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MA thesis guidelines

The MA thesis provides an opportunity for the in-depth study of a topic in Economics, to go well beyond the scope of any specific topic covered by a lecture course. The thesis requires a substantial effort (typically much more than a term paper) in order to be accepted by the Department. Apart from providing personal satisfaction, a well-done paper or MA thesis can be shown to prospective employers or to graduate departments to support admission to a PhD program. An outstanding MA thesis could be published in an academic journal.

Need inspiration in finding the right supervisor or a research topic? See our list of recent theses and research papers.

Students registered for the MA course-based research paper may use these guidelines for the preparation of their paper.

Revised, July 2023

MA thesis guidelines

Please note that all MA students are required to submit their MA thesis for examination via Moodle once it is approved by their supervisor; submissions via email will not be accepted. The site also includes essential information that students must read prior to writing their thesis. Students can access the Moodle page as follows:

  • Log in to Moodle (
  • Select the course MA thesis first submission
  • If you do not have access to the Moodle course, please contact Kelly Routly at
  • Thesis (ECON 705): the final submission must be done via Spectrum. Refer to the thesis process page for more information about the process.
  • Research paper (ECON 703): students registered in the course-based option do not need to submit their paper in Spectrum. The rest of the process is the same as for the thesis option.
  • You do not have to register for ECON 703 or ECON 705. Registration is done by the Office of the Registrar once the final grade is processed.
  • Neither the Research Paper nor the Thesis have a defence.

The thesis might involve, for example, a critical survey of alternative approaches to a problem, the development of a new theory or a new application of an old theory, or empirical research in which existing work is extended or estimated with a different data set. The ultimate goal is to do independent and original work. The MA thesis is evaluated based on the quality and originality of the research and the proper use of the methods and tools of analysis.

The Concordia Libraries have an online Economics literature database called ECONLIT, which consists of a comprehensive collection of Economics research papers and publications. Consult the Reference Librarian for further information.

Students should carefully review the thesis process information available on the School of Graduate Studies's website.

The thesis is written under the supervision of a faculty member. If you are uncertain about which faculty member is best suited to supervise your topic, you may consult our departmental website and the individual faculty members’ websites. The Graduate Program Director (GPD) is also available for guidance.

Please find your supervisor first before starting to work on your research project, so you can take advantage of your supervisor's advice and feedback. You may approach a potential supervisor any time; just tell the professor about your research interests and ideas, and ask whether he/she is willing to supervise your MA thesis. 

Instructors of elective courses with a term paper requirement often encourage students to develop their term paper into their MA thesis. While this is not the only path to writing your MA thesis, this provides a natural way to obtain a research topic, a supervisor, and knowledge of some of the literature on your MA thesis topic, in addition to having the advantage that you can build on an already existing paper. 

Plagiarism in any form will not be tolerated in the MA thesis; it is regarded as a major contravention of the University’s Academic Code of Conduct (see the section on Policies and Procedures in the Graduate Calendar) and may result in denial of graduation or expulsion from the University. The Code defines plagiarism as "the presentation of the work of another person as one's own or without proper acknowledgement" (Article 16a).

In regard to any written work, it is required that:

  1. Any copying (of a sentence, phrase, or section, for example) from an article or book must be enclosed in quotation marks and properly cited with reference and page (as in the definition above).
  2. The development or application of an argument or theory whose origin lies with another author must acknowledge the origin by proper citation.
  3. All data sources must be acknowledged in sufficient detail to enable computations based upon them to be verified.
  4. An author of any written work must distinguish the contribution made by the author as distinct from the contribution made by others.   

Please consult the Moodle site for essential information that you must read prior to writing your research paper. The steps are:

  1. Once the student's supervisor deems the MA thesis acceptable and has signed off on it, a copy of the paper, satisfying the format and style outlined in the School of Graduate Studies's Style guide (the department requires the text to be 1.5 spaced instead of single spaced), should be submitted to the GPD via the Moodle MA thesis draft submission site.
  2. The GPD will then appoint an Examiner. The Examiner may ask for revisions of the thesis, and after all suggested revisions have been made, a grade of Pass or Fail is awarded.
  3. If the grade is Pass, the final version must be submitted on the Moodle page; this version must include the MA paper title page and MA paper or thesis signature page, available on this page. A hard copy of the final version will be stored for a period of three years in the Department.  
  4. Thesis option only: the approved version of a thesis must also be submitted via Spectrum.

The MA thesis initial submission deadlines to the Department of Economics are as follows.

  • For Spring graduation: March 4.
  • For Fall graduation: August 4.

For students admitted to the MA prior to the Fall 2021: ECON 703 Master's Research Paper will be recorded on your transcript once you have applied for graduation.

For students admitted to the MA in or after the Fall 2021: ECON 705 Master's Thesis will be recorded on your transcript once you have applied for graduation.

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