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Masters’ degrees in economics

    We offer four options to earn a master’s degree. The Master of Economics (MEcon, for short) is a one-year program that is most popular among domestic and international students. It provides you with the skills needed by professional economists working as high-level analysts in government agencies, large businesses, and consultancies.

    Further, we offer two-year programs to obtain a MA, MCom, or MSc. These combine a taught component taken over two semesters (full-time), followed by a substantial research thesis (in year two). However, if you have a suitable background, the MA and MCom can be instead taken as a one-year research thesis-only programme.

    1. Master of Economics: MEcon

    Improve your career prospects with a Master’s degree in Economics

    Earning a Master's degree in Economics from Otago equips you with the advanced knowledge and sophisticated skills needed for a career in Economics. This programme is designed to develop the skills needed by professional economists working as high-level analysts in government agencies, large businesses, and consultancies. It also offers a path to PhD studies.

    Quick Facts

    • One year programme
    • 6 x 400 level papers plus research dissertation
    • Entry in Semester 1 or Semester 2
    • Entry requirements: B+ average in third year papers (incl. Econ 375 and 377)

    Recent Placements

    Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ), United Nations, New Zealand Treasury, Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), PWC, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Landcare, Commerce Commission, StatsNZ, Pharmac, and others.

    If you have any questions or want to discuss postgraduate options, please contact us!

    Programme Structure

    Earning the MEcon normally requires 12 months of full-time study and consists of:

    • Six 20-point papers at Master’s-level (i.e., 400-level) in economics over two semesters. Two papers in advanced economic theory (ECON410 and ECON411), at least one of two papers in applied econometrics (ECON412 and/or ECON413), plus at least two additional 400-level papers are required.
    • A research dissertation (ECON580) worth 60 points. The dissertation involves supervised, individual research in an approved topic area. Students typically write the dissertation over the summer months. However, earlier hand-ins are possible.

    The MEcon can be studied full-time or part-time. You may start at the beginning of semester one (February) or semester two (July) each year, though starting in February is preferable.

    Entry requirements

    As the MEcon is a rigorous programme designed to provide high-level skills, success requires a solid background in undergraduate economic theory and econometrics as well as background in mathematics applied to economics.

    Entry into the MEcon programme normally requires a bachelor’s degree in Economics that includes ECON375 (Econometrics) and ECON377 (Mathematical Economics) or comparable coursework.

    Preparation for success in the MEcon includes general skill in mathematics used in economics, a solid grounding in intermediate micro- and macro-economic theory (with calculus), a year of intermediate-level econometrics, as in ECON210 and ECON375, and more advanced mathematical economics as in ECON377.

    A grade average of at least B+ for the best four 300-level papers that can count towards the Economics major subject requirement.

    Example: Typical paper choice, click here.

    Scholarships for study in the MEcon

    The University offers a total of 20 coursework scholarships across the University for coursework Master’s study. These scholarships are open to domestic and international students and are therefore very competitive. Scroll down to the bottom of the University Master’s scholarships page for more information.

    2. Master of Arts (MA), Commerce (MCom) or Science (MSc)

    Quick Facts

    • Typically, two year programme
    • Entry in Semester 1 or Semester 2

    You can earn a Master of Arts, Commerce or Science in Economics. It is your choice which of these you prefer as they each have the same requirements. As with the MEcon programme, these degree programmes aim to equip analytically able students with the tools necessary to succeed as professional economists or to go on to PhD-level study.

    These Master’s programmes take two years, one for coursework and the second for research. If you have already completed sufficient honours or master’s level coursework to a high standard, you can earn the degree in one year by completing a supervised research thesis.

    Option 1. Master’s degree by coursework and thesis

    This programme normally requires two years of full-time study, where:
    • The first year consists of 120 points of ECON400-level papers, including ECON485, Master's Thesis Preparation (20 points)
    • The second year involves a research thesis which involves supervised, individual research in an approved topic area

    You must complete the first year to a satisfactory standard in order to proceed with the thesis in the second year. If you do not proceed with the thesis, the 400-level papers you have completed can be counted toward a Postgraduate Diploma in Economics.

    Requirements for entry into the master’s degree by coursework and thesis are similar to those for entry into the MEcon programme:
    • A bachelor’s degree in Economics that includes ECON375 (Econometrics) and ECON377 (Mathematical Economics) or comparable coursework.
    • A grade average of at least B for the best four 300-level papers that can count towards the Economics major subject requirement. This grade requirement is lower than that for the MEcon (B rather than B+) due to the less restricted time frame.

    Option 2. Master’s degree by thesis alone

    This programme involves supervised, individual research in an approved topic area. Candidates must demonstrate that they have the background required to carry out the proposed research. Normally, the research and thesis requires at least 12 months of full-time study to complete.

    Requirements for entry into the one-year MA, MCom or MSc by thesis alone normally requires:
    • A bachelor's degree in Economics
    • A B average or better in 400-level (i.e., Honours/Master’s-level) coursework at Otago or comparable.

    Research Master’s Scholarships

    For domestic students, the University offers a total of 60 scholarships across the University to support the thesis component of Master’s study. These are awarded competitively.

    For international students the University offers a total of 8 scholarships across the University to support the thesis component of Master’s study. Competition for this small number of scholarships is intense.

    Go to the University Master’s scholarships page for more information.

    Please contact the Economics Department, if you have questions about any of these master’s degrees in Economics.