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The Humanitarian Side of Economics

It might not come as a surprise to you when we say that your career choice has set you up perfectly to go into almost any NGO anywhere in the world, due to the versatility of economics.

However, the popularity of work in the humanitarian sector is also growing as time passes, meaning a Master’s degree will help you get in the door, but voluntary work is often necessary, too.

If you’re fresh out of college, great! Voluntary work can provide you with some types of experience and opportunities you might not be able to enjoy otherwise, and that can really help guide you later when it comes to choosing a Master’s degree or further study in a specialism, and getting started learning a second language. Get onto the NGO ladder quickly, through a Masters or by working with an appropriate organization, and you’ll position yourself perfectly for one of the higher-flying humanitarian jobs out there.


The United Nations was recently searching for an Economic Affairs Officer to work at their duty station in New York. They were looking for a candidate with an advanced university degree in economics or a related field, or an individual with a first-level university degree and two additional years of qualifying work experience.

Responsibilities in this post included economic or sector analysis: monitoring economic developments in landlocked developing countries; the design and completion of studies of specific issues in economic development, including infrastructure development, trade and trade facilitation, regional integration and structural transformation and draft resulting reports; organizing expert group meetings, seminars, etc., on development and economic issues; plus other duties.

Amnesty International Hong Kong was looking for Business and Human Rights Strategy Advisor/Analyst at the time of writing, with proven knowledge and first-hand experience of undertaking high quality advocacy and in-depth specialist knowledge in the field of business, economics and human rights on an international level. Other skills necessary for the position include being able to strategically plan, negotiate and influence others; manage projects and give accurate and succinct guidance to others; be able to write and speak with excellent skill in English, as an essential component, and Mandarin language skills highly desirable.

The role includes leading the development of global and high profile advocacy and campaigning strategies of Amnesty International, with a specific focus on the role of Chinese business operations outside of China.

UN Women is looking for a New York based Programme Specialist, who will manage and monitor the portfolio of Asia and Pacific grants for the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UNTF); provide technical support and guidance to Asia and Pacific portfolio grantees; provide technical support in the grant-making process of the Asia and Pacific portfolio, communications of the Asia and Pacific portfolio; provide knowledge management and capacity development support to the Asia and Pacific portfolio.

To get this post you’ll need a Master’s degree or equivalent in Economics, Sociology, International Development Studies, and a Master’s degree in Monitoring and Results Based Management is an asset. Experience-wise, you’ll need a minimum of five years of relevant national/international experience working in international development, human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment; knowledge and experience related to violence against women and girls; etc. Only English is required. has compiled a list to help economists find international development jobs, which might be an excellent resource for you if you’d like to read around this area and get a job working for a humanitarian organization.  


It’s useful and beneficial for your career development to study a Master’s degree. It might not be possible to apply right after completing a Bachelor’s, but it’s well worth aiming to do one if you can. There are a lot of different schools all over the world that run great programs, so don’t limit yourself to your own country right from the beginning. See what the world has to offer! American programs are often extremely expensive and not necessarily better if you plan to get a job outside of the US anyway.

There’s an M.A. in Development and International Economics at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Kingston University, UK. It will help you develop knowledge and the ability to research the key issues and long-term historical trends concerning the development process and international economics; develop your mastery of fundamental principles of macroeconomic and microeconomic theory; enable you to develop a deep familiarity with major issues in economic history and economic thought from the early modern period to present day. It’s a 1-year course costing 12,500 GBP for non- EAA students.

The Tor Vergata University of Rome, Italy runs a M.A in Development Economics and International Cooperation that uses an interdisciplinary methodology to development. It’s taught in English and provides a solid grounding in the most recent economic theory, as well as econometrics and statistics. Students from all over the world have studied on the program, which includes modules in Credit, Growth and Welfare; Topics in Development Economics; Education, Labor and Gender Issues for Developing Countries, etc.

There’s an M.Sc. in International Economics at Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania, too, which is oriented towards the theories and policies of international economics, its legal aspects, strategy planning, and advanced methods of modern economic analysis. You’ll explore modules like Microeconomics and Game Theory, International Law, Business Strategy and Development, Investment Analysis and Management, plus many more.

The M.A in International Politics and Economics at Kingston University delves into the political side of economics, including modules on International Political Economy: Capitalism, Imperialism and the State; and optional modules like Economic Change and Ideas, The Theory and Practice of International Relations, Political Economy: Effective Demand, Exploitation and Crisis, and many more.

If Germany is more your sort of place in the world, you could study a M.A. in International Economics, Business and Cultural Diplomacy at The Center for Cultural Diplomacy Studies, Berlin, Germany. This fascinating institution gathers together individuals that are passionate about cultural diplomacy, and this one-year program offers its students two semesters of study, followed by a Professional Development Training Program that’s individually designed for each student and a thesis-writing period at the end of the course. You’ll study modules like The History and Evolution of the Field of Cultural Diplomacy; International Case Studies of Cultural Diplomacy; Future Trends in International Relations and Cultural Diplomacy; elective modules like National Branding and Unilateral Cultural Diplomacy; European Politics; International Economic Organizations & Culural Diplomacy; International Economics; International Business Strategy; International Finance and Accounting.

Sweden also offers some interesting courses for economists, like the M.Sc. in Urban, Regional and International Economics at Jonkoping University. This program covers mathematical methods for economics and financial analysis; advanced macroeconomics and growth; economics of cities and spatial growth; globalization of economic activity; entrepreneurship, innovation and growth; international trade analysis. It’s a two-year course. 

So, are you feeling fired up? If you’ve just got to do a Master’s, but you’re anxious about how you’ll put yourself across in your personal statement of purpose, just get in touch. We have extensive experience helping people just like you all over the world.

Beautifully crafted statement, thanks.

C.E. (Application for Master’s in Economics April 2011)

Statements of Excellence in Economics

Personal Statement of Purpose for Admission to Graduate School in Economics, Master's, Doctorate. Building new understandings of Economics as a human centered reality in need of rigorous humanistic investigation.

 We share a critical stance towards conventional or traditional economic theory insofar as it has all too often tended to appeal to a most abstract version of humanity. Many economists share our opinion that it is not necessarily human nature to always prefer more wealth to less; and subsequently, we feel that this assumption does not serve as an adequate theoretical basis for a science of political economy. Unfortunately, today this dominant understanding of human economic activity which paints us all as greedy, self-seeking creatures has tended to become the unquestioned ‘truth’ that has led to many of today’s social and environmental problems.

 Just as the desire for more wealth clearly does not define our every action, the humanist critique of modern economics includes the assertion that ‘what is economically rational is often socially or morally unreasonable’. In all aspects of life we face choices that could lead to many different outcomes. Nevertheless, it is exactly this human choice that is ignored in economic rationality, which is myopically concerned only with the satisfaction of self-interest.

 We draft eloquent, incisive statements with a humanistic emphasis and we do so on behalf of clients from around the world who are applying to graduate school in Economics. When you fill out our Online Interview Form, please provide us with the link to the program to which you are applying. This way, we can make your statement much stronger by tailoring it to that particular program and what that program is looking for in an applicant.

A common assumption of economic analysis is that individuals are rational and self-interested. In your statement, you need to explain to the Admission Committee how it is in your rational self-interest to embark upon graduate school in economics. Tell me how you feel about these issues, as this will help to direct me. Is self-interest moral, amoral, or immoral? Is morality a matter of individuals taking responsibility for their lives and working to achieve happiness? Or is morality a matter of individuals accepting responsibility for others and being willing to forgo or sacrifice for them? This is the debate in ethics between egoism and altruism and it is of central importance to the applicant seeking to undertake graduate study in economics.

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Economics & Ethics: How I can help you get admitted to graduate school in Economics.

Economics and Ethics

As someone with a PHD in Social Ethics, I tend to see economic issues as intimately connected with ethical  issues. Take the economic practice of doing a cost-benefit analysis. You could spend one hundred dollars for a night on the town, or you could donate that one hundred dollars to the reelection campaign of your favorite politician. Which option is better? The night on the town increases pleasure. A politician’s successful campaign may lead to more liberty in the long term. We regularly make decisions like this, weighing our options by measuring their likely costs and likely benefits against each other.

This connects economics directly to a major issue in ethics: By what standard do we determine what counts as a benefit or a cost? A list of competing candidates for the status of ultimate value standard includes happiness, satisfying the will of God, long-term survival, liberty, duty, and equality.

Economists implicitly adopt a value framework when beginning a cost-benefit analysis. Different value commitments can lead to the same item being considered a cost from one perspective and a benefit from another. For example, those whose standard of value is increasing human happiness would count a new road to a scenic mountain vista as a benefit, while those whose standard is maintaining an unchanged natural environment would count it as a cost.

The results of economic analysis also lead directly to ethical issues. For example, one result of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century debate over capitalism and socialism is a general consensus that capitalism is effective at producing wealth and socialism is effective at keeping people poor. Advocates of capitalism use these results to argue that capitalism is good; others might respond that “socialism is good in theory, but unfortunately it is not practical.” Implicit in the capitalist position is the view that practical consequences determine goodness. By contrast, implicit in the position of those who believe socialism to be an impractical moral ideal is the view that goodness is distinct from practical consequences.

Premium Statement Service by Dr. Robert Edinger

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Sample 1st Paragraph Agricultural Economics, Nigerian Applicant

Your Master’s Degree Program in Agricultural Economics at the University of XXXX is my first choice for graduate school primarily because of my appreciation of and enthusiasm for your focus on natural resource economics and especially environmental sustainability since these areas are especially relevant, and urgently so, to the perils faced by agriculture in my native country of Nigeria. As a result of earning the MSc Degree in Agricultural Economics at the University of XXXX, I hope to become well on my way to cutting-edge expertise concerning the foremost challenges faced by agriculture in the Developing World, especially Nigeria.