Which Concentration Should You Choose For Your Master's Degree in Economics?
If you're planning to study economics at a Master's level, then you may be given the opportunity to pursue a concentration. This is an area of specialist study within the field of economics which you give particular attention to. To help you decide whether a concentration is right for you, we're listing 10 of the most common economics concentrations and giving a brief overview of each, so you can see if they sound appealing.
Do bear in mind that some concentrations have specific entrance requirements above and beyond the entrance requirements for the economics master's, so check the websites of the universities which you are thinking about applying to for more details.
Applied Economics focuses on developing economic models which can be used to make decisions about national and foreign policy. It requires a solid knowledge of mathematics and the ability to reason about economics, and will appeal to those who want to make concretely useful policy suggestions which are based on economic knowledge.
Econometrics / Quantitative Methods
A similar concentration to Applied Economics is Econometrics or Quantitative Methods. These concentrations are focused on the methods used in economics, and hence has a focus on statistics and mathematics. It requires exceptional skill in statistics.
For students who want to combine the study of fields of from social science and the humanities, they may be interested in economic history. This involves using modern economic methods to examine historical situations and institutions.
Economic Theory is the branch of economics which develops and examines the theories on which models are built. It might include areas of mathematics theory like decision theory, game theory, or contract theory. It is suited to those who work well with highly abstracted concepts.
Health Economics is a relatively recent concentration which looks at how the principles of economics are applied to the healthcare industry. It may examine issues such as the costs versus outcomes of various healthcare systems, or the behavioural modelling of healthcare use. It is a field which will be increasingly important in the coming years, as healthcare systems continue to be developed around the world.
For those with an interest in international relations and economics, the concentration of International Economics studies these two subjects in combination. It includes subjects such as international trade, foreign investment, and international political economy, and would be appealing to students who wish to see the effects of economic policies which go beyond the country in which they live.
Labour Economics is a branch which focuses on the functioning of the market for waged labour, which might include subjects such as minimum wages, unionisation, and levels of unemployment. It is a field which is popular with students who feel a strong desire to promote better working conditions and who wish to represent the rights of workers to improve their compensation and benefits.
Macroeconomics is the branch of economics which studies large-scale economic systems, such as national or global economies. A concentration in macroeconomics might include the study of the GDP of various countries, national incomes, or the rate of consumption, investment, trade, or employment in particular countries. It is a suitable specialisation for students who would like to eventually work in an international company or organisation.
Finance / Financial Management
Those who want to work in the finance industry, for example for a bank, an investment group, or in financial regulation, should consider taking a concentration in finance or in financial management. The jobs which this can lead to are very well compensated, and finance specialisation is an area with real-world applicability.
Economic and Political Development
Students who wish to use their knowledge to promote social good may be interested in a concentration in Economic and Political Development. This topic studies poverty and its causes, and how development interventions can improve quality of life for people around the world. It includes topics like policy planning and advocacy which will help for those who want to work in development organisations.
- Study Advice Article
5 key differences between American- and European-style PhD programs
This piece primarily focuses on the differences and similarities between economics PhD programs on the two sides of the Atlantic. I later discuss how an economics PhD is organized in other parts of the world, as many other countries have modeled their PhD programs on one of these two styles. Program duration The most striking difference between an American and European economics PhD is the expected duration of the program.
- Preparing for a PhD
Should you prolong your predoc life?
If you go through curricula vitae of recent PhD graduates, you may find it’s not uncommon to see that a PhD owns two master’s degrees. As lots of MA/MSc in Economics programs are one-year programs, some students will pursue an MRes or MPhil in Economics afterwards. Others may opt for a degree in applied mathematics, statistics or another field with an intention to strengthen their quantitative and/or coding skills (summer school programs are another option to do this).
- PhD Recruitment
Optimise your Recruitment Strategy for Economics PhD Positions
Candidates can find more information in our guide on how to successfully apply to a PhD in Economics. For institutions aiming to find the best international talent for their PhD positions, the most important question is how to reach the right audience, primarily current master’s students. You don’t want to waste all your budget chasing after the wrong candidates.