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I just posted this somewhere else and thought it could use the info here as well. A short response to the above would be that this can in a lot of ways be better than a stats MA, just because of the program's flexibility. That said, you need to be really savvy about tailoring it to your needs to fill out your CV for Ph.D. apps - taking real analysis, metrics, etc. Ok here's my old post:
I remember Googling forums when I was deciding on whether or not to apply for this program (Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences at Columbia) a while back, and found there wasn't any specific advice for how to navigate this masters for people interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in Economics. Now that I've gone through it, I thought I'd take a bit of time to give people a head-start on the program, since it took me about a year to figure this all out.
I'm putting a lot of detail below, but the gist of all this is this program can work very well as prep for Ph.D., but only if you are very proactive from the start. In that respect, I wonder if it's better to similar masters programs in Economics, just because with this one, if you navigate it well, you can have access to the Ph.D. level coursework in ways many other Econ Masters programs won't let you (this is what I understand is the case with NYU's Masters, though I could be wrong).
Anyway here goes:
1. The people who run QMSS have the least amount of contacts in the Economics department here. They have great contacts specifically in Education research, and also do well in terms of psychology, sociology and political science. Economics is the emphasis for which they can provide the least support and guidance, so if you decide to go here for this and are serious about pursuing a Ph.D. afterward you will need to be very self-directed and proactive about it. This can be a great way to prep for a Ph.D., particularly for those wanting to bolster their resume because they feel their undergraduate credentials aren't good enough to get into a top-tier school. But it won't be handed to you.
2. The course spans a year, if you do it full-time, and you will find it pretty rushed to do it in just a year. Most people end up staying on for at least an extra semester to take more courses and gain more contact with faculty here. This of course means spending more $$ on coursework, so keep it in mind when planning - there is a very good chance if you are doing economics you will find a year to be too rushed.
3. To get in touch with faculty, you can do what they will advise you to do - just take the 4000-level econ courses, which are basically "high-level undergraduate" or "masters level" (a lot of SIPA Masters students take these as well). These are fine, and many are quite good, and you can get in touch with faculty here and there that way. But I would encourage you to take Ph.D. level courses to the extent you're ready for them. To do this, you have to take a math test administered the summer before each academic year (again, why it's good to know this before going in, rather than a year into the program). They used to not be as insistent on your having to take the test to get into the Ph.D. level, but this past year they have made it basically a mandate. The test isn't that bad; if you get in to the program, ask the QMSS director if he can put you in touch with someone in the program who has taken it before (just ask them if they have any students who have taken Ph.D.-level econ courses; they should know), and then ask them what you should do to study for the test. It's really not that bad - all you have to do is pass, not get an A, but not taking the test often keeps a lot of QMSS students from taking these higher level classes, and thus keeps them from getting better coursework and contact with faculty.
4. You'll need to work to find your own adviser in the Econ department. As economics is highly technical and very different from other social sciences (e.g., sociology), the people who run QMSS will just not have the knowledge base to guide you on your thesis work, and like I said above, their connections in the econ department are the weakest, so they will often have trouble even advising you as to who would be an appropriate fit. The best way to get in touch, assuming your quantitative skills are already good enough (you know Stata, MATLAB, etc.) is to:
5a. be an RA (research assistant) as much as possible. This is a big part of why people decide to do what I mentioned in #2 (stay on longer) - if you don't have these skills quite yet, the way the QMSS program is set up, you will only learn these at the end of the program (!!) which means you're stuck without any RA work if you just do the full year. Once you are admitted, if you already have these skills and feel very confident about your qualifications to be an RA before starting, you can email your CV to the Economics Department Chair and ask him if he could distribute your CV to faculty. If you would prefer not to do it that way, you can go onto the Economics Department website and look at individual faculty members to see what their research interests are, and email them directly asking if they need any RA work. Point out that QMSS has a "fellowship" type thing (I forget what it's called exactly), basically where QMSS will pay you hourly (not a lot of $$) for you to do RA work for a faculty member- this makes it really appealing to professors, since then they don't have to figure out how to allocate funds to pay you, they can just have you start working for them. You probably shouldn't try to go for the "rock stars" (Stiglitz, etc.) as they're basically rarely here and not really the core of the research side of the department here - most all the faculty at Columbia are great, so just go through and see what research interest overlap exists.
5b. Just to wrap it around to point 4 - being an RA (maybe even with several faculty members) is the best way to guarantee you're going to have a good relationship with a professor, get them on board with being your adviser, and be able to get really good recommendation letters for Ph.D. apps. If you're in a class with teachers, especially the undergraduate classes, many of the econ professors here actually don't really enjoy teaching undergraduate level since it's so far below the level they engage in in their research and Ph.D. teaching, so if you just rely on going into the QMSS program, taking the courses at the level QMSS tells you to (4000), and think you'll be coming out with good rec letters, you're going to have a really hard time by the end of it. Taking Ph.D. courses and being an RA is the way to make this masters work for you in the way you want it.
6. A specific note: there are two required QMSS courses (apart from the seminars); the first one is sort of general approaches to social research (1st semester) and the second one is actual "quantitative methods" (Stata, etc.). DO NOT TAKE THIS SECOND COURSE.*** Everyone learned this the hard way, finding out that (a) the course is terrible (though it's probably better now that they have a new teacher), and (b) YOU DON'T ACTUALLY HAVE TO TAKE IT, only after the class is finished. Talk to the people who run QMSS, but generally you can take a similar quantitative methods course and have it count - I would suggest Advanced Econometrics (4000-level), but you may be able to take the basic Econometrics (3000-level) course and have it count. The basic econometrics class uses the Stock & Watson textbook which is quite clear, and the 4000-level one uses the Hayashi textbook, which is basically the standard for graduate level economics. Both of these courses, or any other course you could take (stuff in the Stats department for example), are going to be way preferable to the Quantitative Methods second-semester course - this will save you a huge headache going in, and the other course you take will look better on your transcript anyway. A last note about why this is important is, you can actually take this course in the first semester, which is especially important for people coming in who lack the quantitative skills to do RA work coming in - then you can do RA work starting in the second semester, rather than after.
That's about all that comes into my head at the moment. I hope this shows up on Google searches for people interested; I definitely could have used this info coming into the program.