Helsinki GSE PhD program

PhD Program

A PhD education in economics is a stepping stone both into a research career and into exciting and demanding expert positions in the private and public sector as well as at international institutions. The Helsinki GSE PhD program offers motivated students an excellent avenue to pursue their goal of acquiring a solid training in economics at the highest level.

While the Helsinki GSE PhD program follows the best practices in PhD training in economics, there are a couple of things that set Helsinki GSE apart.

All-round first year courses

The first year courses in the Helsinki GSE program are geared towards developing good all-round economists with a solid grasp of macroeconomics, microeconomics, and econometrics. We emphasize problem-solving skills, applicability of modeling skills, and ability to conduct empirical research over pure development of theoretical skills. We allow the students to reach the theory frontier in the area they specialize in through a variety of methods: second year courses, reading groups, and study groups.

Early research group integration

We integrate our students early on into research groups that take the responsibility of making sure that each student gets the training she needs.

Otherwise, the structure of the four-year program follows that of leading economics PhD programs. The first year of core-courses (micro- and macroeconomics, econometrics) provide a solid foundation for the students' own research. The second and third years consist of original research and courses in subfields of interest in economics. The fourth year consists of original research.

PhD education at Helsinki GSE emphasizes collegiality, support, and encouragement in addition to learning. An important ingredient of the program is the research group structure, around which Helsinki GSE is organized.  

Research groups are formed in key subfields of economics – econometrics, industrial organization, labour economics, macroeconomics, microeconomics, and public economics. Their main responsibilities include student supervision, hosting student workshops and seminars, and integration of students into existing research projects. The research group structure guarantees students with a comprehensive, supportive, and state-of-the-art learning environment. All faculty members of Helsinki GSE participate in research group activities.

Helsinki GSE is developing ways to allow students to engage with third parties during their studies through collaborative internships. The purpose of these internships is to allow students to look for new research ideas, to engage with economists working in different organizations, and to allow both students and prospective employers of PhD economists to learn to know each other.

An important aspect of PhD training in Helsinki GSE is to enhance the job market success of the students. One task of research groups is to collectively participate in this effort. Helsinki GSE has recently placed fresh PhD’s well in the international academic job market with positions at leading European institutions.

A PhD candidate should choose one of the member institutions (Aalto University, Hanken School of Economics or University of Helsinki) as his or her target university and apply for a PhD student in economics at one of these institutions. As the application procedures vary from one institution to another, the candidate is advised to consult the details from the application offices of each institution.

While the objective Helsinki GSE is to provide financial support to each accepted PhD student, terms and practices of this support may vary from one institution to another. Upon completion of the Helsinki PhD Program in economics, students receive their degrees from the institution at which they are enrolled.

For more information, please contact Helsinki GSE Director for Education, professor Hannu Vartiainen at hannu.vartiainen (at)