Agricultural Economics (MSc)

The Food and Resource Economics (FRE) Group offers a Master of Science (M.Sc.) degree in Agricultural Economics which provides students with rigorous training in economics and quantitative methods. The program emphasizes applied resource and environmental economics and food market analysis, and can be completed in 24 months if students have the appropriate background.

The FRE group also offers a Master of Food and Resource Economics (MFRE) degree for students wanting a professional degree with less emphasis on research. Students interested in a multi-disciplinary research degree may wish to consider pursuing a MSc or PhD in Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems.

UBC’s Food and Resource Economics group offers a Master of Science (MSc) in Agricultural Economics. The MSc is customarily a two year program including coursework and a MSc Thesis. Students interested in undertaking the MSc should begin by contacting one of the faculty members before submitting a formal application to the MSc program.

Background Requirement for AGEC MSc

Entering students must have completed a bachelor’s degree in an area such as economics or agricultural economics that gives them a solid background in economics.

What should I include in my initial email to a FRE faculty member?
  1. An unofficial copy of your transcript(s)—translated to English if necessary. Our graduate office will be able to interpret transcripts in cases where the grading system differs from that in Canada.
  2. A two-page Research Proposal. The Proposal describes the research question you intend to address while at UBC. This proposal should be carefully written, as it will be the primary metric by which FRE faculty judge whether your research interests overlap with theirs. The proposal should not only identify the topic of study (e.g climate change), but propose a specific question to be answered (e.g. “Should Canada apply border tax adjustments on imports of carbon intensive agricultural goods?”) and an outline of the methods to be employed (e.g. conduct an econometric analysis of trade patterns using international panel data).

We understand that applicants may not yet know exactly what research methodology they want to employ, and that research questions tend to change as students explore a subject in depth. The Proposal is not designed to lock a student into a narrow research agenda. Rather, the Proposal is designed to elucidate information about a student’s research interests and goals and identify matches between FRE faculty and prospective applicants.

What happens if I find a faculty member with whom I’m a good match?

Once you’ve found a faculty member interested in advising you:

  • You will participate in a person-to-person or video interview with your prospective advisor. This meeting is designed to facilitate brainstorming regarding your research topic and test for basic competency in economics.
  • Together with your prospective advisor, you will jointly pursue funding options. This will often require jointly preparing a formal proposal to one of many funding agencies in Canada.
  • You must also submit a formal application to UBC Faculty of Graduate Studies, which will verify that you meet the minimum requirements for admittance to a UBC graduate program.

If you are interested in applying to multiple FRE faculty members, you should begin by contacting the Graduate Advisor ( Be sure to include the list of prospective advisors; the Graduate Advisor will then forward your two-page Research Proposal and unofficial transcript to the relevant faculty members.

Why does the FRE group ask applicants to contact potential advisors before applying to the program formally?

The FRE graduate program is small. We usually admit two-to-four MSc students a year. Most students are funded by project-based grants from outside agencies. Because it is so important that students are matched with projects suitable for their skill sets and interests, we rarely admit students “cold”, i.e. without first exploring topics of mutual interest. During this matching process, funding sources are identified and funding proposals are submitted. Preparing a funding proposal requires a significant time investment by both the faculty member and the prospective student; both parties should be sure of the match before making such an investment.

Is there a non-thesis option?

Students wishing to pursue a non-thesis Master’s degree should investigate UBC’s Master in Food and Resource Economics (MFRE), a 1-year professional program.

Can I do a PhD with a FRE faculty member?

Many FRE faculty advise PhD students via the Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems program, and as PhD students in other departments on campus, including the Department of Economics and the Sauder School of Business.

The M.Sc. program requirements are as follows:

  • 18 credits of coursework
  • thesis written under the guidance of a UBC-wide committee that is chaired by a FRE faculty member.

M.Sc. students generally elect the thesis option, but on occasion a non-thesis option is pursued. With the thesis option, students with an adequate undergraduate background in economic theory, mathematical economics and quantitative methods must complete FRE 501, ECON 500, ECON 526, ECON 527 and two field courses, which may be at the senior undergraduate level. Students without an adequate background must take additional preparatory courses.

Please note classes may not be offered each year. Check with the UBC Course Calendar to determine specific courses offered in the current year.

The Master of Science (MSc) program can normally be completed in 18 to 20 months.


Students interested in pursuing a PhD with Food and Resource Economics faculty members should pursue their degree via the Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems program.

  • Barichello, Richard: Graduate Advisor – Economics of trade policy, agricultural development, marketing boards, quota markets, dairy industry Southeast Asia.
  • Gulati, Sumeet: Environmental economics, international trade and political economy
  • McAusland, Carol: Environmental Economics, International Trade, Factor Migration, Political Economy, and Climate Policy
  • Vercammen, James: Agricultural R&D, contracting and supply chains, direct payments, environmental markets, agricultural risk and insurance

Adjunct Professors & Associates include:

  • C. Bennett — Resource management, rural development
  • R. Carew – Sustainable production systems, innovation, the BC Horticulture Industry
  • N. Malhotra – International trade
  • K. Wiseman – Agribusiness marketing and planning

The strength and unique nature of our program stems from cross-campus collaborations.

  • International: Faculty members have been involved with projects in a variety of countries throughout Asia and other parts of the world. Formal educational linkages exist that allow graduate students to study and research abroad.
  • UBC Faculty of Land & Food Systems: Our graduate programs are interdisciplinary in nature. Professors and students work in close collaborations with colleagues in other graduate programs within the Faculty. These include: Applied Animal Biology, Food Science, Human Nutrition, Plant Science and Soil Science.
  • UBC Sauder School of Business: This world-class business school has more than a dozen economists working on issues such as trade policy, regulatory and policy issues, industrial organization, finance and marketing.
  • UBC Vancouver School of Economics: Canada’s premier economics department specializes in industrial organization, trade, environmental issues and development.
  • Faculty of Forestry: Economists in Forest Resource Management often work with our students on issues such as climate change, biodiversity and recreation demand.
  • Other Collaborating Groups: Asian Centre, Institute for Resources & Environment

Graduates from agricultural economics often go on to policy, trade and economic analysis positions within government, banking and industry. Some graduates decide to continue in the area of research and academia with various universities and colleges.Examples of recent graduate positions:

  • BC Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • Jefe de Departamento de Valoración Económica Instituto Nacional de Ecología (INE)
  • Ministry of Agriculture Japan
  • PhD Student Washington State University
  • PhD Student University of British Columbia
  • Assistant Professor, University of Alberta
  • Consultant
  • Translink Economist
  • Association of Physicians Economist
  • Assistant Professor, University of Saskatchewan
  • Professor, Acadia University