Inequality Studies

The Master of Commerce by coursework and research report in the field of Inequality Studies trains researchers and policy practitioners to understand inequality around the world, with a focus on the global South.


The Master of Commerce in Inequality Studies is offered by the School of Economics and Finance (SEF) and the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies (SCIS) at the University of the Witwatersrand. This Masters trains researchers and policy practitioners to understand inequality around the world, with a focus on the global South. It offers a thorough and rigorous grounding in the literature, theory and methods of inequality studies, as well as in-depth exposure to current topics in inequality studies taught by those at the cutting edge of inequality research.  

The programme is interdisciplinary, drawing from economics, sociology, politics and education to offer a unique approach to inequality studies. Students with backgrounds across the social sciences are welcome, and the programme can be structured to focus on a number of important areas within inequality studies. The Master of Commerce in the field of Inequality Studies offers students a rigorous and interdisciplinary opportunity to develop their skills to address one of the world's most pressing socio-economic problems. 

Career Opportunities

The Masters in Commerce in Inequality Studies prepares students for careers in research, as well as for roles in government, policy making organisations, and NGOs.


The coursework Masters in Commerce in Inequality Studies comprises a research report of 15,000 words, together with a total of five courses. 

Compulsory Courses

There are two compulsory courses:

  • Introduction to Inequality Studies
  • Inequality Studies: Theory and Methods


Students must choose two electives from the School of Economics and Finance:

  • Applied Econometrics
  • Introduction to Applied Econometrics
  • Development
  • Applied Labour Economics and Inequality
  • Political Economy of Development
  • Public Economics
  • Economics of Competition and Regulation
  • Gender Economics

Students must also choose one elective from another school:

  • Equality
  • Development Theories, Issues, Problems and Strategies
  • Democratic Theory
  • Economic Sociology: Institutions, Capitalism and Markets
  • Environmental Sociology
  • Labour and Development
  • Collective Action and Social Movements
  • Race
  • Development as Ideology and Practice
  • Feminist Theory
  • Sociology of Land and Agrarian Reform in Southern Africa
  • Global Institutions and Economic Restructuring
  • Labour in the Global Economy
  • Economic Concepts for Research in Education, Skill Formation and Work

Note: Please note that the electives on offer in any one year may vary according to the availability of staff.

Entry Requirements

  • A bachelors degree with honours in Applied Development Economics/Economics/Economic Sciences or an honours degree in the social sciences.
  • Applicants are expected to have achieved an average of at least 65% for Honours.

Applicants must submit a one-page motivation letter explaining why inequality is a pressing socio-economic challenge, outlining their interest in inequality, and their suitability for the programme.

International applicants and South African applicants who do not hold South African university degrees must have their degree(s) assessed by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) before making an application. Ideally, the applicant should apply for SAQA assessment at least 3 months before applying to the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management. Please see the SAQA website for more details:

If the candidate has not taken an appropriate research methods course in their Honours year, this will also need to be completed for non-credit purposes in the Masters year.

Due Date for Research Report: The Research Report is expected to be completed alongside the coursework. The research proposal for the Research Report must be approved by the School’s Postgraduate Committee early in the second semester. Therefore, work on the research proposal should commence in the first semester. The completed Research Report must be submitted by the end of the following February.

University Application Process

  • Applications are handled centrally by the Student Enrolment Centre (SEnC). Once your application is complete in terms of requested documentation, your application will be referred to the relevant School for assessment. Click here to see an overview of the Wits applications process.
  • Please apply online. Upload your supporting documents at the time of application, or via the Self Service Portal.
  • Applicants can monitor the progress of their applications via the Self Service Portal.
  • Selections for programmes that have a limited intake but attract a large number of applications may only finalise the application at the end of the application cycle.

Please note that the Entry Requirements are a guide. Meeting these requirements does not guarantee a place. Final selection is made subject to the availability of places, academic results and other entry requirements where applicable.

International students, please check this section.

For more information, contact the Student Call Centre +27 (0)11 717 1888, or log a query at

University Fees and Funding

Click here to see the current average tuition fees. The Fees site also provides information about the payment of fees and closing dates for fees payments. Once you have applied you will be able to access the fees estimator on the student self-service portal.

For information about postgraduate funding opportunities, including the postgraduate merit award, click here. Please also check your School website for bursary opportunities. NRF bursaries: The National Research Foundation (NRF) offers a wide range of opportunities in terms of bursaries and fellowships to students pursuing postgraduate studies. External bursaries portal: The Bursaries South Africa website provides a comprehensive list of bursaries in South Africa.