Struggling through the EOR bachelor’s program, and then?

The Econometrics and Operations Research (EOR) bachelor’s program, and especially its first year, contains many theoretical courses that seem to be far away from any practical applications. Professor Van Dam explains us why such a fundamental basis is needed, and informs us about future possibilities for econometricians. Why this special?
Studying is generally considered as investing in your future, but who knows what that future is going to look like exactly? Though some students do already know what they want to become since they were just a child, most of us are not that sure. We thought it was about time to inform our readers thoroughly about master’s programs offered especially for econometricians at Tilburg University and corresponding career opportunities. For this purpose, Professor Van Dam, education manager of the QFAS and ORMS master, and teacher of the course Linear Algebra, was interviewed because of his close connection to the master’s programs.Professor Van Dam
Every econometrics student knows Mr. Van Dam from the Linear Algebra course, offered in the first block of the EOR propaedeutics. Besides teaching us elementary theory in matrix algebra, students may also encounter him in a later phase of their studies. This is when the bachelor’s program has been completed and it is time to choose a master’s program. As education manager of two of the four masters offered, he is closely related to many master students.

Like many professors at the EOR department, Mr. Van Dam has not studied econometrics himself, but in fact he has studied mathematics. He studied technical mathematics at the Technical University of Eindhoven. Still today, Mr. Van Dam spends most of his research in the field of mathematics, rather than the economic appliances of econometrics. This does not mean he is not at his place at Tilburg University since, as we all know, a substantial part of econometrics consists of mathematics, and if it is not pure mathematics which is taught, it is often the case that mathematics returns in economic appliances.

A nice fact to report, as a student Professor Van Dam has been very active at his study association as well, so he admits the value of being committed to an association such as Asset | Econometrics.

Different Master’s Programs and their Future Prospects
At Tilburg University the continuation of the econometrics bachelor’s program consists of four master’s programs, each specializing on certain aspects that have already been covered partly in the bachelor phase. The four directions from which one can choose are:
– QFAS: Quantitative Finance and Actuarial Science
– ORMS: Operations Research and Management Science
– EME: Econometrics and Mathematical Economics
– Marketing Research – Quantitative Track: a combination of marketing and quantitative methods

In general the master phase consists of four core-courses and three elective courses. Therefore, also within the master’s program there is opportunity to deviate into specific fields of interest.

Although there is a certain overlap between these programs, each of them specializes into a unique discipline developing the student in specific qualities. This is how Tilburg University can prepare students optimally for making a career after having completed their studies. As econometrics is applied in a very wide range of branches, students can choose to work in a lot of different companies. From banks to transporting companies and from market research institutes to the CBS (Statistics Netherlands). Because of the high quality of the program, Mr. Van Dam states that econometricians are very attractive to employ for companies. Especially during the crisis more and more emphasis was put on a thorough approach on all kinds of problems, often demanding a quantitative look on these cases. This is when the qualities of EOR students appear and companies will observe how valuable quantitative oriented students can be.

The master’s program Quantitative Finance and Actuarial Science specializes in financial mathematics. As the name already suggests, it prepares the students especially for a job in finance, like risk manager, and for actuarial jobs, such as working for an insurance company. It is as well a foundation from which you can advance to the status of Actuary AG, a fully certified actuary who is a member of the ‘Actuarieel Genootschap’. During the bachelor’s program, already some courses have been taught within this discipline, such as Introduction to Mathematical Finance and Insurance (second year), and some third year courses like Life Insurance, Risk Theory and Asset Liability Management, which prepares students optimally for a career in the financial world.

Operations Research and Management Science is often associated with courses like Linear Optimization (first year), Stochastic Operations Research Models (second year) and Combinatorial Optimization (third year). It combines the field of economics, mathematics and statistics to develop students’ specialized skills needed to solve management problems concerning production systems, supply chains and IT. The program teaches how to represent and solve practical managerial problems from a quantitative perspective. Included are analytical methods, mathematical models and insights from operations research, management science, quantitative logistics, and optimization in order to optimize all kinds of problems companies have to deal with. Students who finished the ORMS track are capable of solving the most demanding quantitative problems managers face, and are likely to find a job in consultancy, software engineering and large companies with major logistical problems, such as NS Groep (Dutch Railways) and PostNL (Dutch Postal Service).

Econometrics and Mathematical Economics focuses on mathematical and quantitative analysis of economic problems, in order to understand real-world economic and business issues such as the labor market, capital investment and strategic behavior of firms or individual decision making by consumers. Perhaps it makes the most sense for first or second year students to associate EME with bachelor courses as Microeconomics (first year) or Introduction to Mathematical Economics (second year). Finishing this track assures you of a successful career in governmental institutions, such as the CBS (Statistics Netherlands), consultancy firms, or a scientific career in economics or business research.

Pension, Aging and Retirement Track
This brand new track is custom-made for a major problem that society deals with these days and can be chosen when doing the QFAS or EME master’s program. Because of the high rate of aging more and more people will leave the labor market soon. On top of this, investment results of pension investors are under pressure because of the economic crosswind in many developed countries, resulting in difficulties when pension institutions want to satisfy the financial needs of the retired. This track brings students a scientific understanding of the various aspects of aging and retirement. You will learn how economic theories and models can be applied to create solutions for financial institutions and government policies.
Marketing Research – Quantitative Track
Finally, econometrics bachelor students can choose for the Marketing Research master’s program. Professor Van Dam says this is the result of interdisciplinary relations between the Marketing department and the Econometrics Department at Tilburg University. Because of the overflow of data available (for example of cookies on websites et cetera), quantitative analysis is becoming more and more important in all kinds of businesses. This led to the foundation of the Marketing Research master’s program, in which quantitative methods, a typical econometrics topic, are combined with marketing knowledge. Students acquire the ability to use state-of-the-art research methodology to collect, analyze and disseminate quantitative information in a systematic and objective way to improve marketing decision-making. In this way students are optimally prepared for a job in market analysis companies, consultancy firms, or to follow a Ph.D.-track.

From Bachelor to Master

We also wanted to know from Professor Van Dam what his vision is on the transition from bachelor to master. In the first year, students mainly follow fundamental courses in mathematics and statistics. Although there are some applied courses, the emphasis is on mathematics. During the three years of the bachelor’s program these applied courses become more and more important and the pure mathematical courses disappear to the background, though the quantitative methods return in practically every course. In the third year students are able to take electives, so they can already start selecting courses of their interest, looking ahead to the master’s program of their interest. Also, in the third bachelor year students write a bachelor thesis. The subject of the thesis can also be chosen in a way that it matches with the master’s program of interest.

Why choose for Econometrics in Tilburg?

On the question why prospective students who consider studying Econometrics should subscribe at Tilburg University, Professor Van Dam answers that during the bachelor’s program a strong general (mathematical) basis is built, from which many applications are developed. This makes EOR students from Tilburg widely employable, with specific knowledge in certain economic disciplines. Besides, the number of students is relatively small, resulting in a close connection to fellow students and personal contact with professors. Mr. Van Dam tells that he knows most of the students, at least by face, and that the doors of the econometrics department are usually all open. In this way professors are easily approachable, and often available for advice or to answer questions.

We hope that that we have informed you well about the master phase succeeding the EOR bachelor’s program at Tilburg University and about the study program in general.

Text by: Michiel van Erp