View Full Version : Columbia vs. UCSD

04-08-2012, 07:46 AM
I am still making the decision. Both schools are good, so it is not easy decision.
I want to do micro theory (but not hard core theory like pure game theory) and applied micro in my ph.d. studies. I am interested in studying matching stuff if I go to Columbia and behavioral/experimental econ if I go to UCSD. Job market performance at Columbia was bad for a long time but this year they did good and it seems Columbia is in its uptrend. For the UCSD, I heard that professors care their students a lot and very supportive. In addition, the environment is good and friendly. Most students there seem to be satisfied with their life. But I am a bit worried about its financial constraint.
What do you think? Any comments would be really helpful for me. Also, if there's anyone who visited admits day(I couldn't attent) please share the experience. Thanks!

04-08-2012, 03:11 PM
These two schools are quite comparable in micro theory. So you need to know what kind of research interests you more. Also it largely depends on what kinds of financial packages you receive from them. UCSD requires teaching in first year, which is a bit annoying. Concerning applied micro, I believe Columbia is better. I personally prefer Columbia because apart from its economic department, you can benefit a lot from the business school. UCSD's financial situation is always a problem and I remember they even lost some faculty to Columbia GSB several years ago. Not sure whether the California turmoil will end in the near future.

Golden Rule
04-08-2012, 03:56 PM
I had the same decision years ago. I thought UCSD & Columbia were both improving at the time. I was more confident that Columbia was improving, though it turns out both programs performed as well as I hoped. Columbia was also more appealing to me for personal reasons, though I've visited UCSD and it's a pretty nice place. I don't think you can go wrong. I have some familiarity with people who've been through both programs, so I'll comment briefly on both programs, specific to your interests.

Yeon-Koo Che at Columbia has the strongest interest in matching at Columbia, and he's taught a good field course in market design for several years now. I can only recall one student on the market so far who went on the market with a paper (http://www.chinasummerinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/GamingtheSchoolChoiceMechanism.pdf) on matching & school choice (and his was also empirical). He placed at Toulouse, and I think he could've done better if he were a native English speaker. Looking at micro theory as a whole at Columbia, the field hasn't had the same placement success as some other fields yet. One of the program's best 2010 candidates was in micro theory and had multiple top 10 flyouts, but he ended up at the top school in his home country (http://didattica.unibocconi.eu/myigier/index.php?IdUte=49859). In terms of other micro theory faculty, Kartik is a really well-regarded advisor, and pepper123 is right that Columbia GSB has some good micro theorists as well who are active in seminars. Columbia is planning on developing a new experimental lab, but that may be too far out to affect you.

Behavioral at UCSD is clearly strong, and I definitely thought it was an appealing option at the time. UCSD had a placement at Stanford in behavioral last year, who graduated in four years no less. He was exceptionally well prepared coming in, with an LSE MSc and a couple years of doing behavioral research at a regional Fed. So UCSD clearly adds value there, though I am cautioning you that you have to be really good already to end up going from UCSD to Stanford in four years ;). I also know UCSD had a good micro theorist on the market this year who worked with Sobel & Watson and placed at Syracuse this year.

Good luck with your decision.

04-08-2012, 11:15 PM
Since previous replies such a did a good job of talking about both of the actual schools themselves, so I am just going to briefly mention location factors which you may want to consider. Also, I wouldn't use the job market stats as a major factor in your decision as you are ultimately in control of that.

I couldn't think of more different places than San Diego and New York City. I am a native of the northern part of the state, and I have been to SD a few times + know a lot of people from there who moved north. SD is a surfer/beach city. Like LA, it doesn't have much of a downtown and the night-life there is limited, so don't expect to meet new people outside of the university as easily as you might in a big city setting like NY. The city is spread out into suburbs (again, like LA) each with its own idiosyncrasies. As for culture, think typical SoCal- bleach-blondes, surfers, flip-flops, longboards, great Mexican food/music etc. Weather is to die for if you love the sun. Temperatures in the mid-80s in January would not be shocking.

As for New York, there isn't much to say; it's New York. Its a business and culture hub of the country and the world. Its the home of some of the largest and most important global companies and governance institutions, in addition being the home to multiple top-tier academic institutions, (where in contrast the only large institutions in SD which I can think of are UCSD and Naval base). The big city setting can be highly stimulating and the I can only imagine that the range of different activities and people you might encounter will be exponentially larger in NY than in San Diego.

Academic considerations aside, I would definitely choose New York over San Diego, but that depends on what your goals are. Congratulations on your admissions and best of luck deciding.

04-10-2012, 01:04 AM
Thank you for your advice pepper123! I missed the point that Columbia GSB has great micro theory faculty. Columbia seems to have many advantages of big ivy-league school.

04-10-2012, 01:07 AM
Hello, Golden Rule! Thanks a lot for your detailed information. I didn't know that Stanford guy (UCSD) already had many experiences before his ph.d. studies. UCSD is very good but it seems that Columbia has more variety and dynamic environment.

04-10-2012, 01:12 AM
Hello, thewayup335! Yes, the location is also important. I though they are both good in different way. But your point is right, NYC seems more dynamic environment where I can meet many kinds of people (industry or so...) Thank you a lot for your comment :) I feel like now I am leaning towards Columbia.