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View Full Version : LSE MSc Econ (Research) vs. Oxford MSC Econ for Development



EconKraut
02-13-2008, 12:09 PM
Hey guys,
I got accepted to the 1 year MSc (Research) at LSE as well as the 1 year MSc in Economics for Development at Oxford. Where should I go? I want to apply to Top 30 programs in the US afterwards.

As I see it for now both schools have advantages:
LSE: + overall better ranking/reputation
+ more rigorous core classes
Oxford: + I want to specialize in development economics
+ more personal (+ great econ staff... Collier,...)

Do you agree? And what do you guy think counts more meaning: which track gives me better chances for my subsequent PhD application?
Any idea which program offers me better chances to improve my math background?

Thanks - any advice appreciated!!!

Karina 07
02-13-2008, 06:03 PM
Offhand I'd say the LSE course would help you in your applications more later because it does have a higher ranking. However, this would only hold if you really stood out there compared to the people around you, and you might have an easier time doing that in Oxford's program. It's hard to tell.

As for improving your math background, for sure you won't be able to do that at Oxford, and probably not at LSE, either. I don't think UK programs in general have much flexibility in terms of what you can take, and certainly not in 1-year programs.

The development econ program is really good, but if you're intending to go into a PhD program anyways... assuming you get into a school which is good in development, you should be able to get at least some of that training in your field courses, although not as much as you'd get from the econ devt MSc.

If I were you, I'd weight the first thing the most out of these -- where do you think that *you* will be able to stand out? Aside from that, I'd pick just based on personal interest. Because it seems likely that if you'd be able to do well at LSE, you'd be able to do well at Oxford, and either way both institutions are certainly noteworthy enough to get your application looked at. I'm biased but I do think the faculty at Oxford is *amazing* at development and very accessible, though I also would agree that LSE has a better reputation. I also think that if you're *really* strongly interested in development and know that is what you want to do for sure, then Oxford's the way to go just because you'll learn so much dev't econ there (as I say, imho more than you'd get out of fields later, and you'll probably have an advantage when it comes to thinking up topics for papers). *But* it's riskier because for admission purposes it's probably not as well-considered as LSE.

Overall verdict: make you a better researcher? Probably Oxford. Be better for admissions? Probably LSE. Again it depends on a lot of things, and there are a lot of people at both places who are trying for the same goal of top PhD programs -- so standing out is not to be underestimated at either institution. But if you do reasonably well in either program, you should be able to get a top 30 admit. I did a program that was probably lesser in adcomms' eyes and I'm fine!

AstralTraveller
02-13-2008, 06:07 PM
I did a program that was probably lesser in adcomms' eyes and I'm fine!

What kind of program did you do, Karina?

EconKraut
02-13-2008, 08:35 PM
Hey Karina,
thanks for your great advice!
...since you seem to be an expert in this field, let me also ask you a slightly more specific question: do you happen to know what the chances are to continue after the MSc Econ for Developm with the Econ PhD at Oxford?
Also, are differences in terms of competition among students, mentoring and class sizes?
thanx

Karina 07
02-14-2008, 01:12 AM
Hey Karina,
thanks for your great advice!
...since you seem to be an expert in this field, let me also ask you a slightly more specific question: do you happen to know what the chances are to continue after the MSc Econ for Developm with the Econ PhD at Oxford?
Also, are differences in terms of competition among students, mentoring and class sizes?
thanx

I wouldn't know exactly, but I would expect that A) it's not normally done (continuing from the MPhil in Econ would be the more usual route) but B) it's still *possible*. That would be my best guess. You should really talk to the department of economics about that, though. They should have good info which they'd willingly divulge. In the UK *in general* (i.e. may not hold here) if you do an MPhil followed by a DPhil, it's a 2+2 program, 2 years MPhil, 2 years DPhil (though that's only in theory -- in practice it almost never takes less than 3). If you do a 1 year program first, then it's a 1+3 (again, optimistically) program. They do take students who've done a diverse array of things before starting the DPhil, so I'd reckon that they'd consider you like that and would expect you'd take a little longer to finish but they shouldn't per se mind that you're not from the Econ MPhil. Like they wouldn't say oops, you have to go do another year of coursework first.

Typically, from something like the Econ MPhil, you need to have pretty high marks to be allowed to continue to the DPhil -- they say that you need a distinction, but my guess is that they'd actually be willing to take anyone in roughly the top 25% since they know the students and so know when they can rationalize a bad mark or two away. So the standards should be a little higher for you, but since you'll know most of the same profs if a prof can support your work it should be okay.

Note: when I say roughly whatever top percent, it's not like how it would be in the States. A *lot* of people in these kinds of programs are on full scholarships or are superstars in some other way. Motivation levels still differ in a class (which is why I'm hesitant to say LSE is hands down better to go to because even if it has the more rigorous program in economics it's probably also harder to distinguish yourself given that more would-be PhD students go there), so it's not *too* hard to do well relatively speaking (assuming a lot of work), but you will probably still be surprised by how good the other students are.

There's someone on the board who's currently doing the Econ MPhil -- I'll try to look up who he was and pass on the info so you can PM him and ask more questions, maybe he'd have better info.

I don't know very much about how class size would compare, and the only thing I can say about mentoring is that I think the Oxford profs are very accessible.

P.S. On admissions to DPhil from MSc -- I guess basically my view comes down to if you're really smart and work really hard, you shouldn't have a problem. If either of those is just "good" rather than "really" (as poor grammar as that is), then it'd be tough (but not 0%. A lot also depends on having a good idea for research, and you can get lucky (or unlucky) in that respect). But if you're really smart and work really hard, personally I think that they'd take you, just because, you know, everyone likes people they know who are like that. Also you'd have a much higher chance of admission to that program than if you didn't do the MSc just because you'd have the opportunity to talk with the profs before applying about your research ideas in great depth and you'd presumably be able to find a good fit with a faculty member.

kayaniv
07-14-2008, 07:58 AM
Hi
I had a similar problem so I was wondering if you could help.
Ive just finished my undergrad in econ from Delhi University in India and want to eventually end up in a good Phd programme in the U.S.
The problem is deciding how to get there. I have gotten into the Oxford MSc in Econ For Development as well as the 2 yr LSE MSc in Economics. In addition to this I have gotten into the Delhi School of Economics(DSE) which atleast here is considered very good. At the moment I am tilting towards the Oxford course. The problem here however is that I'm not entirely sure I wont to specialise in Development in the longterm, though that is one of my interests.
My question is that given my ultimate goal would DSE be comparable to the Oxford course because it is a mainstream 2 yr masters in Econ, and where should i head now?!
Any help would be very gratefully received!

kayaniv
07-14-2008, 08:04 AM
also in reply to the question about the Dphil(Phd in Ox) It is possible to do it afterthe MSc though you would have to spend a year doing MPhil courses as a PRS student and then go on to the D Phil. Think if you do well enough there is some system of being accepted pretty much automatically.