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Innovative Approach: Master’s Programme Prepares Managers for a Changing World

Innovative Approach: Master’s Programme Prepares Managers for a Changing World

The digital era, which has come to stay, is creating demand for ever more competent managers for innovation and R&D. The English-taught master’s programme in Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation offered by HSE University enables its graduates to pursue careers in top IT corporations such as Google and Yandex, research institutions and universities, government agencies and international organizations. It also prepares them to launch successful start-ups.

English Language, Partner Universities, and Two Degrees

The master’s programme in Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation was created in 2014 at one of HSE’s biggest research departments – the Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge (ISSEK).

Most of its teachers are active researchers or have a professional background in science, technology, and innovation (STI) management. For example, Igor Agamirzian, former CEO of the Russian Venture Company, delivers lectures in the programme, and Nicholas Vonortas, Professor from George Washington University (USA), teaches a course on strategic partnership in STI.

During his talk at a recent Open House Day, Leonid Gokhberg, First Vice Rector of HSE and Director of ISSEK, emphasized that the programme’s courses are updated regularly. Practicing professionals are closely involved in the process in order to ensure that courses cover the latest trends in STI policies and changing global challenges.

In addition, science diplomacy is an integral part of the curriculum, according to Professor Alexander Sokolov, Director of International Research and Educational Foresight Centre and one of the programme instructors.

All the courses are taught entirely in English. About 30% of those enrolling in the programme each year are international students. Prospective students who are not native English speakers confirm their English proficiency with TOEFL (90 and more), IELTS (6.5 and more), CAE and CPE certificates, submitted together with a motivation letter and a CV.

The programme is relatively new, and an HSE master’s degree in STI governance is still quite rare. From the first graduating cohort (in 2016) until last year, only 136 people have been awarded the degree. Many students have taken the opportunity to supplement it with a degree from one of the programme’s partner universities. As of today, double-degree agreements have been signed with Seoul National University (Republic of Korea), Maastricht University (the Netherlands), TU Berlin (Germany), and the Polytechnic University of Turin (Italy).

Gero Parzefall, a 2018 graduate of the programme, spoke at the Open Day about the specifics of getting a double degree—from HSE University and TU Berlin (the recording of the Open House Day is available on youtube).

The list of partner universities is expanding each year. The programme also offers joint courses with several other universities, and the master’s thesis can be prepared under joint supervision by both a Russian and an international scholar.

Apart from instruction in English, a common topic across all of the programme’s courses is resource distribution. Professor Nicholas Vonortas advises future students to take several courses in economics before beginning the programme. At the same time, he noted that two of the programme’s top five students had graduated in philosophy, and the group of students that struggled the most were engineers because they hadn’t been taught to write good texts. At the beginning of the programme, all students take bridging courses that help them dive into the topic quickly or refresh their knowledge.

After all, according to Konstantin Fursov, Deputy Director of ISSEK Centre for Statistics and Monitoring of S&T and Innovation, who was chosen by students as the programme’s Best Teacher (2016-2018), ‘your background doesn’t matter if you are interested in innovation and are ready to work hard.’

The classes mostly take place in the evening and master’s students work on a lot of written assignments and projects. Motivated students participate in ISSEK’s projects as part of paid internships, which may provide a good start for future careers. To make use of the studies to the fullest, the programme’s academic supervisor Dirk Meissner recommends refraining from working full-time.

Springboard for Successful Career

A survey of 85 programme graduates conducted in April showed that the degree is in high demand and that almost all respondents are successfully employed


of graduates work in private companies


of graduates work in academia


of graduates work in non-profit organizations


people have chosen freelance employment

Half of the graduates are mid-level managers, over 20% are senior managers, and five respondents are executive leaders

The survey, conducted by ISSEK researchers Valeria Vlasova and Ekaterina Streltsova, demonstrates that the share of graduates taking higher positions is growing every year. An overwhelming majority earn salaries higher than the national average (95%), and their median salary is 4.5 times that of the country’s average.

A considerable percentage (39%) of graduates work in IT, consulting, and finance. The range or career opportunities is seen in graduates’ ‘employment geography’. In Russia, they work at SkolTech, Rosatom, VTB, Sberbank, MTS, and Russian Venture Company, as well as in offices of international companies and organizations, such as Accenture, the World Bank, Microsoft, and Google. 25% of those surveyed have found job offers in 12 countries, with half of them choosing Germany, France, and the United States.

Dmitry Plekhanov, a 2017 graduate, came to the programme with a degree in Asian Studies, and after receiving the master’s degree, secured a job at the head office of OECD in Paris, where he led a project in digital STI policy over three years. Today, he is studying the strategies of digital transformation in business in a doctoral programme at ETH Zurich.

In addition to Dmitry, three other programme graduates have chosen to pursue academic careers. They are working on their PhDs at Curie Institute in France and at HSE University.

  • Almost half (46%) of the survey participants emphasized the programme’s contribution to their career growth and the demand for knowledge they receive;
  • 61% said that their current job completely or partly correlates with the programme’s specialization.
  • 77% have been generally satisfied with the level of learning and the structure of the curriculum,
  • 76% are willing to recommend the programme to others.

Ekaterina Shor graduated from a bachelor’s programme at the HSE Faculty of Communications, Media and Design, which was followed by a master’s degree from ISSEK. She pursued a career in digital marketing and IT, working as a senior customer manager at Yandex. What Ekaterina values most about the programme is a strong combination of courses in various fields, and professional networking. According to the survey, 59% of graduates are willing to stay in touch with the programme and participate in its development.

Student Experience

Steven Viquez studied advertisement and marketing in Costa Rica before enrolling in Master’s programme in Governance of Science, Technology, and Innovation. He used to live in Beijing where his close friends from Russia told him about HSE University and its degree programmes. He was able to qualify for a Russian Government scholarship to study in HSE’s International Preparatory Programme, which he really enjoyed.  ‘Learning Russian from zero was an exciting challenge,’ he comments.

Now in the Master’s programme, Steven enjoys learning about new business models and the importance of innovation in today's market. ‘The master's degree is quite challenging, the workload of this programme is greater than other master's degrees I've heard about. So far everything is good.  I got involved with different groups where I have had the pleasure of meeting amazing people.'

I already had several opportunities to apply the new knowledge obtained during our classes—in my job for a technology company.’ 

More details on the research of career tracks of the programme graduates are in the presentation. Details on admissions are published on the official website. The application deadline for international students is August 14, 2020.

If you have any questions on admissions or career trajectories in the current environment, you are welcome to discuss them at monthly consultations with the programme office. The next one, with academic supervisor Dirk Meissner and manager Dzhamilya Abuzyarova, will take place on June 16.

See the programme presentation