The Economics Ph.D. Program in Tilburg

Since the start of the fall semester, I am education coordinator for econometrics in the Graduate Program in Economics (GPE) at Tilburg University. In this column, I would like to write about this program and about my experience as education coordinator.

The Graduate Program in Economics in Tilburg is one of the top Economics Ph.D. programs in Europe. The program is very selective. Every year we receive around 200 applications and the incoming class of first year research master students consists of around 20 students. Students can start the program directly after the bachelor program. The application deadline is on the 1st of February and it takes some time to prepare an application. Applicants need to submit their grades, a CV, two letters of recommendation and their scores on the GRE and TOEFL exams. TOEFL scores should be above 600 and quantitative GRE scores should be above the 90th percentile. Studying econometrics in Tilburg is a very good preparation for an Economics Ph.D. program, and it would be very nice if we received more applications from econometrics students in Tilburg. There are some scholarships for research master students. The most promising students receive a Koopman scholarship of around 1000 Euro per month, and some other students receive a partial scholarship of around 420 Euro per month.

The Graduate Program in Economics at Tilburg takes five years, and it consists of two phases: Two years for a research master and three years for writing a dissertation. The program has been reorganized last year. The new structure of the program is very similar to Economics Ph.D. programs at other top American and European Universities. There is also a separate Graduate Program in Business with somewhat different rules. During the first year of the research master program in economics students follow a review course in statistics and mathematics and they take courses in the core disciplines of microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics. These courses are mandatory and they provide a common basis of knowledge for all students. In the second year, students can choose from circa 20 specialized courses in fields such as behavioral economics, industrial organization or econometrics. During the second year students also write a research master thesis. After two years, students with good grades and strong support from their thesis supervisor will be offered a Ph.D. position.

Ph.D. students are employees of the University. Their most important task is to write a dissertation which typically consists of three or more separate research articles. In the beginning of the program, Ph.D. students often collaborate with their supervisor and other professors, but later on many Ph.D. students are ready to also pursue independent research projects.

The Graduate Program in Economics is a difficult and demanding program, though it can also be very rewarding. As a Ph.D. student you will have the time and freedom to seek answers to questions that interest you and to keep asking until you are satisfied with your answers. Research means doing things that have never been done before. Writing a dissertation often implies that you will spend a lot of time by yourself. But there are also many opportunities to exchange ideas and receive feedback from your supervisors, from other Ph.D. students and from professors at other universities who come to Tilburg to give a seminar presentation. Moreover, you can present the results of your research at conferences that often take place at nice locations around the globe.

Tekst by: Martin Salm