View Full Version : UMass Amherst

07-27-2007, 04:01 PM
Does anyone know the specifics of their doctoral program? I know it is ranked incredibly low on Econphd.net (#228), but I have a feeling that the reason this ranking is so low is the fact that they are largely heterodox and publish in non-mainstream journals. I have "non-traditional" interests in economics. I don't really subscribe to orthodox methodology, and the courses they offer are very enticing for me. I am fairly confident that I would get in because my profile is solid, and I can most likely get a letter of recommendation from an alumn who is a full professor and from my advisor, who is very well known and has several connections with their department.

However, I am a bit worried that if I am able to get into a higher ranked program and choose to go there, that my employment options after graduation would be rather limited. My top choice would be teaching at an elite liberal arts college (Williams, Amherst, etc.). Second would be a private research university/flagship state school.

So I suppose my question would be, is it worth it to turn down fairly high ranked schools (top 25-50) to go to a school with a relatively low ranking because it better suits your research interests? I know I still have to get into all of the schools first, but this issue has really been bothering me as of late....

07-27-2007, 04:57 PM
In my opinion the best thing to do is to go to the best school possible that fits your interests. That is if you have a choice between top-25 and top-50 that both do what you want go to top-25. However, if your choice is between top-25 that doesn't do what you want and top-300 that fits your interests exactly I would go for top-300. The caveat is of course that your interests might change after 1-2 years and then you'll be stuck at a top-300 that doesn't fit your interests anymore. So if I were you I would make sure that I'm absolutely positive about what kind of research I want to do and then make my choice according to that. And if I reach the conclusion that I'm not 100% sure about my interests I would go to the highest ranking school I get in.

07-28-2007, 05:10 AM
I agree with kkitkat. The highest ranked grad school with financial aid is better. Incidentally, UMass Amherst is one of my main priorities for admission as my research interest is on Political Economy and Development econ. and Amherst is known to be really good on political economy. They probably have a separate research institute of sorts on political economy and development.

Amherst IS a heterodox department and i was also surprised to find it lowly ranked on the econphd rankings.
That said, dont worry about the rankings if you get in and decide to go to Amherst and if you know what you really want to do. But why go to Amherst if you get in at a top 30 school, right?

07-28-2007, 04:01 PM
don't worry about the rankings. everyone knows UMass Amherst. it has produced/fostered great economists like Samuel Bowles and Herb Gintis. the rankings are not designed for non-orthodox, non-mainstream departments. i assure you Amherst is MUCH better than the other schools with which it is ranked.

07-29-2007, 02:25 AM
If your goal is to teach at a LAC, rather than a top Ph.D.-granting institution, then UMASS-Amherst may be a good choice for you. And its ranking in the NRC survey was much higher (50ish) than in the econphd.net rankings.

Be aware, however, that the political environment there generally ranges from liberal to radical. If that doesn't describe you, you should ask yourself whether you'll be comfortable in that environment.

07-30-2007, 05:09 AM
I believe top LACs are conservative hirers, not likely to take someone straight out of UMass. The people on their committees aren't the most confident judges of research quality, so they'll place more emphasis on secondary indicators (where your degree is from, who says what about you).

Unless, of course, they have people in your field already on their staff.

But, look, what everyone keeps saying about heterodox interests: if at all possible, try to get a good traditional degree, so that you get the core skills and can engage this type of economics fully. Only then will you be credible. And likely enough, you'll find that the people at top departments have good reasons for working the way they do.

Being blunt: until you've spent some time in a PhD program, you really have no idea what you're talking about. You shouldn't make this kind of choice right now.