‘I Hope to Make Meaningful Contributions to the Academic Community’
Why do international students at HSE University decide to pursue a career in academia? What fields in economics are relevant to PhD students? Richard Asiamah from Ghana and Alesya Bukreeva from Uzbekistan are current master’s students at the Faculty of Economic Sciences, but have already received scholarships from the faculty to continue their studies as doctoral students at the university. Below, they share their experiences, while Denis Melnik, Academic Director of the Doctoral School of Economics, suggests some tips for the application process.
Richard Asiamah, 28
I am an ambitious student from the bustling city of Kumasi, Ghana. With a passion for economics and a drive to succeed, I am determined to make a name in the corporate world. I am in my second year, studying Stochastic Modelling in Economics and Finance (previously the Master's in Statistical Modelling and Actuarial Science)
As an aspiring economist and statistician, I wanted to broaden my horizons and gain a global perspective in the field of economics. HSE’s reputation for excellence in economics made it the perfect choice for me
In addition, the opportunity to immerse myself in a new culture and learn a new language was too exciting to pass up. Choosing Moscow and HSE were easy for me.
My experience at HSE has exceeded my expectations. The professors are knowledgeable and supportive, and the coursework is challenging and engaging. I am very happy with my decision to join HSE and would highly recommend it to others.
I found the courses in Econometrics and Data Mining particularly interesting because they provided me with a strong foundation in quantitative analysis and data interpretation. The professors who taught these courses were passionate about their subjects, which made the learning experience even more engaging. In addition, I was impressed by the support and guidance provided by my Actuarial Calculus professor, who was always available to answer questions and provide feedback on my work. I feel that the quality of teaching at HSE has contributed greatly to my academic success.
I faced some challenges in understanding certain concepts in advanced microeconomics. To overcome these difficulties, I sought help from my professors and classmates, who were always willing to explain the material in a way that made sense to me
I also spent extra time reviewing the course materials and practicing problem sets. Additionally, I found that seeking out additional resources online helped me gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
I made sure to prioritise my time effectively so that I could pursue some of my interests outside of academics. I enjoy playing table tennis, and played games on weekends. I also volunteered, helping to teach English to children. Additionally, I made time to read books and watch movies that I found interesting, which allowed me to unwind and relax after long study sessions.
By balancing my academic responsibilities with these other activities, I was able to maintain a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle
My Russian has improved since I started studying it. I have been practicing speaking and writing with native speakers, watching Russian movies, and reading Russian literature. While I still have room for improvement, I am confident in my ability to communicate effectively in most situations.
The enrolment process for the Doctoral School of Economics was competitive and took place in stages. I am interested in the field of Mathematical and Quantitative Methods in Economics, specifically in the area of applied econometrics.
For my PhD research, I plan to use applied econometrics to analyse the role of urban infrastructure, human capital and innovation in Africa as far as urbanisation and economic growth is concerned
I am excited to contribute to the existing body of knowledge in this field and hope to make meaningful contributions to the academic community.
I like Moscow for its rich history, culture, and architecture. Moscow has several prestigious universities and research institutions, making it a popular destination for international students. The city offers a diverse range of activities, from visiting museums and art galleries to exploring parks and gardens. It also has a vibrant nightlife and dining scene, with many restaurants and bars to choose from. Moscow is not as expensive as I previously thought, and everything about the city is fascinating.
Denis Melnik, Academic Director of the Doctoral School of Economics
Internships (quotas) for international PhD applicants are intended for students from different countries and continents who would like to foster their academic potential at HSE University. We are happy to have this opportunity, as it expands our experience, stimulates our development, and enriches the university's strong scientific and educational resources with the diversity of cultures, traditions, and approaches. The task of our doctoral school is to lay an academic foundation which our graduates will use to develop themselves and others in the following years and decades.
To ensure a successful start on this path, I recommend that those who plan to become doctoral student start preparing for admission in advance. Carefully read through the admission rules—it is important. But no less important and often much harder is choosing a topic for your future dissertation and your academic supervisor. Look at the key research areas that doctoral students can join. Potential supervisors are also listed there. In addition, carefully study the HSE website and department pages. Attend conferences and seminars that are held at HSE University in person or online. Read papers by your potential supervisors. Don't hesitate to write to them. All of this will help you determine your topic and supervisor choice in advance and facilitate the preparation of your application for admission.
Alesya Bukreeva, 24
I am from Uzbekistan and have been studying at HSE University for almost six years. I am currently a master’s student on the Strategic Corporate Finance programme.
HSE is one of the best universities in Russia, ranking among the top three Russian universities in the world. Its project-based learning model combines education, research, development, and consulting in projects for the development of the economy and society. Leading experts work here, helping students to develop research skills and build a network of professional contacts. And even now, HSE continues to maintain and expand its contacts with partner universities to remain part of the international academic community and contribute to research.
I first heard about HSE when my brother was preparing to apply to universities in Russia. He said, ‘HSE takes ordinary students and makes them elite’
What my brother said turned out to be true! Now I work in my field and am a sought-after specialist in the job market. Employers value HSE graduates, offer them internships, and view them as ‘elites’ among young professionals.
The downside to this success is four exam periods per year, sleepless nights before exams, exhaustion, and the need to study really hard. By the second or third year, only those who are truly ready to grind away at their studies manage not to drop out.
HSE provided the necessary foundation and skills to help me achieve career success and self-realisation
My favourite discipline is econometrics, although it is a difficult subject and more scientific than practical. I also remember the financial markets course in my third year of bachelor’s studies. The teacher, Sergey Volodin, used a special approach to conduct classes. The classes were held in the format of a stock exchange: each question was worth a certain number of points, and if a student could not answer it, bidding began. This course fuelled my interest in economics, aroused my passion, and led me to where I am now.
Another great thing about HSE is the motivated environment. Everyone helps each other. We often stayed in the university from 9 am to 11 pm, trying to figure out a particular topic together. This is the student life that everyone should experience
Despite the heavy workload, extracurricular activities are an important part of student life. I was part of the HSE University-St Petersburg rhythmic gymnastics team and was a co-leader of the Student Sports Club. I made friends from other faculties, immersed myself in sports management, and even flew to a sports club forum. At HSE University-Moscow, volunteering was replaced by case championships and student conferences.
My current scientific interests are in financial risk management, the ESG agenda, and creating company value. My master's thesis focused on the impact of a company's ESG and corporate social responsibility activities on its value. In my PhD studies, I plan to continue delving into these areas, as well as non-financial reporting and its value for companies from different industries and regions.
The main document in my PhD application was a dissertation plan. I also had to prepare a motivational letter, a recommendation letter from my academic supervisor, a CV, and a list of publications in Russian and/or foreign academic journals. The next stage was an interview with the head of the doctoral school and one of the professors of the School of Finance. The interview was partly conducted in a stress interview format, and out of 25 applicants for a quota place, only 6 were selected.
The PhD interview was a new and interesting experience for me, as I had not previously encountered stress interviews. Afterwards, I was sure that I wouldn’t be accepted, but here I am
I grew up in a small town and am used to getting anywhere in the city in 15–20 minutes. In Moscow, the commute takes an average of an hour and a half. Life here is also very fast paced. Moscow is a hub of opportunities; you can not only gain knowledge at the university, but also apply it in practice through internships, student competitions, and case championships.
Opportunities can be found everywhere, but there are so many of them in Moscow that professional and personal development happen rapidly
My friends have visited from both Uzbekistan and St Petersburg. We meet on Red Square and walk around the centre. I always take my friends to Sparrow Hills, where you can see panoramas of the city, walk in the forest, and (in warm weather) ride a bike or sit on the grass with a view of the Moskva River. Everyone should visit Moscow, especially in the summer. There are a huge number of sights, which I haven’t been able to cover even in six years in Russia. There is still much ahead!
‘Studying at HSE Was a Chance for Me to Get to Know Some Supportive Seniors, Knowledgeable Professors, and Wonderful Friends’
On August 4, 2023, a pre-defence of the thesis on ‘Refugee-Host Community Conflict over Assimilation, Integration, and State Legitimacy: The Case of Rohingyas in Bangladesh’ by Md. Reza Habib will be held at HSE University. The preliminary defence will take place at a joint meeting of the HSE School of Sociology and the International Laboratory for Social Integration Research. Md. Reza Habib shared his experience of studying and preparing his PhD with the HSE News Service.
Wenrui Zhang, from China, is a recent graduate of theMaster’s in Economics and Economic Policy at the HSE UniversityFaculty of Economic Sciences. Having successfully defended his master’s thesis on the impact of COVID-19 on the incomes of vulnerable groups, Wenrui has set his sights on publishing his research and enrolling in adoctoral programme at the university. The HSE News Service interviewed Wenrui about his achievements so far and his goals for the future, and also spoke to Prof.Elena Kotyrlo, his academic supervisor.
On March 16, the results of the Open Doors International Olympiad for master’s and doctoral applicants were announced. The competition is organised by the Association of Global Universities with the support of the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia and the Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States Affairs, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Humanitarian Cooperation (Rossotrudnichestvo). HSE University is one of the Olympiad’s organisers and the site of its distributed project office.
Wai Yan Phyo Naing first came to HSE University from Myanmar to enrol in a master’s programme at the Faculty of World Economy and World Affairs in 2015. After graduation, he decided to pursue a PhD at the Doctoral School of International and Regional Studies. On February 16, 2023, he successfully defended his dissertation on ‘Evolution of Myanmar’s Policy Towards China (1988–2020)’.
Majid Sohrabi is a 28 year-old student from Iran currently enrolled in a doctoral programme at the HSE University Faculty of Computer Science. Before starting his PhD, he graduated with honours from the university’s Master of Data Science programme. In addition to studying, he also works as an assistant at the School of Data Analysis and Artificial Intelligence and a research assistant at the Laboratory for Models and Methods of Computational Pragmatics.
Ion Frecautan chose to pursue his doctoral studies at HSE University because of its reputation as a leading research university and its extensive academic infrastructure. With the latest enrolment campaign for doctoral schools now underway, we spoke to Ion about his green finance research at the Faculty of Economic Sciences, his activities as a lecturer, and more.
On February 1, 2023, HSE University will open admissions to its doctoral schools. The Doctoral School of Economics has held a webinar for prospective students, which attracted participants from various parts of the world. Materials and feedback from the webinar, as well as information on applications, are now available on the Faculty of Economic Sciences website.
The first stage of the Open Doors: Russian Scholarship Project for prospective master’s and doctoral students has concluded. The winners of the competition get an opportunity to study at Russian universities for free. HSE University is among the most popular universities on the project.
The MendiT Research Lab, based at the HSE University Doctoral School of Arts and Design, will become a resident of the GES-2 Cultural Centre for a month from June 5th. The researchers will introduce members of the urban community to the lab and explore the practices of mending clothes together with them. Some of the lab participants told the HSE News Service what it's like to be searching for a method and object of research.
Doctoral Students Need the Support of Not Only Their Academic Supervisor, but Also of Other Faculty Staff
To successfully defend a doctoral dissertation, PhD candidates need not only the support of their academic supervisor and close friends and relatives, but also system-wide assistance from the university department or faculty where they study. However, HSE University researchers have found that such support can take different forms and that each has a different effect on how confident a student feels in their ability to successfully defend their dissertation. The results of their study were published in the journal Higher Education Quarterly.