The PhD program is a challenging degree tailored for exceptional students with a strong commitment to Development Economics and a proven ability for inquisitive, independent work.

What is it?

Over the past decade, Development Economics has arguably become one of the most interesting fields in the profession. From global macroeconomic issues such as the determinants of economic growth, to carefully-crafted microeconomic work in which rigorously constructed theory is tested in developing countries, often using cutting-edge experimental or quasi-experimental techniques, Development Economics is at the heart of many current policy debates. What works and what does not in terms of social programs geared towards reducing poverty, child malnutrition, or the spread of HIV/AIDS? What policies should a country follow in order to ensure sustained economic growth and an equitable distribution of income?

Attempting to answer such questions stands at the core of our program. Our 4 year PhD program is centered around a dissertation. This work represents a substantial contribution to Development Economics and demonstrates your ability to combine independent research with the formal methodologies and tools of the trade.

Detailed Course Facts

Application deadline 15 January 2016
Tuition fee
  • EUR 7398 Year (Non-EEA)
  • EUR 4623 Year (EEA)
  • Non-resident students: CHF 8,000 per year (CHF 4,000 per semester)
  • Resident students*: CHF 5,000 per year (CHF 2,500 per semester)

* A resident is a person holding a Swiss residence permit at the time of application.

Start date
Credits (ECTS) 24 ECTS
Duration full-time 48 months
Delivery mode On Campus
Educational variant Full-time
Project Type Open
Educational Form Academic

Course Content

The program consists of classes (in English), and the research dissertation.

  • Classes cover a sequence of five courses in the first two semesters: micro- and macro-development PhD seminars, two advanced econometrics classes, and one elective.

  • Students are encouraged to take a minor in another discipline, so as to be equipped to deal with complex issues from at least two academic standpoints.

  • Students are also encouraged to carry out fieldwork in the context of projects being supervised by faculty members in developing countries.

  • While there is no requirement to take additional elective classes, you have the option of following classes in economics or other departments of the Institute as an auditor, subject to approval of the Professor.

  • The dissertation is the central element of the program. You will choose a Professor to be your academic supervisor in the first year. You will submit and defend a dissertation proposal (the so-called “preliminary thesis statement”) by the end of the third semester. That proposal describes your research plan, and you will be expected to have clearly identified your research question, show a good grasp of the related literature, as well as have a clear plan for the methods and data you intend to use. The dissertation usually takes the form of three papers written under the direction of your supervisor, each of which is suitable as an independent paper. We allow for co-authorship of chapters, but expect you to demonstrate the ability to undertake research on your own. Students usually have one chapter ready by the beginning of their fourth year, which they use as their job market paper to secure employment.

  • The credit requirements are for 30 credits (ECTS) from the five classes.

Can I follow classes outside the Institute?

Yes. You can take classes in other institutions as auditors, subject to approval by your supervisor.


Admissions are decided on the basis of individual files. Most candidates hold a Masters degree in economics with high marks. We consider both candidates from our own MIS program in economics, as well as candidates from outside universities with a top reputation. If you are interested in the PhD program but do not yet hold a Masters degree, an option is to enter the Masters in International Economics program, and apply for the PhD in your second year using our "fast track" option. For more details see the Master page.

Work Experience

No work experience is required.

More Information

We Are Helping Thousands of Students to Find a University Abroad!

Fortunately enough I was able to find StudyPortals. Right from the start of the application to getting the confirmation of admission I was using StudyPortals.
Shivprasad - India

Sign up for your personal newsletter and we will help you too.

We will send you all the information you need to find your dream study programme!

The Global Study Awards: get funded with up to £10,000 to study abroad

Together with the ISIC Association and British Council IELTS we offer you the chance to receive up to £10000 to expand your horizon and study abroad. We want to ultimately encourage you to study abroad in order to experience and explore new countries, cultures and languages.

  • Reset