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Ph.D. in Economics FAQ


What are the minimum academic requirements for admission into the PhD program?

As a minimum, a standard Canadian entrant into our PhD program will have a Master degree in economics from a recognized university and will have maintained B+ average in their master’s study. 


Am I eligible to apply for a PhD program with a Bachelor Degree?

No. As a minimum, a standard Canadian entrant into our PhD program will have a Master degree in economics from a recognized university and will have maintained B+ average in their master’s study. 


Can I transfer to the McMaster Economics PhD program from another PhD program?

There is no separate application process for transfer applicants. Students who are currently in other doctoral programs should apply to the PhD program normally. Once accepted, the Department may then deem it appropriate to give them credits for courses or comprehensive exams already taken.


Do I find a PhD supervisor before or after applying?

No, all incoming PhD students are supervised for the first two years of their program by the Graduate Chair.  Following the successful completion of their comprehensive exams, a student may then find a PhD supervisor in the Department, with the assistance of the Graduate Chair.


Do I apply for TA/RA positions at the same time as the PhD program?

Typically teaching assistant positions are awarded to students at the time of admission.  Research assistant positions are generally awarded to upper year students by individual faculty members. 


Do undergraduate grades factor into PhD decisions, or just Masters grades?

No, undergraduate grades do not factor into admission into the PhD program.


What are the length requirements for the writing sample?

The admission committee will only review one research paper with a maximum length of 30 pages.  If more than one research paper is sent or if the research paper is more than 30 pages, it will be at the discretion of the committee whether to review any portion of the writing sample.


Can I take a specialization with my PhD in Economics (e.g. Health Economics, Health Policy, etc.)?

While the Department of Economics offers courses in many related interdisciplinary fields that you can take while pursuing your PhD, we do not offer specialized degrees.  With such a large variety of course options available, you will likely find courses that suit your interests. If you are interested in taking a PhD in Health Policy, please consider the Health Policy PhD program offered by the Department of Health Sciences.


What funding is available for each graduate program?

Funding for each graduate program is dependent on the funding made available to the University on an annual basis.  Funding may include a teaching assistantship and/or a graduate scholarship. All applicants and students are encouraged to apply for external bursaries and scholarships.


Is a GRE required?

No, a GRE exam is not required for any of the graduate programs in the Department. 


What fees apply for each graduate program?

Fees for the graduate program are set annually by McMaster University; please visit for more information on current domestic and international tuition costs.


What are the online application open/close dates?

Annually, our application system is open November 15th to January 24th, with entry into the program for the upcoming September.  No further extensions are given for international applications.  Transcripts sent directly from the issuing institution will be accepted up to two weeks past the deadline. 


When are admission decisions made?

Offers of admission are normally sent out mid-March to mid-May.


Is part-time study available?

Yes, part-time study is often available for our programs.  However, please note that most courses are taught between working hours (very few courses are available in the evenings) and generally no financial aid is available to part-time students.


My up-to-date transcript/proof of graduation will not be available by my issuing institution at the time of my application. Can I submit an interim transcript?

Applicants must provide one official transcript of academic work completed to date, sent directly from the issuing institution. However, if an official transcript is unavailable, when you submit your application online, you can include a transcript that is up-to-date as of the date you apply. If you are accepted into the program, you will be asked to provide an up-to-date, official transcript and proof of graduation.


Does official documentation have to be sent through mail by the issuing institution, or is electronic submission acceptable?

There is now an ‘Upload Documents’ section of the online admissions process, where you can scan your documentation and submit it electronically. Once you are accepted into the program, you will be asked to provide an official transcript, sent directly from the issuing institution in a signed and sealed envelope.


What documents should I be uploading with my online application?

In order for your application to be considered complete, it must include the following items:

  • Application Form and Fee
  • Transcripts
  • Letters of reference
  • Statement of Interest
  • Writing Sample, paper or essay


If my official documentation is delayed, will my application still be reviewed?

Applications will not be reviewed until they are complete and all official documentation has been received by the Department.


Is it possible to postpone or carry applications from one admissions period to the next?

The Department of Economics does not postpone or carry forward applications.


If I am applying for more than one graduate program, can I use the same reference letters?

While reference letters can be used to supplement referee information, all referees will also be asked to complete a form online and may include questions specific to individual graduate programs.


How long is my statement of interest supposed to be?

All applicants must provide a one-page statement (12pt font, single-space, 1-inch margins) explaining why you would like to pursue the PhD degree.


What address should I send official documentation to?

Graduate Program,

Department of Economics (KTH-426),

McMaster University

1280 Main St. W.

Hamilton, ON L8S 4M4


Can I email inquiries about whether I am eligible for a graduate program before applying?

The Department of Economics does not pre-screen potential applicants.