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Am I ready for a Master of Economics?
These programs tend to welcome students from across disciplines, but there are some things you should know before committing.
Economics is the theory behind the “invisible hand” that guides the world economy. It attempts to understand the optimal distribution of scarce resources. There’s no more scarce a resource than time though, and that’s something we’re too aware of. In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the most pressing considerations when deciding to enter a postgraduate economics and how you can get up to speed for the intensive study. We’ll be going over primarily coursework programs, but if you intend to pursue a PhD later, you’ll be able to apply some of this there as well.
Are you familiar with the relevant mathematics?
Economics is a quantitatively demanding field of study field, something that can shock applicants from entirely different disciplines. If you’ve already come from a statistics, mathematics or business degree, you’ll probably have few problems to start with. If you’re from a non-STEM discipline, it can be quite a shock, but there are some ways to get prepared.
Look into preparatory courses offered by your university. Most provide preliminary mathematics classes to catch up on material as far back as early high-school, like calculus or algebra if need be.
MOOCs or other sources of online material can offer primers for this kind of material. Look for not only videos and lecture notes, but practice questions. Math isn’t something you can easily learn just be watching someone else, so make sure to use what you learn regularly when using these sources.
If you’re from a STEM discipline, it can’t hurt to revise. Browse economics journals to get an idea of what the top-end of the field looks like and see if you’ve got gaps. You’ll need some basic comp sci knowledge, understanding of differential equations, complex variables, statistics, probability and more. A lot of this is likely familiar to you, but it’s worth making sure.
Once you get into the course, they aren’t going to explain these basics; it’ll all be assumed knowledge. As long as you do the legwork, you’ll have a much easier time diving into your degree.
Do I have an idea of what I want to do with my degree?
It helps to be clear on why you want to do your Master of Economics. Is there a particular task that requires it? Is it a passion? Will it progress your current career, or lead to a new one? These are things you want to be sure of so you can spend your time as productively as possible. After all, if you’re almost certain where you want to end up, you can start working toward that destination during your degree rather than reaching the end and asking, “now what?” Things like internships, placements or even planning a thesis topic for a further PhD all become possible when you know where you’re going. Get this sorted and you can rest easier.
Do I know if there’s an alternative that’ll better serve me?
Economics is cool, no doubt about that. But if there’s a degree that could serve you better, you owe it to yourself to give it a look. This is one of the several advantages of knowing what you plan to do with your degree. If you know what your goal is, you can ask this question. For instance, if your goal is to become a data scientist but love economics, it’s true. A Master of Economics will help get you there. But what if there’s a double degree out there for data science AND economics? What if just data science with a grad certificate in economics will achieve the same result? There are all sorts of academic configurations to explore when determining the path to achieving your goals. If you’re torn between choices, ask your faculty for guidance. You can even get creative. If you have a particular job in mind, why not ring up companies in the field and ask them what they’re looking for? There’s no better word than that straight from the horse’s mouth after all.
You should now be slightly better equipped to understand what this decision entails. What it all boils down to is information. Gather as much as you can about these courses, what they entail and whether or not they can serve your interests. If you can do that, you’ll be well on your way to a rewarding degree in economics.
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