Our programmes

International economics

 

A PATHWAY TO A CAREER IN INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS


The Master in International Economics is a small, selective programme focused on preparing students for jobs in international organisations, governments, NGOs and think tanks as well as the private sector. Our program is also well suited to students who want to go on and do a PhD (either at the Graduate Institute or in another university). About one sixth of our master students choose this option.


The programme combines a rigorous training in the advanced empirical and analytical tools that are required for careers in international economics with a policy orientation. It provides students with the necessary work-skills, and the institutional and historical background they will need to apply the tools to real world problems.


This applied approach – teamed with our close connection to the international organisations in Geneva (where many students do internships) and across the world – explains the remarkable success of our students over the years . Graduates have secured jobs in top-level national and international institutions (ranging from the World Bank, IMF and OECD, WTO, WIPO, ILO and other UN agencies, central banks, and economic ministries), policy institutions such the WEF,  NGO and think tanks, as well as consultancies, multinationals and banks.

Reuben Muhindi Wambui, the 2020 winner of the Rudi Dornbusch Prize for best Master thesis of International Economics, is talking about his experience studying at the Graduate Institute. Reuben is now working as Africa Regional Coordinator at UNEP FI.

The professors are known worldwide in their respective areas and offer first-hand experience in using international economics to address the world’s many problems. Teaching is by professors (not graduate students) using hands-on, problem-solving approaches. In addition to lifelong academics, the faculty includes practitioners such as the Chief Economist of the World Trade Organisation, and faculty members which have spent part of their career working in policy institutions such as the World Bank, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission, and the US Federal Reserve. In addition to the core economics courses , the department offers an applied course taught by department’s alumni holding senior positions in international organizations. This course provides our students a unique opportunity to better understand how economics is used in policymaking and to get to know personally senior staff at organizations such as the IMF, the World Bank and the OECD.  


A supportive, collaborative learning environment
The high professor-student ratio, the small class sizes, and the highly diverse student body create a collegial, stimulating, and friendly atmosphere. As Julieta Contreras, a Master student from Mexico who graduated in 2020 put it: “there is an environment of collaboration where you can develop skills together with your classmates. There is solidarity and friendship .” 


A critical part of the training stems from constant interactions with bright, open and diverse minds from all over the world. Interdisciplinarity is a core principle of the Graduate Institute so you will be networking with students of international law, international history, international relations, social anthropology, and international development. 


Located physically at the centre of Geneva’s numerous international organisations, the Graduate Institute is a global hub for policy-relevant research in international relations in general and international economics in particular. Talks, debates and events are held virtually every evening in the Graduate Institutes ultra-modern building (the ‘Maison de la Paix’).  The Graduate Institute has also a close link with the London-based Centre for Economic Research (CEPR), the premier network of economists in Europe: the President of CEPR, one of its vice presidents and the editor in chief of VoxEU (CEPR’s policy portal) are all professors at the Graduate Institute and our students benefit from joint events organized by the CEPR and the Graduate Institute. 


Beyond academics, living in Geneva exposes our students to a diverse, cosmopolitan environment, where you cannot help but broaden your horizons while picking up some French. The Graduate Institute is bilingual (English and French), but all economics courses are taught in English. 
 

Graduate Institute

Master in International Economics

Flyer

The teaching programme
The Master programme is organised into three tracks – International Finance, Development, and International Trade. Regardless of your track, you will in the first three semesters take the six core classes (two semesters of microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics) and write your Master’s thesis in the fourth semester. A math refresher course (affectionately known as the "math bootcamp") is taken before the beginning of the first semester.  The track-specific courses are taken from the second semester on you select electives offered by the department as well as some courses offered by other department (law, history, political science, anthropology and sociology) and partner institutions (e.g. the University of Geneva or Lausanne).  There is also a possibility of doing the third semester on exchange at one of our partner institutions. Download the Pamphlet for details. 


Who can apply?
Our rigorous admission process selects two to three dozen candidates who are highly diverse, talented, and greatly motivated to pursue careers in international economics. While many successful candidates have undergraduate degrees in economics, we also consider students with different background as long as they have solid analytical and quantitative skills, good grades and supportive letter of recommendation.. The GRE is not required but recommended for applicants for whom evidence of quantitative skills is otherwise lacking.


Is financial support available?
Yes. Although we unfortunately cannot finance all Master students, the Institute offers a significant number of scholarships. You can apply for support for your first year when applying to the Institute.


Can I proceed onto the PhD programme?
Conditional on being admitted, the answer is "yes". Perhaps the simplest manner of doing so is through our “fast track” option where master students apply at the end of the second semester. More details on the PhD programme are found on the PhD page. 


How to apply?
Admission is organised at the Institute level. Interested students are kindly asked to follow the General Admission Procedure to the Institute's programmes. In addition to the general admission conditions, the Economics department suggests that applicants take the GRE test (school code: 2258; department code: 1901), although this is not a formal requirement.


What else do I need to know?
If you have any additional questions about being a Master student in Economics at the Graduate Institute, please feel free to reach out to one of our students. 

APPLY FOR A MASTER OR A PHD IN INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS

PhD in International Economics

 

The PhD programme is a challenging degree tailored for exceptional students with a strong commitment to economics and a proven ability for inquisitive, independent work.

What is it?

The four-year PhD programme is centred around a research dissertation. This work represents a substantial contribution to economics and demonstrates your ability to combine independent research with the formal methodologies and tools of modern economics.

Who can apply?

Admissions are decided on the basis of individual files. Most candidates hold a Master's degree in economics with high marks. We consider both candidates from our own MIS programme in economics, as well as candidates from outside universities with a top reputation. If you are interested in the PhD programme but do not yet hold a Masters degree, an option is to enter the Master in International Economics, and apply for the PhD in your second Master year using our "fast track" option. 

What does it prepare you for?

The PhD programme trains you to undertake innovative research in international economics. Our graduates have secured positions in prominent policy institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and the research departments of central banks. While our training is focused on policy application, many graduates have secured positions in academia.

How is the programme structured?

The programme consists of classes (in English) and the research dissertation.

  • Classes cover a sequence of two courses in the first two semesters, either in international macroeconomics or international trade. In addition, students follow a class in advanced econometrics in the second semester.

  • While there is no requirement to take elective classes, you have the option of following classes in economics or other departments of the Institute as an auditor, subject to approval of the Professor.

  • The dissertation is the central element of the programme. You will choose a Professor to be your academic supervisor in the first year. You will submit and defend a dissertation proposal, known by its French acronym MPT (Mémoire préliminaire de thèse) by the end of the third semester. That proposal describes your research plan and you will be expected to have clearly identified your research question, show a good grasp of the related literature, as well as have a clear plan for the methods and data you intend to use. The dissertation usually takes the form of three chapters written under the direction of your supervisor, each of which is suitable as an independent paper. We allow for co-authorship of chapters, but expect you to demonstrate the ability to undertake research on your own. Students usually have one chapter ready by the beginning of their fourth year, which they use as their job market paper to secure employment.

  • The credit requirements are for 18 credits (ECTS) from the three core classes.

Can I follow classes outside the Institute?

Yes. You can take classes in other institutions as auditors, subject to approval by your supervisor.

You can also apply for the Gerzensee doctoral programme in economics administered by the Gerzensee training center of the Swiss National Bank.

Is financial support available?

Yes. Financial support takes the form of teaching assistantships, scholarships (both administered by the Institute) and research assistantships (usually administered by Professors using external funding). You can apply for support for your first year when applying to the Institute. Applications to obtain support for subsequent years are submitted during the spring semester for funding that will start in the next fall semester.

While we cannot commit to funding all of our PhD students, all PhD students have been able to secure some source of funding.

What is the work atmosphere like?

Very collegial and stimulating. Each year we admit a small number of PhD students (typically between 3 and 6). This allows for close contact between students and faculty members. The economics section fully recognises that PhD students will become colleagues in a short time and we value the contribution of the students in the life of the economics section.

There is also a cooperative atmosphere among students. PhD students elect a representative who is in regular contact with the faculty and the administration and attends most departmental meetings.

What are the opportunities to learn about and present research?

Several. We hold a research seminar where outside speakers come about every two weeks to present papers that are either recently completed or in progress. This seminar series attracts prominent researchers and gives students an exposure to the current research topics in international economics. The economics departments of the Universities of Geneva and Lausanne are also a short distance away and offer seminar series.

In addition to the seminar series, the section hosts a weekly workshop known as the BBL (Brown Bag Lunch) where PhD students present work in progress. This is a very useful opportunity to learn what your fellow students are doing and receive feedback on your own research.

We also hold a “PhD day” once a semester. Each PhD student gives a 10 minutes overview of her/his current research and obtains feedback from other students and faculty members.

The economics section also encourages students to present their work at economics conferences and submit it to journals, and offers a contribution towards the expenses this involves.

What do our PhDs go on to do?

The Institute is well known for preparing students to work in international organisations, central banks and national administrations, and some graduates choose to pursue academic carreers. The combination of advanced knowledge of up-to-date theories and methodologies and our emphasis on real-life uses of economics is highly appreciated by employers like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the OECD and many other policy-oriented institutions where alumni develop highly successful careers.

How to apply?

Admission is organised at the Institute level. Interested students are kindly asked to follow the General Admission Procedure to the Institute's programmes. In addition to the general admission conditions, the Economics department requires applicants to the PhD programmes to take the GRE test (school code: 2258; department code: 1901).

What else do I need to know?

PhD in Development Economics

 

The PhD programme is a challenging degree tailored for exceptional students with a strong commitment to Development Economics and a proven ability for inquisitive, independent work.

What is it?

Over the past decade, Development Economics has arguably become one of the most interesting fields in the profession. From global macroeconomic issues, such as the determinants of economic growth, to carefully-crafted microeconomic work in which rigorously constructed theories are tested in developing countries, often using cutting-edge experimental or quasi-experimental techniques, Development Economics is at the heart of many current policy debates. What works and what does not in terms of social programmes geared towards reducing poverty, child malnutrition, or the spread of HIV/AIDS? What policies should a country follow in order to ensure sustained economic growth and an equitable distribution of income?

Attempting to answer such questions stands at the core of our programme. Our four-year PhD programme is centred around a dissertation. This work represents a substantial contribution to Development Economics and demonstrates your ability to combine independent research with the formal methodologies and tools of the trade.

Who can apply?

Admissions are decided on the basis of individual files. Most candidates hold a Master's degree in economics with high marks. We consider both candidates from our own MIS programme in economics, as well as candidates from outside universities with a top reputation. If you are interested in the PhD programme but do not yet hold a Master's degree, an option is to enter the Master in International Economics programme and apply for the PhD in your second year using our "fast track" option. 

What does it prepare you for?

A practicing Development Economist must be, first and foremost, a very good economist, trained in the tools of the trade, from micro and macro theory, to advanced econometric techniques. But a Development Economist should be much more and should display sensitivity towards and knowledge of diverse cultural settings, know how to engage key stakeholders in developing countries (from the government to local NGOs), and be capable of getting things done in the field in conditions that are sometimes quite difficult.

Our graduates have secured positions in prominent policy institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the research departments of prominent governments. While our training is focused on policy application, many graduates have secured positions in academia.

How is the programme structured?

The programme consists of classes (in English) and the research dissertation.

  • Classes cover a sequence of four courses in the first two semesters: micro- and macro-development PhD seminars, one advanced econometrics class, and a class in impact evaluation.

  • Students can take a minor in another discipline (political science and anthropology/sociology of development being the most common), so as to be equipped to deal with complex issues from at least two academic standpoints.

  • Students are encouraged, when appropriate, to carry out fieldwork in the context of projects supervised by faculty members in developing countries.

  • While there is no requirement to take additional elective classes, you have the option to follow classes in economics or other departments of the Institute as an auditor, subject to approval of the Professor.

  • The dissertation is the central element of the programme. You will choose a Professor to be your academic supervisor in the first year. You will submit and defend a dissertation proposal (the so-called “preliminary thesis statement”) by the end of the third semester. That proposal describes your research plan and you will be expected to have clearly identified your research question, show a good grasp of the related literature, as well as have a clear plan for the methods and data you intend to use. The dissertation usually takes the form of three papers written under the direction of your supervisor, each of which is suitable as an independent paper. We allow for co-authorship of chapters, but expect you to demonstrate the ability to undertake research on your own. Students usually have one chapter ready by the beginning of their fourth year, which they use as their job market paper to secure employment.

  • The credit requirements are 24 credits (ECTS) from the four classes.

Can I follow classes outside the Institute?

Yes. You can take classes in other institutions as auditors, subject to approval by your supervisor.

Is financial support available?

Yes. Financial support takes the form of teaching assistantships, scholarships (both administered by the Institute) and research assistantships (usually administered by Professors using external funding). You can apply for support for your first year when applying to the Institute. Applications to obtain support for subsequent years are submitted during the spring semester for funding that will start in the next fall semester.  While we cannot commit to fund all of our PhD students, the recent experience is that all of them have obtained some funding.

What is the work atmosphere like?

Each year we admit between 4 and 9 students, including those from our own MIS programme. This allows for close contact between students and faculty members. The economics section fully recognises that PhD students will soon become colleagues and we value the contribution of our students to departmental life. There is also a cooperative atmosphere among students. PhD students elect representatives who are in regular contact with the faculty and the administration.

What are the opportunities to learn about and present research?

Several. The department runs a weekly research seminar where outside speakers come to present papers. This seminar series attracts prominent researchers and gives students an exposure to current research topics in all branches of economics. The economics departments of the Universities of Geneva and Lausanne are also a short distance away and offer seminar series.
In addition to the seminar series, we also run a “Development Therapy” workshop once a semester where PhD students present work in progress. This is a very useful opportunity to learn what your fellow students are doing and receive feedback on your own research.

The department also holds a “PhD day” once a semester. Each PhD student gives a 10 minute overview of her/his current research and obtains feedback from other students and faculty members.  The economics section also encourages students to present their work at economics conferences and submit it to journals, and offers a contribution towards the expenses this involves.

What do our PhDs go on to do?

The Institute is well known for preparing students to work as professional economists on development issues in international organisations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, governments or the private sector and the academic world. The combination of advanced knowledge of up-to-date theories and methodologies and our emphasis on real-life uses of economics is highly appreciated by employers.

How to apply?

Admission is organised at the Institute level. Interested students are kindly asked to follow the General Admission Procedure to the Institute's programmes. In addition to the general admission conditions, the Economics department requires applicants to the PhD programmes to take the GRE test (school code: 2258; department code: 1901).

What else do I need to know?