Master's Programme in Economics, Master of Social Sciences (2 years)

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Degree level
Master's degree
Start semester
2020 Autumn
Scope of studies and length
120 ECTS credits, 2 years
Language of instruction
English, Finnish, Swedish
Tuition fee per year (only non-EU/EEA citizens)
18000 €
Application period
3.12.2019 - 10.1.2020

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This programme prepares you for a career as an economist in business, financial markets and the public sector. Upon completing the programme you will be awarded the Master of Social Sciences degree, having demonstrated that you have developed many skills needed in your future career:

  • Profound knowledge of economic theory and familiarity with scientific economic literature,
  • The ability to apply economic theory to solving practical problems and interpreting economic phenomena,
  • Familiarity with econometric methods and the ability to apply them to practical research problems,
  • The ability to collect and interpret empirical data,
  • The ability to communicate conclusions and assess the significance of the assumptions made for them,
  • Fluency in communicating economic issues to different domestic and international audiences as well as the capability to work independently and in multidisciplinary cooperation,
  • Readiness to assess your own professional performance and systematically develop it, and
  • Knowledge of sources of economic information and the ability to adopt new tools of economic analysis.

The programme comprises two tracks. The Research track is more demanding in that it gives more profound knowledge of economic theory and econometric methods than the General track. This track is particularly suitable if your goal is to pursue a doctoral degree in economics. Profound knowledge of economic theory and methods is also useful in many demanding careers as an economist.

The degree requirements in both tracks correspond to international standards, which will help you when finding employment and pursuing further studies towards a doctoral degree in Finland and globally.

Further information about the studies on the Master's programme website.

Citizens of non-EU/EEA countries, who do not have a permanent residence status in the area, are liable to tuition fees. You can check from FAQ at the Studyinfo website whether or not you are required to pay tuition fees.

Find out more about the Scholarship Programme.

The language of teaching is English. It is also possible to complete courses, write the Master's thesis and get supervision in Finnish or Swedish. At the beginning of the programme, you select the language of studies and demonstrate your competence in it.

You start the studies by taking the module of Economic Theory and Econometric Methods, which is the foundation of the programme. It covers the central microeconomic and macroeconomic theory as well as basic econometric methods. After completing this module, you can choose from a wide selection of fields of economics to concentrate on. Optional studies consist of additional courses in economics, or other university-level courses. In addition, an internship or a labour market project is included in the degree requirements.

The programme mostly comprises lecture courses, and in order to complete the programme in two years, it is important to take the courses in the recommended order. The courses on economic theory and econometric methods consist of lectures and exercise sessions; for the most part they are completed by taking a written examination. Depending on the track, you take 3 to 4 field courses, selected based on your interests. Additional field courses in economics can be included in the optional studies. In the field courses, you will be exposed to different teaching methods, such as problem-based learning and other group activities and seminars. Your grades in many field courses will be based on assignments, presentations and term papers in addition to a final examination.

Economics is a quantitative social science discipline, so you are expected to have good basic command of mathematics and statistics. Your skills in these areas will be systematically developed in this programme. Especially if you aim for a career as an economist or for doctoral studies, you are advised to include further methodological courses in your optional studies. In addition to mathematics and statistics, courses in computer science are recommended.

The structure of the programme is comparable to those of the Master's programmes in economics offered by the best international universities. It differs from the Master's programmes of the Finnish business schools in that the demanding courses in economic theory and econometrics comprise a greater proportion, and the goal is above all to prepare you for a career as an economist. The research track corresponds to Master's programmes in quantitative economics offered by some foreign universities. In line with our programme, the research track will prepare you for a career as an economist and for doctoral studies in economics.

The programme has two tracks:

  • General track
  • Research track

You select the track when applying for the programme: your choice will determine the degree requirements. The difference between the tracks is that the Research track aims at providing more profound knowledge of economic theory and econometric methods, whereas the General track emphasises fields and applications of economics, and it is possible to include more optional studies in the degree. The Research track prepares you for doctoral studies in economics, and its degree requirements contain most of the doctoral-level core courses in economic theory and econometrics. Taking these courses as part of the Master's degree helps you to graduate faster from the doctoral programme later. Graduates from the Research track are given precedence for the doctoral programme in economics at the University of Helsinki. The Research track is also recommended if you are interested in taking the more demanding core courses to acquire more profound knowledge of economics even if your goal is not to pursue doctoral studies.

The programme comprises 120 credits (ECTS, European Credit Transfer System), and it is designed to be completed in two years. The degree requirements consist of the following modules (in the General / Research track):

  • Advanced studies (at least 90 ECTS / 100 ECTS)
    • Economic theory and econometric methods (30 ECTS / 45 ECTS)
    • Research skills (10 ECTS)
    • Master's thesis (30 ECTS)
    • Field courses in economics (20 to 24 ECTS / 15 to 18 ECTS)
  • Career orientation module (5 to 15 ECTS)
  • Optional studies (11 to 25 ECTS / 2 to 15 ECTS)

You start the studies by taking the module of economic theory and econometric methods.  After completing it,  you select the fields in economics that you want to concentrate on. It is advisable for you to include further advanced field courses in economics or methodological courses in your optional studies. The study module of research skills is completed in the second autumn term. It prepares you for writing the Master's thesis, and familiarises you with scholarly work in economics, research ethics and reporting research results. In addition, you prepare a research proposal for your thesis. Integrated into the studies, the degree requirements include drawing up a personal study plan, and career planning. The career orientation module (5 to 15 ECTS), involves an internship period, or other studies aimed at developing employment skills. In addition, 11 to 25 ECTS (in the Research track, 2 to 15 ECTS) optional studies are required. You are recommended to complete the field courses in economics, optional studies and the career orientation module during the first spring term and the second autumn term.

You will write your Master's thesis (30 ECTS) during the spring semester of your second year of study. This can be either a theoretical or an empirical thesis on a topic selected under the guidance of your supervisor, where you apply the knowledge and skills you have acquired in the programme. In a theoretical thesis, you will consider an economic problem in the light of existing literature and potentially extend existing economic models. In an empirical thesis, on the other hand, you will approach an economic problem by applying econometric methods to relevant economic data. It is also possible to concentrate on developing a new econometric method or comparing the properties of existing methods.

You start preparing for writing your thesis in the autumn semester of your second year of study by completing the Research skills study module, which includes drawing up a research proposal for your thesis. Supervision primarily takes place in the Master's Thesis seminar, lasting the entire spring semester of your second year of study. You may write the thesis in English, Finnish, or Swedish.

The Master's Programme in Economics at the University of Helsinki prepares you for a career as an economist in business and the public sector. Economists are employed in administrative, planning and development duties requiring economic expertise in various national and international organisations. Examples include an analyst career involving risk management, asset pricing and investment strategy, jobs related to analysing the market, production and pricing in companies, assessment and planning of economic policy, and communication. Analytical skills and knowledge of quantitative methods will be of central importance in your work as an economist. In particular, economists find employment in government, financial institutions, central banks, national and international organisations, and business. 

It is advisable to select the field courses and the topic for your Master's thesis in view of your interests and career goals. The career orientation module included in the programme is a good chance to acquire work experience in your area of interest. The Research track prepares you for particularly demanding careers. It is also an excellent path to doctoral studies in economics.

The atmosphere at the Helsinki Graduate School of Economics (Helsinki GSE) is quite international, consisting of the Discipline of Economics and the departments of economics at Aalto University and the Hanken School of Economics. The staff regularly publish in international journals and collaborate with foreign researchers. There are also several regular research seminars on a number of fields, where mostly foreign visitors present their work. In addition, foreign researchers often pay longer visits to the  Helsinki GSE, and a large proportion of the graduate students come from abroad.

All courses in the programme are taught in English, and a large proportion of Master's theses are written in English. The staff have ample experience at universities abroad, and there are several foreigners among them. Foreign graduate students act as teaching assistants, and exchange students from the universities involved in the Helsinki GSE regularly take the courses of the programme. You can include study units in foreign languages arranged by the Language Centre in the optional studies.

The degree requirements meet internationally unified standards in economics. The University of Helsinki has a number of agreements with foreign universities that enable you to visit them to gain international experience and take courses offered there. Courses taken at the master's level at universities abroad can replace field courses in economics in the degree requirements, and you can include other university-level courses in your optional studies. The most suitable time for a visit to a foreign university is in the spring semester of your first year of study after completing the core courses in economic theory and econometrics. You can also include an internship abroad in the Career orientation module.

Teaching in the programme is arranged in cooperation with the departments of economics of Aalto University and Hanken School of Economics. Together with the Discipline of Economics at the University of Helsinki, they form the Helsinki Graduate School of Economics (Helsinki GSE), which also advances research in economics in Finland by arranging regular research seminars. The VATT Institute of Economic Research shares the same building with the three units of the Helsinki GSE. Together they form the greatest concentration of economists in Finland. The Discipline of Economics has a joint professorship of public economics with the VATT Institute of Economic Research, and a joint professorship in Empirical Macroeconomics with Statistics Finland.

In addition to the courses arranged by the units of the Helsinki GSE, in the optional studies you can include courses from the wide selection offered by the University of Helsinki as well as courses of other Finnish universities, under the flexible study rights agreement (JOO). A number of study units in development Economics are arranged in collaboration with the World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University (UNU-WIDER).  The Discipline of Economics has close connections to the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Helsinki in research and education, and they both participate in the Bachelor Programme in Mathematical Sciences. 

Central fields of research in economics at the University of Helsinki include time series econometrics, game theory and applied microeconomics, macroeconomics, international economics and public economics.

The goal of research in time series econometrics is to develop statistical methods applicable in modelling economic time series and to apply them in empirical economic research. At the University of Helsinki, the research has concentrated on models useful in examining the connections between the macroeconomy and financial markets, and they have been applied to aggregate macroeconomic time series, stock returns and interest rates, amongst other things.

Microeconomics studies the interaction between single agents and communities, for example markets. Typical research topics include consumer behaviour, pricing, competition, exploitation of market power, and company behaviour. The central method of microeconomic research, decision and game theory, takes into account the agents' strategic behaviour. At the University of Helsinki, game theory has been applied to problems involving bargaining, search and contracts as well as immaterial rights.

Macroeconomics comprises research on economic growth and business cycles. At the University of Helsinki, the former has focused on the effects of globalisation, environmental issues and labour market institutions on economic growth. Recent research on business cycles has focused on monetary and fiscal policy as well as on the role of the financial system in determining the cycles. Research on public economics has dealt with income distribution and socio-economic mobility.

The Master of Social Sciences degree awarded upon completion of the programme enables you to apply for doctoral programmes in economics at the University of Helsinki and at international universities. 

If your ultimate goal is a doctoral degree in economics, the Research track is recommended. Because it contains the majority of the core courses of the doctoral degree requirements, you can complete the doctoral degree at accelerated pace. When selecting students for the Doctoral Programme in Economics at the University of Helsinki, precedence is given to graduates from the Research track, and it is also an asset if you are applying for doctoral programmes at foreign universities.


How to apply
Below you’ll find a link to the entry requirements for this programme. The application period to our international programmes is in December every year.

Faculty of Social Sciences

The Faculty of Social Sciences is Finland’s most diverse and multidisciplinary academic community and social force in its field. Global economic and political events increase the need for experts who are able to place them in a historical, internationally comparable context. Changes in social structures require a novel understanding of, for example, the foundations of the welfare society. 

The Faculty is known for its international top-level research that utilises diverse research corpora and challenging research methods as well as engages in innovative discourse. Teaching at the Faculty emphasises multidisciplinarity and critical thinking. The Faculty has a long tradition of collaboration with ministries, municipalities, various organisations and the media. 

Students enjoy their time at the Faculty of Social Sciences and feel like a part of the community. The Faculty and the students’ respective home departments are the students’ closest and most important operational environment. There is active interaction across disciplines and between different faculties.

There are some 4,000 undergraduate and 700 active postgraduate students at the Faculty, which is located on the City Centre Campus. The Faculty website can be found at

The Faculty of Social Sciences is located on the City Centre Campus near the Helsinki University Main Library (Kaisa House) and Learning Centre Aleksandria, which provide students with modern learning facilities. Other services of the Helsinki University Library, such as databases, online journals and textbooks, are readily available as well.

The Faculty of Social Sciences is a high-quality, research-based, international and multidisciplinary learning environment that trains versatile experts with a solid grasp of research methods and a profound understanding of the society for a wide range of positions in the public and private sectors. The teaching makes use of blended learning in a wide range of ways, thus increasing flexibility and providing efficient support for learning.

As a University of Helsinki degree student, you can participate in a student exchange or traineeship outside Finland. The University has approximately 500 high-quality partner universities throughout the world, and each year some 1,000 University students embark on a student exchange or traineeship. A stay abroad gives valuable skills and experiences:

  • You can incorporate an international dimension into your degree and obtain international expertise in your field. A well-planned student exchange provides you with diverse, unique skills!
  • You will gain a new perspective on the world, learn more about yourself and enhance your language proficiency.
  • You will get better acquainted with the culture of the target country, meet new people and be able to establish international networks in your field.

More information about studying abroad.

At the University of Helsinki we provide an accessible learning environment for all students.

If you have a disability, an illness or a learning disability, and might need some special arrangements to be able to complete your studies, please contact the faculty at the beginning of your studies or when the need arises.

You will usually agree upon the practical arrangements with your professor before the course or seminar begins. If needed, you can also consult the Head of Academic Affairs at the faculty.

Special arrangements for your studies, such as individual support for learning, might include extra time to complete assignments and exams, teaching materials given in advance or in electronic form, accessibility to classrooms and alternative ways to complete assignments and coursework.

If you would like more information about special arrangements, please contact the Student Services in the City Centre at

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