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Thread: From Physics Undergrad in UK to PhD in Economics in Canada/US

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    Question From Physics Undergrad in UK to PhD in Economics in Canada/US

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    I hold a 3-year undergraduate degree in physics from a mid-tier university in the UK. I want to get a PhD in economics in Canada or the US. This year, I'm doing a distance learning diploma in economics with courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics and mathematical economics. The first three of those courses are on the same level as 2nd year courses (of a 3-year undergraduate degree) at LSE. The mathematical econ one is a third year course.

    Since my first preference is Canada, I'm thinking of doing a 1-year UK MSc or the Barcelona GSE masters and then applying for a Canadian MA next year. If I apply directly now for the MA, even with this diploma I'm doing, I do not meet the economics pre-requisities at most places so they'll probably direct me to do a Post-Bacc or Qualifying Year, which means I'll have to reapply for the MA after a year. Also, if I have an MSc from UCL or Warwick (the two places I'm applying), I feel I'll have a good shot at the top MAs (UBC, UofT, Queens, Western), where I can then do a PhD as well.

    The obvious disadvantage of the 1-year MSc would be that I probably would have to take a gap year to apply to American unis and I'll be stuck with a few choices in Canada. Would you guys recommend this? Or will I be wasting my time by doing two masters degrees? From what I've heard, Canadian MAs in general are at a much higher level than UK MScs, is this true? What other options do you recommend?

    Please note that I do not want to do a PhD in Europe under any circumstances.

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    Re: From Physics Undergrad in UK to PhD in Economics in Canada/US

    Most Canadian MAs do generally only take applicants with a 4yr honours degrees in economics. However, given physics is a highly mathematical discipline, and the MScs you mentioned are from well respected schools I don't see it as impossible that you would not receive an offer from the schools you mentioned. However, it as always depends on the applicant pool, the Cdn schools you mentioned are very competitive. Consider SFU as well. Also I will note, just because you get into these MAs does not guarantee you a spot in their PhD program. For example, UBC generally only takes the top few students from their MA into their PhD. It is not like the UK programs that generally allow masters students to progress to the Mres/PhD given a minimum GPA.

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    Re: From Physics Undergrad in UK to PhD in Economics in Canada/US

    Most Canadian MAs do generally only take applicants with a 4yr honours degrees in economics. However, given physics is a highly mathematical discipline, and the MScs you mentioned are from well respected schools I don't see it as impossible that you would not receive an offer from the schools you mentioned. However, it as always depends on the applicant pool, the Cdn schools you mentioned are very competitive. Consider SFU as well. Also I will note, just because you get into these MAs does not guarantee you a spot in their PhD program. For example, UBC generally only takes the top few students from their MA into their PhD. It is not like the UK programs that generally allow masters students to progress to the Mres/PhD given a minimum GPA.

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    Re: From Physics Undergrad in UK to PhD in Economics in Canada/US

    Thanks for the reply. Do you think the MSc will be an issue in Canada since I'll basically be applying for the same masters degree again?

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    Re: From Physics Undergrad in UK to PhD in Economics in Canada/US

    No, its not uncommon for people to do two masters degrees. I would even recommend just applying straight to a few tier two PhD programs after your MSc if you get good grades. Like SFU, McMaster, U of A or U of C, Western maybe as well. All are good schools. If you are financial stable it can do no harm.

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    Re: From Physics Undergrad in UK to PhD in Economics in Canada/US

    I've posted this in another thread recently, but I'll repeat it here. Western's MA program, unlike other Canadian schools, explicitly recruits math and other STEM undergrads. Furthermore, there is a direct progression to PhD from its MA, which is unique in Canada. It's generally considered one of the best programs behind UBC and UofT, so it may be worth looking into.

    "A background in economics is not a requirement for admission. Many of our incoming students have degrees in mathematics, statistics, engineering and other disciplines. While a strong mathematical background is not a strict requirement, we do encourage prospective students to take math courses. Mathematics preparation should include multivariate calculus, linear algebra, real analysis, and statistics. Graduate work in economics demands a higher degree of mathematical sophistication than normally provided by undergraduate economics programs."

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    Re: From Physics Undergrad in UK to PhD in Economics in Canada/US

    Quote Originally Posted by aascd View Post
    I've posted this in another thread recently, but I'll repeat it here. Western's MA program, unlike other Canadian schools, explicitly recruits math and other STEM undergrads. Furthermore, there is a direct progression to PhD from its MA, which is unique in Canada. It's generally considered one of the best programs behind UBC and UofT, so it may be worth looking into.

    "A background in economics is not a requirement for admission. Many of our incoming students have degrees in mathematics, statistics, engineering and other disciplines. While a strong mathematical background is not a strict requirement, we do encourage prospective students to take math courses. Mathematics preparation should include multivariate calculus, linear algebra, real analysis, and statistics. Graduate work in economics demands a higher degree of mathematical sophistication than normally provided by undergraduate economics programs."
    I did read that but in the admission requirements, it says that they do not admit students with 3-year undergraduate degrees. My diploma might help me there, I'll email them and ask. But even if they let me apply, do you think I stand a chance with just a BSc (the grades for my diploma don't come until May next year)?

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    Re: From Physics Undergrad in UK to PhD in Economics in Canada/US

    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianEcon View Post
    No, its not uncommon for people to do two masters degrees. I would even recommend just applying straight to a few tier two PhD programs after your MSc if you get good grades. Like SFU, McMaster, U of A or U of C, Western maybe as well. All are good schools. If you are financial stable it can do no harm.
    Thanks. I'm going to apply to the SFU Post-Bac and the U of A Qualifying Year to make up for some courses. Both seem like good options that can help me avoid the expensive UK MSc. With U of A, if I get admitted, I need to pass the Qualifying Year with just a 3.0 to continue to the MA so that's my best shot I think.

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    Re: From Physics Undergrad in UK to PhD in Economics in Canada/US

    SFU and U of A are both good programs to use as a stepping stone to a Canadian PhD. Also SFU offers extremely competitive funding for their MA.
    --Best of Luck

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