Economic policy as applied to pressing societal issues


The University Minor in Economics introduces economic thinking and economic analysis for everyone, from anthropology to zoology. Taking a quantitative approach, economics focuses on providing and implementing feasible policy solutions addressing current issues. Our minor does not require background knowledge in economics, but rather the willingness to invest time and effort into acquiring and applying the relevant skills that modern economists need. Starting with a background in at least highschool level mathematics (and better even, a basic university-level course in quantitative methods and/or statistics), this Minor provides for a steep learning curve as you progress through the programme.

Well-being, inequality and sustainability

Economics addresses some of the most pressing problems of today: economic well-being, inequality and sustainability. What is the future of employment in the face of technical innovation and automation? Why does the discovery of natural resources make a country sometimes poorer rather than richer? How can we keep the pension and health care system sustainable if there are only half as many working age people? Why do economic crises occur? In the University Minor in Economics you will learn to tackle economic questions and to think like an economist. With a strong policy focus, the Minor not only can deliver thought-provoking insights into economic mechanisms, but also offer alternative ways to solve challenging issues.

Economics in an ever-changing world

The University Minor in Economics is an established and successful programme. We have experience and know what students and employers want: relevant knowledge about economic institutions, mechanisms, incentives, and policy options in an ever-changing world. We consistently receive excellent student evaluations. Students join us from many disciplines and from across the country and beyond. Jobs are increasingly about combinations of skills rather than specialized knowledge only. Because economics is everywhere, the ability to understand and apply sound economic reasoning in combination with data analysis is therefore becoming a key asset complementing the specialized skills acquired in any BSc major. Every consultant, policy advisor, and business analyst gains from applying the economics skills set and tool box.

Relation to your own field of expertise

Economics is complementary to many fields. Those completing the University Minor in Economics gain a competitive edge through a proven ability to use the insights from economics in their own field of expertise, such as law, health sciences, natural and environmental sciences, or other social sciences. Among others, the University Minor in Economics enhances career opportunities in management, policy-making and consultancy, or pursuing of an MBA degree. The University Minor in Economics also allows for admission to MSc Economics programmes at Vrije Universiteit (see “Related Master’s programmes”). Completion of the University Minor Economics gives access to a self-study transfer programme (no tests, no course work) leading to admission for the Public Policy track of the MSc Economics programme at VU. If you achieve a GPA of 7.5 or higher for the University Minor Economics, you gain access to a similar self-study transfer programme leading to admission for any track of the MSc Economics programme at VU Amsterdam.

The University Minor in Economics is a 30 EC programme consisting of the following five, interlinked modules (of 6 EC each):

Foundations of Microeconomics
Explains why economists use models and that economic models differ from models in other sciences. It introduces the basic three concepts of (micro) economics: optimization, equilibrium and empiricism. The course develops the theory of demand and supply, market equilibrium, market efficiency and market failure.

Foundations of Macroeconomics
Introduces core concepts and theories of modern macroeconomic analysis including their historical development. You will understand macroeconomic theories about growth, inequality and unemployment within their historical contexts, and become familiar with recent empirical macroeconomic work.

Macroeconomic Policy
Introduces you to the theory and practice of fiscal and monetary policy, including regulation of the financial system. You get to apply macroeconomic concepts and theories to analyze problems of employment and inflation, and macroeconomic policymaking in managing business cycles and economic crises.

Microeconomic Policy
Identifies, analyzes and evaluates policy options to economic problems in labor markets, social insurance, pensions, development, trade, environment, and product market competition. Using problem sets and work on economic data increases and deepens understanding, and helps broaching a large number of microeconomic policy fields.

Economic Policy Analysis
Develops your capability to independently analyse a policy issue, design a policy response, or evaluate a policy intervention from an economic point of view. You learn how to motivate and formulate an appropriate research question, and conduct literature-based research resulting in a paper, presentation, and peer review.

All five modules represent a coherent package of closely intertwined courses, building gradually from first theoretical principles and tools of empirical economic analysis towards developing identification of market failure and insight when policy interventions may provide solutions. We take a structured approach to solve practical problems using economic core concepts and skills. Upon completion you will have a proven ability to apply sound economic reasoning to a range of issues on a micro- and macroeconomic level, for example related to health, environment, finance, labor, transport, and development.

For more information about each course, please visit the study guide.

The University Minor in Economics is for university students from nearly all majors (exceptions indicated below*) who want to acquire familiarity with the core principles of economic reasoning. Participants in the past had majors in Organization Studies, Physics, Health Studies, Civil Engineering, Philosophy, Political Science, Mathematics, Theology, and came from many faculties at VU and beyond (e.g. UvA, TU Delft). Economics combines rather well (either as complement or as addition) with lots of disciplines and fields of study.

There is no formal entrance requirement for the University Minor in Economics except for highschool level math (“VWO Wiskunde A” (or “B”)). A basic course in quantitative methods and/or statistics is strongly recommended, however. Eligible VU students do not need to ask for permission from the Examination Board to follow the University Minor in Economics and to count the credits (30 EC) towards their own BSc degree.

*Note: Students in the BSc programmes Economics and Business Economics and Econometrics are excluded from participating in the University Minor in Economics.


VU student: you can register for the courses of the minor via VUnet from 15 July.
Other students: you can register as a secondary course student (bijvak) via More information about this procedure can be found on this website in Dutch or in English.
If you have detailed questions about the contents of the programme, please contact

Charlotte Kruidenberg

BSc student Political Science

“The program is well-designed, starting with introductory courses microeconomics and macroeconomics and continuing with more advanced courses, closing with an applied policy paper. While challenging, courses are achievable, even for me as a student without any economics background. Besides that, there are a lot of interesting guest lectures, which are well cared for and which match the regular lectures very well. I have learned a lot during the minor Economics and it even made me consider applying for the Economics master as well!”


Christan Doornhof

Lifestyle Informatics and Law student

"The minor Economics helped me to place current societal issues into relevant context. By focusing on global economic policy issues and individual decision-making, students will receive a broad set of skills that will be helpful in a large number of disciplines. Moreover, several knowledgeable economists provide interesting guest lectures that showcase the different manners in which economics is used in today’s society. This minor taught me to apply sound economic reasoning on a diverse set of problems ranging from individual utility maximisation to influencing levels of inflation. As a result, this minor has inspired me to approach problems in my own fields of study in an alternative way that potentially could lead to better solutions."

testimonial economics

Samenvatting Economics




1 semester (30 EC)


1 September


Economie, Recht en Bestuur
Gedrag en Maatschappij
Informatica, Wiskunde en Bedrijf


School of Business and Economics