Hi all

I am an undergrad (engineering + eco) from India with 2 years work experience in the risk side of a European bank. I recently applied for master's in economics so as to follow it up with a PhD (preferably in development econ, but still flexible). From general opinion, the best PhD options are in US and that is what I'm aiming for.

Now, I have been admitted to two programs:
1. International Trade, Finance & Development at BGSE (with 25% fee waiver) - 1 year
2. MA Economics at Duke University (no scholarship) - 2 years

Since I want to do a PhD and my undergrad math grades aren't exactly stellar, my main concerns are two-fold: improve mathematical abilities & obtain better recommendations. In the current scenario, the faculty & placements from both the places seem similar (top 5 of the class in top-25 PhD), however there is a gargantuan difference in the cost of the two programs. Comparing this with the difference in ranking (Duke~20, BGSE~35), and the fact that one is in Europe and the other in US, it seems quite a confusing option.

So, if anyone can provide some advice/opinions for the two programs, I'd be extremely thankful.