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

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.

Example courses: 

Master in Applied Labour Economics for Development, International Training Centre of the ILO

➲ Graduate Degree in Applied Economics, Johns Hopkins University

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.

Example courses: 

➲ MSc in Quantitative Economics, University of Alicante

➲ Master in Industrial Economics and Markets (Industrial Economics, Business Economics, and Quantitative Economic Analysis), University Carlos III of Madrid

Economic History

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.

Example courses: 

➲ MSc Economic History, LSE

➲ MA Economics and Economic History, The University of Edinburgh

Economic Theory

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.

Example courses: 

➲ Master 2 in Economic Analysis, University of Cergy-Pontoise

➲ Master of Science in Economic Theory and Policy, Levy Economic Institute of Bard College

Health Economics

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.

Example courses: 

➲ Executive MSc Health Economics, Policy and Management, LSE

➲ Master of Health Science in Health Economics, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

International Economics

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.

Example courses: 

➲ M.Sc. Economics of the Middle East (EMEA), Philipps-Universität Marburg

➲ Master of Science in International Economics and Economic Policy, Goethe-Universität

Labour Economics

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.

Example courses: 

➲ Master in Economics: Empirical Applications and Policies, University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU

➲ Master in Applied Labour Economics for Development, International Training Centre of the ILO


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.

Example courses: 

➲ Master's Degree in Specialized Economic Analysis: Macroeconomic Policy and Financial Markets Program, Barcelona GSE

➲ Graduate Program in Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics, MIT

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.

Example courses: 

➲ Master Programs in Economics, Finance and Data Science, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics

➲ Scottish Graduate Programme in Economics (Finance), University of Edinburgh​

➲ Master Degree in Economics & Finance, University of Milan

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.

Example courses: 

➲ Master in Economic Development and Growth, University Carlos III of Madrid

➲ EPS - Economics and Political Science, University of Milan

For lots more information for economics students and others, see these articles:

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