View Full Version : Graduate Diplomas in Economics, e.g. University of London

11-21-2007, 04:02 PM
Hi, I am looking to apply for graduate diplomas in Economics.

I see that the University of London has several colleges, and am quite baffled as to the differences and quality in their programs. For example, the school of oriental and african studies and the royal holloway both offer those programs.

And should I decide to go to universities elsewhere (not in the UK) for MSc in Economics, would these graduate diplomas help any?

My undergraduate degree was in Mathematics with a Statistics bent, GPA wasn't that great, 2.8.


11-21-2007, 05:10 PM
Sounds like a diploma might be a good idea for you if you can't get directly into a master's program - they're usually geared towards people transitioning from other fields as you are doing. The University of London is one gigantic conglomeration of lots of very different colleges, and as such there are going to be many different places offering diplomas of varying quality (The LSE is even one of those constituent colleges, though they tend not to hang out with the rest very much.)

I would just assume that (unless you hear otherwise) the diploma quality is roughly correlated to the quality of the master's programs at that school. At some schools the diploma is even essentially the first year of a master's, like at the LSE - if you're admitted to the 2-year track of the MSc, after completing the first year you get a diploma.

I don't know anything about Royal Holloway, but SOAS is a very good school for some fields. I don't know much about their economics department, though the school in general is known to be quite left-wing so that might color their economics department. Something to look into. If I were you I would just look at the UK schools you would be attracted to for a master's and most likely they will have a diploma in one form or another.

As for how well the degree will travel to other countries - I would mainly think of it as if you'd decided to do an extra year of undergrad and take some econ classes. The "diploma" itself won't really mean anything, but you'll have a chance to get some econ classes on your transcript and do well in them, which will help for admissions. Bonus if you're doing it at a better school than where you came from. From the LSE's website:

"For the purposes of further study or future employment, the Diploma is broadly equivalent to the bachelor's degree in economics awarded by the LSE."

The only problem with that plan is the perennial issue that most British programs only give grades at the end of the year, so if you want to start a diploma program and progress to a master's the next year, you won't have your grades for that application cycle. In which case, the diploma would add almost no value to your application, aside from saying "hey, I'll at least know what a supply and demand curve are by the time I enroll."

Did you take any econ at all at undergrad? I ask because a lot of people go directly in to Master's or PhDs with a lot of math and a little economics. If that's the case you might be best off going directly to a masters and trying to rectify the GPA problem through stellar grad work.

11-21-2007, 05:30 PM
Good advice by thewhiterabbit. As I also found myself in a similar position, allow me to add a few suggestions.

If you have any opportunity of taking economics classes at your local/regional university/college then you should prefer that over the diploma. Firstly, the diploma would be costly (around GBP 7000-9000). Secondly, except LSE, at other places (Warwick, Essex, Sussex, SOAS, Birkbeck) you'd mostly be taking intermediate micro,macro courses. You'll receive nearly equal credit for these courses at your local place.

Nevertheless, if you are quite sure that you require a GD before applying to Masters, then check out a few of the Qualifying Year programs at Canada (Carleton, Mcgill, Alberta). They would be a lot cheaper and usually teach stuff at a higher level than their European counterparts. Although I have been generally discouraged by fellow TM members, the pre-masters programs at Tilburg and Erasmus Rotterdam are also worth considering. The GD program at ANU is also worth looking at. Check out my previous threads on this.

11-22-2007, 08:19 AM
Wow, thank you so much for your detailed replies! :)

In that case, it does seem like a masters would be better. The problem is those masters in Econs programs here where I am are difficult to enter and offer few options. There doesn't exist any postgrad diploma in econs here either. Other masters programs require your undergrad to be in econs (i'm located in asia)

To be honest, I don't really know what schools appeal to me for masters (except looking at university rankings), and what I am qualified for. I'm not sure if I really require a GD, just that I thought they would be easier to get into and I could try to do well in them as well as testing my interest.

I got a 2.8 GPA Math-Stats degree, I guess LSE masters must be out, what could be left? I also received rather poor grades in my analysis courses, which could have a detrimental effect...

(I did introductory micro and macroecons in uni)

11-22-2007, 09:16 AM
No problem :-)

I think a lot of this will depend then on which Asian country and how good your school is and how difficult your department is. A 2.8 GPA is low by most American standards, but if you did comparatively well with respect to your fellow students, then that matters more, especially if you go to a respected school in your country.

The other thing that really matters is what you want to do with the degree. If you're looking for employment after an economics master's, then you're going to have a different strategy than if you're wanting to do a PhD eventually.

As for choosing schools - there is an excellent discussion going on in several other threads right now about Canadian master's programs that you should probably check out. There is a pretty broad range of decent schools there, and they seem to often lead to better placements in American schools than non Oxbridge/LSE UK schools, if you're looking at the PhD route.

As for where you should go, have you looked at the econphd.net rankings yet? They're imperfect as all rankings are, but if you know what subdiscipline you're interested, they can be a helpful tool for narrowing down a list. There are some schools which shine in some subfields and do poorly in others; no need to apply to a super-competitive place if it does what you like poorly, and conversely you might find a less competitive place that suits you perfectly.

I wouldn't rule out the LSE economics master's necessarily - they have a 2-year route (the diploma route) to the economics MSc that it seems like you are a match for, in terms of your math/econ preparation. And entrance is less competitive than you might believe, because they have a huge intake. Do well on the GREs, especially, and you might have a shot (depending on the rest of your profile).

As for other British schools, you're going to have a steep dropoff in name recognition after the biggies, but if you stick near the top of the list (like Warwick) and do well you could probably progress to a good UK PhD or a decent American one. But as I said I bet that comparing these schools to similar Canadian ones, you'd be better off in Canada. If you're after employment, then name recognition will be a factor in many countries, but I know that in some countries just having any degree from an English speaking country is considered a big bonus.

Bear in mind through all this the cost (UK master's are expensive!) and the problem with UK grades only coming at the end of the year, which I mentioned above. Plus a lot of people find that UK master's are disappointing or not value-for-money. You may find that there are specific merit scholarships for your country if you're from a developing one.

Oh, I'm American but I live in Asia right now (Indonesia). *waves* :-)

11-23-2007, 04:07 PM
How do you like Indonesia? I am from Hong Kong :)

I don't think my program was tough. I guess I'm really bad at real analysis, I wonder if I could survive graduate Econs! (esp after perusing the MGW Microeconomic Theory)

Would doing a second undergrad degree be better than doing a graduate diploma actually?

I'm not quite sure whether I would want to go for a Phd (lots of commitment!), but always open to the possibility!

11-23-2007, 04:51 PM
I was just in Hong Kong last week for a meeting! Beautiful weather this time of year. I was wondering if that was where you are from because your English is so good...

I like Indonesia a lot - it helps that I don't live in Jakarta :-)

Seems like you are at quite a crossroads and you're going to have to balance cost, time, and value of whichever degree you do. Getting another bachelor's might be a bit excessive, in my opinion. If I were you I would apply to master's programs that have a 2-year route that you can do if they deem you unprepared for the 1-year route - then you at least have a quite good degree after 1 or 2 years and will have a real taste of graduate econ to know if you want to do a PhD or not. I think just doing a diploma will be less valuable both in terms of exposure to economics and in terms of employment.

Even though I think in many cases Canadian schools may offer better value for money in terms of the single goal of getting into US PhD programs, in your case there are a lot of reasons to go the UK route. Mainly, since you're from HK, I imagine the degree will be seen as very prestigious and marketable in the employment sector.

Plus since you're commonwealth there may be more scholarships for UK schools (though HK is a bit of a funny animal so maybe not).

All in all it seems to me a UK master's could be an all-around good bet for you, though cost will probably be a big determining factor.

Ancalagon The Black
11-23-2007, 06:29 PM
In India, we have something known as Post Graduate Diploma, which is between an undergraduate and a graduate degree...

In fact, the fabled IIMs offer PGDBMs and not MBAs. I, myself am doing a PGDCA in order to solve the 3 year - 4 year problem of applying to US.

11-24-2007, 05:53 AM
The Indonesian kueh lapis tastes really good!

With my credentials (haven't yet taken the GRE, got a 700 in GMAT, 2.8..), what would likely be what you normally call the safety, reach and schools in my league (manchester?)? I have just viewed the LSE minimum entry requirements and I don't make the cut (first class honours i.e. GPA > 3.3 required).

ATB: I guess that's similar to grad diploma, like a conversion course?

Ancalagon The Black
11-24-2007, 08:02 AM

Well, its not really a conversion course... actually the problem is that in India, according to some archaic rules unless you are a university you cannot give MS degrees so the PGDs were invented. Of course most universities also have PGDs which are basically graduate content but lesser than a graduate course but more than undergraduate course.

For instance, the IIMs (top management schools) are not "universities" as per govt. rules so they offer PGDBM instead of MBA.

But that doesn't stop any of them from getting a 6 figure USD salary. :D

I am doing it so that I can solve the requirement of the 4 year US degree as opposed to the 3 year.