BA Admissions

Take your first step towards a career in Economics, apply for admission to the different major programs at the end of your second year.

The VSE’s admission to the economics major is a competitive process, which takes into consideration both a student’s academic performance and the types of courses they have taken. Per the UBC Calendar, “selection for admission is based on a weighted average calculated on the grades from all credits of post-secondary coursework attempted, with the exception of [up to] 12 credits that may be excluded from the calculation.”

In particular, our process heavily weights courses in economics and related fields, while placing a lower weight on courses in other areas. We strongly encourage students who are considering economics as major to select courses which will have a higher weight in their application. Admission is also contingent on meeting the following minimum standards for application.

An important note for first year students: Economics has recently added ECON 325 to the required courses list. Students interested in applying for economics after their second year should ensure they complete calculus (e.g. MATH 100 and 101) prior to their second year, as they are pre-requisites for ECON 325 (or equivalent). Students who take MATH 100/101 in their second year will need to take ECON 325 during summer and will only be eligible to apply for provisional admission status.

In order to be considered for admission, you must have completed at least 54 credits of course work; including the following required courses:

  • 6 credits of Principles of Economics (ECON 101 and 102 or approved equivalents);
  • 6 credits of university-level calculus (MATH 100 and 101 or approved equivalents);
  • 3 credits which satisfy the Writing Component of the Bachelor of Arts Writing and Research Requirement (such as WRDS 150, ENGL 100, Arts One, ASTU 150, or an approved equivalent)
  • 3 credits of Introductory Econometrics (ECON 325 or approved equivalent)
  • 3 credits of second or third year level courses in Economics which require Principles of Economics as a pre-requisite.

If you meet these requirements, we will consider your application for admission by computing your weighted GPA (wGPA). We rank students according to their weighted GPA, and offer admission to the top students based on the number of seats available in our program – this usually means we admit the top 280 to 300 applicants.

If you meet most of these requirements, and are planning to complete the remainder prior to term 1 of next year, you may be eligible for provisional admission; see below for more information.

Note: credit obtained during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019W2 (Spring) on a Cr/D/F basis can be used toward application and degree requirements. All other courses taken on a Cr/D/F basis cannot be used.

In our calculation, we prioritize courses which are in economics and related fields; we call these priority areas. All other fields are considered non-priority areas. For 2023, our priority areas are:

  • Economics (ECON)
  • Political Science (POLI)
  • Philosophy (PHIL)
  • Mathematics (MATH)
  • Statistics (STAT)
  • Data Science (DSCI)
  • Computer Science (CPSC)

We drop your lowest 6 credits from the priority areas (but not including required courses), conditional on meeting the minimum credit requirements and required courses totals, then we compute your wGPA based on a weight of 80% on the priority and required areas, and 20% on the non-priority areas. Courses are weighted relative to a standard 3 credit course; for example, a course which is worth 6 credits counts twice as much, while a 1 credit course is only valued at a third.

We periodically re-evaluate the required, priority, and non-priority lists and their weighting, in order to ensure that they are current and reflect the VSE’s priorities for attracting a diverse and academically strong cohort of majors students. Any changes will be posted on this page at least one year in advance of any changes.

For both privacy and practical reasons, we do not provide specific wGPA cut-offs in any given year; since admission is based on a ranking process, it depends strongly on the cohort of students applying and the composition of the priority/required lists in a given year – making comparisons difficult.

Admission to a combined majors program is based on meeting admission standards for both of the combined programs. This means you must meet the requirements for the economics major, in addition to:

  • Economics and Political Science: the admission requirements for the Political Science Major
  • Economics and Mathematics: the admission requirements for the Mathematics Major
  • Economics and Philosophy: check department website for other requirements
  • Economics and Statistics: check department website for other requirements

If you apply for a combined major, you are automatically also considered for the regular economics major as well; if your application for a combined major is denied, you may still be offered admission to the regular major instead.

The honours program is highly competitive, accepting roughly 10-15 students per year. You can find information on the application process on the Honours Admission Page.

If you apply for honours you are also automatically considered for the regular economics major as well, and may be offered admission even if you are not selected for the honours program in economics.

While students normally apply to the economics major in their second year of study, you may also apply to join the economics major after your third year. However, there are several important points that you must keep in mind when considering this:

  • If you are applying to an economics major with 75 credits or more, you must have already declared another major before applying.
  • You must complete all of the core pre-requisites (ECON 301/302/325/326) for ECON 490 before you can enroll in this course, which is not offered during the summer.
  • Applicants to the economics major after their third year cannot graduate in the year of admission: all economics majors programs take at least 2 years (two summers) to complete.
  • You cannot be admitted to the final 30 credits of any economics major program.

If you do not meet the required courses requirement, or have less than 54 credits, you may apply for provisional admission as long as you have a plan to complete the outstanding requirement(s) by August 31 of the year of application – for instance, by taking courses during the summer session. Provisional applications are evaluated using the same weighted GPA process as regular admissions – there is no advantage or disadvantage to applying provisionally.

If you are granted provisional admission you will be informed of the required courses or credits outstanding, and after completing them your wGPA must remain above the cutoff to be granted full admission. It is the your sole responsibility to meet these conditions by the deadline – there are no exceptions or waivers considered, and failure to meet the stated conditions will result in the offer being revoked.

Frequently Asked Questions

Application

Admission to the Honours/Majors/Combined Majors program in Economics is not automatic. To be admitted students must submit a formal application online. Because there are a limited number of places some students who satisfy the minimum prerequisites may not be admitted.

The application will be available on the Vancouver School of Economics website March 15 and the deadline is May 19.

The application form will be available on March 15. An online application for admission to the Honours/Majors/Combined Majors program should be submitted by May 19, prior to registering for the final 60 credits, to ensure that the student will be considered for admission. Note:  We will not accept LATE applications after this deadline. There are no exceptions.

There is no fee to apply to any of the economics undergraduate programs.

Sorry, we will not accept LATE applications after this deadline for any of the programs listed above.  There are no exceptions.

An application will be accepted, under certain conditions, from a student who has not met all requirements, providing that the student indicates on their application online that there is a firm plan for these missing requirements to be met by August 31. It is the student's responsibility to inform the Vancouver School of Economics, in writing and by the deadline, that the missing requirements have been completed -- the School will not seek this information independently. If otherwise eligible, such students will be admitted provisionally.

Official transcripts of the student's record from all post-secondary educational institutions attended, other than UBC, must be submitted to be considered for admission.

No, resumes and reference letters are not required.

To be admitted students must submit a formal application online. The requirements for application/admission include the following:

  1. The student must be registered at UBC.
  2. The student must be registered in the Faculty of Arts.
  3. The student must have completed at least 54 credits of coursework that counts towards a BA degree.
  4. The student must have completed:
    (i) 6 credits of Principles of Economics (equivalent to UBC Econ 101 and Econ 102);
    (ii) 6 credits of University-level Calculus (equivalent to UBC Math 104 and Math 105);
    (iii) 3 credits that satisfy the Writing component of the Faculty of Arts Writing and Research Requirement (ASTU 150, WRDS 150, CAP, Arts One, English 100 or an approved equivalent);
    (iv) 6 credits of second-year or third year Economics (courses in this category are not acceptable unless they require Principles of Economics as a prerequisite);Courses required under (i)-(v) cannot be taken on a Credit/D/Fail basis.

Note: under a proposed calendar change, ECON 325 will become an admissions requirement starting in May 2023. The number of 2xx/3xx additional ECON credits required will decrease from 6 to 3. If you intend to apply to ECON programs in 2023, please plan your course scheduling to ensure you can take ECON 325 by 2022 Winter Term 2. On an exception basis, a section of ECON 325 will also be offered in 2023S.The official admission prerequisites listed above will be amended once the calendar change receives Senate approval.

Because there are a limited number of places, about 35% or more of students who satisfy the requirements are not admitted each year.

Timing is very important. The online application is due by May 19. It must be submitted on time. We do not reserve places for late applicants. If you do not have all the requirements listed above by May 19, but you expect to have completed them all by August 31, then apply on May 19, and include on your online form a statement of what requirements you are missing and how you plan to make them up. If you show a clear plan to complete the missing requirement(s) by August 31 then your application will be considered on a provisional basis. It is your responsibility to inform us when you have completed missing requirements.

For example, most College transfer students will not have been accepted to UBC by May 20. If you have applied to come to UBC in Winter 2023/2024 then apply to Economics by May 20, and tell us on the application form that you are waiting to hear about UBC admission. We will then deal with your application on a provisional basis, until you inform us that you have been admitted to UBC. Likewise if you do not have the required courses you must make them up in Summer, either in College or at UBC.

Many College transfers study Commerce (in the Sauder Business School) courses and then try to switch to Economics when they are denied admission to UBC Sauder Business School. Be aware that we do not accept COMM courses for any purpose in Economics. They do not count as Econ Principles or as Econ second-year and third-year courses for application purposes. If you wish to study Economics in UBC then prepare yourself by studying Econ and Math courses, rather than COMM courses, in College. In particular, courses that transfer to UBC as Math 1st are not acceptable as satisfying the Vancouver School of Economics at UBC Math 104 and UBC Math 105 requirements.

Your application must be accompanied by official transcripts covering all post-secondary courses taken other than UBC, must be submitted to be considered for admission.
If you are not accepted to Economics on first application then you will likely not be accepted ever. Please move on to another major immediately. Many more students are intent on majoring in Economics than the Vancouver School of Economics can possibly accommodate. Our programs are heavily oversubscribed and, unfortunately, each year we are forced to turn away about 35% or more of all applicants because we do not have sufficient spaces to accommodate all demand. If you are not in the top 250 applicants in one year, it is highly unlikely that you would be in the top 250 in any other year, when there is a whole new panel of applicants to be considered.

Please see the other question/answers in this FAQ file for further information on these topics.

We regret to inform you that no applications can be accepted from students who wish to graduate within the next academic year (May/November 2023). All Economics programs are two-year programs. Enrolment in Economics Majors/Combined Majors programs is limited by the Vancouver School of Economics’ capacity to offer the required final year research-seminar course Econ 490. All spaces in Econ 490 for Winter 2022/2023 Term 1: Sept-Dec 2021 and Term 2: Jan-Apr 2023 have already been allocated to students who applied to our two-year programs, on schedule, in May 2021. There is no possibility for students who apply to Economics Programs in May 2022 to take Econ 490 before Winter 2023/2024 even if they have completed all the prerequisites. This is not negotiable -- all places in Econ 490 have already been allocated. Students who wish to graduate from UBC in May/November 2023 must do so with a Major other than Economics.

In principle you may apply more than once, as long as you satisfy all the requirements for application. A student who applies to the Economic Majors or a Combined Economics program and who has 75 or more credits on their academic record requires, in addition to the standard prerequisites, that the student have a Major Specialization (other than Economics) declared on the Student Services Center. It is a Faculty of Arts requirement that every student have a declared major at the beginning of Third year. No application to Economics will even be considered from a student who has 75 or more credits and who does not satisfy this requirement.

While it is possible to apply more than once, however, please think very carefully about pursuing this possibility. Many more students are intent on majoring in Economics than the Vancouver School of Economics can possibly accommodate. Every year we are forced to turn down applicants because we do not have sufficient spaces to accommodate all demand. If you are not in the top 250 in one year, it is highly unlikely that you would be in the top 250 in any other year, when there is a whole new panel of applicants to be considered. In addition, no applications are being accepted to Fourth-year -- that is, from applicants wishing to graduate within 12 months of application. All spaces in the graduating course - Econ 490 - were already allocated to students in the previous year, in which you applied and were unsuccessful. All applicants must wait 18 months before taking this course, whether or not they have the prerequisites; this is because all spaces in this course have already been allocated two years in advance.

Each year a number of third-year students (some who have applied and not been accepted, others who have chosen not to apply) make the unfortunate mistake of overloading on Economics courses and then applying with the hope that they will be accepted since Economics is the only major they have prepared for (or that they are interested in, or that they are sincere about, etc.). This hope, and its associated poor choice of study plan, will lead only to disappointment. The UBC Senate requires that every applicant to Economics be admitted or not admitted based on a single selection criterion which depends on their GPA rank and on the availability of spaces in the program. This criterion is applied equally to all applicants -- zero weight or favour is given to applications based on the number of Economics courses they have completed. Further, to reward this kind of behaviour would be grossly unfair to the many students who have submitted applications and who have accepted the results. The Vancouver School of Economics insists on keeping faith with the many who have submitted to the standard process.

In short, if you apply to Economics and are turned down, your first concern and priority must be to select an alternative major with which to graduate. This prepares you for graduation in time with your cohort. Graduation on time with a BA is the most important objective; choice of major is very much secondary to this and please remember that no application to the Economic Major or a Combined Economics program will be accepted from a student who has 75 or more credits on their academic record, and who does not have a Major Specialization (other than Economics) declared on the Student Services Center.

Credits & Courses Info

Yes, the Vancouver School of Economics will use IB, AP and A-Levels transfer-credit courses granted by UBCV admissions in the GPA computation for the Economic Combined Majors/Majors/Honours Application.

Yes. Economics requires UBC Math 104 and UBC Math 105 (or equivalents) as prerequisites for the Economics application process and as course prerequisites (i.e. Econ 301, 302, 325, 326, 490 etc.).

Equivalents to Math 104 are: Math 100, 102, 110, 111, 120, 180, 184, SCIE 001
Equivalents to Math 105 are: Math 101, 103, 121, SCIE 001

Interdisciplinary Studies - IDST

Students who are unable to major in Economics or in one of the combined majors of which it forms a part may, of course, retain a secondary focus on Economics in their 300- and 400-level coursework by adding the declarable Minor in Economics to a Major in another subject in which they also have a strong interest; and most are well served by this alternative.

For the few for whom this option is not attractive, however, either because they have no strong interest in any other specific subject or because they need to preserve Economics as the principal focus of their studies, the Arts Faculty’s individually planned Interdisciplinary Studies Programme - usually shortened to IDST - might be of some interest.

The Arts Interdisciplinary Studies (IDST) program allows students to build a unique BA program in an area unavailable through an existing major or minor. An Interdisciplinary Studies program may not be combined with any major, honours, minor, or other specialization should your application be successful though.

No interdisciplinary programme can include as many courses coded ECON or cross-listed with such courses as does the Major, and a specific rule, enforced by a block on Degree Navigator, prevents IDST students from earning more than 18 countable credits from upper-level courses in the subject chosen as their primary discipline.  Nor can it provide as extensive or as thorough a training in Economics. But it is not impossible for IDST students who choose Economics as their primary discipline and who make a careful selection of supporting courses related to their individual interests in it to retain Economics as the primary influence on their undergraduate education, even though it is not their major. And this is especially true because the School of Economics, alone in the Faculty of Arts, regularly offers a research-intensive course in Economics designed - and reserved - for IDST students.

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