Program Details

The goal of the ZurichGSE is to offer advanced and highly specialized courses in economics. We provide both the theoretical and practical training required to address frontier research questions in economics.

In addition to the curriculum taught by the Zurich Department of Economics faculty we offer seminars and workshops with renowned international experts.

All courses are held in English.

First Year

Core courses in Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and Econometrics

The core courses in Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and Econometrics follow the challenging economics “canon” taught at top economics departments worldwide. A summary of the topics covered in each course in each semester is provided in the table below. 


Introductory Maths Course

The Introductory Maths Course serves as preparation for the 1st year of PhD courses. The 4-week  compulsory course takes place during the summer before the term starts and covers three areas: Mathematical Preliminaries for Microeconomics, Basics of Probability Theory, and Introduction to Dynamic Programming and Optimal Control.  After the course, students take an exam covering all three areas.


Term courses:


Microeconomics for Research Students

This full-year course covers the principles of microeconomics widely used in research in economics at an advanced level. Topics in the first term include Choice and Demand Theory, Producer Theory, Aggregation, Welfare Analysis, Discrete Choice Analysis, Uncertainty, and Partial and General Equilibrium Theory, both with perfect information and under uncertainty. During the second term, additional topics are covered, including Game Theory, Information Economics, as well as selected topics of interest in microeconomics.

Macroeconomics for Research Students

This full-year course is an introduction to macroeconomic theory at the PhD level. The first-term course start with tools that are used in many different areas in macroeconomics and indeed in other areas of economics as well, notably recursive methods and discrete- and continuous-time dynamic optimization. The course then applies these tools to some of the most important topics of macroeconomics, including general equilibrium with complete and incomplete markets, consumption-savings problems, investment, dynamic contracts, fiscal policy, and economic growth.

The second term of the macro sequence covers business cycle theory including real business cycles and New Keynesian models, monetary policy, asset pricing, macroeconomic models with financial frictions, and search with applications to labor markets.

Econometrics for Research Students

This full-year course introduces the statistical foundations of modern econometric analysis. The first term covers the finite-sample properties of the Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) estimator, large-sample theory, and single- and multiple-equation GMM.

The second-term course is divided in two parts.  The first part covers advanced topics in regression, including neglected heterogeneity, grouped data regression, correlated errors, non-random sampling, and non-linear models for discrete dependent variables and panel data.

The second part provides an overview of recent methods used for program and policy evaluation, with a focus on causal inference and estimation of treatment effects, including social experiments, differences-in-difference estimation, regression discontinuity and kink designs, parametric and non-parametric matching, instrumental variables and control functions.

Second Year

During their 2nd year of doctoral studies, students take courses in a wide variety of sub-fields in economics. The exact lineup of courses changes across years, but generally covers the five broad sub-fields for which the Department is known: Microeconomic Theory, Macroeconomics, Econometrics, Behavioral and Experimental Economics, and Applied Microeconomics. At the end of the year, students select a supervisor and submit a research proposal.

Current Core Elective Courses


An overview of courses held in the recent past include:

  • Behavioral Economics (Roberto Weber)
  • Behavioral Welfare Economics (Nick Netzer)
  • Cultural Economics (Joachim Voth)
  • Economic and Financial Crises (Joachim Voth)
  • Economics of Child Well-Being and Development (Guilherme Lichand)
  • Empirical Industrial Organization (Gregory S. Crawford)
  • Globalization, Technology, and Inequality (David Dorn and Josef Zweimüller)
  • Graduate Development Economics (Lorenzo Casaburi)
  • Graduate Labor Economics (David Dorn and Josef Zweimüller)
  • Growth, Technical Change and Inequalities (David Hémous)
  • International Finance (Mathias Hoffmann)
  • Labor Economics (David Dorn)
  • Monetary Theory (Mathias Hoffmann and Dr. Aleksander Berentsen)
  • Research Methods with applications in Economic History (Joachim Voth)
  • Structural Estimation in Applied Microeconomics (Gregory S. Crawford)
  • The Biological Standard of Living (Ulrich Woitek)
  • The Political Economy of Good Governance: What Does the Evidence Say? (David Yanazigawa-Drott)
  • Theory of Contests (Christian Ewerhart)
  • Theory of Repeated Games (Armin Schmutzler)
  • Topics in Experimental and Behavioral Economics (Ernst Fehr)
  • Topics in Microeconomics (Nick Netzer and Armin Schmutzler)


Third and Subsequent Years

Seminars and Presentations

Starting in their third year, students regularly attend and participate in department research seminars.  They are also required to hold a presentation in every semester until their fifth year.

Students also select their secondary advisor in their third  year.  

Third-Year Dissertation Proposal

By the end of the 3rd year, students must submit a Third-Year Dissertation Proposal. The Dissertation Proposal includes a detailed description of the content of the student’s PhD dissertation. This typically consists of a progress report on the research embodied in the second-year research proposal as well as a plan for the other papers in the dissertation.

Fourth-Year Progress Report

By the end of the 4th year, students are required to submit a brief progress report to their supervisors, describing how the papers described in their Dissertation Proposal are progressing. The student’s primary and secondary supervisors provide feedback on the progress report and grade it on a pass/fail basis.  

Fifth Year

The fall semester of the 5th year is spent attending seminars and preparing the job market paper.  During the spring semester students participate in the various academic job markets. They also finalize and defend their dissertations and prepare their papers for journal submission.