Central European University (CEU) has always been at the forefront of academic innovation, and once again, it is breaking new ground with the launch of its latest Master’s programme. The Department of Economics and Business’s MA in Economics, Data, and Policy, which now boasts double accreditation from the US as well as Austria, will officially launch this year.
Recognising the limitations of narrowly defined master’s programmes, the department sought to address students’ demands for flexibility. “We decided to combine the strengths of our different programmes to establish a new one that is very flexible, both in focus of topics and in the level of mathematical rigour,” explains Associate Professor Adam Zawadowski, who brings a unique perspective, having graduated from CEU himself, before receiving his PhD from Princeton University.
“We have always had a strong focus on applied data analysis, and we decided to make this a defining feature by offering even more courses in this area. Also, we firmly believe that what we do, be it research or applied work, should not be self-serving but useful for society, thus the emphasis on policy also comes naturally.”
The four tracks of the MA programme is set to lead to diverse career paths, with Data Science graduates entering the private sector, Global Economic Policy track graduates contributing to international organisations or government agencies, Research track students pursuing PhD studies, and Finance track graduates becoming analysts in financial institutions.
To stay current with industry demands, the programme incorporates insights from CEU’s one-year MS programmes in Business Analytics and Finance. The Department of Economics and Business also actively engages research-active faculty members, providing students with opportunities to participate in a PhD research seminar, serve as research assistants, and gain hands-on experience in developing and presenting research ideas.
With such exposure on offer, it’s little wonder why students who begin their academic journey at CEU often decide to stay put once they graduate. Take Natasa Powel, for instance, who completed her Bachelor’s in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE) and is currently completing a Master of Arts in Economic Policy in Global Markets — which has now been incorporated into the new MA in Economics, Data, and Policy programme as a track.
The programme’s focus on international trends, data analysis skills, and coding has enhanced Powel’s learning experience, providing practical skills applicable in real-world scenarios. “With the data analysis courses offered at CEU, we get experience in software such as STATA, R and Python. At the same time, we also learn the logistics of what to use and when, and examine concrete real-life examples,” she says.
“Professors frequently share their research of previous jobs in the private sectors, this is incredibly interesting and beneficial in better understanding the use of these software.”
The voluntary internship complemented her studies too, expanding her job and traineeship opportunities. However, for her, what really makes the CEU experience stand out is its smaller, interactive classes. The department boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1, making it all the easier for learners to gain invaluable insights from their educators. “The professors in the department are great teachers. They are very helpful, holding office hours and being open to addressing issues the students might have,” Powel says. “Events are another aspect of why CEU stood out to me and why I chose to continue to study here.”
The department runs seminars and talks for figures from the private sector to share their experiences, insights, and notes on current research. There are even workshops and career events focused on preparing students for their next step after graduation. Meanwhile, the ever-ready Career Advising Centre offers one-to-one coaching to students in need of additional support.
Such guidance is offered to all students within the Department of Economics and Business, which also offers Master of Science programmes to young professionals. The MS in Business Analytics explores the future-focused topics of data analytics, computer science, and business topics, including programming, statistics with machine learning, big data and cloud computing, and data engineering. The MS in Finance is apt for those keen on specialising in Investments and Banking, Financial Management, Innovation and Fintech, Sustainable Finance or Data Tools and Analytics. Both programmes can be completed in one year if pursued full-time.
All programmes take place in the heart of Vienna, Austria’s capital city, known for its vibrant atmosphere, manageable size, and accessibility — making it an ideal setting for students. “We are also increasingly cooperating with other universities in Vienna which is very important in creating a critical mass of researchers, a great opportunity for those interested in doing a PhD,” shares Professor Zawadowski.
What Powel loves most about Vienna is its hiking opportunities, allowing students to explore beautiful natural landscapes and capture Instagram-worthy panoramas to share with family and friends back home. Most importantly, unlike some cities where finding suitable housing can be challenging, Vienna quickly became a second home.
“These practical aspects are important for our academic success, as staying in a liveable city means we don’t have to worry so much about basic human needs and can focus on our studies,” she says.