Solving the challenges of tomorrow

Much of Economics is about gathering information and making complex decisions under a number of relevant constraints. Consumers, firms, and policymakers alike need to base their actions on sound evidence to pursue their goals effectively. They interact and affect each other in various and intricate ways that economists strive to understand. 

The Master in Economics at the VU ranked highest in the Netherlands (2016). The high ranking was mainly due to teacher quality and the development of general skills. We are proud of this student acknowledgement and are dedicated to look for further ways to improve our programme.

The Master in Economics is a high-quality one-year programme. The first part of the programme consists of three compulsory core courses focusing on the foundations of the discipline at an advanced level. You will also take three elective courses that can be combined into a specialization. Two pieces of independent academic work, a research project and a final thesis, complete the programme requirements. Thanks to the compact, personal nature of the programme there is plenty of interaction with the teaching staff. The programme is highly esteemed by its students and is one of the top Economics programmes in the Netherlands.

During your Master's studies, you will have the option of specializing in one of the following key areas in the domain of economics:

  • Development Economics
  • Public Policy
  • International and Macroeconomic Policy
  • Global Challenges

Economics courses in study guide.

A graduate of the Master’s programme in Economics is a well-trained economist, with extensive knowledge of economic techniques and economic policy.

Graduates become policy economists at consultancy firms or with government agencies, or work in various positions in financial and non-financial industries. Others start working as market analysts at, for example, the Netherlands Competition Authority, or De Nederlandsche Bank. Still others go to work for multinationals such as banks and insurance companies. Some graduates work at economic research institutes or join PhD programmes at highly competitive research universities before continuing with their academic career.

Apart from focusing on high-profile job opportunities, programme participants develop an eye for economic issues of societal and scientific relevance, and develop a critical attitude for analysing and judging these issues. Economics is at the very heart of the social sciences. Economists are therefore involved and committed members of society.

Our elective courses are challenging. In them, we examine state-of-the-art academic literature relating to topics such as globalization, health economics, macroeconomic policy coordination, and labor economics. The subjects discussed during these courses are often a reflection of current public debate.

The programme will train you to be an economic generalist, while offering you the unique opportunity to specialize in a number of well-defined focus areas (specializations). You will gain a thorough understanding of prominent economic tools in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics. The four different specialization tracks will allow you to acquire further expertise in an area of particular interest to you.

Taking a specialization (consisting of a specific combination of elective courses and a related thesis) is optional, and students with highly varied interests or who would prefer to exercise a range of talents can freely pick and mix from our extended list of elective courses. In addition, students can also choose one elective course from outside the programme (subject to prior approval from the examination board).

Those who wish to gain more expertise in a particular policy field can choose from among the following four specializations:

  • Development economics
  • Public Policy
  • International and Macroeconomic Policy
  • Global Challenges

Two departments
Researchers from two academic departments, Economics (Economics and Development Economics) and Spatial Economics, teach in the programme. All have prominent international profiles and are involved in national policy debates. Their areas of study cover a broad range of modern economics. Themes of particular focus include labour economics, innovation and growth, health economics and aging, international trade, economic development, and environmental or regional economics.

Teaching staff
We have an excellent and highly esteemed teaching staff. Members of the economics research group include internationally renowned professors like Pieter Gautier (labour and macroeconomics), Maarten Lindeboom (health economics), Eric Bartelsman (firm behaviour) and Chris Elbers (globalization, poverty and economic growth). Further, Richard Tol is a world expert on climate change, and Erik Verhoef is a prominent specialist teaching an elective course on transport economics.

Our lecturers are closely involved in the teaching programme and supervision of students. We have an excellent student-to-teacher ratio, meaning you will enjoy individual supervision and have plenty of opportunity to actively participate in classroom discussions. The learning environment is active and stimulating. You will benefit from the programme’s relatively small scale, while profiting from a wide range of elective courses covering topics in a variety of sub-fields.

As a Master’s student of Economics, you will learn to put economics into practice. The programme will teach you to identify significant and practical economic problems, to tackle them in a systematic way, and to use your understanding of economic thinking to make a constructive contribution to current debates. You will learn to conduct your own research, subjecting current theories to critical tests.

Examples of current research topics in brief

Development Economics
What are the causes and consequences of poverty?

Labour Economics
Does unemployment insurance lead to longer periods of unemployment?

Health Economics
How does health evolve over the life cycle, and how does it contribute to economic well-being? 

Competition Policy
Can collusion of firms be effectively countered by leniency programs that reward whistleblowers?

What policy options are available to strengthen macroeconomic stability and support economic growth?

Josephine de Vries

Graduated in 2008, Lead Corporate Strategy Office at Deloitte

Josephine de Vries

"The MSc Economics at the VU has a quantitative focus and this is a big plus in most professional areas, including mine. Watching the world through the lense of an economist is very useful for many types of business problems. None of this however, was a reason for me to choose economics. I just thought it amazingly interesting to understand why the EU exists, whether I should vote left or right wing and why it was impossible to find a descent rental apartment in Amsterdam. In short, I just wanted to understand the world a bit better. "

MSc Economics at VU Amsterdam

Overview Economics

Language of instruction



1 year

Tuition fee

Application deadline

1 June via (students with direct admission) / International degree students: 1 April (different deadlines may apply to other category students)

Start date

1 September

Study type



International Macroeconomic Policy/Public Policy/Global Challenges/Development Economics

Field of Interest

Economics, Business and Law

Study in Holland

Raphie Hayat

Graduated in 2007, Macro Economist at Rabobank

Raphie Hayat

"The Master in Economics is of great value. It is rigorous, taught by an excellent and internationally recognized faculty and attracts students from all over the world. The degree definitely helped me in getting my current job as a macro economist at Rabobank (which I love), but it opens up opportunities in the public sector as well." 

Highly motivated students combine their academic studies with internships in industry and government to gain hands-on practical experience.

Many students participate in research projects initiated by staff members, ensuring that their thesis will be of societal and scientific relevance. Students also benefit from our faculty’s contacts with key players in the financial markets, and with institutions, policy makers and advisors in government and consultancy.

Examples of projects in which our students have been involved in the past include financial market research projects at the De Nederlandsche Bank and Rabobank, health insurance research at Achmea, labour market reintegration studies in cooperation with social administration agencies, and projects conducted under the auspices of Statistics Netherlands or the Ministry of Finance. Other students have gone abroad to work with international intergovernmental organizations, or conducted field research in Kenya, India and other countries.

The social and academic relevance of our students’ work is demonstrated further by a series of awards and prizes won in national and international competitions, such as

  • the SER Thesis Award
  • the NETSPAR Master Theses Award
  • the TIACA Graduate Research Paper Award

I want to send my application form to apply for a Master's programme before the first of April. I expect to graduate before the end of this academic year. Is it possible to apply without having my Bachelor's diploma yet?
Yes, that is possible. Your eligibility can be assessed without the actual diploma. After (conditional) admission to one of our MSc programmes, we will contact you and ask for the original and official documents for registration at the university. One of these documents is the official diploma (or certified copy of it).

I have graduated from a Dutch HBO. Is it possible for me to get admission to one of the Master's programmes?
Unfortunately, if you hold a HBO BSc diploma you cannot get direct admission to one of our Master's programmes. We have a specific Premaster’s programme for some of our Master’s programmes. The Premaster’s programmes are entirely Dutch taught, you need a NT2-2 certificate to get admission and your GMAT score has to be at least 550. Some Master’s programmes have other entry requirements if you hold a Dutch HBO. Please check ‘admission and application’ on the Master’s page to see if there is a specific Premaster’s programme available.

Is it possible to study one of the Master's programmes part-time?
All Master's programmes open to international students are full time programmes, which means that you are expected to spend at least 4 days a week at the university. There are two part-time Master's programmes both taught in Dutch.

Can I apply for a MSc programme starting in February?
No, all our Master's programmes start in September.

Can I apply online?
International students can apply online. See the webpage "Admission and application" of your respective master's programme for more information.

Application deadline
International degree students: 1 April (different deadlines may hold for other category students). Dutch degree students: Admission request before 1 May, application in Studielink before 1 June.

Do you require work experience to get admission to one of the Master's programmes?
No, we do not require work experience. Sometimes it might help to have some work experience to get admission if your Bachelor's diploma does not cover all the academic requirements (see admission requirements in the left menu).

Do you require GMAT or GRE to get admission to one of the Master's programmes?       
In some cases we might require a GRE or GMAT. For the Master’s programmes in Economics and Spatial, Transport and Environmental Economics a GRE might be required. The admission board will let you know if a GRE is required. At other Master’s programmes a GMAT or GRE is not required. This does not mean that we do not pay any attention to your grades. If you have obtained a good GMAT or GRE score it is recommended to mention this in your application and to enclose a copy of the results. 
Please note: To be admitted to one of our specific Dutch taught pre-master's programmes you have to score at least 550 on the GMAT. 

Is it possible to pay the tuition fee in installments?
Yes, that is possible. The registration period is in August after your arrival in the Netherlands. You can pay the tuition fee either at once before 1 September or you can choose to sign a contract that you will pay it in installments during the academic year.

Sabine de Bruijn

Graduated in 2012, International Labour Organization, Geneva

Sabine de Bruijn

"It is with great enthusiasm that I look back at my time as a student at the MSc in Economics programme at the VU. Struggling with formulas, working hard for the exams; it was all worth it and I would not hesitate to do it again. Without my MSc in economics I would not be where I am now: at the International Labour Organization (specialized agency of the UN) in Geneva. The textbook models have now turned into real life questions. I cannot think of any work that is more exiting."


The Development Economics group forms one of the strongest research groups in development economics in the country and in Europe. Research topics focus on: 

  • The role of constraints (e.g. through exposure to risk) on the ability of households to escape from poverty through asset accumulation
  • The potential for sustainable land use in areas with rapid population growth
  • The economic implications of migration, both within developing countries and from developing to developed countries
  • The scope for economic growth through industrial development

The approach is strongly empirical, using case studies or survey data for individual households or firms to test competing theories and to evaluate the impact of implemented policy initiatives and specific development projects. 

These topics, along with aggregate aspects of growth and inequality, and broader issues of human development, shape the curriculum of the Development Economics specialization. There is also close cooperation with the University of Amsterdam, where some teaching takes place. Graduates will find excellent employment opportunities with governments, NGOs, and international organizations as well as consultancy firms focusing on trade and development.

Backbone of this specialization is the applied microeconomics group, considered to be one of the strongest economics research groups in the country. The research group has three focus areas: 

  • Industrial Organization concerns strategies of firms to gain market power and the role of government to enhance transparency. Attention is paid to important aspects of regulation and competition policy such as merger control, break-up of collusion and stimulation of innovation
  • The economics of health, work and ageing addresses the consequences of population ageing for the organization of social (security) and health care institutions and policies to improve work, health and longevity outcomes 
  • The Labor program bridges the gap between micro- and macroeconomic approaches to labor market policies. In particular the role of institutions (such as the social security system, or the existence of minimum wages) is being analyzed for the functioning, adequate design, and evaluation of policy interventions in the labor market

Graduates have been successful at landing jobs with competition (and other supervisory) authorities, governments, European institutions, as well as private banks, insurers and consultants.

This specialization builds upon foundations of advanced macroeconomics: What determines long-run growth and productivity, what is the use of fiscal and monetary policy for economic stabilization? Specialization courses discuss, inter alia, strategies in coordination and cooperation needed to maintain and promote the integration of Europe: How are tasks divided between EU and national authorities, can the Euro area be stabilized and is further expansion desirable? Another area focuses on growth in developing nations: What role do institutional (social and political) factors play in promoting growth, how do incentives affect savings and investment of households and firms, and what is the impact of foreign aid on development? Finally, insight is given into the drivers of growth in industrialized countries, specifically the strategies of firms to boost innovation and growth, and the role of policy. 
Our highly reputable teaching faculty has an international track record in academia, central banking, and policy advice. Graduates have started careers in (central) banking, applied policy research, as well as government policy. Prospects go well beyond national boundaries, and include employment in international organizations, foreign governments, NGOs, and multinational corporations.

This specialization studies economic aspects of pressing global issues. Course work is offered straddling areas of environmental policy, global warming and climate change, but also the division between Northern countries and the developing world, affecting life and decisions of billions (poverty, access to health and education, migration). All courses feature the application of relevant theoretical and empirical insights to practical issues. You will learn to use modern tools of analysis to investigate potential solutions and formulate policy recommendations. Global challenges are much wider, and thesis work can further delve into issues of, for instance, global diffusion of technical change and innovation, international tax and welfare competition, or international political economy.

The specialization is jointly supported by teaching staff from the Departments of Economics and of Spatial Economics. Both host internationally renowned staff, all actively participating in national and international economic policy debates. After completing course work and thesis you are well equipped for a career as a policy economist in international or national government agencies such as the European Commission or ministries, policy analysis institutions, internationally operating consultancy firms, or NGOs.

Emilie Berkhout

Graduated in 2015, Junior Researcher at AIID

Emilie Berkhout

"During my Bachelor at the University of Amsterdam I became interested in Development Economics and the Master in Economics at VU Amsterdam taught me the right knowledge and skills to work in this sector. It is a challenging programme, but after graduation you will have great analytical skills and a broad range of job opportunities. The degree provided me the opportunity to work as a Junior Researcher at the Amsterdam Institute for International Development (AIID), which fits perfectly with my interests."

Dutch students

There are two principal ways of admission: direct admission and admission after application and approval.  
There are strict admission criteria. These are set by the Admissions Board, which also decides on individual applications. The requirements distinguish between Master specific requirements and general requirements. Please read them both carefully.

General requirements for holders of a(n):

  • Dutch University degree
  • International degree
  • Dutch HBO degree    

Specific admission requirements Master's programme Economics:  

  • Direct admission to the Master's programme in Economics is only possible with a Bachelor's degree in economics and business administration or econometrics from VU Amsterdam. In these cases, students must have successfully completed the following 3rd year bachelor courses: Research Methods for Economics and Finance, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and a tutorial Micro- or Macroeconomics.
  • Applicants with a Bachelor's degree in Economics (or very closely related) from an accredited university must have a sufficient knowledge in both Micro- and Macroeconomics and a solid background in mathematics and statistics for economists. Specifically, students ought to be familiar with mathematics (calculus and algebra), intermediate economics and econometrics at a level commensurate with all of the following texts:
    MicroeconomicsVarian, H.R., Intermediate Microeconomics, Norton, 8th ed., 2010
    MacroeconomicsGärtner, M., Macroeconomics, Prentice Hall, 4th ed., 2013
    Econometrics and StatisticsStock, J.H. and Watson, M.W., Introduction to Econometrics, Pearson, 3rd ed., 2012 (chapters 1-7)
    Mathematics for EconomistsSydsaeter, Knut and Hammond, Essential Mathematics for Economic Analysis, Prentice Hall, 4th ed., 2012

  • Other applicants, already studying in the Netherlands or with a Dutch HBO degree, not meeting these criteria may be required to successfully complete additional preparatory courses, possibly in Dutch (e.g. pre-Master), before they can be admitted to the programme, which may substantially increase the total expected time to completion.

If you did not take your Economic or (international) Business Administration Bachelor's degree (IBA students, see paragraph for IBA students below) at VU Amsterdam you must submit a request for admission to the admission board. You have to fill out the Form Evaluation admission Master and add to it the following documents: a description of the subjects you passed, your transcript, the study load and a list of the literature studied.

You could send your request per email until 1 May.

The Admission board will then decide whether you can be admitted directly to the Master's or whether you first need to compensate for any mismatches between your qualification and our admission requirements. Possible outcomes of your application are direct admission to the Master's programme, admission under the condition that you must also pass one or more Bachelor's courses, admission to one of the pre-Master's programmes or admission to one of our Bachelor's programmes.

More information regarding registration WO-bachelors, see the VU website (in Dutch).

Students with direct admission from VU Amsterdam
If you have direct admission to the Master's programme of your choice you need a new enrollment in Studielink.

International IBA students (3rd year students)
Students with a Bachelor's degree in International Business Administration from VU Amsterdam and direct admission to the Master's programme (for Master's specific entry requirements see the related IBA pages) of their choice can go to Apply for Diploma and follow the instructions. Additionally, you will need to register yourself through Studielink as a Master's student. If it is uncertain if you finish your Bachelor before the 1st of September, you need to both register yourself as a Master’s student and re-register as a Bachelor’s student IBA. Once your application for the Master's programme of your choice has been accepted and your registration as a Master’s student is complete, you can cancel your registration as an IBA student. Reminder: you are officially registered as a student if you have filled in your re-registration form and paid the tuition fee.

Services for international (IBA) students / Residence permit
When you are planning to continue your studies at VU Amsterdam after your IBA, please contact the Central Admission’s Support Team of VU Amsterdam for further information and specific questions about the offered services for international students like extending your residence permit. You will need to apply for extension of your residence permit if you continue your studies at VU Amsterdam.



If you did not take your Economic or (international) Business Administration Bachelor's degree at VU Amsterdam and if you have a HBO degree (higher vocational education) you must submit a request for admission to the admission board. You have to fill out the Form Evaluation admission Master and add to it the following documents: a description of the subjects you passed, your transcript, the study load and a list of the literature studied.

You could send your request per email until May 1st, to
The Admission board will then decide whether you can be admitted directly to the Master's or whether you first need to compensate for any mismatches between your qualification and our admission requirements. Possible outcomes of your application are direct admission to the Master's programme, admission under the condition that you must also pass one or more Bachelor's courses, admission to one of the pre-Master's programmes or admission to one of our Bachelor's programmes.

More information regarding registration WO-bachelors, see the VU website (in Dutch).

Deadline for an admission request is May 1st.

Information days and activities
Admission requests, admission requirements and admission questions
(can only be reached by e-mail)
Tuition fees, Studielink, VUnet
Central Student Desk
Other questions

Visit our information day

Master’s EveningTuesday 6 December 2016Register
Master's DaySaturday 11 March 2017Please register later

International students

Admission is based on a strict selection procedure. The Faculty’s Admission Board will decide upon your admission after having evaluated your complete online application.

In order to gain admission to one of our Master’s programmes, you will need to have at least a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited research university including at least three full years of academic study amounting to a minimum of 180 EC or equivalent. We do not require a GRE or GMAT test score.

Specific admission requirements for the MSc programme Economics:

Applicants need to have successfully completed the following courses:

  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics
  • Econometrics and Statistics
  • Mathematics for Economists

The material from these courses is also covered in textbooks such as:

  • Varian, H.R., Intermediate Microeconomics, Norton, 8th ed., 2010
  • Gärtner, M., Macroeconomics, Prentice Hall, 3rd ed., 2009
  • Stock, J.H. and Watson, M.W., Introduction to Econometrics, Pearson, 3rd ed., 2012 (chapters 1-7)
  • Sydsaeter, Knut and Hammond, Essential Mathematics for Economic Analysis, Prentice Hall, 3rd ed., 2008

VU Amsterdam requires all applicants to take an English test. You can already apply online without having the test results. We do advise you to plan a test date as soon as possible. Below you will find the minimum English test scores:

IELTS (academic):

  • Minimum general score 6,5
  • Minimum score writing 6,0


  • Paper based test 580
  • Internet based test 92-93

Cambridge English:

  • Cambridge Proficiency Exam A, B, C
  • Cambridge Advanced Exam A, B, C

VU-test English-language proficiency: offered by the VU Taalloket. You can find more information and register for this test at

Please refer to the language requirement page for the general requirements regarding the English language test.

If you have read the admission criteria and feel you are eligible for admission, please take the following steps to submit your application. Note that the initial application procedure is fully online and that scans of your relevant documents are required. 

Step 1: Meet admission criteria

Step 2: Prepare documents and apply online
Please prepare the following documents and arrange the payment of the application fee, a non-refundable €100 application fee applies. You can find an explanation of each document on the application page. All documents should be provided in English.

  • Copy of your valid passport or ID (only for EU residents)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Transcript of records
  • Thesis (or another sample of academic writing)
  • A description of the relevant courses you have taken during your previous higher education
  • A list of all the main literature used during your previous higher education
  • Motivation letter
  • Reference letter (one or two)

After having prepared the required documents, please follow the online application procedure. After you have completed the application, our international student advisors will contact you via email. 

Step 3: Await decision on admission
The admission board will review your application as soon as it is complete. Normally this takes about four weeks, but it might take longer in busy periods so be sure to apply as soon as possible. If you gain admission, you will receive a letter of conditional admission by email. You can start planning your move to Amsterdam!  

Step 4: Finalize your registration and move to Amsterdam! 
Make sure to finalize your registration as a student before the start of the programme. Here you will find an explanation what to do after admission. When all conditions are met you will be ready to start your programme at VU Amsterdam!

Further information about: 
Tuition fees

As an international student planning to study at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, you can apply for a variety of grants and bursaries. 

Detailed information about scholarships and deadlines can be found on or

Contact a student ambassador
Some international students are happy to tell you about their experiences with living and studying in Amsterdam. These Student Ambassadors come from all over the world and have attended various bachelor's and master's programmes.

Our student ambassadors are listed on the webpage below. Reach out to them and get their stories about being a student at VU Amsterdam!

Information for international students > International degree holders > Contact our student ambassadors

Visit our information days
More information about Master's programmes
Visit our information days

Central International Office
For detailed questions about the Master’s programmes or the application procedure contact your International Student Advisor at the International Office:

Foto Leanne Schrijver Leanne Schrijver
Tel +31 20 59 83032




Foto Paul SteemanPaul Steeman
Tel +31 20 59 88739




Foto Floris KorbeeFloris Korbee
Tel + 31 (0)20 598 3944



For general information about VU Amsterdam:
Please phone us at +31 (0)20 598 5000 (Monday – Friday, 10:00 to 12:00).
You may also e-mail us at

Sjoerd ten Wolde

Graduated in 2011, Policy Officer Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Sjoerd ten Wolde

"I’m glad I used my resources on the MSc Economics at VU Amsterdam. I was afraid I was ill prepared for this programme. Despite its demanding nature, however, the professors were always willing to help out. I thrived in the programme, graduated cum laude in 2011, and learned the building blocks for my current occupation as a policy economist for the Dutch Ministry of the Interior. I still use the knowledge I got in the MSc Economics every day, and highly recommend it."

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