Advanced Master in Political Economy

A joint degree between Georgetown University and Solvay Brussels School (ULB)

Programme overview

Why a degree in political economy?

You’re interested in the reciprocal relationship between politics and markets.

This requires a deep understanding of the behavior of non-market agents (such as legislatures, government agencies, judicial institutions, NGOs and activist groups, the media), and their interactions with traditional market agents (companies and consumers). Political economy develops systematic frameworks for understanding such behaviors and interactions. A key asset of the political economy toolbox is that it allows for a deep understanding of the determinants of public policy effectiveness both at the macroeconomic and microeconomic levels.

You’d like to understand how non-market agents influence the functioning of the market.

For instance, emission standards affect virtually all aspects of automobile design and manufacturing, and thereby the competitive advantages of automakers around the globe. Political economy provides the tools to understand elections, lobbying, information provision, and institutional specificities shape actual emission standards, which may thus differ from the socially optimal outcome.

As  a corporate executive, you will understand how to approach the government and tackle the constraints they are facing. As a government agency, you will grasp how companies operate and how to design better regulation.

Why the joint master degree by Georgetown University & ULB-Solvay Brussels School?

The Brussels-Washington joint degree in Political Economy is an innovative one-year programme combining the strengths of two internationally renowned institutions. Successful graduates will receive a Master of Arts in Political Economy from Georgetown University, and an Advanced Master certificate from ULB-Solvay Brussels School.

This unique joint degree from Georgetown University and the ULB-Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management offers:

  • An international experience at the heart of global policy-making decision powers, with full immersion in both Europe (Brussels) and the U.S. (Washington D.C.);
  • A combination of frontier training in formal and quantitative political economy, with a strong emphasis on concrete policy cases;
  • Academics and practitioners who are leading specialists in their field;
  • On-site meetings to learn how to navigate through international institutions and policies, such as at the European Commission, the World Bank, the OECD, the IMF, the European Central Bank, and the U.S. Federal Reserve;
  • Joining the wide and active alumni networks of Georgetown and Solvay.

Programme objectives

The objective of the program is to prepare the next generation of economists to rigorously analyze both the economics and the politics behind the key policy questions of the 21st century.

The focus on political economy reflects the view that evaluating and addressing global and local economic challenges also requires an understanding of the institutions and political settings in which such challenges arise.

The program aims at providing students with a balanced and attractive mix of solid theoretical knowledge and exposure to hands-on practice through the inclusion of both faculty and experts in the respective fields.

The courses in Brussels and in Washington D.C., two crucial centers of global decision-making, will expose:

  • The specificities and differences between the approaches taken on each continent;
  • Their impact at global level and in various geopolitically crucial regions in the world;
  • The complexity of their relationships with other significant actors within the global governance framework.
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Your profile

The Georgetown/Solvay (Advanced) Master in Political Economy seeks:

  • Highly-motivated students willing to take up global political and economic challenges;
  • With an outstanding academic background, and the intellectual curiosity and discipline that are necessary to succeed in a very demanding environment;
  • Who envisage a career in:
    • international institutions (EC, WTO, World Bank, IMF, OECD, NATO, etc.)
    • multinational enterprises (lobbying and consulting firms, investment banks, utility companies, etc.) exposed to international regulation
    • governmental institutions (regulatory agencies, central banks, foreign affairs, etc.)
    • global NGOs.

Eligible applicants must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Hold a 4-year BA (in continental Europe: 3-year BA + 1 or 2-year master) or MSc or equivalent degree in any field
  • Work experience is not necessary, but a 2+ year experience strengthens your application.
  • Having a solid background in economics and quantitative methods is a prerequisite.
    • An undergraduate degree in economics is not a requirement for admission to the Program. However, substantial coursework in economics is one factor that tends to strengthen an application for admission to the Program. Since economics is a highly quantitative subject, substantial coursework in mathematics, probability and statistics, and other quantitative subjects is another factor that will strengthen your application. At least two courses in calculus, as well as courses in intermediate microeconomics and intermediate macroeconomics, are specifically required for admission to the program.
    • Evidence of aptitude in quantitative disciplines such as quantitative GRE score.
  • Eligible degrees include, but are not limited to, Economics, Political Science, Statistics, and Mathematics.
  • Minimum GPA 3.0 on 4.0 (U.S.) scale where available.
  • TOEFL score of at least 100 IELTS score (7.0) also acceptable. The test is waived if a previous degree has been obtained at an English-speaking university.

Admissions will be based on the candidates’ proficiency in English, their background, professional potential and motivation.

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Programme content

More about the courses

Programme framework

This master consists of full-time day courses (60 ECTs) split over three terms and completed within 12 months of daily classes.


The program will kick off with a preparatory non-credit bootcamp in mathematical methods in the second half of August. The objective of this course will be to fill any gaps in the student’s knowledge of basic mathematical techniques commonly used in economic analysis and applied statistics.

Core courses

Students will take the required core courses in macroeconomics, microeconomics, political economy and data analysis in the Fall in Brussels. Core courses are taught by faculty members of Georgetown University and Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management.


After the completion of the required core courses, students will choose six elective courses (3 in the Spring term and 3 in the Summer term). Elective courses on offer in a typical year can include: Labor Economics, Public Finance, Topics in Macro Economics, Monetary Policy, Development Economics, Industrial Organization, Health Economics, Environmental Economics, Regulatory Economics, Economic Forecasting, International Trade, International Finance, Innovation and R&D Policy, Agricultural and Food Policy, Design and Measurement of the Impact of Public Policies, Public Policy Workshop. Elective courses are jointly taught by a faculty member of one of the two institutions (SBS-EM in the Spring term, and GU in the Summer term) and a policy expert or practitioner.

*Travel and accommodation costs to the charge of the participant.

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Faculty information

The faculty is made up of an unrivalled cast of senior practitioners and regulators who are helping to shape the evolution of economic policies around the world and of top quality academics from Georgetown University and Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management.

Micael Castanheira (SBS-EM) is co-Academic Director of this programme. A senior research fellow with the Belgian National Science Foundation, he works at ECARES and is a professor at Solvay, where he also teaches microeconomics and political economics. His main research topics include the political economics of collective decisions, and of reforms.

Micael is a contributor to leading scientific journals, such as Econometrica, The Journal of the European Economic Association, The Economic Journal, Games and Economic Behavior, International Economic Review, International Tax and Public Finance and the Journal of Public Economics. He is also a member of the scientific board of the Price Observatory of the Belgian government and the National Bank of Belgium, and has worked as an external expert for several companies and institutions (a.o. the World Bank, and the Bertelsmann Foundation)

Franco Peracchi (GU) is co-Academic Director of this programme, in addition to being the Director of Masters Programs in Economics and a Professor of the Practice at Georgetown University. He is also a Fellow of the Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF) in Rome, Italy. After receiving a MSc in Econometrics and Mathematical Economics from the LSE, and a PhD in Economics from Princeton University, he taught at UCLA, NYU, Universidad Carlos III and the University of Rome Tor Vergata.

His research interests include econometrics, labor and health economics, and the economics of social security and pensions. He is currently working on a variety of issues including long-term effects of growing up in wartime, cognitive decline among the elderly, distribution regression and approaches to model selection.

More about the professors

Job opportunity

Graduates of this master can look forward to job opportunities with a faster advancement potential in a broad range of institutions and companies, including:

  • international institutions (EC, WTO, World Bank, IMF, OECD, NATO, etc.)
  • multinational enterprises (lobbying and consulting firms, investment banks, utility companies, etc.) exposed to international regulation
  • governmental institutions (regulatory agencies, central banks, etc.)
  • global NGOs

In order to successfully grow in your working life and make the right choices for your career, it is fundamental to define your goals and have the tools to achieve them. The Solvay Brussels School’s career service will help you in building your career thanks to its strong connection with the business sector and acces to a wide network of alumni.

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Practical information

If you wish to join the Joint Degree with Georgetown University in August 2017, please follow these steps of the admission procedure:

  1. Complete and submit the online application form together with the required documents, on the web site of Georgetown University. The following are necessary for a complete application file (see also the Georgetown University web site for further details):
    • Online Application Form
    • Non-refundable application fee
    • Two Letters of Recommendation (one must be from an academic)
    • GRE exam (GMAT not acceptable)
    • Resume/CV
    • Official Transcripts (all prior institutions)
    • Minimum GPA 3.0 on 4.0 (U.S.) scale where available.
    • TOEFL score of at least 100 IELTS score (7.0) is also acceptable. The test is waived if a previous degree has been obtained at an English-speaking university.
  2. Receive feedback on your eligibility or additional queries from the programme’s management team.
  3. If feedback is positive, you will receive an official letter of admission from georgetown University.
  4. Please note that you will have two weeks to finalise your registration by paying a deposit of $2000.
  5. Contact the programme manager of Solvay Brussels School, who will assist you with the documents needed for your Belgian visa process.

Application deadline: 30 April 2017 (deadline may be extended on a case by case basis for EU students)
: Non EU-citizens must be aware that student visa procedures may take up to 3 months, and therefore check the timing and conditions of their nearest Belgian Embassy before considering applying after April 2017.

Additionally, non-EU applicants must take into consideration that getting a student visa for Belgium implies the obligation to prove their sufficient and regular means of subsistence (€650 net/month in 2016-2017) or their sponsor’s. If they can’t, Solvay can support them if the applicant transfers the requested amount covering 9 months on a school deposit account (which will be redistributed on a monthly basis to the student as soon as a Belgian bank account has been created). For more information visit this link or contact the nearest Belgian embassy.

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Practical information

  • Starting date: 21 August 2017
  • Location: Brussels & Washington, D.C.
  • Format: Full-time
  • Language: English
  • Tuition: $50,000
  • Length: 12 months
  • Application deadline: 15 January 2018

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