I am considering the MSc program at LSE Economics department as a preparatory step for applying to a PhD in Economics at LSE or elsewhere. Would you please express your thoughts regarding two possible alternatives: MSc Econometrics and Mathematical Economics versus MSc Economics?
In fact, my academic interests fit both of them (maybe I am just slightly leaning towards Econometrics and Math Econ, because I already have an MA in Econ degree, although from a little known school). But I have to make a somewhat "strategic" choice as to which program is a better way to get into PhD later.
So, what are the differences between MSc Econ and MSc Econometrics & Math Econ, do you have any info on that? Some critical issues for me include the following ones:
1) Academic reputation. For example, is MSc in Econometrics and Mathematical Economics (because of its more technical nature) more academically reputable with admission committees than MSc in Economics, or it just has a different focus in terms of academic fields?
2) Competitiveness of students enrolled. E.g., does MSc in Econometrics and Mathematical Economics class include mostly (say, 80% of the whole) mathematicians, statisticians and engineers jumping into Economics, or it also has a great deal of economists that wish to learn some additional technical stuff (that's me)?
3) What about the placement of their graduates (including such destination as PhD programs), how do they compare? Does anybody have some comparative information as to how many people from MSc Econ and MSc Math Econ classes go for PhD programs each year (approximately), and which particular schools do they attend? It's clear that you won't have problems if you are in Top 5% (10%) of the class, but competition must be extremely tough for these few slots. So, what about others (e.g., Top 25%)?
Any advice is welcome! Thank you very much!
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- Thread Starter
- 24-04-2004 20:43
(Original post by Poor&Healthy)
- 25-04-2004 01:12
...because I already have an MA in Econ degree, although from a little known school)...
Also if u do this course u'd only be able to study either Advanced Micro or Macro...limits ur options for ur PhD. If you do MSc economics u'd be doing some Econometrics anyway.
At the end of the day it depends on how much maths u ve done so far.
- 31-05-2004 20:27
I have taken the econometrics and mathematical economics course a year ago, and I think it was excellent. The difference between the plain vanilla economics masters is that here you can, indeed have to take econometrics and other technically advanced courses, some of which are phd level. Regular econ courses are really at a sophisticated undergrad / regular masters level.
I don't really think too many of the msc econ students want to go for a phd, most just want to study for a further year before going off to work in business. I also think the reputation of the course is definitely better, and the students are self-selected with most having ambitions to go on for a phd. So if this is what you want to do, I would definitely recommend it.
My favorite course was Advanced Econ Theory with Felli/Mariotti, truly excellent course, definitely phd level. AFAIK, the course is not even open to msc econ students.
Hope this helps.
- 01-06-2004 10:28
I took the Econ M.Sc. a year ago, and I'd generally agree that the "level I" Econ masters courses are at a regular masters level. They are pretty much for the business-oriented crowd. I'd say that the Micro I (Ec411) is not even at the level of Ec202, the LSE's intermediate micro class for ambitious undergrads. My impression was that a lot of the MSc Econ students taking level I classes would never have got a first had they done their undergrad at LSE!
The "level II" theory courses were another story. They were mostly taken by MSc EME students and PhD aspirants from MSc Econ. The Econometrics and Macro were taught at a really high level, the Micro less so, but John Moore's section was pretty challenging.
So until last year I would have been completely indifferent between MSc EME and MSc Econ. Quality wise, I didn't think that there was much between the "serious" MSc Econ students and the MSc EME students. Of course there was the larger group of Econ students who might not have been that well-equipped technically.
This year however the level II courses have been expanded (by 10 lecture hours) into "PhD" courses. And students from MSc Econ are now allowed to take just *one* of the "level II" courses.
So if you want really high-level training then you pretty much have to do the MSc EME these days. The MSc Econ has been downgraded seriously in my view by the LSE's decision to admit people directly from undergrad to PhD.
- Thread Starter
- 02-06-2004 09:24
Many thanks to those people who gave their comments, they were helpful indeed! I didn't know MSc Econ is mostly for people not aiming for PhD, especially given current developments with the MRes/PhD programme. Thank you for that!
So, according to the previous posts, MSc Econ is more for people seeking non-academic jobs upon graduation. What about the placement/PhD admissions of MSc Econometrics & Math Econ graduates, does anybody who actually studied there have any facts at hand?
Also, any info about the profile of students at EME? 'Cause I'm very worried about my own competitiveness...
What about the regular workload -- does everyone studies for 16 (=24-sleep) hours a day at the EME programme?
Again, thank you very much, I learned some very useful things!
- 02-06-2004 10:22
I'm sorry if I gave the impression that the MSc Econ is *not* for people with PhD aspirations. Relative to the MSc EME it is less hard-core, but I think it's not at all true that somehow this is a lightweight programme. I think the previous commenter and perhaps myself were being unduly harsh. I do have a concern that with the changes to the programme structure, the MSc Econ in particular will be downgraded in its reputation.
We were making comparisons at a very high level- with the reference point being the first year of a US PhD programme at a strong department.
The MSc Econ is definitely still a stronger programme than the sorts of terminal Master's degrees offered in the US. In the US, a terminal master's programme is for people who will never be PhD material. Over there if you have a good background you go straight to a PhD where there is typically 2.5 years of taught coursework. I am not sure that outside the top 25, the level of students in US PhD programmes will be higher than the master's courses at LSE. I say this because based on experience it seems to be very tough to crack the top 10, quite tough to crack the 10-25, and then seems to get a lot easier. The UK master's courses at the top places are of a very good standard, closer to the first-year of a US PhD than they are to a US terminal master's.
There are *lots* of very bright people in both MSc Econ and MSc EME. But the very high quality is more uniform in the latter programme.
Remember: people who have done the MSc Econ have been accepted into the PhD Econ at LSE on the same basis as people who've done the MSc EME. Furthermore, in the past LSE has not required much further coursework beyond the MSc-level. So the MSc Econ in and of itself has been considered perfectly adequate core training by the LSE (in the past). There is a huge long list of famous economists who "only" did the M.Sc. Econ!
Furthermore, the record of those who have gained distinctions in either MSc Econ or MSc EME is outstanding. In my year, people multiple people went to MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Yale and of course continued at the LSE. This was as true of Econ students as of EME students. I took classes with EME and Econ students and the two best students in all my classes were M.Sc. Econ- albeit taking all the "level II" classes. I think one went to Princeton and the other to Stanford.
From the perspective of going on to a US programme afterwards, the "level I" M.Sc. Econ classes are preparatory. They will give you a much better background than say the background provided by a US undergrad degree. But you will still need to learn new stuff. The EME classes, however, will put you in a position where you can afford to focus on perfecting your skills, rather than having to hurriedly acquire new ones.
I seriously doubt that anyone who has completed either M.Sc. at the LSE and got a distinction or even a merit grade will struggle in the first year of a US PhD programme. The difference is that EME graduates might even find it quite easy. So either choice is a good one to have.
- Thread Starter
- 03-06-2004 20:06
Thanks a lot for your comments, Biddlesticks.
Of course, I did not get everything literally, and I was not going to put down MSc Econ by no means. The very fact that I am not sure about the choice between the two programmes is telling something... So, the difference lies mostly in dissimilar academic interests of the two groups of students plus some self-selection, right?
Any comments regarding the "16 hours" workload (actually, as to how hardworking are majority of the students in these two programs)?
- 04-06-2004 13:34
Since the LSE assesses you only through the end-of-year exams, there is no workload as such at the LSE. It is entirely your choice- and people exercise this- as to how to time your study effort and how much of an effort to put in.
For each given individual there is a minimal level of effort required to pass and this minimal level of effort varies significantly according to (a) innate ability, (b) prior university background, (c) familiarity with British exams.
Somebody who got a first in maths from Trinity College, Cambridge, will not need to work too hard to pass and can achieve a distinction with a combination of work, innate ability, and familiarity with the exam system. Typically people whose prior background was far less strong had to work much harder just to pass.
I also firmly believe that there are a lot of people- perhaps even the majority- who will not achieve a distinction, no matter how hard they work or even how efficiently they work. I found that the students from the top European and UK universities seemed to have much better in-depth training at the undergraduate level than others did. And they tended to dominate the distinction list.
It is possible to substitute hard work for ability up to a point. If you're fairly clever but not extremely so, but are very determined and efficient in your approach then you can outperform on the exams. But there are limits to this- in 10 months you cannot make up deficiences that were accumulated over decades of education and some of which might be innate.
- 04-06-2004 14:32
Biddlesticks, I don't think the LSE would admit anyone with such serious deficiencies as they would not be able to pass.
On our undergraduate open day, we were told that the reason we got in was that all of us should be able to get a 2.1 if we worked hard enough.
One of my friends last year got a merit in his MSc Econ and barely studied at all during the year.
I think the major difference lies in the fact that some of the admitted candidates may not have a good enough proficiency of english [this is something that stunned me about some PhD TAs] and that is mainly why they don't do as well. Especially in the dissertation.
I have noticed a trend on past MSc pass lists and most people with a distinction had anglo-saxon surnames.
I don't mean to say it's easy to get one and you do have a point about the Cambridge example but to say that the LSE would admit underqualified students to one of its most popular and selective masters seems a bit far-fetched.
- 04-06-2004 16:17
The usual distribution of merits and distinctions is that 1/3rd to 2/5ths get such marks and the others don't. Keep in mind that a merit can be achieved with three 60s and a 50, so not all merits really represent shining performance.
That means that 3/5ths to 2/3rds of people get lacklustre results. Having done the M.Sc. Econ myself, I can tell you that the reason these people didn't even get a low merit is not because they did even less work than your friend who did get a merit. Some did tons and still didn't do particularly well.
Rather it is to do with a mix of ability, background and familiarity with the LSE-style exam system. Ergo, my belief that in 10 months, you usually cannot by dint of hard work alone make up for differences in these factors
Language, however, is not that important. There are more Continental European distinctions than US ones (the Anglo-Saxons are mainly Brits and/or Commonwealth); and your PhD TAs probably got high merits and distinctions despite their poor language skills. Most top places in Europe run their postgraduate programmes in English anyway, so even if they didn't do their M.Sc. at LSE (and the largest group probably did) they almost certainly did it in English.
- Thread Starter
- 04-06-2004 17:04
Thanks again, Biddlesticks! Your personal experience appears to be extremely helpful to me.
1) What is so different with the "LSE-style exam system"? As far I understood from the website, they are pretty standard (except that they usually determine 100% of your grade). Moreover: you get mock exams as well as problem sets during the year, and many real exam problems are quite close to what you have there. I even got an impression (although can't really believe my eyes, I must be missing something...) that they are amazingly close!
2) Biddlesticks, you said a lot depends on the background. What proves to be more useful, knowledge of maths and stats (e.g. BA in Math) or knowledge of graduate economics (e.g. MA in Econ; obviously from a less reputable than LSE school)?
Come on, Anonymity, don't make this thread into another praise of the LSE students, who are all damn smart and may lack only less important skills such as language. No offense!
- 04-06-2004 17:17
you misunderstood me.
i wasn't praising lse students or trying to be polemical... there are people who will do well and people who won't for whatever reason but the admissions office will try to recruit students with credentials and the potential to do well.
it would be self-defeating for the LSE to admit students who are unable to pass the examinations. not only for "prestige" reasons but also for administrative ones.
i do think language matters. even for mathematical subjects you need to write a dissertation and if you have studied in a non-english speaking system your whole life it will be more difficult to do well.
if you speak a foreign language just imagine yourself having to write a 10,000 word paper in that language, would that be more or less difficult than writing it in your mother tongue? plus, there is the whole adaptation to the jargon, which is different from language to language so that articles and textbooks will at first be a hurdle.
the points made by biddlesticks are also valid but i don't think language barriers should be underestimated.
- 04-06-2004 18:09
stop posting the same essay!!
- 04-06-2004 19:33
[QUOTE=Poor&Healthy]Thanks again, Biddlesticks! Your personal experience appears to be extremely helpful to me.
1) What is so different with the "LSE-style exam system"?
Nothing terribly different about the system per se. The mock exams are collections of old exam questions. So too problem sets.
Each exam contains a mix of recycled questions (so that it is possible to pass if you've managed to solve past exams) and newer ones. If you look at the 2003 Ec412 paper (you can't on the web unless you're at LSE) you'll see how one of the long questions was ridiculously easy but two of the short questions were really hard. But it was hard to get full marks on the easy 25-point long question, whereas if you were smart you could get full marks on the 6.25-point short problems. If you have prior experience of English exam marking then you'd be in a far stronger position in deciding how to allocate your scarce time....just how much could you expect on the long question, in which case don't go all out on the harder short ones etc.
Anonymity: I *never* suggested LSE lets in people who they don't think will fail. Most people who work hard can get at least a low merit or come close. However the way LSE marks, going from 55 to 60 is much easier than going from 60 to 65. And going to 70 and above on a core theory exam takes something beyond hard work and even mastery of past exams...because it is at this point where you have to be able to get the hardest stuff on the exam right. I'm not sure that this is something that everyone can accomplish because it does require some deep level of comprehension.
Also: re, the "dissertation"- this is the least important part of the course. It is 1/8th of the mark. This is really a 5,000-word (maximum!) extended essay for which you are advised to allocate no more than two weeks. The dissertation and option course is usually where people put in their best performance. I would bet that foreign students aren't missing out on merits or distinctions because of their dissertations....indeed a lot are doing fine thank you despite not being totally at home in English. In the States foreign students usually beat domestic students in first-year exams in PhD programmes. So being a non-native speaker is not a huge disadvantage...especially when all aspiring economists have been learning English for a while because without it you can't belong to the profession.
Anyhow, I'm tired and ready for the weekend....
(Original post by anonymity)
- 04-06-2004 22:54
if you speak a foreign language just imagine yourself having to write a 10,000 word paper in that language, would that be more or less difficult than writing it in your mother tongue?
of course, there is no comparison between a 4000 word secondary school essay and a 10 000 word MSc dissertation, but then, there is also a vast difference between a 18 year old secondary school student and a 23+ year old master's degree students.