5 leading European schools of economics preparing graduates for global success
These five institutions are equiping their students with knowledge, skills and experience to succeed in a global world Soucre: Shuttershock

In a world marked by complexity and constant change, economists stand as unsung heroes, armed with the unique ability to unravel the intricacies of human decision-making. Rapid technological advances and the climate crisis pose some of the biggest challenges we have ever encountered. In this, the public and private sectors are turning to economists more. Questions range from how do we navigate the prices of goods, services and resources in a world with diminishing natural resources to whether there should be universal basic income when robots have automated most of our jobs? 

In “the age of economists,” there are teams of experts in all governments, international agencies and commercial banks focused on answering such questions. The employment of economists is set to grow by 6% from 2020 to 2030, outpacing the growth of many other occupations. To join them, advanced knowledge, skills and experience are necessary — the kind offered by the universities below.

University of Copenhagen

University of Copenhagen

Source: University of Copenhagen

The University of Copenhagen is a world-class research university in a city consistently ranked among the world’s best. Green, cycle-friendly, and safe, the Danish capital was recognised as “The Most Livable City” in 2021 by Monocle’s Liveable Cities Index. Students love it here — in 2020, it was one of the happiest student cities in the world (Topuniversities.com) and in 2021, the happiest place to study abroad 2021(Mastersportal).

One of the university’s standout offerings is the MSc in Economics — a programme celebrated for its flexibility and depth. The two-year programme is deeply grounded in theory, requiring proficiency in mathematical concepts, statistical tools like Stata and Python, and a nuanced understanding of macroeconomics and microeconomics.

In the first year, you’ll study Microeconomics III, Macroeconomics III, Econometrics II, and five elective courses. In the second year, you can also take various advanced elective courses, nearly all taught in English and cater to various interests. These elective courses include Advanced Microeconometrics, Advanced Macroeconometrics, Behavioural Economics, Development Economics, Advanced Empirical Finance, Health Economics and Environmental Economics.

The curriculum comes to life in courses and seminars. While courses provide a traditional classroom setting, seminars offer a more practical approach to assignments, presentations, and discussions. You’ll find it’s easy to approach lecturers here thanks to a flat student-teacher hierarchy. Beyond esteemed researchers, the university also brings industry experts to lecture, enriching the learning experience.

These features not only promise top-tier education and experiences, but also prepare you for a wide range of public and private careers. An MSc in Economics opens up diverse career opportunities, including roles in consulting, government, and the financial sector, as well as in teaching and research.

University College Dublin, School of Economics

Source: University College Dublin, School of Economics. Photo by Ste Murray

Ireland’s Global University – ranked in the top 1% of higher education institutions worldwide – is home to 9,500 international students from more than 152 countries. A master’s degree here puts you at the forefront of the latest research and in partnership with leading experts in their field. UCD is also the top university in Ireland for graduate employability.

UCD School of Economics shares many similar features. It is the country’s leading Economics department (2023 Repec Ideas ranking of Economics departments). Its faculty is an international community of world-leading economists who are global research leaders and actively involved in policy formation. Graduates progress to work for multinationals based in Dublin, a strategic European hub for large tech, pharmaceutical and financial services companies.

The school offers four MSc programmes tailored to meet the different career ambitions of our graduates. The MSC in Behavioural Economics is the only one of its kind in Ireland and one of the few worldwide with a strong policy and regulatory focus that will help you stand out in a world where employers seek to better understand individual and collective decision-making.  The MSc Economics and Data Analytics, offered in collaboration with the UCD School of  Mathematics and Statistics, combines knowledge of human behaviour and decision-making from economics with the latest data analytics techniques. The MSc Applied Economics is the ideal training for a career as a professional economist, focusing on applying economics  to address policy challenges or navigate business scenarios. The MSc in Quantitative Economics is best for those planning for PhD-level study in economics or a research-oriented career.

What makes these programmes stand out is: (1) The opportunity to choose between a  12-week   internship  or  writing a thesis over the summer trimester. You will be provided with extensive support to find an internship (past success rate was 100%) and 1-to-1 supervision for those writing a thesis;   (2) You will become an integral part of our research community by attending research seminars and dedicated research workshops; (3) Living and learning in Dublin connects you to a vibrant international community and in the thick of a rapidly growing economy, with many multinationals in tech, financial services and pharmaceuticals having bases here.

Discover more opportunities at UCD School of Economics.

University of Bristol

Source: University of Bristol

The University of Bristol offers a one-year, intensive MSc Economics that’s ideal for anyone with a bachelor’s degree in economics or a highly quantitative discipline. The MSc provides advanced training in economics and will equip you with the required skills for a career as an economist in industry, government, international institutions, central banking, non-profit organisations and consultancy firms.

Specialist pathways in economics, economic policy or macroeconomics let you focus on an area that aligns with your career goals. Whichever pathway you choose, what you learn will be current, exciting, and informed by research that has a direct impact on policy and practice – 97% of Bristol’s Economics and Econometrics research is rated either “world leading” or “internationally excellent” (REF 2021). 

“I chose the University of Bristol because of the amount of research it has in economics. I think the quality of teaching here is really high because the lecturers do give you a lot of one-on-one time and they ensure that whatever they are researching on, they impart on to you as well,” says Nicole Chan Lii King, an MSc Economics student. “You’re really getting to know the cutting edge of research on economics.” 

Recent graduates have progressed to roles at the likes of the Bank of England, the Government Economic Service, PwC and the NHS. University of Bristol graduates are the fourth most targeted by top UK employers (High Fliers Research, 2023). Other postgraduate taught programmes offered here include MSc Economics and Finance, MSc Economics, Finance and Management, and MSc Economics with Data Science.

The University of Edinburgh

Source: University of Edinburgh

Studying economics in Scotland is a special experience. The discipline is part of the country’s intellectual history and a prominent interest of its greatest philosophers David Hume and Adam Smith. The latter is widely known as the father of economics. His “Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” is regarded as one of the best-known intellectual rationales for free trade and capitalism.

At the postgraduate level, the University of Edinburgh awards three master’s programmes: MSc in Economics, MSc in Economics (Econometrics) and MSc in Economics (Finance). They are technical and highly focused on theory, develop the tools and skills necessary to undertake PhD research, and enable you to move directly into a career as a professional research economist. All are taught in Edinburgh by economics faculty from the eight Scottish universities who belong to the Scottish Graduate Programme in Economics (SGPE).

These MSc programmes benefit from diverse cohorts. As 60% of students come from outside the EU, you learn from students from Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Canada, Chile, Ghana, Iceland, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Turkey, Ukraine, and the US. In common lectures and seminars, you’ll find exposure to new perspectives and make lasting friendships – two advantages that will last far beyond the time spent at university. 

Graduates consider the MSc programmes as excellent preparation for a career as a professional economist or for doctoral studies.“The MSc equipped me with superior transferable analytical skills that have been extremely crucial in my work. My econometrics training also helps me discern why econometric analysis has not made inroads into these studies when there are various econometric techniques for modelling allocative efficiencies on the shelf,” says Lonjezo Sithole studied the Econometrics pathway of the SGPE MSc in 2018/19. 

“That insight is what I want in order to build better econometric models in future that can find their way into empirical application in organisations such as the World Bank.”

University of Manchester

Source: University of Manchester (Shutterstock)

The University of Manchester is renowned for its illustrious history in economics, dating back to the establishment of a Chair in Political Economy in 1854.

Ranked sixth in the UK and within the top 30 globally for Economics and Econometrics according to the Times Higher Education Rankings 2022, Manchester attracts a diverse cohort of postgraduate students from around the world. The appeal lies not only in its prestigious reputation but also in the comprehensive postgraduate training and supervision provided by programmes such as MA Economics, MSc Economics, MSc Economics and Data Science, MSc Financial Economics, and PhD Economics.

At the core of the MSc Economics programme are five compulsory course units covering microeconomic and macroeconomic theory, mathematical methods in economic analysis, econometric methods, and microeconometrics. The curriculum is carefully crafted to equip students with key concepts, ideas, tools and techniques. This way, students can read and understand leading economics journals, develop their economic models, and offer insightful critiques of underlying theories.

Hence, it’s no wonder the graduates here are equipped with skills and knowledge that make them highly sought after in the professional world. The extensive career paths include roles in accountancy, actuarial science, finance, banking, management training, consultancy, and even government positions. 

Alumni thrive in renowned institutions such as KPMG, Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Ford, Rolls Royce, the Bank of England, the Department for International Development, and many more.

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