Master’s Degree Programme in Public Choice


Will politicians advance the public interest? * How do lobbies affect policy? * How can society best provide collective goods? *
The Masters Degree Programme in Public Choice is a mathematical methods in the social sciences program. The program involves an economics-based approach to social science issues with a focus on comparisons between North America and Europe.

This program teaches students to use economic tools to address social science problems. Public choice theory extends economic analysis beyond the traditional focus on market interactions to examining how and when individual self-interest among politicians, interest groups, voters, etc. can either help or hinder the public interest. Issues examined involve strategic behavior ranging from institutional design, policy evaluation and implementation, to decision-making. The methods used include microeconomics, game theory, experimental economics, spatial econometrics, social choice theory and econometrics. Coursework emphasizes practical and theoretical understanding of these issues. In addition to building quantitative skills, this program incorporates a comparative and multidisciplinary perspective drawn from case studies in North America and Europe.

This programme was developed to be the equivalent of the coursework in a graduate program in economics/political science in the United States. The Public Choice programme invites leading experts from around the world to teach classes, providing students with cutting edge approaches. Programme courses combine theory and practice.

Skills developed in this programme will give the students the abilities to read, evaluate and contribute to the international academic literature.

The programme aims to prepare the students for postgraduate studies, independent research work as well as for professional activity at various tasks in the society, ranging from policy positions to business positions. Potential positions include but are not limited to work as a consultant, researcher, in governmental positions or in NGOs, work in policy analysis and design. The program also provides an essential background in policy and other social science issues for people wishing to work as translators for governmental institutions.

The programme has connections to Caltech, New York University, Columbia University, University of Virginia, Rice University, University of Oxford, University of Hamburg and other institutions.

The Master’s Degree Programme in Public Choice cooperates with the university’s North American Studies programme.


Further Information

Application period 2018 is closed.

Information about applying on the admissions website.

Study planning and guidance

  • Curricula guide 2017-2019
  • Teaching schedule 2017-2018

Thesis archive

List of Master’s thesis written by the students of the programme can be found in the Study Guide.

About studying in the programme

Coursework emphasizes both practical and theoretical understanding of the issues. The program aims to prepare the students for postgraduate studies, independent research work as well as for professional activity at various tasks in the society, ranging from policy positions to business positions.

In addition to building quantitative skills, this programme will incorporate a comparative and multidisciplinary perspective. Issues addressed will draw on examples from North America and Europe in terms of evaluation.

For example, Duverger’s well known law shows that differences in voting systems lead to differences in the number of political parties in a given system. These differences in party numbers can have profound effects on campaign behavior as well as on possibilities for cooperation in government. Understanding the effects of how these structures interact with individual politician preferences can provide a strong basis for understanding differences in political party behavior between the United States and Finland.

As another example, welfare state institutions in North American and in the Nordic countries are highly different in terms of structure, goals, sizes, design and outcomes. These different institutions impact their various populations in a range of ways – affecting social services, needs, incentives, and opportunities. The spectrum of welfare institutions alone highlights a need for a comparative, multidisciplinary approach to better understand them. More importantly, recent research, coupled with current events, make clear that the results of institutions depend very strongly on the inputs and the design. Students will develop the quantitative tools needed to evaluate these institutions on a comparative basis, using examples from North America and Europe as case studies.

Other issues addressed include:

  • Which type of system, public or private, gives greater efficiency while maintaining universal coverage in health care?
  • Should we introduce greater liquidity into our retirement system?
  • What is the impact of inequality on society, and what policies, if any, are best designed to address it?

Welcome to the UTA Experimental Laboratory organized by the programme!

Press the link and take part in our economic experiments. An economics experiment is a session where participants play a decision-making game.

You have a chance to win some money and have fun!

Experiment calendar / Frequently Asked Questions

exp2 money


Meet our students:

Watch what our students say about the program

Video on the Global Societies programs

Public Choice


Programme alumni: Graduates May 2017

Elizabeth Harjunpää is Insight Service Manager at Brand Agency Punda in Helsinki.
Saki Kudo is a doctoral student in social policy at the University of Tampere
Tuomo Kuivalainen is teaching classes at Kalevan Lukio (Kaleva High School) in Tampere
Arseniy Lobanovskiy is a doctoral student in political science at the University of Tampere



Professor Katri K. Sieberg, Director of the Programme
Faculty of Social Sciences
Building Pinni B 3055
tel: +358 (0)50 318 6216
e-mail: katri.sieberg(at)

Anna Vähämäki, North American Studies Coordinator
Main building E 224
tel. +358 50 318 6639

Visiting academic staff:

Giuseppe Attanasi
AJ Bostian
Ryan Kendall
D. Roderick Kiewiet
Jani-Petri Laamanen
William Heller
Peter Miller
Olga Shvetsova
Erik Sieberg



  • Week 11 (13-17 March, 2017) is Experimental Economics Week in Public Choice!
    Saki Kudo, Daniel Kalchev and Arseniy Lobanovskiy will be running experiments in the afternoons Monday-Friday There are still some spaces in the experiments. Contact them if you want to participate and earn some money!
  • Caltech Professor Rod Kiewiet joined the Public Choice program in October 2016 as the Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences

Rod Kiewiet

Attending the City Hall Reception during the 10th Nordic Conference on Behavioral and Experimental Economics (with keynote speaker John Ledyard)

City Hall

Chairing Sessions in the 10th Nordic Conference on Behavioral and Experimental Economics (with keynote speaker Catherine Eckel)

QSR Students, Katri Sieberg and Catherine Eckel

News about our students

  • Congratulations to Veera Jokipalo on her grant from the Kansan sivistysrahasto – Väinö Voionmaan rahasto – to fund her experimental research! Congratulations also on her internship as Research Trainee at GSADI (research group in analytical sociology and institutional design), Department of Sociology, at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain.
  • Elizabeth Harjunpää visited the University of California Irvine

Elizabeth UCI


  • Graduation 2017! Congratulations to the first group of Public Choice (Quantitative Social Research) students for completing amazing Masters’ Theses!

Pictures of the thesis presentations, students and faculty

QSRQSR and faculty

Arseniy thesisSaki thesisElizabeth thesis

Pekka thesisTuomo thesis

  • Congratulations to Saki Kudo for being awarded a Undergraduate studies grant from Finnish Cultural Foundation: Taru, Ilmari ja Pentti Mannisen rahasto and for being awarded the NIAS SUPRA Nordic Scholarship!!

Saki SKR

Pekka Vatanen visited Duke University

Tuomo at RicePekka at Duke

Tuomo Kuivalainen visited Rice University


Daniel Kalchev visited California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

Daniel at Caltech

Arseniy Lobanovskiy visited the University of Virginia and gave a lecture in the Department of Politics      

Arseniy and Carol Mershon








Saki Kudo visited the Economics Department at the University of California, Irvine! 2 talks in 2 programs in just 1½ weeks! Outstanding!

Saki at UCI


QSR & PCPqsr students


  • Congratulations to Saki Kudo for being awarded the Japan Student Services Organization – scholarship for degrees
  • Congratulations to Arseniy Lobanovskiy for his internship as Research Trainee at the Labour Institute for Economic Research (Palkansaajien tutkimuslaitos)
  • Congratulations to Saki Kudo for being awarded the Scandinavia – Japan Sasakawa Foundation grant