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Thread: Frankfurt Ph.D. vs. Barcelona GSE MSc

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    Frankfurt Ph.D. vs. Barcelona GSE MSc

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    Hi all,

    I got admission from Frankfurt as Ph.D. track and MSc in Economics in Barcelona GSE.
    In general, my final goal is to pursue a Ph.D. in North America, particularly the US.

    I wouldn't complete the Ph.D. in Frankfurt. Instead, I tend to study for two years and have a thesis and get a master degree.
    This is the advantage. The study in Frankfurt helps you have more time to prepare for the application for Ph.D.
    But I'm not sure if this is common for people in Frankfurt to apply for outside Ph.D.
    I'm not sure the placement record for Frankfurt.
    Plus, they are not that matched with my research interests, to say, economic history, development, and applied micro.

    The advantage for Barcelona GSE is clear.
    But the disadvantage is also clear that it only has one year. I must find a place to stay after the year.
    I plan to apply for RAship or MPhil or MRes with funding.
    How would you say about the plan?

    Please give me some advice. I will be very grateful.

    Rosa

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    Re: Frankfurt Ph.D. vs. Barcelona GSE MSc

    Hi there,

    Well, actually there is a Professor in Darmstadt (one of the three partner universities in the GSEFM, the structured programme in Frankfurt) who speciliases in Economic History, his name is Caspari. His class also gets a fair bit of guest lecturer from good universities (Friedman from Harvard in 2015, and James from Princeton this year).

    As for development and applied micro, there are professors working on this both in Frankfurt and Mainz (the third partner university in the GSEFM).

    The placement record, to be honest, varies enormously. Some (few) students place extremely well, as their webdiste likes to boast, but the vast majority places average, or even goes to the private sector (not that I am denigrating the private sector, but just to say not everyone goes to the IMF or Harvard).

    It is definitely not common place in Frankfurt to go for the MSQ and then apply for a different PhD and since I have never heard of anyone doing it, I can't tell you how professors will react. Although I am fairly sure Professor Binder (the head and founder of the GSEFM) will not be happy and probably should not be your go-to for an LOR later on. I think Barcelona's master is more accustomed to that, but as you say it is only 1 year, meaning you kinda have a year in between where you re not in the programme, but you re not in a PhD either.

    Since Frankfurt's master will probably never have been heard of in North America, you ll probably need to get a 1.0 to 1.3 for it (thats the top 2 possible grades in Germany), which is very difficult, although achievable if you work very very hard at it.

    On the plus side, if you re not interested in the PhD in Frankfurt, then you dont have to care about prelims, and need only focus on the midterms and finals for each semester. Which means you would actually have holidays in August/September, unlike the rest of your cohort

    Again, however, I dont know how professors will react to someone wanting just the Master and wishing to pursue a PhD elsewhere, since this is most definitely not the norm.
    Attending: Frankfurt GSEFM
    Admitted: Frankfurt GSEFM ($$), EUR ($$), Barcelona GSE (MSc)
    Interview: Munich GSE (declined)
    Rejected: sooo many places- Bonn, Manheim, Caltech, NYU Stern, Chicago, BU, UCSD, UT Austin, Virginia, UCSB, USC, GMU

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    Re: Frankfurt Ph.D. vs. Barcelona GSE MSc

    Letters are one of the most important factors in admission decisions. If a program admits you to the PhD (and thereby invests in you) and then finds out you only wanted to the coursework in the first place and apply elsewhere, good luck getting those letters...

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    Re: Frankfurt Ph.D. vs. Barcelona GSE MSc

    Your post is well thought out! I'm grateful for that. I finally decided to attend the Barcelona GSE for one year. After one year, I hope I can do RAship in Europe or America. Then apply for a Ph.D. another year. Since I think my undergraduate knowledge is relatively weak, I'm surprised that Frankfurt granted me Ph.D. place.
    I hope at that time I can still have opportunities at Frankfurt. Thanks a lot!

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    Re: Frankfurt Ph.D. vs. Barcelona GSE MSc

    Quote Originally Posted by davidschindler View Post
    Letters are one of the most important factors in admission decisions. If a program admits you to the PhD (and thereby invests in you) and then finds out you only wanted to the coursework in the first place and apply elsewhere, good luck getting those letters...
    Thank you for this direct consideration! I think one year MSc can be a bridge between MPhil, Ph.D., or MRes, so I decided to Barcelona GSE and I hope this can make me more well-prepared for the later pursuit.
    Thanks a lot!

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    Re: Frankfurt Ph.D. vs. Barcelona GSE MSc

    Quote Originally Posted by RosaZeng View Post
    Thank you for this direct consideration! I think one year MSc can be a bridge between MPhil, Ph.D., or MRes, so I decided to Barcelona GSE and I hope this can make me more well-prepared for the later pursuit.
    Thanks a lot!
    Not sure if you're aware of this or not, but you should opt to take the Advanced variants of Micro, Macro & Metrics. Contingent on you doing well for them, they'll send a much stronger signal of ability.

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    Re: Frankfurt Ph.D. vs. Barcelona GSE MSc

    To me it seems that you are making a mistake. It is true that the Barcelona GSE placed people in North America. However, it does not harm to look up who those people actually are.

    People who are placed in top 20 US are predominantly (not all, but most of them) local students from Barcelona who completed their undergraduate studies at UPF already. These people tend to use the Master's program in order to take the time to apply for the PhD programs. (PhD applications in North America are - as you probably know - really time-intensive.) Because of the timing, they usually just show the grades from the undergrad and the grades in the Master do not play any role. So it is in practice the undergrad from UPF and the contacts they made there that get them in.

    In practice, a high number of students from the Barcelona GSE continue with their PhDs at the local programs, e.g. UPF. If you have no previous connections to UPF and no other pedigree from a top institution elsewhere, maybe if you are among the top 5 students at the Barcelona GSE you have a shot at the top 10-20 in the US, otherwise probably not!
    Think well about whether it is worth it. Students tend not to be happy with the organization/management of the Barcelona GSE master program.

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