Economics: Development Economics

Facing the challenges of inequality and poverty

Due to the Corona crisis, the requirements to enroll in this Master's programme have changed. For an overview of the requirements, we refer to the subsection ‘Corona crisis: from a Bachelor’s to a Master’s.

Development Economics applies basic tools of economics to key policy issues in developing countries and transition economies. This specialization discusses topics like: the role of constraints (for example 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; and the scope for economic growth through industrial development. 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.

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.

Contact for more information Bas van der Klaauw (b.vander.klaauw@vu.nl)

AACSB

The Master's 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 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. The academic year is divided into six teaching periods: four periods of eight weeks and two periods of four weeks. The programme’s study load is 60 credits. Credits are expressed in EC: European Credit (Transfer System). Each credit amounts to about 28 hours studying.

Want to know more? Check out the Study Guide!

As a graduate of the Master’s programme in Economics you are a well-trained economist, with extensive knowledge of economic theory, data analysis 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.

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.

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

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 taught in English. Apart from you HBO BSc you need a GMAT score of 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. You can find more information on our pre-masters here.

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: 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.

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."

MSc Economics at VU Amsterdam

Overview Economics: Development Economics

LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION

English

DURATION

1 year

TUITION FEE

APPLICATION

1 May (the original deadline of 1 April has been extended due to COVID-19) for international degree holders from non-EU/EEA countries (different deadlines may hold for other category students); 
15 July for Dutch degree holders and international degree holders from EU/EEA countries

Please click here for more information about COVID-19

START DATE

1 September

STUDY TYPE

Full-time

SPECIALIZATIONS

Development Economics is a specialization of the Economics master's programme

FIELD OF INTEREST

Economics, Business and Law

Admission with a Dutch degree

Due to the Corona crisis, the requirements to enroll in this Master's programme have changed. For an overview of the requirements, we refer to the subsection ‘Corona crisis: from a Bachelor’s to a Master’s.

The MSc programme Economics welcomes ambitious students who want to develop an advanced knowledge in economics and apply their knowledge to study a wide range of topics. Therefore, students should start with a solid academic background in economics and have sufficient knowledge of mathematics and statistics.

Admission requirements
Direct admission is granted to students who pass the courses Microeconomics II, Macroeconomics II and Quantitative Research Methods III (Economics/Finance), who obtain a Bachelor's degree in econometrics, or who complete the Minor Economics @ VU with a grade point average of at least 7.5. The entry requirement for students with a Bachelor's degree in (International) Business Administration, Economics and Econometrics from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam are summarized in this document.

Students who do not meet these admission requirements are not necessarily declined to enroll in the MSc Economics, but can file an admission request, which shows their background in economics and quantitative research methods.

Application procedure
To enroll in the programme submit your enrolment application via Studielink.

Step
1:
Apply for the MSc programme Economics via Studielink before 15 July.

Step 2:
Please complete your application in VUnet by answering additional questions and uploading a formal transcript of your bachelor grades. Your transcript must include an average score (GPA).
 
More information regarding registration WO-bachelors, see the VU website (in Dutch).

Services for International (EBE, EOR, IBA) students / Residence permit:
If your are planning to continue your studies at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam after your SBE Bachelor, please contact the Central Admission's Support Team of Vrije Universiteit 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 Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Due to the Corona crisis, the requirements to enroll in this Master's programme have changed. For an overview of the requirements, we refer to the subsection ‘Corona crisis: from a Bachelor’s to a Master’s.

The MSc programme Economics welcomes ambitious students with a university degree from either a Dutch or international university who want to develop an advanced knowledge in economics and apply their knowledge to study a wide range of topics. Therefore, students should start with a solid academic background in economics and have sufficient knowledge of mathematics and statistics.

Admission requirements
The MSc programme Economics is open to students with a university Bachelor's degree that provides a thorough knowledge in microeconomics 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:

Microeconomics    
Varian, H.R., Intermediate Microeconomics, Northon, 9th ed., 2014
Macroeconomics
Gärtner, M., Macroeconomics, Prentice Hall, eth ed., 2016
Econometrics and Statistics
Stock, J.H. and Watson, M.W., Introduction to Econometrics, Pearson, Updated 3rd ed., 2015 (chapters 1-7)
Mathemetics for Economists    
Sydsaeter, Knut and Hammond et al., Essential Mathematics for Economic Analysis, Prentice Hall, 5th ed., 2016

Approval is in most cases gives to students who hold a:

  • Bachelor's degree in economics or econometrics
  • Bachelor's degree in business administration, social sciences and sciences with sufficient elective courses in economics
  • Bachelor's degree from a University College with a specialization in sciences or social sciences and sufficient economics courses
  • Bachelor's degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) or in Politics, Psychology, Law and Economics (PPLE) with sufficient economics and quantitative courses
  • Bachelor's degree and who completed the Minor Economics at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam with an average grade of at least 7.5


Application procedure
Step 1:
Apply for the programme MSc Economics via Studielink  before 15 July.

Step 2:
After applying for the programme in Studielink you will receive a VUnet-ID and password. Please complete your application via VUnet by answering additional questions and uploading a formal transcript of your bachelor grades. Your transcript must include an average score (GPA). (please note: we can only process your application when your transcript is uploaded).

Step 3:
The admission committee will assess your application and decide whether you are admissable. You will be informed about this decision via email.

Students who do not meet the admission criteria can be:

  • admitted conditional on passing one or more Bachelor courses
  • requested to take an admission test after self-study of the literature
  • admitted to the transfer programme (a minimal GRE score may be required)

The admission test takes place in June at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Note that participation in the transfer programme may substantially increase the time to completion.

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

Due to the Corona crisis, the requirements to enroll in this Master's programme have changed. For an overview of the requirements, we refer to the subsection ‘Corona crisis: from a Bachelor’s to a Master’s.

Admission requirements and application

Students with a HBO degree in economics related fields can enroll in the MSc Economics, but only after completing a transfer programme. 

If you have a Dutch higher vocational (HBO) degree you need to enroll in a transfer programme, which is specifically designed to bridge the gap between higher vocational education and university-level education.

To apply for admission you should send a request and a transcript of your HBO courses and grades by email to toelating.sbe@vu.nl. The admission board then will decide whether admission is possible via the transfer programme. 

For more information about the transfer programme contact toelating.sbe@vu.nl.

Students wishing to attend the transfer programme may be required to submit scores from a recent GRE test prior to start and admission may be conditional on achieving a set of minimal scores (information is available on request). Note that participation in the transfer programme may substantially increase the time to completion.

Generally speaking, students must complete their Bachelor’s or pre-Master’s before starting on their Master’s programme. This is known as the ‘BSc-before-MSc rule’. Due to the corona crisis, however, some students have had to partially stop their studies, resulting in an unfortunate delay.

Master’s programmes at VU Amsterdam have therefore examined how an exception to the rule can be made possible, so that students do not get stuck in the transition from Bachelor’s to Master’s because of the corona crisis. This is a one-off measure. 

1. Transition from BSc programs to MSc programs – national and EU 

In accordance with the agreements made with the Dutch government, the VU has developed guidelines for the so-called “zachte knip” (soft cut, i.e., transferring from BSc to MSc program without completing the BSc yet.) An overview of these guidelines and their background are presented in the document “VU RICHTLIJN ‘MASTERTOELATING ZONDER AFGERONDE VOOROPLEIDING’”. 

Based on these guidelines and previous experience with the “zachte knip”, the following requirements have now been developed: 

Students are allowed to miss a total of 18EC of their BSc degree program (10% of the total of 180EC than can be obtained), provided that: 

1. a)  The student has completed his/her BSc Thesis 

2. b)  The general qualitative entry requirements for the specific program are met (as stipulated with other academic degree holders), rather than specific courses (as is now the case for our own BSc students). 

The remaining 18EC need to be completed before September 1, 2021. If not, students will not be able to apply for their MSc degree. We have opted for the 10% maximum of missing EC, as it would be unlikely for students to have a reasonable chance of completing their MSc program otherwise. Even with 18EC missing, this is challenging. Students that start with a deficiency will therefore proactively be invited by the academic advisors to discuss their situation and see if they can offer help where needed. 

Note: for non-EEA students, the regular rules apply 

2. Transition from premaster programs to respective MSc programs 

Note: this applies to the premaster programs of the MSc in Business Administration (all programmes, except for the Duisenberg Honours Programme in Financial Markets and Regulation), Entrepreneurship, Transport and Supply Chain Management, Finance, Marketing or Digital Business and Innovation. 

Students are allowed to miss a total of 12EC of their premaster program (40% of the total of 30EC than can be obtained), provided that the student has completed his/her Academic paper. 

This 40% deviates from the VU guideline of 10-20% EC not completed. This is motivated by the fact that: 

• Our pre-master program only starts in semester 2 (contrary to most other programs at the VU) and our students are therefore disproportionally affected by the crisis; 

• The premaster program, for a substantial part, consist of courses that are part of larger scale programs. In replanning all assessments, the planning for the core program takes preference over the premaster, which in some cases might lead to less favourable circumstances for the premaster students (despite customized measures being taken as well). 

• In normal circumstances, many of our premaster students perform well, both in the premaster as well as in the master program. The GMAT is an important selective criterium here. Hence, we are less concerned about the students that are not sufficiently ready to start the master will gain access via this route after all. 

The remaining 12EC need to be completed before September 1, 2021. If not, students will not be able to apply for their MSc degree. 

Also here, students that start with a deficiency will proactively be invited by the academic advisors to discuss their situation and see if they can offer help where needed. 

Note: for enrolment in the premaster starting in February 2021, the regular procedure and requirements will be applied, given that this program only starts in semester 2. 

Requesting exceptional admission

Do you meet these conditions or do you expect to meet these conditions by 31 August at the latest? If so, you can request exceptional admission no later than 1 August. You can do this by completing and submitting the form.

Information days and activities
contact@vu.nl
Admission questions
toelating.sbe@vu.nl /admissions.sbe@vu.nl or on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 15:00h and 16:00h: Tel. 020 5985873
Tuition fees, Studielink, VUnet
Central Student Desk
Application
Studielink
Other questions
contact@vu.nl

Admission with an international degree

Due to the Corona crisis, the requirements to enroll in this Master's programme have changed. For an overview of the requirements, we refer to the subsection ‘Corona crisis: from a Bachelor’s to a Master’s.

The MSc programme Economics welcomes ambitious students who want to develop an advanced knowledge in economics and apply their knowledge to study a wide range of topics. Therefore, students should start with a solid academic background in economics and have sufficient knowledge of mathematics and statistics. 

In order to gain admission to our Master's programme, you need to have at least a Bachelor's degree from an accredited research university including at least three full years of academics study amounting to a minimum of 180 EC or equivalent. We do not require a GRE or GMAT test score. You need to have successfully completed courses and studied literature related to the core of this programme, consisting of (or equivalents of):

Microeconomics    
Varian, H.R., Intermediate Microeconomics, Northon, 9th ed., 2014
Macroeconomics
Gärtner, M., Macroeconomics, Prentice Hall, eth ed., 2016
Econometrics and Statistics
Stock, J.H. and Watson, M.W., Introduction to Econometrics, Pearson, Updated 3rd ed., 2015 (chapters 1-7)
Mathemetics for Economists    
Sydsaeter, Knut and Hammond et al., Essential Mathematics for Economic Analysis, Prentice Hall, 5th ed., 2016

Applications not providing proof of having passed course work at the minimally required level may be rejected, or applicants may be requested to make up for deficiencies by means of self-study. Good students with technical backgrounds (Natural Sciences, Mathematics, Statistics, and possibly Engineering) are encouraged to apply.

International degree holders from Universities of Applied Sciences (polytechnics, vocational colleges, etc.) cannot be admitted.

English language proficiency
The admission board wants to stress the intensity of the programme: reading scientific articles and writing papers will be a key part, all in a very high pace. Your English language skills, both oral and written, are extremely important in this programme. As you will have to communicate frequently with your fellow students and you will be working with and for international companies.

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 for the programme:

IELTS (academic)

  • Minimum general score 6.5
  • Minimum writing score 6.0

TOEFL

  • Internet based test 92-93

Cambridge English

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

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers the TOEFL ITP English-language proficiency test. The test is offered by the VU Taalloket. You can find more information and register for this test at www.taalloket.nl.

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

In general, students are required to complete their Bachelor’s programme before they are allowed to enroll in a Master’s programme. This is known as the ‘Bachelor-before-Master rule’. However, due to worldwide corona measures, some students might face delays with their graduation. 

For academic year 2020-2021 only, Dutch universities can make an exception to the ‘Bachelor-before-Master rule’.

In accordance with the agreements made with the Dutch government, VU has developed guidelines for the so-called “zachte knip” (soft cut, i.e. transferring from Bachelor to Master programme without completing the Bachelor). Based on these guidelines, the following requirements have been set for students with an EU/EEA nationality currently enrolled in a Bachelor’s programme*: 

Students are allowed to miss a total of 18 EC of their Bachelor degree programme, provided that: 

a)  The student has completed his/her Bachelor thesis (if a thesis was not part of your degree programme, courses in research methodology have to have been completed instead).

b)  The general qualitative entry requirements for the specific programme have been met (as stipulated for other academic degree holders), rather than specific courses (as is now the case for our own Bachelor students). 

Requests for exemptions can be submitted via the usual procedures (Examinations Board). 

The remaining EC (18 or less) need to be completed before 1 September 2021. If not, students will not be able to apply for their Master graduation or re-enroll in the Master. We have opted for a maximum of 18 missing EC, as it is considered unlikely for students to have a reasonable chance of completing their Master programme with more missing EC. Even with 18 EC missing, this is already challenging, especially for international students. Students that enroll through the ‘soft cut’ will therefore be proactively invited by the academic advisors to discuss their situation and offer their assistance. 

For questions about the ‘soft cut’ for international students, please contact your International Student Advisors on masters.sbe@vu.nl.   

* For students with a non-EU/EEA nationality, the general rules still apply. 


If you have read the admission requirements 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. You can already apply online without having completed your Bachelor’s degree. After admission, you will have until 31 August to send a proof of graduation by postal mail.

Step 1: Prepare documents and apply online
Please prepare the following documents and arrange the payment of the non-refundable €100 application fee. You can find a more detailed explanation of each document on the application page. All documents should be provided in English, and preferably in .PDF format.

  • Copy of your valid passport or ID (only for EU citizens)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Motivation letter
  • Transcript of records
  • A description of the relevant courses you have taken during your previous higher education, with the main literature used for those course. You can use this format.
  • Thesis (or another sample of academic writing). If your thesis was not written in English, please submit the original with an added summary of about 3 pages in English.

While not initially required, candidates may be requested to provide additional support by way of up to two academic letters of reference.

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 e-mail. Please refer to the application page to see which application deadline applies to you.

Step 2: Await decision on admission
After submitting your complete application, the Admission Board will review all your documents to assess your eligibility. In general, we can inform students of the admission decision within 4 weeks. Around deadlines, this can take a bit linger, so we always recommend to apply as soon as possible. If you are admitted, you will receive your letter of conditional admission by email. After that, you can start planning your move to Amsterdam!

Step 3: Finalize your enrolment and move to Amsterdam!
Make sure to finalize your enrolment as a student before the start of the programme. Here on our website, you will find an explanation of all things to arrange after admission. When all enrolment requirements have been met you will be ready to start your programme at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam!

Further information about:

Our international student ambassadors are happy to tell you all about their experiences with studying at VU and living in Amsterdam. Our student ambassadors come from all over the world and are currently attending various bachelor's and master's programmes.

Our student ambassadors are listed here.

Reach out to them and hear their stories about being a VU Amsterdam student!

International students can apply to several scholarships. For all VU scholarships, please see www.vu.nl/scholarships. Any available external grant or scholarship can be found through www.grantfinder.nl.

Visit our Master's Events

Central International Office
For detailed questions about the Master’s programmes or the application procedure, please contact one of your International Student Advisors at the International Office: masters.sbe@vu.nl

Leanne Schrijver
Leanne Schrijver
Tel +31 20 59 83032
Paul Steeman
Paul Steeman
Tel +31 20 59 88739
Amu Shrestha
Amu Shrestha
Tel +31 20 59 84296
Marita Visser
Marita Visser
Tel +31 20 59 87325


For general information about VU Amsterdam:
Please phone us at +31 (0)20 598 5000 (Monday – Friday, 09:00 to 17:00).
You may also e-mail us at study@vu.nl .

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