M2 Choice: The worry of choice – Which Master 2 program should you pick? By Eva Raiber, M1 Student in Economics
The second semester is over and, after the exams in May, the first year of graduate studies will be complete. Now all that is left for those not taking a year off is to choose the Master 2 program. Seven different master programs are available for those who successfully complete the Master 1 at the Toulouse School of Economics. On top of this, the student has to decide if they want to do the doctoral or the standard track. So simply deciding on your preferences might be harder than it sounds.
Question 1: Doctoral or standard path?
If you want to do a PhD at the Toulouse School of Economics, and you have good grades, this question is easily answered. Also, if you are sure that you want to start your professional career right after your masters and you do not want to do a PhD later on, you can also skip this section.
However, what if you are not sure if you want to do a PhD, if you are uncertain you will be able to make it into the PhD pro- gram here or if you want to do a PhD but not at TSE?
The doctoral path is very competitive and average grades are lower than in the professional track. Only 15 to 20 students are selected each year on merit criteria. Yet, advanced general economic courses in micro, macro and econometrics prepare you best for further research studies.
When deciding, you should keep in mind that completing the doctoral path will not keep you from successfully entering a professional career afterwards. Conversely, you can still enter a PhD program at another university if you complete the pro- fessional M2. In fact, a lot of universities outside of France will ask you to (re-)do one or two years of general economic class- es when entering in their PhD program. However, a research oriented Master 2 might give your application an advantage despite the possible lower grades that you might have when choosing the doctoral path.
Students are allowed to change from the doctoral path to the standard track after the first semester. However, some direc- tors from the standard track discourage students to do so. Therefore, students should be prepared to work a lot and to accept lower grades.
If you are indecisive these questions might help you: Am I looking forward to having only specialized classes in the Mas- ter 2? Are all the classes offered in the standard M2 of inter- est to me? Am I interested in doing general economics classes for another year? Am I ok with only having three specialized classes? Do I think I need to further expand my general eco- nomic knowledge?
Students doing the doctoral track are aware of the higher workload they are having. In a small survey conducted among Master 2 students, they indicated that the high workload is an advantage and a disadvantage at the same time as it provides the students with rigorous economic training but can also be too much in such a short time. Next year, the semesters are
supposed to start and end earlier than this year. This should give students more time to work on their thesis, a point that was criti- cized last year. Yet, the workload will stay the same or might even increase since the semesters will be shorter.
Question 2: Which Master 2 program?
The M1 TSE student can choose between seven different spe- cializations that may or may not overlap and can have very different objectives, asking for different skills and interests.
The Master 2 in Statistics and Econometrics is a very applied master; no doctoral path is possible and an internship at the end is mandatory. However, a few students do continue with a research degree in other institutions. While in previous years this master was mainly in French, starting from this year it will be mainly in English. The aim is to attract more international students and to give the graduates a competitive edge. The size of the master varies usually from 25 to 35 students per year and it is jointly organized with the Math Institute of Toulouse (IMT) but most of the courses are taught at the Manufac- ture. For this master, strong prerequisites in economics and in statistics are demanded. In general, M1 students in economics can also be admitted to this specialization but they should be able to show interest in this area through their M1 options or through an internship.
Non-completion of the program is rare and students do not have major problems finding an internship at the end of the year. Not only good academic performance, but also person- ality and a “bonne sense” (good instincts) are important for successfully completing this master 2, Christine Thomas, one of the directors, points out. She also stresses that “student should be able to project themselves into the position they may work in afterwards”. Students should have a realistic view what it means to work as a statistician. Therefore, Mrs. Thomas recommends doing an internship in this area before choosing this master. Concerning the internship at the end of the M2 program, students find places mainly in marketing, banking and insurance but also in the pharma industry, the public sec- tor, consulting firms and others.
The Master 2 program in Environmental and Natural Re- sources Economics aims to provide students “with the analyti- cal skills to assess, analyze and recommend economic policies and strategies to tackle environmental issues and manage natural resources”. It combines research and application con- cerning natural resources management and environmental issues. Around 15 students have done this master in previous years, around one third of them start and finish in the doctoral path, the rest in the standard track. Generally, the program is very international even though last year French students were in the majority. Around half of the students in the standard track are doing an internship at the end of the program. As Henrik Andersson, who became director of this master in 2012, points out, the master program and its researchers are “well connected” so that there are many internship offers for students. This year, students received internship offers from the government ministries, private consultancy firms, OECD etc. However, many in the contacts are in France, which means that for students aiming at doing internships abroad it might require more work to find a place. Other than the public sec- tor, graduates also work for consultancy firms, big companies, etc., after this M2 program. Besides an interest for environ- mental issues and natural resources management, Mr. Anders- son stresses that student should also have an interest in public policy, decision making processes, and interest in societal is- sues in general. Students should be able to see the big pic- ture even though they need to be able focus on one particular question.
The Master 2 program in Public Policy and Development “aims at equipping its students with the tools required to become part of the quest” to find answers to developmen- tal problems on different levels. Students should show an inter- est for the real world and be able to connect economic theory with problems that are encoun- tered outside of academic re- search. Openness, both mental and emotional for the sick and poor is a crucial quality, stress- es Jean-Paul Azam, director of the Public Policy and Develop- ment (PPD) master. Students are asked to read and work through applied work and be able to use data to test hypothesis. The program is quite new and most of the students successfully complete the standard track. Due to the small number of students it is hard to predict what share opts for an internship at the end of the year. However, some students manage to get prestigious internships. The master prepares for a career in applied research which can be done in international organizations, government institu- tions in developing countries, NGOs and more.
When making their Master 2 choice, Prof. Azam asks the stu- dents to “make your passion become true”. In line with the positive attitude of their director, PPD students generally seem to be satisfied with their Master program, the choice of the courses and the teachers according to the M2 survey.
The Master 2 in Economics of Markets and Organization is the most established professional master at Toulouse School of Economics and therefore is well known. It looks at markets, firms and demand and cost structures. According to Farid Gas- mi, director of the Master program, the students should have an interest in three areas: First, industrial organization is the most evident one which deals with the functioning of markets and the strategic interactions but also with the public eco- nomics side in how to regulate markets. Then, econometric methods are the most important tools. To address questions students will need to evaluate data on sector or firm basis. And third, students should bring an interest in certain indus- trial sectors that they want to have a look at.
Around 35 students are usually admitted, last year around 25 of them were in the standard track. The mas- ter is selective such that not every M1 student who indi- cated the master program as their first preference will get in. Students are selected based on the grades avail- able (M1, but also undergrad- uate), performance in related classes, CV and references. It is recommended to students
in the professional track to look for an internship at the end of the year, except in the case that he or she want to pursue a PhD at another university. Due to the good reputation of the program, most students find good internships with private firms, for example with Nokia and Orange, consulting firms, or at public agencies like the competition authorities in Paris and similar authorities in other European countries.
The Toulouse School of Economics is known for Industrial Organization so Mr. Gasmi recommends students in the M1 to strongly consider this program. M2 students in this program like the high level of the program and are satisfied with the teachers according to the M2 survey. They would all choose the same program again. They only would have liked more courses to choose from in the second semester.
In the Master 2 in Financial Markets and Intermediaries stu- dents receive training in finance and insurance economics. This year, the focus of the master is going to change towards providing more courses in regulation. Students should be able to gain valuable skills in the area of financial and market regu- lation and the banking sector. This change is also due to the fact that it was difficult for Master 2 students from this pro- gram to find internships except for in the area of regulation. If students want to do a Master that works more in the area of trading, they should consider changing to the IAE business school. Students from last year indicated in the survey that they were missing applied and practical classes in this pro- gram and would have liked to have more choice of courses. Also, some students recommend that the internship search should be well prepared and started early.
The Master 2 program in Economic Theory and Econometrics offers the most general economic training. Most of the students in the doctoral track choose this master. Besides the core courses that are offered in the doctoral track, students can select options from the different fields of economics. Even though the choice is the largest among the programs, not all courses are offered in this program that you can find in the other specialized tracks. This program might be ideal for a stu- dent that is unsure about his or her specialization. However, the courses offered contain a high level of theory and less ap- plication. Therefore, not that many students select this Mas- ter if they are not doing the PhD track and around 50% of all students in the doctoral track are taking this Master program. In the M2 survey, students doing the professional Economics Theory and Econometrics track were less satisfied than their doctoral track counterparts. One of these students is pragmatic and advises “to reserve this program for doctoral students”.
Last but not least, the Master 2 in Economics and Competition Law is a professional program that aims at providing the students with training in “economics and law in order to fully understand and enforce competition rules”. Students need to have a solid background in law for this program. Mainly stu- dents that were in the Master 1 in Economics and Law choose this program. Students from the general master program can enter this master if they can convincingly prove a background in law.
For the internship, students find places in law firms or in public regulatory agencies. Finding an internship is not especially dif- ficult, the students in this year’s master 2 program all found an internship.
All directors encourage the students to contact them in case they are unsure about which program to pick. More informa- tion does not necessarily make the choice easier but economi- cally speaking the probability of choosing the wrong program should decrease with the amount of accurate information. With this, I wish all TSE students a good vacation.