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Thread: UBC vs. UCSB

  1. #1
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    UBC vs. UCSB

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    I have offers from UBC and UC Santa Barbara for the economics PhD. The funding offer is the same from each school. My interest is in environmental economics, especially the intersection with development econ.

    I don't know much about UCSB, so I am having a tough time weighing the options. From what I read, it is strong in environmental econ -- most of the job market candidates list it as a primary or secondary field, and there is a collaboration between the econ and environmental science department. This makes me feel that I would get a lot of faculty support and guidance in this area. On the other hand, the placements are pretty weak - mostly at state schools or consulting companies.

    With UBC, they have less of a structured focus on environmental econ, and only 1 or 2 profs are experts in the area. However, the overall department quality is quite high. I know some professors, and they are very helpful and willing to invest a lot in your academic progress. The placements are stronger -- either decent Canadian universities or mid-tier american schools. Downside is that cost of living is VERY high.

    I'm wondering if anyone with more insight about UCSB could suggest more info about pros vs cons?

  2. #2
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    Re: UBC vs. UCSB

    Congratulations on the offers. From everything I've ever seen/asked people have been telling me to pick the stronger department overall because who knows what the next five years will bring. UBC is definitely the stronger department. Is the cost of living that much higher in Vancouver than in Santa Barbara? I genuinely don't know, figured it would be comparable to Seattle (which is high, but so is Santa Barbara). The environmental connection at UCSB seems cool though.

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    Re: UBC vs. UCSB

    UCSB definitely has a high cost of living. I would argue that it's more costly to live in Santa Barbara than Vancouver, all else equal. In my opinion, UBC is stronger in economic structural methods which, to me, has a higher pedagogical value. However, UCSB is considered a top 5 environmental economics program by many. It is also part of the UC system which means that you'll be exposed to a lot of students from the other UC schools like UCSD, UCLA, and Berkeley. Think human capital spillovers! Either way though, I don't think that you can go wrong.

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