educational Testing Service (Princeton, NJ). The examinations should be written early enough for scores to be available at the same time as the applicant's other supporting documents. Both scores and percentages must be posted. No minimum cutoff score is specified as GRE results are used only in conjunction with other indicators of potential academic success. No substitutions for the GRE (such as the GMAT) will be accepted. The GRE requirement will not be waived.

Admission Deadlines

For consideration for September admission, the deadline for receipt of the Application for Graduate Admission form and all supporting documents from students currently residing within Canada is May 15. The deadline for receipt of the Application for Graduate Admission Form and all supporting documents from students currently residing outside Canada or applicants within Canada applying for a student visa is February 15. Applicants from China and Nigeria must submit documents by January 10 to allow sufficient time to apply for a student visa.

Course Requirements

Students with an MA in Economics from another North American university are required to take at least twelve courses as follows:

  1. Seven required courses: ECON 503, 505, 581, 582, 591, 598 and 599.
  2. Five other courses including four (or five) in fields of specialization: Two graduate economics courses in each of two fields are required (except Econometrics which requires three courses). Specialization is currently possible in the following areas: Econometrics, Economic Development, Industrial Organization, International Economics, Labor Economics, Monetary Economics, Natural Resource Economics, and Public Finance. In addition, a specialization in natural resource and environmental economics is offered jointly by the Departments of Economics and Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology. While specialization is possible in the previously listed fields, the Department does not guarantee that each of these fields will be offered in any given year. One field of specialization may be outside of Economics if approved by the Department.

Students who have completed an MA in Economics at the University of Alberta are required to take at least eight courses in addition to those taken in the MA program. These additional courses together with the optional courses taken in the MA program will include ECON 505, ECON 582, ECON 591, and at least two courses in each of the two fields of specialization.

Performance in the Economics PhD Program

All students in the PhD in Economics program must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.7 (on the University of Alberta's 4-point grading scale) to continue in the program.

Please direct further inquiries regarding the graduate program in economics at the University of Alberta to