Columbia University
Source: Columbia University

Why do children whose parents are wealthier are themselves wealthier later in life? Is this relationship driven primarily by nature or nurture? What are the effects of prevalent industrial policies such as those aiming to attract superstar firms, usually foreign multinationals, to the economies of developing countries? How do demographics, technology, public expectations, and income growth influence the demand for health and social care? What is the impact of teachers’ gender bias on high school students’ education and employment trajectories?

The answers to these questions can be found through an advanced understanding of economics. Most governments, companies and organisations could benefit from a better understanding of scarcity, resources, incentives, and decision-making. Hence why those skilled in the ways of evaluating programmes, studying human behaviour, and explaining social phenomena stand to play greater roles in an increasingly uncertain world. If this is the professional impact you seek to make, start with a master’s degree from one of the world’s top universities:

Columbia University

Columbia University ranks among the world’s elite, with its master’s programme garnering acclaim from employers and PhD admission committees in its decade-long existence. Source: Columbia University

Columbia University

Belén Hípola recently began her PhD studies at Bocconi University in Milan, exploring the relationship between educational policies and economic outcomes. Wentao Hu is charting a professional path towards asset management, with aspirations of later pursuing a PhD. Michael Swistara, blending his passions with the quantitative research skills he developed during his MA, went on to earn a JD with a focus on Environmental Law. Kyle Hurysz is launching a new nonprofit in the summer of 2024, the National Coalition for Disabled Students.

These are just a few of the graduates of Columbia University‘s Master of Arts Programme in Economics — and their professional and academic trajectories showcase the impressive and diverse pathways this programme has helped pave for its students. Graduates have a track record of progressing to a wide range of chosen careers and advanced study.

From the World Bank to multinational financial and tech firms to competitive doctoral programmes, there’s a growing demand for professional and research economists equipped with advanced understanding of economics and its practical applications. The quantitatively oriented MA not only prepares students for diverse positions that involve applying frontier economics methods  but also lays a foundation for advanced doctoral studies in economics, with alumni matriculating to PhD programmes at esteemed institutions such as Harvard, Yale, Berkeley, Cambridge, and more.

Beyond the classroom, the Master of Economics Student Association (MESA) fosters a vibrant community within the programme through a mix of professional and social events, offering access to valuable resources like alumni networks, professional development opportunities, and mentorship. Past events include holiday gift exchanges, alumni panels, networking events, and many more.

The best part? Columbia’s campus is located in New York City’s Manhattan, placing you at the crossroads of global finance, arts, and culture. Benefit from access to industry leaders and professional opportunities that have led graduates to roles at Goldman Sachs, McKinsey, Apple, and more. You will receive support throughout your job search or doctoral application from a dedicated team of advisors. Students can leverage the resources offered by the Graduate School of Arts & Sciencesa, including GSAS Compass, for tailored career counseling and workshops.

Columbia University

With nine Nobel laureates among its staff and alumni, LSE’s economics department has been part of major intellectual advancements over the last 50years. Source: London School of Economics and Political Science/Facebook

London School of Economics and Political Science

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) boasts one of the world’s leading economics departments, renowned for its cutting-edge research, prestigious MSc programmes, and impactful alumni. With a legacy of shaping economic thought and nurturing future leaders, the Department of Economics offers an unparalleled opportunity to delve into the complexities of the global economy.

The department offers many MSc programmes designed to equip students with the advanced analytical and technical skills highly sought by employers. These programmes include MSc Economics, MSc Economics (Two Year Programme), and MSc Econometrics and Mathematical Economics.

The MSc Economics programme prepares students for professional roles in government, central banking, international organisations, and private sector firms. The curriculum covers core economic theory, macroeconomics, and econometrics, using mathematics for in-depth understanding and analysis.

Here, you’ll learn from the brightest minds. The faculty includes nine Nobel Prize winners. “The level of teaching and research in the MSc Economics programme is excellent,” says student Leo Chi-Chung Ng. “The teaching is diverse, as each of the lecturers specialise in their own research areas, which allows many in-depth academic discussions. We also had this year’s Nobel laureate teach us in one of the core courses.”

Located in London, a global financial hub, the department offers access to academic resources, research institutes, and industry leaders, creating a dynamic learning environment that prepares students for real-world challenges. The result? LSE graduates have secured positions with the likes of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Bank of America, while others pursue PhD programmes at top universities like MIT and Stanford. 

Columbia University

Oxford University hosts one of the world’s largest academic economist groups, renowned for impactful research influencing policy, supported by vibrant early-career scholars and distinguished programmes. Source: University of Oxford/Facebook

University of Oxford

The University of Oxford has been ranked #1 in the world by Times Higher Education for eight consecutive years and is among the top three universities in the world and second in Europe according to QS World University Rankings 2024. Here, over 13,000 graduate students make up half of the university’s overall student body. They are of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds. As admission to Oxford is very competitive, each brings something special, whether in their ability, enthusiasm, curiosity or commitment.

These are the people you’re set to learn and collaborate with as an MPhil in Economics student here. The programme offers comprehensive training in economic theory, applied economics, and econometric methods. This two-year journey prepares students for doctoral research or careers in government, private sector, or international organisations. Its flexible structure enables students to tailor their studies towards their specific goals, whether pursuing a DPhil at Oxford, a PhD elsewhere, or launching a professional career.

Personalised guidance is a part of the MPhil experience. Each student is assigned a dedicated academic supervisor for the first year, followed by an MPhil thesis supervisor in the second year. Co-supervisors from outside the department can be recruited for specialised expertise.

Graduates have secured positions at prestigious institutions like the Bank of England, Bank of Japan, and the European Central Bank, while others have pursued doctoral programmes at renowned universities like Cambridge, Harvard, and MIT.

Columbia University

In recent years, Berkeley Economics PhD graduates have been recruited by prestigious institutions like Harvard, MIT, Yale, the U.S. Federal Reserve, and the World Bank. Source: UC Berkeley/Facebook

UC Berkeley

From humble beginnings as a “Political Economy” department with a single faculty member, UC Berkeley’s Department of Economics is today ranked #3 in the US by US News & World Report. 

Established in 1903, the department has a distinguished faculty known for their creativity and groundbreaking work across various economic fields. Together with their students, they have led pioneering research in economic theory, econometrics, and major applied areas. Their expertise extends beyond theory, as evidenced by their roles as policymakers at the highest levels, both domestically and internationally. Last year, professors Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman were named 2023 Citation Laureates, a recognition of their work as  Nobel-prize class. The previous year, Quantedge Presidential Professor Yuriy Gorodnichenko won the R. K. Cho Economics Prize, an award reserved to scholars who have contributed to the development of scholarship and education. 

For aspiring economic scholars, the department offers a prestigious PhD in Economics programme designed to cultivate original research and advanced study. The comprehensive programme progresses through two stages: preparation for candidacy and dissertation completion. The former stage equips students with essential knowledge of econometric methods, economic history, and core microeconomic and macroeconomic theory. Specialisation and independent research take centre stage during the following years, ending in a dissertation representing a significant contribution to the field.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International