How will prospective students decide whether to apply for the MFRE or the M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics?
The MFRE is a professional degree designed for careers in industry or government where research is not a main component. It emphasizes skills required by practitioners in the food and resource sectors who contribute to public policy issues and business decisions, where questions tend to be more applied than theoretical. Because the MFRE is course based and requires a summer Graduating Project instead of a thesis, it can be completed in one year. This makes it more attractive for those students with a tighter time constraint, such as working professionals. The M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics is designed for students wanting a career where research is a main component. Because the M.Sc. involves an intensive research experience and thesis, it usually takes at least two years to complete. The M.Sc. is more dependent on mathematically demanding graduate courses in microeconomics and econometrics. The MFRE, on the other hand, places more emphasis on learning the underlying economics, being able to apply economic theory to real world problems including empirical work, with less attention to mathematical rigor and proofs.
NB: The M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics program at UBC is currently not accepting new applicants. If you are interested in the M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics degree many other Canadian universities offer strong programs.
What if I want to go on for a Ph.D. in Agricultural or Environmental Economics?
Although both the MFRE and M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics provide an excellent foundation for students wanting to go on for a Ph.D., the M.Sc. is more specifically geared towards students going on for further graduate work. M.Sc. programs typically involve high level economic theory and quantitative methods courses in addition to an intensive research experience in the form of the thesis. Therefore, if you know you want to go on for a Ph.D., the M.Sc. is probably your best bet. If you are not planning to go on for a Ph.D., but change your mind, the MFRE will keep the door to a Ph.D. open. If you already have research experience from another masters degree or from your work experience, the MFRE would be a good stepping stone to the Ph.D. In fact, a number of MFRE graduates have carried on for a Ph.D.
Are students outside the MFRE program allowed to take the FRE graduate courses?
Although MFRE courses are restricted to students enrolled in the MFRE program, exceptions have been made for a small number of students who come from partner programs, especially where they will strengthen the student mix and bring different points of view to the classes. Students outside the MFRE program will not be allowed to take any FRE graduate course unless they can clearly demonstrate that they have the appropriate background in economics, mathematics and statistics.
Can I start the MFRE program in January?
No – all MFRE students begin the program in September.
How much does the program cost?
Please visit our Tuition & Fees page for the breakdown of tuition and student fees.
What financial support is available?
Please visit our Scholarships & Financial Aid page for information on scholarships and teaching assistantships.
How many students enroll in the MFRE program each year?
The program has gradually grown from about 20 students in the early years to 40 students in 2017/18. We target top university graduates and working professionals who want to return to university to refresh and upgrade their knowledge and skills. We value the experience that working professionals bring to the program, and want to increase the number of working professionals coming to MFRE in the future.
Where do the students come from?
The thinking and underlying design of the MFRE program gave approximately equal weight to Canadian (domestic) students and international students. Food and environmental issues are global in scope, so the MFRE degree will include both Canadian and global perspectives. The applied economics skills acquired in the MFRE program will be valuable for students from any country.
In a typical year, approximately 1/3 of the students are Canadian, and 2/3 international. International students have come from 29 different countries; Australia, Bangladesh, Belize, Chile, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Singapore, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, the United States and Zimbabwe. The MFRE program will continue to be global in scope, and attract candidates from around the world. This is particularly important in achieving cultural diversity for the program. UBC and Vancouver are both excellent places to study for students coming from different cultural backgrounds as they are both leaders in inter-cultural understanding.
What should I do about finding housing/accommodation in Vancouver?
Rental accommodation in Vancouver is very competitive, so you should try to arrange your accommodation as soon as you can. It is your choice whether to live on campus or off campus. Many students find off campus accommodation to be cheaper than on campus. But there are advantages to living on campus. Especially because this is only a one-year program, living on campus provides more time for studying and participating in the many activities available on campus, as well as more chance to interact with other students. If you would like to live on campus, and have not already applied for a UBC Student Residence, it is important to do so as soon as possible as the residences always fill up. You can even apply before you have been admitted to the MFRE program. For details visit: http://www.grad.ubc.ca/apply/housing. Some of the MFRE students in the past have had good experiences in the graduate residences at UBC (Green College and St. John’s College) while others have had good experiences at Marine Drive Residence.
Where are the employment opportunities for MFRE graduates?
There is demand in Canada and around the world for professionals who can understand and analyze the economic relationships underlying the food and resource sectors. This demand has been increasing due to the prevalence and complexity of economic issues dealing with food security, safety, trade, and the effects of the food sector on the environment. Governments and private industry, both in developed and developing countries, want professionals with applied economic skills and knowledge of the institutions, policies and other key features of the food and resource sectors. The MFRE will provide the skills that economic practitioners in these sectors require.
Please visit our Work after MFRE page for more information.
As an international student, how long can I stay in Canada after graduation?
International students are eligible to apply for a Post Graduate Work Permit after graduation which matches the duration of their study.
MFRE skills are highly sought after in British Columbia and MFRE graduates who plan to stay longer should note that they could be eligible to apply for the BC Provincial Nominee Program (International Post Graduate) under Skills Immigration - International Post-Graduate, which is a fast-tracked route to Permanent Residency in Canada.
More information about being an international graduate from UBC is available on the faculty of graduate studies website here.
Do MFRE students have time to work part-time during the program?
MFRE has been designed to be a very intensive program so that it can be completed within 12 months. Both Term 1 and Term 2 involve a full course load which will keep you busy during the week with classes and during the weekends with assignments to do and papers to write. The Graduating Project during Term 3 is worth 6 credits and likewise involves a full time commitment. Given the intensity of the program over the full 12 months, we strongly discourage any MFRE students from taking on part-time employment. We realize the financial challenges of undertaking a professional masters program, but experience shows that trying to work at the same time takes away from success in the MFRE program. If a student feels they need to work part-time to finance the MFRE program, it is usually best to postpone taking the program until finances improve.
Application and Admission Questions
When can I apply?
The application process opens in September for students wanting to begin classes the following September.
Please visit our Admissions page to learn more about the application process.
How do I apply to the MFRE program?
Please visit our Admissions page to learn more about the application process.
Is there an application fee for the MFRE program?
What do you look for in an MFRE applicant?
In addition to your grades, we take into account your academic background, references, English language capability, work experience, extra-curricular activities and other factors that can contribute to your success in the MFRE program.
What are the program's prerequisites?
The MFRE program requires a bachelor’s degree in an area such as economics, agricultural economics or business that provides a solid background in economics. You can apply for MFRE before you have completed your bachelor’s degree. For example, at UBC many students apply in Term 1 of their final year of undergraduate, when they still have Term 2 (January to April) courses to take in order to complete their undergraduate degrees. The specific background required for the MFRE degree involves the following four competencies: mathematical competency, statistical competency, micro-economic theory competency and general economic competency. See the Elegibility Requirements page for the details of these four competencies.
Students must also meet UBC standards for admission laid out by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Please visit our Elegibility Requirements page for additional information.
Are graduates in Food Science or Food Technology eligible to apply?
These graduates will only be eligible to apply if they have met the minimum background and standard specified on the Elegibility Requirements page. Although food is a major focus of the MFRE degree, MFRE is a degree in applied economics - it applies economics to food and natural resources. Thus, applicants need a background in economics to be successful.
Do I have to meet an English language requirement?
Please visit our Elegibility Requirements page to learn more about admission requirements.
Will I be interviewed as part of the application process?
Possibly. The MFRE program will interview some applicants where it is thought to be beneficial to the applicant and for the program.
When will I find out if I have been admitted to the program?
Please visit our Admissions page to find out more about the admission process.
When does the program begin?
For most students the program begins with the Summer Program in early August. Formal classes of the MFRE program start in September.
Is the Summer Program required?
The Summer Program is comprised of three main components: (1) an intensive microeconomic theory course; (2) an orientation program, including some field trips; and (3) a statistics review. The Summer Program is mandatory for all incoming MFRE students unless they have received an exemption from the MFRE academic director. Requests for exemption should be initiated by sending an email giving reasons to shristee.rahman[at]ubc[dot]ca. An example of an exemption would be a student who has a particularly strong economics background (e.g. an Economics major who recently took intermediate microeconomic theory (such as ECON 301 or COMM/FRE 295 at UBC) and obtained a first class grade.
How long is the program?
The MFRE program is 12 months long, and spans 3 academic terms. Students take intensive courses in Term 1 (September-December) and in Term 2 (January-April). Students carry out a summer Graduating Project (May-August) under the supervision of FRE faculty and other professional economists.
Please visit our Program Overview page for more information.
What degree do I receive?
Master of Food and Resource Economics (M.F.R.E.).
What are the program's graduation requirements?
MFRE students are required to take 24 credits of FRE courses, which can include 6 credits of restricted electives. The final requirement is a credit Graduating Project (6 credits).
Please visit our Course Overview page for more information.
Who teaches the required graduate courses?
About half of the required graduate courses are taught by regular UBC faculty members from the Food and Resource Economics group. They teach in their area of research expertise. The other required graduate courses are taught by Sessional Instructors, who come from other faculties, industry or government, and bring their experience working on economic issues in the food and resource sectors to the classroom. For example, the two courses in agribusiness (FRE 515 and 516) are both taught by instructors with business experience in the agri-food sector.
Read about the MFRE Faculty to learn who teaches most of the program's courses.
Is tuition reduced for the summer term when I will only be doing 6 credits for the Graduating Project?
No – the tuition that you pay for MFRE is for the program as a whole. The tuition is collected in three installments, one for each term, to make it easier for you to spread out the tuition payments, rather than paying the full amount at once.
What will the Graduating Project involve?
The Graduating Project allows students to apply the concepts and skills acquired through two terms of course work to a real world problem.
Please see our Graduating Projects page for more information.
Do MFRE candidates expect compensation for work during their Graduating Projects?
The primary purpose of the Graduating Project is to provide MFRE candidates with the opportunity to add value to partner organizations by working on solutions for real world problems. The ideal Graduating Project is a win-win for all stakeholders: MFRE candidates, partner organizations, and the MFRE program. Partner organizations benefit from having a well-trained candidate who can bring focus, an unbiased external perspective, and access to UBC resources and networks. Candidates gain from having a new industry experience, the sharpening of skills learned, and the development of their professional networks.
We encourage both employers and candidates to take a wholesome approach towards compensation. Candidates should recognize this: a strong referral that opens doors to multiple opportunities is usually far more valuable than just a summer-time allowance. The level of financial compensation largely depends on candidate experience. The MFRE program also provides student travel grants to help defray the re-location costs for students doing their Graduating Projects away from the Vancouver area.
Do these Graduating Projects lead to permanent jobs at the same organization?
Yes – in fact the MFRE program is very pleased with how many times this has happened. For each of the past cohorts of MFRE students, several candidates have been hired by the agency or company where they completed their project or internship. Of course it is impossible to predict which opportunities will lead directly to a job, because so much depends on timing (when there is an opening). All Graduating Projects provide valuable experience that directly aids candidates in securing full-time employment after graduation, whether with the same organization or not.