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Thread: UT Knoxville (Haslam) vs. Cincinnati (Lindner) vs. Binghamton

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    UT Knoxville (Haslam) vs. Cincinnati (Lindner) vs. Binghamton

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    Hi guys,

    I have been a lurker here and benefited a lot from this forum's discussions. This is my first post here. I have been accepted to a handful of PhD programs, been (as expected) rejected at most places, and am waiting to hear back from a few others (very long shots though). These past few days I have started weighing my offers so there would be less hassle before the April 15 deadline, I hope. I have narrowed my choices down to these three programs:

    1. University of Tennessee Knoxville - PhD in Economics (within the school of business)

    Total amount: $18K, including insurance. Possible to earn extra $4K in summer funding

    2. University of Cincinnati - PhD in Business Administration with concentration in Economics (within the school of business)

    Total amount: $23K in TA-ship, etc, assuming 6-hour enrollment and serving as graduate assistant during the summer. Possible for reduced health insurance.

    3. Binghamton University (SUNY) - PhD in Economics

    Total amount: $17K in teaching assistantship. No insurance coverage

    The details of the offers are copy-pasted in the end (I struggled with the forum's uploading utility.)

    I am having a really hard time deciding which offer to accept, since each program has pros and cons, and all things considered, these offers are equivalent to me. So I really would like to garner insights from this forum's members to make the best decision.

    Some information about me: international student residing in the US; taken various PhD courses in a top 40 program with average grades; no work experience; research interests are applied econometrics (particularly development, urban, education and health); wanting to become an assistant professor at a PhD-granting research university after finishing the program or securing a post-doc position.

    Any input is appreciated, though I would particularly welcome comments on specific aspects of the program/city, including:

    Training in theory, econometrics, and topics courses; difficulty of the prelims
    Placement; opportunities for tenure-track positions
    Overall reputation of the department (I usually rely on US News, but unfortunately all of these programs are unranked there. Is there any other credible ranking?)
    Cost of living (taking into account associated fees and insurance costs). Any information on apartment prices would be really helpful. I do not mind sharing a room with one or two other graduate or undergraduate students.
    Safety/vibrancy/coldness of the city (I have lived five years in cold weathers, so I definitely prefer warmer places).

    I do not have the means (a.k.a. money) to visit Tennessee and Binghamton, despite the partial travel reimbursement at Tennessee. I have visited Cincinnati during the application process and quite liked the city.

    I would also like to ask a few specific questions:

    1. Could you guys recommend a complementary degree/minor that I could feasibly do during the course of my PhD program to improve my placement outcomes?

    2. I was actually also accepted to PhD programs in Higher Education at Rochester and Pittsburgh, and Research Methodology at Florida. Would it be worth attending those programs? Is there a chance to secure an Assistant Professor job in an Economics/Applied Economics department? I assume it is nearly impossible, but I want to hear your opinions.

    Again, any input is highly appreciated. Thank you all for reading.

    P.S.:

    Here are the offer details:

    1. Tennessee:

    We are pleased to offer you Fall 2017 admission to the PhD program in the Department of
    Economics at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Given your strong academic record and
    clear potential, we are further delighted to offer you an academic-year assistantship. The
    assistantship carries with it a stipend, which will be in the amount of $15,000 for the upcoming
    2017-2018 academic year. The assistantship carries a waiver of tuition and maintenance fees, and
    provides student health insurance.

    In addition to the assistantship, we have selected you to receive a J. Fred and Wilma Holly
    Graduate Fellowship. This fellowship is in the amount of $3,000 per year.
    The assistantship assignment will be to work half time during the academic year. Most first-year
    students serve as teaching assistants, although there are exceptions. More advanced students are
    given the opportunity to teach their own course or are employed as research assistants. No service
    is required during the summer term. However, summer employment is often available. For
    example, several students each year are given the opportunity to teach a course during a summer
    term, for which the compensation is currently $4,750. Appointments and tuition waivers begin on
    August 1 and end the following July 31. The first required course in the program, a course in
    mathematical economics, is scheduled to begin on August 1.

    All scholarships, fellowships and assistantships are renewable for a total of five years of funding.
    This funding is subject to conditions outlined in our Graduate Programs Handbook, compliance
    with the Standards of Conduct in Hilltopics (the official UT handbook for all students) and
    provisions dealing with students’ rights and responsibilities found in the UT Graduate Catalog.
    Links to all of these documents can be found at Graduate Programs | The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
    Please be aware the certain fees are not covered by the tuition and maintenance fee waiver, and
    remain your responsibility. For full-time students these fees for the next academic year are $711
    per semester (In-State) or $826 per semester (Out-of-State). Please know that it is common at other
    universities for funded students to be responsible for certain fees, and we encourage you to
    consider this, along with cost-of-living differences, when comparing our financial offer.

    We are enthusiastic about having you join our graduate program. We, in return, believe that our
    department has a lot to offer you. The Department of Economics is one of six departments within
    the Haslam College of Business. The faculty have expertise in a wide range of fields and place a
    high value on diversity and collegiality. The department has strong ties to the Boyd Center for
    Business and Economic Research and the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy. The
    faculty are active in publishing peer-reviewed research and many are editors, past editors, or
    editorial board members of leading journals.

    2. Cincinnati:

    Letter 1: It is my pleasure to inform you that you have been admitted into the UC’s PhD in Business Administration
    program with a concentration in Economics, effective Fall semester 2017. This offer of admission is
    accompanied by two award offers, a Graduate Assistant Scholarship (GAS) and a University Graduate
    Assistantship (UGA) appointment, which carries a stipend. Attached are offer letters for each award. In order to
    accept or decline admission and all financial support offers, you will need to sign and return all three (3) letters.
    Please note that the combined total worth of both of your award offers is $55,557 ($32,307 for out-of-state
    tuition and $23,250 graduate assistantship award). Your GAS offer letter further details the percentage of
    tuition and fees covered or not covered by the Scholarship award. Your assistantship letter details the manner
    in which your stipend will be paid.

    International students must document financial support for all years of study to be issued a “Certificate of
    Eligibility” (Form I-20 or DS-2019) for a student visa. The amount of support you must document annually is
    $44.915. The combined total worth of both your University Graduate Assistant Scholarship (GAS) and your
    Graduate Assistantship (UGA) stipend can be counted as a source of financial support in the Financial
    Certification Document as funds from the University of Cincinnati.

    Letter 2: We are pleased to offer you a Graduate Assistant Scholarship (GAS) to support your studies in pursuit of the
    PhD in Business Administration program with a concentration in Economics in the Lindner College of
    Business. The Graduate Assistant Scholarship (GAS) will cover 100% of full in-state/out-of-state tuition as well as
    general and campus life fees for the 2017-18 academic year; it does not cover the Information Technology and
    Instructional Equipment (ITIE) Fee (currently $184/per semester) or Student Health Insurance (currently
    $1,140).


    Note that in order to retain this award, you must maintain good academic standing (including a minimum 3.0
    cumulative GPA) and honorable student conduct/academic integrity in accordance with university and college
    policies, as well as register for a minimum of 12 graduate credit hours..

    Letter 3: We are pleased to offer you a University Graduate Assistantship (UGA) appointment in the Economics
    Department to support your studies in pursuit of the PhD in Business Administration degree with a
    concentration in Economics in the Lindner College of Business. The appointment period is for the Fall and
    Spring semesters (8/21/17 through 4/26/18). You may also accept a position as a graduate assistant for the
    summer semester of 2018. This appointment stipend is offered in addition to your tuition award, and service is
    required to maintain the appointment. The total worth of your stipend for the assistantship is $15,500 (or
    $23,250 if you choose summer funding as well. This equates $7,750 per semester). The award will be
    paid to you in bi-weekly increments in the amount of $861.11 in the Fall and Spring semesters (Summer is
    optional).

    Your assistantship duties will be specified by Dr. Debashis Pal, Head of the Economics department and require
    that you spend approximately 20 hours per week in service to the department. Please keep in mind that your
    work hours are never allowed to exceed the 20 hour per week limit when school is in session, and in order to
    comply our department will never demand additional work hours of you. In addition, we will work with you to
    determine a schedule that allows you to meet your academic responsibilities as a graduate student. This is a
    part-time student appointment that provides no formal sick leave, vacation time or retirement benefit.
    Assuming good progress with your academic program, and satisfactory completion of your assistantship
    duties, your assistantship award will be for four years.

    In accepting and to retain your assistantship, you are required to carry a full-time academic load (minimum of
    12 credit hours for fall and spring semester, and for summer 6 credit hours) for the duration of the assistantship
    and scholarship, and to maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 as well as maintain academic integrity.
    Your assistantship will require that you be assigned to assist in the teaching, research and service
    responsibilities of the College. If you accept a summer graduate assistantship, you will be assigned teaching
    and/or research duties during summer semester, and will be expected to continue your graduate program
    through seminars, individual study or research projects. It is our goal that both assistantships contribute in a
    meaningful way to your education and to the College.

    3. Binghamton:

    Congratulations on your admission to Binghamton University. The department of Economics is pleased to offer
    you a Teaching Assistantship for the 2017-2018 academic year! You have been carefully chosen for this
    competitive position based on your high academic merit and individual strengths. This assistantship includes a
    stipend in the amount of $17,000, as well as a tuition scholarship for the academic year.
    Up to $22,210 of your out-of-state tuition costs for eligible graduate courses will be covered by the tuition
    scholarship. Tuition scholarships do not cover mandatory student fees, which you will be responsible for paying
    prior to the beginning of each semester. To learn more about the conditions governing these awards, please read
    the enclosed “Terms and Conditions” documents.
    Your assistantship position implies that you will perform some research, teaching, or administrative service for
    the University. Graduate student employees on a full assistantship are generally expected to provide 20 hours of
    service per week. Employees in this bargaining unit are engaged in professional activities of such a nature that the
    output produced or the result accomplished often cannot be precisely measured in relation to a given period of
    time. It is therefore anticipated that there will be fluctuations above and below these general expectations.
    GA/TAs are expected to divide their time between their assistantship duties and the pursuit of a graduate degree.
    Any additional work assignment by any full-time (20 hour) GA/TA is generally prohibited and would require
    exceptional circumstances and explicit approval from the Graduate School prior to the commencement of
    performing any duties. You may review the Student Employment Policies here:
    http://www.binghamton.edu/operations/policies/personnel-and-payroll/student-employment.html
    Specific information regarding the duties of your assignment will be provided by the graduate program director of
    your department or hiring unit. For the purposes of collective negotiations, this assistantship position is
    represented by the Graduate Student Employees Union (GSEU)/Communications Workers of America, Local
    1104 and is eligible for health insurance benefits and reduced parking rates.
    Classes begin on August 23, 2017. Your assistantship appointment is expected to extend from August 22, 2017
    through May 18, 2018. If you accept this assistantship offer, you will be expected to attend orientation activities
    the week prior to the start of classes (details announced in early summer via email and at
    www.binghamton.edu/grad-school/orientation )
    Payroll information: Provided you have completed all paperwork including the federally required I-9 on time, the
    following is the payroll schedule and when you may expect a check. (Please note, the state runs on a two week
    lag payroll).
    Academic Year appointments start on 8/22/2017 and end on 05/18/2018 which equates to 19.4 pay periods. This
    means your first check will be issued on 9/6/2017 for 2 days’ pay. Your last check will be issued on 6/13/2018 for
    2 days’ pay.
    International students in F-1 or J-1 status are required to be covered by health insurance. Health insurance
    enrollment in the GSEU plan is mandatory for all students. An enrollment form must be completed and returned
    to the Human Resources Office. For details about benefits (including the health insurance plan and enrollment
    forms), please go to the Graduate and Teaching Assistant (GA/TA) section of the Office of Human Resources
    website at Binghamton University - Human Resources: Employee Benefits: gseu

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    Re: UT Knoxville (Haslam) vs. Cincinnati (Lindner) vs. Binghamton

    I am an undergrad at UT right now and I love Knoxville. Knoxville is really affordable! You can find apartments for about 4/500 dollars that are in a good area and pretty large. I always think of the Heights when I think about affordable living in Knoxville. It is about a 5 minute drive to campus. Also if you wanted to live in walking distance it would be really easy to find something close to campus. It would probably cost around 600/700 for a nicer apartment near campus. There are some that are really cheap, but I would not really recommend living in some of them. Typically if you are looking in the fort I would say that staying closer to Cumberland is better/safer/nicer. Also there are a lot of great restaurants in Knoxville! You can make 18-22K work in Knoxville while having plenty of money to go out to eat and go to concerts and bars.

    The weather in Knoxville is pretty great. We usually get about one snow day a year and it is because we get like 3 inches of snow. Most of the winter is above freezing. Also during the spring and fall you will want to spend all of your time outside. We are close to some great places to hike and explore. The summer can get a bit hot.

    Also the faculty are great! They are always willing to take time out of their day to talk to me about applying to grad school, so I would imagine that they would be even more willing to help their graduate students. Also I know that we have a lot of people who do research on education, econometrics, and health. There is also the Boyd Center for Economic Research and the Baker Center for Public Policy that do a lot of economic research that grad students help with. Also the placements at UT have been going up over the past few years.

    I would be happy to answer any other questions you have about UT!

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    Re: UT Knoxville (Haslam) vs. Cincinnati (Lindner) vs. Binghamton

    Thank you a lot for the detailed information, cgore! I just received a reply directly from the Graduate Director. It's nice to hear insights from a current student. I appreciate your enthusiasm!

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    Re: UT Knoxville (Haslam) vs. Cincinnati (Lindner) vs. Binghamton

    Congratulations! Vote for the second one. Business schools's offer is much more competitive and valuable than an offer from economic department nowadays. Ph.D students in economics are much more difficult than business school's graduates to find a good job, both in industry and academic world. And I think you don't need to worry about funding issues if you get enrolled into Cincinnati, Lindner seems to be very generous in offering you the money. And the cost of living in these 3 places are similar. As for the weather, I think Cincinnati is ok, neither too cold nor too warm, the 4 seasons are clearly differentiated. Good luck

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