Structure and contents

The Master of Science in Economics (ME) prepares professional economists with a policy orientation, with an eye to the skills required to be employed in national and international policy and research institutions, including central banks, development banks, economics and statistics research offices but also in high ranks of the public administration. Due to the skills acquired during the master, the ME is also a pathway to higher studies in Economics and Economic Policy.

The Master offers knowledge in various fields of applied economics combined with a sound background in microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics. To understand, evaluate and propose economic policy instruments in the current world with all its global challenges, the teaching methodology is to combine economic theory with relevant real world applications of today.

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  • Study programme 2019-2021

    The programme is taught entirely in English and has a strong international orientation.

    The first year offers all the core courses together with some specialized courses. The second year offers a variety of elective courses, and the possibility of doing an internship (either at a private, or a research institution). Together with the final master thesis (which is written in the last semester), the students will have received the necessary training to undertake independent analysis of many economics problems.

    The standard duration of the Master in Economics is 3 semesters (leading to 90 credits). However, students who wish to amplify their training, have the option of earning additional 30 credits in the form of electives, to be taken either at USI, or our international and national partner universities (leading to a master degree with 120 credits).

    The students have the choice between two minors: a minor in Public Policy, which provides in-depth knowledge in industrial organization, health economics and development, and a minor in Data Science, which teaches students informatics skills, and familiarizes them with coding in different programming languages.

    Master programme 90 ECTS

    1st Semester


    Microeconomics I


    Microeconomics II


    Macroeconomics I


    Macroeconomics II


    Microeconometrics I


    Microeconometrics II


    Industrial Organization I


    Political Economy and Public Finance I


    Political Economy and Public Finance II


    Minor in Public Policy*


    Industrial Organization II




    Minor in Data Science


    Programming in Finance I


    2nd Semester


    Local Public Finance


    Quantitative Methods for Policy Evaluation 


    Topics in Labor, Public and Development Economics


    Minor in Public Policy*


    Introduction to Institutions and Economics of Pension and Aging


    Pension Economics and Finance

    Public Policy Analysis


    Managerial economics II 


    Globalization, development and migration




    Minor in Data Science


    Programming in Finance II




    Text Analysis and Spatial Data for Economists


    3rd Semester


    Internship or Electives**




    **Suggested electives:
    - Economics of Well-Being
    - Analytical Thinking 
    Corporate Finance
    - Health Policy
    - Environmental Law and Policy
    - International Trade Law
    - Tackling World Challenges
    - E-government 


    * corresponds to the former Master in Economic Policy

    Slight changes in the programme may occur. 

    Master Programme 120 ECTS

    Students who wish to amplify their training, have the option of earning additional 30 credits in the form of electives.

  • Teaching

    The ME courses are taught by professors from USI and abroad. In line with the international spirit of this Master, excellent researchers from abroad build part of the teaching team and contribute to the diversity of thoughts. Regular guest lecturers from the private and public sector complement the academic knowledge with relevant policy applications. 


    Luigi Benfratello, Poitecnico di Torino e Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano

    Vincenzo Galasso, Bocconi University and Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano

    Patricia Funk, Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano

    Giovanni Immordino, Università Federico II Napoli

    Mario Jametti, Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano

    Stephan Litschig, Institut d'Anàlisi Economica Barcelona

    Giuliano Masiero, Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano and University of Bergamo

    Fabrizio Mazzona, Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano

    Paolo Pinotti, Bocconi University

    Raphaël Parchet, Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano

    Giovanni Pica, Università degli studi di Milano


    Past guest lectures from leading business professionals:

    Thomas Braendle, Economic Advisor, Swiss Federal Department of Finance, Bern

    Elena Crivellaro, OECD

    Enkeleida Havari, European Commission (Joint Research Center) - Center for Research on Impact Evaluation (CRIE)

    Carlos Lenz, Director Economics Department, Swiss National Bank

  • Language

    Admission to English-language graduate-level (Master) programmes at USI require a good command of the English idiom. Non-English native speakers applying for such programmes, or whose previous degree was obtained in another language, are required to provide an internationally acknowledged language certificate equal to the B2 level, as defined by the Common European Framework of Reference for language learning (CEFR), or equivalent (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS, etc.).

    The B2 level on the CEFR corresponds to the following scores in internationally acknowledged exams:

    IELTS 5.5
    TOEFL Computer based: 183
    Internet based: 65
    Paper based: 513
    Cambridge English FCE (First Certificate English)
    TOEIC Listening & Reading: 785
    Speaking: 150
    Writing: 160

    Students admitted under the above mentioned condition (with the exception for the Master in Cognitive Psychology in Health Communication) must achieve a C1 competence in English within the maximum time required to obtain the Master's degree.
    The level can be certified either by attending a language course offered at USI during the Fall and Spring semester, and by taking the final exam, or by providing an internationally acknowledged language certificate*.

    *  The C1 level on the CEFR corresponds to the following scores in internationally acknowledged exams:

    IELTS 7.0
    TOEFL Internet based: 100
    Cambridge English CAE (Advanced certificate), grade C or above
    BEC (Business English), grade C or above
    TOEIC Listening & Reading: 945
    Speaking: 180
    Writing: 180


    As Lugano is located in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, students might be interested in acquiring the basics in Italian.
    The Università della Svizzera italiana offers a free of charge Italian language course: further information can be found here.