PhD Program in Methods and Models for Economic Decisions

PhD Program in Methods and Models for Economic Decisions


Director: Matteo Rocca

Duration: 3 years

Number of fellowships: 6


See also the PDF file or the printable version


Topic and goals

A significant part of economic analysis is about the processes of decision making. Consumers and producers, workers and firms, banks and managers, households and policy makers continuously make economically relevant decisions. Economists and management theorists are interested in understanding, predicting, or modifying the processes underlying these decisions.

The analysis of decisions relies on methods and models that differ significantly according to the different fields of research. For instance, classical decision theory is largely based on abstract mathematical modelling, while more recent research in behavioural decision theory significantly relies on experimental methods. Econometric models are used to investigate the determinants of specific decisions, such as those concerning labour, transports, or health. Computational methods are used to simulate how artificial agents interact, and to investigate the effects of their interaction.

The PhD program in Methods and Models for Economic Decisions trains young researchers to master the variety of theoretical and applied approaches that are used in economics and management theory for analysing decision-making processes. The students will acquire a broad set of research skills in model construction and data analysis, and thus become capable of understanding the complex phenomena related to decision making in a multidisciplinary perspective. PhD students will then focus on a specific field of analysis and develop their own research program under the supervision of a faculty member.



The courses are taught in English, and the program lasts three years. At the end of the third year students submit their PhD dissertation, which is usually made of three research papers.

In the first year, students attend the Program’s courses at the Department of Economics of Insubria University, which is located in Varese. These are not the standard first-year courses in quantitative methods, microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics, but cover the specific and more advanced topics in decision theory addressed by the PhD program. Tailor-made solutions for students necessitating to improve their knowledge of quantitative methods, microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics will be identified.

Each first-year course consists of 10 classes (or 20 academic hours). Courses may be either lectures or seminars, depending on the topic, and are divided into two main groups, namely “Theory and tools” and “Empirical applications”.

Theory and tools: In these courses the PhD students learn the main theoretical approaches to decision analysis, and also study their historical evolution and methodological aspects. Students are also trained to use the quantitative tools necessary to understand and construct decision models. The “Theory and tools” courses include:

Empirical applications: These courses familiarise students with a number of specific empirical applications of decision theory, such as the analysis of decisions concerning labor supply, transports and health. The courses concerning the empirical application of decision analysis include:

In the first year, students also identify the broad topic of their PhD dissertation and the member of the PhD board who will serve as their supervisor. Finally, they pin down the topic for their first research paper.

The second and third years are entirely dedicated to research. Students work on their research papers and progressively define theme and structure of their PhD dissertation. Students are expected to attend seminars and other training events held at the Department of Economics.

In addition, students are strongly encouraged to spend part of the second and third years in foreign universities and research institutions. They can choose among universities having exchange programs with Insubria University (e.g. the University of Jena) or institutions particularly active in their field of research.

During the second and the third year, students are also encouraged to present their research papers at internal seminars and international conferences, and then submit them to international journals.


Lesson Timetable 

All PhD students who are interested in attending other courses that can be useful to improve their academic preparation can check  the following links of the PhD LASER of the Università degli Studi di Milano and the PhD School of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan. 



The official call for applications (for the academic year 2017/2018) to the PhD program in Methods and Models for Economic Decisions will be posted  here – in July 2017.

Registrations for the call will be open soon!

Students interested in the program should contact Prof. Matteo Rocca, at


Funding opportunities

For the academic year 2017/2018 a total of six scholarships for PhD students are available. Each scholarship amounts to approximately € 13,600 gross per year (12,500 net), is paid on a monthly basis, and lasts three years. The amount of the scholarship is increased by 50% when a student visits foreign universities and institutions.

Additional funding opportunities include employment as a teaching or research assistant at Insubria’s Department of Economics.

From the second year onwards, PhD students are also entitled to research funds they can use for their research and participation to conferences


Conference, congress, seminars:


PhD Board

The PhD Board includes members of the Department of Economics at Insubria University as well as scholars from Italian and foreign Universities who collaborate with the Insubria University for teaching and research activities.


Department of Economics, Insubria University

  1. Carlo Brambilla, Associate Professor of Economic History
  2. Gianluca Colombo, Professor of Management”>
  3. Giovanni P. Crespi, Associate Professor of Mathematical Methods for Economics
  4. Francesco Figari, Associate Professor of Public Economics
  5. Alba Fondrieschi, Associate Professor of Private Law
  6. Angelo Guerraggio, Professor of Mathematical Methods for Economics
  7. Elena Maggi, Associate Professor of Economics
  8. Daniela Montemerlo, Associate Professor of Management
  9. Enrico Moretto, Lecturer in Mathematical Methods for Economics
  10. Ivan Moscati, Associate Professor of Economics
  11. Sergio Patriarca, Professor of Business Law
  12. Maria Cristina Pierro, Professor of Tax Law
  13. Silvana Robone, Associate Professor in Economic Policy
  14. Matteo Rocca, Professor of Mathematical Methods for Economics
  15. Vincenzo Salvatore, Professor of International Law
  16. Raffaello Seri, Professor of Econometrics
  17. Marcello Spanò, Lecturer in Economics


Other Research Institutions

  1. Uwe Cantner, Professor of Economics, Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany;
  2. Cinzia Colapinto, Assistant Professor of Strategy and Innovation, Graduate School of Business, Nazarbayev University, Astana, Kazakhstan and Department of Management, Ca’ Foscari University, Venice, Italy
  3. Roberto Galbiati, Chargé de Recherche, OSC-CNRS and Sciences Po, Paris, France;
  4. Paolo Gubitta, Professor of Business Organisation, University of Padua, Italy;
  5. Andreas Hamel, Associate Professor of Mathematical Methods for Economics, Free University of Bozen, Italy;
  6. Davide La Torre, Professor and Chair, Department of Mathematics, Nazarbayev University, Astana, Kazakhstan and Department of Economics, Management, and Quantitative Methods, University of Milan, Milan, Italy. Khalifa University, Abu Dhabi, UAE and Associate Professor of Mathematical Methods for Economics and Finance,University of Milan, Milan, Italy;
  7. Marco Mariotti, Professor of Economics, Queen Mary University of London, UK;
  8. Silvia Massini, Professor of Economics and Technology Management, University of Manchester, UK;
  9. Marco Papi, Associate Professor of Mathematical Methods for Economics, Campus Biomedico, Rome, Italy
  10. Nicolae Popovici, Associate Professor of Mathematics, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania;
  11. Davide Secchi, Associate Professor of Organizational Cognition, University of Southern Denmark, Slagelse, Denmark;
  12. Mehdi Toloo,  Associate Professor of Mathematics, Faculty of Economics, Technical University of Ostrava, Czech Republic
  13. Paola Tubaro, Reader in Economic Sociology, University of Greenwich, London, UK.

PhD Students:

  • PhD students of the XXXII Cycle (academic year 2016/2017):
    • Abreha Solomon Kibret
    • Alexandru Vlad-Andrei
    • Congiu Luca
    • Di Iasio Valentina
    • Seaux Julien
    • Vasiakina Mariia
  • PhD students of the XXXI Cycle (academic year 2015/2016):
    • Ekaterina Tkach
    • Mensah Emmanuel Kwasi
    • Daniele Grechi
    • Illyashenko Juliya
    • Khazaei Sepideh
    • Matteo Marini