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Interview with MSc programme director

The Master of Science in Applied Economics (MSc APEC) is offered by the University of Neuchâtel since 2017.

With 19 incoming students in the third cohort, Prof. Bruno Lanz, Director of the MSc APEC, reflects on opportunities offered by this unique program.

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What differentiates the MSc APEC from other master degrees in economics?

We offer an alternative to typical master degrees in economics, in which students spend a lot of time solving technical problem sets. Instead, we want our students to focus on how the toolbox of economics can be used to inform real-world problems.

Another specificity is that we keep it small, with typically less than 20 students per cohort. This allows professors to provide deep insights about the material, for example through class discussions, which is not possible when you have more than 30 students in the classroom. Finally, it is possible to start the program in February.

What topics do students specialize in?

We offer two optional majors: environmental and Energy Policy or Data Science. Students who wish to graduate with a major have to complete a specific set of optional courses and write their dissertation on a related topic. And we give full flexibility: students request a major when they register the topic of their dissertation, so they can change their mind during their studies.

We also invite professional economists to teach in the program, which gives our students opportunities for networking and internships. For example, we have adjunct professors affiliated with the UNCTAD, the Swiss National Bank, WTO, or the Swiss Federal Office for Spatial Development.

Where are your students from?

This year, out of 19 students, we have five students from Neuchâtel, five from other Swiss universities, four from other European countries, and five from overseas.

What is the placement track-record of your students?

Students find interesting and well-paid positions. For example, one student who recently completed his MSc dissertation under my supervision now works for the canton of Neuchâtel, budget division, and another one got a job in investment banking. Also recently, two students started internships, one in the Swiss National Bank in Zurich, the other with the Federal Office of Social Insurances in Bern. Yet another is doing a PhD on climate change economics under my supervision.

What prizes and distinctions do you offer?

Students with a cumulated average above 5.75 receive “Summa Cum Laude”, above 5.5 is “Magna Cum Laude”, and above 5 is “Cum Laude.” Our students are also eligible for faculty prizes. For example, Marius Berger recently won the Henri Greanjean prize (CHF 500), and Nathan Delacrétaz was awarded the Sustainable Development prize (CHF 2500) for his master dissertation.

What is the background of your students?

Students who have completed 30ECTS in economics and quantitative methods can be accepted on the program. This implies a nice mix of backgrounds in the classroom. Those who have a bachelor's degree in economics have a slight advantage, but to date the best overall results / grade in the MSc was obtained by a student with a BA in Political Science.

 

Prof. Bruno Lanz

 

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