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Thread: Princeton vs Chicago [Macro]

  1. #1
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    Princeton vs Chicago [Macro]

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    Hi everyone!

    I'm an international student and I have received admission to both program. I'm mainly interested in monetary economics, New Dynamic Public Finance and heterogeneous-agents Macro so it seems to be a choice between two luxury goods. However, if Chicago's reputation is somewhat frightening, I had the sentiment that the department is now on the rise with the arrival of Kaplan and Golosov (even if Princeton has replaced them well with Violante and Jarosch). Furthermore, in terms of placements both departments seem comparable.

    Am I missing something ?

    Thank you in advance!

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    Re: Princeton vs Chicago [Macro]

    I recently spoke to someone who knows about Chicago and they confirmed what I have heard regarding the inattention to students. I forget if I asked about attrition. My impression from the conversation was choose someplace else unless you are very independent.

    You should visit both if you can. I will be going to the visit day at Chicago so if you don't make it I can let you know what I learn.

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    Re: Princeton vs Chicago [Macro]

    This is a tough question, but my short answer is Princeton.

    Both departments are going through serious fluidity right now and hiring junior faculty aggressively. Let's do a bean count, focusing on your fields:

    Chicago you mentioned Golosov and Kaplan and, uh, that's kind of it. Add in Stokey for being reportedly a good adviser (with work in monetary) and obligatorily Shimer for Labor. The people you're looking for are actually in Chicago Booth: Vavra, Winberry, maybe Weber and Guerrieri (since you're interested in search theory too?)

    Princeton Brunnermeier and Sims in monetary, but unsure how approachable those two are. Het. macro you have Violante, Ben Moll, Arlene Wong (mostly), with Jarosch and Rogerson more in the macro-labor/search tradition.

    At this point I'm obligated to tell you your interests are very specific, doesn't really mesh well among each other (unless you're like Kaplan, Violante or Erik Hurst) and it is likely you'll move into a different field during your PhD. Hence it's nice to look at differences in the two departments' broader recruiting strategy.

    In my mind at least Booth macro has had a very productive hiring session a few years back, and by the time you're doing research you'll have a group of younger faculty who will mentor you after figuring out the publishing game, plus an assortment of seniors in both departments. I mention Booth macro specifically because apparently they are more cooperative with Chicago macro than, say, their respective micro groups.

    Princeton has seniors who are closer on the whole to your current interests, but the department is just now going through a heavy recruitment session, aggressively hiring juniors in macro and public finance. In comparison Chicago is not hunting that hard for new junior faculty, and when they do they tend to be on the micro/empirical side. The case for Princeton then is that not only do they have some established seniors in broader macro and public finance, but you'll also be part of a new wave of research in these fields given their new recruits (even if the new recruits won't advise anyone).

    You should take both visit days seriously and use my post as a starting point on which faculty you want to talk to during the visit day. Once you're there, you should be forthright about their current research agenda as well as their advising levels. Also talk broadly to the grad students and see if they've had smooth transitions going in (or out) of your current research interests.

    Many people would still kill for those options though, so hope you enjoy the process!

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    Re: Princeton vs Chicago [Macro]

    I believe Chicago is better for macro. Princeton's placements are good on average, but if you look at the macro guys, you'll see they are placed relatively poorly. As for Chicago's 'frightening' reputation, I spoke to my friend (2nd year at Chicago), she said that while you have to be independent, faculty are always ready to give a hand. Faculty just encourage you to be independent (which is definitely very important if you want to become a successful researcher), but 'inattention' is a huge exaggeration.

    Well, maybe she was biased, but, in my opinion, placement record should be a main criterion since it represents your future. Even if some rumors about Chicago are true, their placements are still better in comparison with Princeton's macro guys, so perhaps this 'bad' atmosphere at Chicago is not that bad (or it is compensated by some advantages).
    Last edited by Kazan; 03-16-2018 at 12:24 PM.

  5. #5
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    Re: Princeton vs Chicago [Macro]

    Between departments with 30+ faculty, who are independently hired for their research productivity and often move around between top departments, it's hard to explain how there could be systematic differences in advising culture. Chicago's reputation is probably a holdover from the years when they had less funding for new faculty and a disproportionate amount of old/retired professors. But both departments have hired or will be hiring junior faculty in your field.

    You should put less weight on those priors about advising culture, and more weight on whichever faculty member in your field you happen to gel with during the visit days, plus what you hear from current students about those faculty. And then other things like teaching load, past attrition rates, financial offer, etc.

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