What is graduate level economics like?

academics economics
By Diego


Is graduate level economics very different from undergraduate level economics? To many extents, undergraduate and graduate economics is similar, to many others very different. Their similarities reside in the fact that the core ideas and ways of approaching problems are the same. That is, because knowledge builds in layers, they share a common background. However, the material in graduate school will often be completely new and much more mathematical. Quite often new and more sophisticated theories (and tools) are introduced in graduate school.

Are all graduate economics programs different?

Most graduate programs in economics are actually quite similar. They all focus on the core subjects of economics (microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics) and will give a couple of electives for students to choose from. How this is particularly structured depends on each department. Economics graduate schools in the UK, for example, tend to have a fragmented scheme in which degrees are awarded as progression through the components of the doctorate happens; in other places, like the US and Canada, both the Master’s and the PhD are often bunched together. Regardless of how this structuring happens, all programs will require a complete comprehension of mathematically advanced topics in each core discipline. In some instances, a research component will be required from year one.

So...what are the differences between an undergraduate and graduate course?

One important difference between undergraduate and graduate school is the level of complexity and work. In my experience, I found econometrics to be much more technical and formal than my previous training had given me; in microeconomics, I found that the level of abstraction and rigour was higher, and in macroeconomics, I found a level of algebraic intricacy that I had not previously encountered.

Despite the time that mastering the material has required, graduate school has been a very rewarding and interesting experience. In the three years that I have been in graduate school, I have been surrounded by incredibly interesting and intelligent people from very different backgrounds. I have also had the opportunity to focus on the topics that I am most interested about.

OK, so what if I am thinking about applying?

If you are thinking of applying to economics graduate school I would advise you to do it with time in advance. A good way to start is by checking this short post with useful information about the process. In any case, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me or anyone at Cambridge Coaching.