Ok guys, I know this is a weird question. I have found that the opposite has been asked many times, however I could not find opinion in how useful would be to get a master in math after completing a phd in econ.

I am at an advanced state in my PhD and I do not want to give up now, because I stil believe I can make it to the end. However, I believe that I will never fully understand some topics without having some intense training in math. So I am considering to successfully complete this path to start a degree in math that could also give me some research ideas for my future career.

What would you say of this atypical question? What are good institutions to learn math (better if linked to good economics department) in Europe?

Thanks in advance for your consideration.


3 Answers 3


It seems like a very strange route to take, and I'm not sure how it would be received since I've not seen anyone take more math after their PhD in econ.

Did you have differential equations and real analysis before starting your PhD? If you covered those common bases, you might still gain a few useful things if you go a highly theoretical route, but you've already got most of the math you should need done.

If your interests are more empirical, it definitely does not seem like a good use of time to me. If your interests are theoretical and you were able to keep up with PhD-level theory in econometrics, macro, and micro, it's probably still not a great use of your time, especially compared to actually getting to work in an econ field.

The best I can say about it is that it probably wouldn't actively hurt anything directly, except for the opportunity cost of publishing economic papers, and it might give you a route into doing more heavy theory.


If what you want is to become an economist, and not some technician that wants to apply mathematics using economic examples and models, then I would heartily applaud this decision: here is a person that is determined to have his economic research written in the most transparent way, namely, by robustly and concretely using math to clearly state assumptions, constraints etc of their models, away from the vagueness of verbal arguments (every economist should know what happened when J.M. Keynes wrote the book he wrote: we spent decades discussing "what Keynes really meant").

Just make sure that the Master you will take deals with the parts of mathematics that economists use, and this should initially guide you in targeting Universities. I suspect something like "Applied" should be in the title of the program.

PS: And yes, I almost totally agree with you, Kenneth Arrow is probably the best.


I generally agree with Alecos +1 answer, in economics you can never know enough math.

However, I would question the usefulness of formally pursuing masters in mathematics. If you are able to complete PhD in economics you should already have some solid foundations in mathematical topics commonly used in economics.

If you take masters in mathematics you will likely learn more than you already know but you will also be forced to repeat many topics. At the same time from job market perspective, MS in mathematics in itself won’t matter as much as your job market paper and rank of your university where you get your PhD. So formally taking the masters in mathematics will not give you much benefit besides learning more mathematics.

If you care solely about your math skills there are better options in my opinion. Consider sitting the math classes at the MS in mathematics at your university (if your university has math department). Usually professors would allow you to sit their classes even without being enrolled in their class. Many would even share with you course resources. In this way you could pick and choose exactly just advanced classes or classes in areas you think you need for your research.

Nowadays there are also quite high quality MOOC math courses often offered by top universities. The only downside that they have is that you don’t have the personal experience but in these times of pandemic you would most likely not get that with masters as well.

To sum it up, I think that you can never go wrong with trying to learn more math if you want to do research in economics. You will always feel that you never know enough math. But at the same time I would question whether the decision of getting masters in mathematics would pass cost benefit analysis.

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