Our programmes

Master in International Economics

 

What is it?

The programme, known in-house (and for historical reasons) as the MIS, is a rigorous two-year degree that equips students with state-of-the-art, policy-relevant training.  The programme is organised into three tracks: (i) International Finance, (ii) Development and (iii) International Trade.

Who can apply?

Our selection process is highly competitive.  Each year, we have the good fortune of examining a pool of extremely talented individuals from all over the world.  A successful candidate to the MIS programme usually satisfies three prerequisites. First, she/he has followed undergraduate economics classes and is familiar with the main concepts of the discipline. Second, she/he has a solid mathematical background and is thus comfortable with the technical aspects of economics.  Third, she/he has excellent GRE scores, very good grades and highly supportive letters of recommendation.

What does it prepare you for?

For a small department, we punch way above our weight in terms of student placement: we have been remarkably successful over the years in sending our students to top-level national and international institutions, from the World Bank, the IMF, or the UN system more generally, to central banks, NGOs and think tanks.  For those who choose to pursue a PhD, we have two excellent programmes of our own, and if you decide to test the waters at leading international universities, you should know that we have a great track record in terms of getting our students into top schools, both in the US and in Europe.

How is the programme structured?

The programme consists of core classes, electives and a thesis.  All economics classes are in English, while electives in other departments can be in French, given that the Graduate Institute is bilingual.  A thesis completes the programme.

  • The six core classes provide training in graduate-level microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics. They are taken over the first three semesters of the programme. You will also take a math refresher course, affectionately known as the "math bootcamp," before the beginning of the first semester.
  • Electives can be chosen both from the department's offerings and from those of other academic departments in the Institute.
  • By the beginning of your second year, you will identify a supervisor for your master thesis. Students normally narrow down their research topic during their third semester, leading to a concrete thesis proposal by the end of the semester. You will focus on writing your thesis during the fourth semester, under the guidance of your advisor.

The credit requirements are for 90 credits (ECTS) from classes: 36 from the six core classes, between 30 and 42 credits from electives in economics, and between 12 and 24 credits from electives outside economics, plus 30 credits for the thesis, for a grand total of 120 credits.

Can I follow classes outside the Institute?

Yes. You can take up to 2 classes in other institutions, subject to approval by the Directeur des études.  Should you want to spend your third semester on exchange in one of our partner institutions, your application must be submitted during your second semester.

Is financial support available?

Yes. Although we unfortunately cannot finance all MIS students, the Institute offers a significant number of scholarships. You can apply for support for your first year when applying to the Institute. Applications for support for the second year are submitted during the second semester.

What is the atmosphere like?

The atmosphere at the department is intimate: you will have a hard time not getting to know individual faculty members and your peers. Our faculty, be they junior or senior, are usually excellent teachers, and are certainly superlative researchers who are respected the world over - and this has been the case since the Institute was founded in the 1920s. Our classes are small: if you have ever read a famous paper by Angrist and Lavy in the QJE, you will know that there is causal RDD evidence on the impact of class size on educational outcomes!  Our small size also fosters a highly cooperative ecosystem.  Each cohort of students elects a representative who is in regular contact with the faculty and the administration and who participates in most departmental meetings.

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. MIS students interested in one of the two PhD programmes can apply in their third semester. They will then follow doctoral classes in the fourth semester. When accepted, the fourth semester of their MIS will become the first semester of the PhD programme. Students will submit a dissertation proposal by the end of their fifth semester at the Institute, with a successful proposal granting them a Master degree. More details on the PhD programme are found on the PhD page. If the PhD application proves unsuccessful, students will simply finish the MIS programme in the standard timeframe.

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 Master and PhD programme to take the GRE test (school code: 2258; department code: 1901).
 

What else do I need to know?

If you have any additional questions about being a master student in Economics at IHEID, please feel free to reach out to one of our students.

Graduate Institute

Studying in the department of Economics

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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 Master and 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 Master and PhD programmes to take the GRE test (school code: 2258; department code: 1901).

What else do I need to know? 

 

APPLY FOR A MASTER OR A PHD IN INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS