Teaching at PhD-level

The two-year International Master of Science in Quantitative Economics (IMSQE) MSc programme is an elite fulltime MSc programme at the Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus BSS. Students tailor their own study programme on the basis of a range of advance-level courses with a quantitative orientation and selected PhD-level courses. The programme requires strong analytical skills in quantitative methods and there are special requirements regarding the level an qualitative contents of written assignments.

Learning objectives

The IMSQE programme provides its students with a number of outstanding qualifications. They will acquire analytical skills at a very high level, and they will thus be able to apply the methods that they have learned to new cases, to formulate new theories, to formulate and test hypotheses, and to reflect upon the validity and relevance of various scientific methods and substantive theories within the field. This implies that the students will be able to go well beyond reproduction of known material, and working independently on new topics within the area will be a core competence of the elite students.


The purpose of the IMSQE programme is to provide candidates with advanced-level training within the analytical, quantitative disciplines of macroeconomics, microeconomics, economics, econometrics, finance and accounting. The IMSQE programme aims at recruiting candidates within quantitative economics and management internationally in competition with leading institutions such as London School of Economics, Oxford University and Cambridge University.

Students completing the IMSQE programme will acquire analytical skills at a very high level which are in increasing demand. Potential future employers of the master's are Danish as well as international organisations, consulting firms, ministries and government agencies, and financial institutions such as commercial banks, mortgage institutions, pension funds, insurance companies and investment banks. Furthermore, the IMSQE programme provides an excellent opportunity for master's to continue their studies at PhD level. For students who wish to continue in the PhD programme, a special transitional arrangement will be provided to bridge the transition from the IMSQE programme to research training.


Admission Requirements

Access to the Master’s degree programme in Quantitative Economics at Aarhus University requires the successful completion of one of the following bachelor’s degree programmes:

  • Bachelor’s degree in economics and management from Aarhus University (bsc.oecon.)
  • Bachelor’s degree in economics and management from the University of Copenhagen (bsc.oecon.)
  • Bachelor’s degree in economics and management from the University of Southern Denmark (bsc.oecon.)
  • Bachelor’s degree in economics from Aalborg University (BSc in economics)
  • Bachelor’s degree in mathematics-economics from Aarhus University (BSc in mathematics-economics)
  • Bachelor’s degree in mathematics-economics from the University of Copenhagen (BSc in mathematics-economics)
  • Bachelor’s degree in mathematics-economics from the University of Southern Denmark (bsc.scient.oecon.)
  • Bachelor’s degree in mathematics-economics from Aalborg University (BSc in mathematics-economics)

Apart from a successfully completed, relevant Bachelor’s degree a grade point average of 8.5 (according to the Danish 12 point grading scale) or above is required to qualify for admission to the IMSQE programme. When calculating the grade point average, the admissions committee assesses each applicant on the basis of the average mark of the Bachelor’s degree at the time of application. Marks/grades obtained after the application deadline will not be included in the GPA.

Applicants without the educational background described above, who have completed a Bachelor’s degree in Economics at other universities, may have their study activities evaluated to determine if admission is possible. However, please notice that these applicants must, as a minimum, have a grade point average of 8.5 (according to the Danish 12 point grading scale) or above and have the following areas covered in their Bachelor’s degree programme in order to be considered for admission to the programme:

  • Microeconomy (20 ECTS)
  • Macroeconomy (20 ECTS)
  • Statistics and Econometrics (20 ECTS)
  • Finance and Investment (20 ECTS)
  • Mathematics (15 ECTS)

Selection criteria

As only a limited number of students are admitted each year (20 in 2013), meeting the admission requirements does not in itself guarantee admission to the programme.

Students with a hard-to-assess but promising record may be required to take an admission test. Furthermore, all students applying may be called in for an interview.

In evaluating qualified applicants, the admissions committee assesses each applicant on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Grade point average of the qualifying BSc degree at the time of application (50 %)
    (marks/grades obtained after the application deadline will not be included in the GPA)
  • Grades obtained in courses of particular relevance to the IMSQE programme, e.g. in mathematics and statistics (25 %)
  • General relevance of the qualifying BSc degree for the IMSQE programme (25 %)

Language requirements

Since English is the language of instruction in all subjects, all applicants are required to provide documentation for their English language qualifications.

Please see the page on English language requirements.

Uddannelsens opbygning

General Content

The IMSQE programme is a two-year, full-time programme of instruction corresponding to 120 ECTS credits within the areas of macroeconomics, microeconomics, economics, econometrics, finance and accounting. The courses in the IMSQE programme consist of a mixture of regular MSc courses with a quantitative orientation and PhD courses offered through the PhD programme in economics and management. Furthermore, there are special requirements regarding the level and qualitative contents of written assignments, and particular emphasis will be put on the students’ analytical, quantitative skills.

Besides the courses constituting the formal programme of study, the students are expected to take a number of special, intensive courses at the PhD level offered through various network programmes like the Danish Graduate Programme in Economics (DGPE) and the Danish Doctoral School of Finance (DDSF). Further, a Summer School will be organized in August between the first and second year, where the students must attend lectures for two weeks and prepare a written report.

A personal academic advisor - or mentor - from the faculty associated with the programme will be appointed to each student in the IMSQE programme. The advisor will assist the student in putting together the individual study programme. 

Course Work
To complete the IMSQE programme a total of 80 ECTS credits must be earned from elective courses marked as IMSQE courses on the course plan. This has to include a minimum of 30 ECTS advanced level Master’s courses (courses numbered 6xxx).

You can find further details on this in the academic regulations.


Written Work

In addition to the course work, written work makes up the remaining 40 ECTS credits. Of these 10 ECTS credits must be earned by completing a written assignment, while the final MSc thesis is equivalent to 30 ECTS credits. In the assessment of the final thesis, special emphasis will be put on the student’s analytical, quantitative skills. The thesis may thus be shorter than a regular MSc thesis, but a very high level of independence is required. The student must defend the thesis orally at a public defence where an external examiner will also be present.

Find the academic regulations for Quantitative Economics here




The Department of Economics and Business is located at the AU campus at Fuglesangs Allé, DK-8210 Aarhus V. At the campus you will find all important facilities including the main library and lecture halls.

The active student environment at Aarhus BSS offers a wide range of both academic and social activities.

You can also learn more about being an IMSQE student by readint the following two testimonials:

Testimonial - Stephanie

Stephanie Bendorff Røpcke, MSc in Quantitative Economics (IMSQE), Management Consultant, McKinsey & Company

Why did you choose to enrol in the elite programme in Quantitative Economics?
I love maths - and challenges in general. The elite programme offered me both. I also considered completing a PhD degree, and since several of the courses in the elite programme are PhD level courses, the programme also allowed me to gain insight into the PhD degree programme.

How is the range of courses in the degree programme?
There is a broad range of high-quality courses in the programme. The broad range of advanced-level courses was also a decisive factor when I chose to enrol in the degree programme.

How was the transition from the Bachelor’s programme to the Master’s programme?
It was a smooth and gradual transition; many of the courses in both the Bachelor’s and the Master’s programme focus on quantitative disciplines, but the Master’s programme allows you to concentrate on selected fields. In the Master’s programme, I also had an academic advisor, or mentor, from the corps of faculty associated with the IMSQE and a shared office at the department. All elite students were located in the same building, and this promoted a high degree of solidarity among elite students.

What was the most exciting thing about the elite programme?
There are especially three things that I would like to mention: participation in conferences, participation in summer schools and the close collaboration with my mentor.

Where there any academic activities for you to join at the school – in addition to the teaching?
I was invited to participate in many different events. For instance, I was affiliated with the research centre CREATES as a Junior Fellow, but I also received many invitations for workshops and conferences from other places – and I participated on equal terms with senior faculty. And showing initiative just provides you with even more opportunities.

How was the workload during the degree programme?
I don’t think that the work load in the elite programme is bigger than in the general MSc programme. But you learn things in a different way because you are involved in so many activities in the programme, other than just reading. I was teaching several classes, but at the same time decided to reduce my enrolment period by completing 9th and 10th semester in the same term. And I also had time for a life outside of my studies. 

How did you get your current job?
I work for the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company in Copenhagen, and my current job is also my first job. I was hired as a consultant in March 2010, but I noticed the company already during my studies when I attended a recruitment event at Aarhus University, and McKinsey gave me a job offer before I graduated. This was not the reason why I chose to complete the last two semesters in one stroke - I decided to do this long before I got the job offer, partly because I wanted to challenge myself, and partly because I had a strong urge to step into the corporate world.

Could you describe a typical day at work?
No two days are alike when you work as a consultant with McKinsey. Since my work is strongly based on projects, my working day is defined by the type of project that I currently work on. I may work in the office in Copenhagen, outside of town or even in another office in one of 50 countries where McKinsey is currently present. I spend some days on meetings with clients, and other days on data collection or presentation of suggested solutions in companies. Even as a junior associate, you play a vital part on the team – and right from the first day your are expected to actively contribute to finding the best solutions for the clients.

Which of the things that you have learned in university do you apply in your job?
My daily work as a consultant requires me to quickly understand and solve complex issues. This ability is the most important in my job. I am convinced that my choice of degree programme and courses have provided me with these skills – even though I did not actually complete courses specifically targeting consultancy.

What is the most exciting thing about your job?
First of all, the people I work with. I am surrounded by inspiring colleagues in both my team and in the companies that I work for; second, the degree of variation in my job; and third, the international element. I am often in contact with experts from other countries, and the composition of the team varies in accordance with the current assignments. This means that I constantly get to meet new people – and this provides a very stimulating environment.

Does your current job correspond to your expectations during the studies?
The assignments are more or less what I expected, but not completely. My initial focus is on analyses and presentation, but the dimension of daily interaction with other people has come as a surprise to me. The university provides you with skills that make you an expert, but when you graduate you are not trained much in sharing your expertise with people outside your field, so I needed to fine-tune my knowledge-sharing skills and also had to get used to involving other people with different expertise domains.

Do you think that the elite degree may lead to other types of jobs than the general MSc?
I believe that you are confronted with many challenges in the elite programme – and of course you can bring along this experience when you graduate. I think that many of the students who choose to enrol in the elite programme are characterized by one distinctive feature: they like challenges. I think that it looks good on your CV to have completed the elite programme, but I don’t think that being an elite graduate automatically opens any doors.

Did you consider completing a PhD degree?
When I first enrolled in the elite programme, I did consider whether to continue in the PhD degree programme or pursue a career in the corporate world. The elite programme is a much focussed programme, and you take courses at PhD level so the transition from the MSc and into the PhD programme is smooth and natural.

Are there any particular skills that you have achieved from the elite programme?
I have definitely achieved very strong analytical skills in quantitative methods, and this is of course outstanding. The programme also fostered a strong network among elite students, and today this provides me with a strong network of contacts.

Testimonial - Adalheidur

Adalheidur Osk Gudlaugsdottir (called Heidi), 24 year old, enrolled in the MSc in Quantitative Economics (IMSQE)

Why did you choose to enrol in the elite programme IMSQE in Aarhus?
I heard about the IMSQE programme while I was doing my Bachelor’s at the University of Iceland. 
I come from a suburb near Reykjavik in Iceland and worked part-time at the Central Bank of Iceland during my BSc. Both my teachers at the university and my co-workers at the bank encouraged me to do my Master’s degree outside Iceland - and Aarhus University has a good reputation. When I applied for the Msc programme at the School of Economics and Management, I was encouraged to apply for the IMSQE. They considered my grades and my CV and found my profile suitable for the elite programme. And I was admitted.

How did you become interested in economics?
I liked math and economics in high school, particularly economic forecasting models. I am especially interested in economic bubbles, like the IT bubble in 2000 and the recent housing bubble, which started the global recession in 2008.

How were your very first weeks at the school?
They were very hectic, but also really interesting. The information meeting for newly enrolled elite students was crucial for me. I got all the information that I needed: where to find everything, where to sign up for courses and where to go if I needed help. Fortunately, it turned out that I knew another girl here from Iceland; that was really nice.

How was the jump from Iceland to Aarhus University?
Aarhus University is more math-orientated, but otherwise there is really not that much of a difference. I have now been here for almost two years and will soon begin writing my final thesis, and then I will hopefully graduate this summer.

What subjects do you have?
I take core courses such as microeconometrics, macroeconomics, time series econometrics, applied time series, macro and finance and development economics, and I also take some really interesting advanced PhD-level courses, such as advanced macroeconomics, advanced financial econometrics and advanced econometrics.

How is the academic level in the IMSQE programme?
First of all, there are many interesting topics. We follow some advanced-level courses intended for PhD students. The research centre CREATES also offers many opportunities for us to attend lectures and seminars given by leading international researchers in the field. It has been rewarding to follow lectures and seminars at CREATES because this is where the most recent research results within econometrics is presented.

How is the workload in the IMSQE programme?
There is a lot to read, but it’s not impossible to get through it all. I have spent around eight hours a day reading and preparing. So it’s a full-time job. If you are a student who likes quantitative disciplines, I can highly recommend the IMSQE programme.

How would you describe the help and feedback from your teachers?
Teachers are very accessible. Each IMSQE student also has a personal academic advisor from the academic staff. This means that there’s someone you can contact whenever you have a problem. This has been really helpful.

Do you have time for a study-related job?
Yes, I work as a teaching assistant and teach some of the classes in the Bachelor’s programme. My teaching evaluations have been quite good so far. Teaching is very rewarding and I learn a lot about myself too.

Have you participated in many social activities during your stay in Denmark?
I got to know the other students in the IMSQE programme quite well. I find Danes really good at socializing and involving us international students in social events, parties and similar. To me, this has been really important. You cannot function properly without a good social network.

Are you interested in doing a PhD at Aarhus University?
I have already been accepted for admission to the PhD programme next autumn, provided that I complete the IMSQE programme, and I look forward to starting. My project will probably centre around ”bubbles” and the DSGE framework. I would like to focus on how ”bubbles” arise, and what we can do about them. Should we try to burst them? Or should we let them be and try to facilitate a soft landing once they burst by themselves? I would like to find answers to those questions. Choosing to do a PhD here in Aarhus is probably the best indication of how much I have enjoyed the IMSQE programme.

What would you like to do when you graduate in three years?
I would like to work in a major bank, maybe at the World Bank Group or at the International Monetary Fund. My dream job would be financial analyst focusing on import/export data combined with unemployment data.

Do you think that your IMSQE degree will give you an advantage when you apply for a job in the future?
I am sure the IMSQE degree gives me an edge that other job applicants may not have. The entire programme has been good for me - and also for my CV.

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Graduates of the elite programme acquire analytical skills at a very high level. Potential future employers for elite graduates include Danish as well as international organisations, consulting firms, ministries, government agencies and financial institutions, including commercial banks, mortgage institutions, pension funds, insurance companies and investment banks.

Progress to the PhD programme
Students who are interested in pursuing an academic career may also progress to the PhD programme. The school offers a special transitional arrangement for elite students who wish to continue their research training in the PhD programme.

Læs i udlandet

At Aarhus BSS, we conduct research at the highest academic level.

Aarhus BSS is very internationally oriented. The broad scope of our research activities and educational programmes enable us to attract researchers, teachers, and students from all over the world, and this creates an international environment for research and learning in which academic views are exchanged, experience gathered and friendships formed.

Aarhus University is a leading university in Denmark in building student exchange opportunities. The university encourages all students to spend time studying abroad. Every year, more than 700 students from Aarhus BSS go abroad to participate in exchange programmes around the world at our more than 300 partner universities. About the same number of students from all over the world come to participate in the exchange programme in Aarhus and this contributes to a truly international learning atmosphere.

As a student at Aarhus BSS you have many options for going on a study abroad period or participate in summer universities around the world. However, you should be prepared to make plans well ahead and that the planning of your stay may take a while.