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Thread: LSE Msc Economics (1 year) vs. Cambridge Diploma + Mphil in Economics for 2011-12

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    LSE Msc Economics (1 year) vs. Cambridge Diploma + Mphil in Economics for 2011-12

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    I have been accepted to the one-year Msc Economics programme at LSE as well as the Diploma in Economics programme at Cambridge for 2011-12 (being from the University of Delhi I wasn't eligible to apply to the MPhil in Economics at Cambridge directly, so if I do well in the Diploma I'll be admitted to the MPhil in 2012-13).

    My goal is to enter academia, so I will be applying to PhD programmes after my Master's. I'm not sure what I want to specialize in yet, but development and international economics appeals to me.

    I would be grateful for any information on the strengths and weaknesses of both programmes, given my interests and career goals. Location and costs are irrelevant.

    An additional concern for me is that if I go to LSE I'll have to wait until after I complete the degree to apply to PhD programmes in the US, because I don't think my undergraduate grades and references are good enough for them. If I go to Cambridge, I can apply during my Master's and so will not have to worry about what to do between the time I graduate and the beginning of my PhD (I'm not being immodest or overconfident; I'm assuming I'll be admitted somewhere solely for the purposes of planning ahead).

    I have read many posts criticizing Cambridge on this forum but they were all a few years old and I was wondering if things have changed. I also haven't been able to find a detailed comparison of the LSE and Cambridge programmes.

    Thank you!

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    LSE is a better place hands down, especially since you're interested in development.

    Forgive the lack of a detailed comparison in this post, but I honestly really think that there is no contest in your case, especially since cost is a non-issue.

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    I've got a friend who did both (don't ask me why) the MSc in LSE and the MPhil in Cambridge. His general feeling was that LSE was far far better teaching Macro, but Cambridge was more demanding in theoretical Micro. Econometrics was pretty much the same.
    If you do well in both, I agree that LSE would certainly give you more chance into getting into a good PhD program.
    However, the two year route might give you some advantages. If you're a bit unsure of your background, the year in the diploma will allow you to get better marks both in the diploma and the MPhil. Also, you get to know lecturers more (maybe do some RA?) which will allow to get good references.

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    I think LSE dominates in your case. The overall fees will be lower. A distinction at LSE guarantees entry to LSE. Even if you don't apply until the year after, at LSE you'd be applying with Masters grades in hand, wheras at Cambridge you'd only have the equivalent (hard) undergraduate grades to show. You can spend the 'year off' doing RA work or making money, either way you'd get paid.

    In general, although LSE clearly dominates Cambridge for it's PhD program, I don't think in general there's much to choose between the MSc and the MPhil, especially for a terminal degree. I should think most people will have a better time in Cambridge as a student, and it's quite a lot cheaper and job prospects are going to be pretty similar.

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    Thank you for your replies!

    Chisquared, no detailed comparison is necessary, but could you tell me why you think LSE is better than Cambridge? Is it the faculty? The structure of the course? Do schools in the US look more favourably upon the LSE programme?

    Staying on at LSE for a PhD is certainly an option for me-again, elcapitano, I would like to know why you think the LSE PhD dominates the Cambridge one.

    Cuak2000, my grades are pretty decent but I've done only a 3-year Bachelor's degree, have no research experience, and most of my professors in college are not even PhDs, let alone well known; their references were enough to get me into a good Master's programme, but nothing more. So I want to make sure that I do some research work and get good references during my Master's. Do you know what the prospects are for staying on as an RA after the Msc at LSE?

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    Post-MSc admissions from my cohort (disclaimer: these are only the ones I know about-- there may be others!):

    • Of the people who applied to PhDs during the masters, the results I know of were admits to Stanford, Chicago, Berkeley, UCL, Urbana-Champagne. A handful of students got distinctions and stayed on at LSE.
    • For people who applied the year after the masters (like you), I know of one Uchicago and one UW-Madison admit.
    • Two years out, the guy who worked with me at the CEP also got into Chicago.


    RA job after LSE:
    I got an RA job at LSE's Center for Economic Performance the summer after my LSE MSc, and so did a classmate of mine. Others stuck around, too, and at least one got an RA job through MIT's JPAL.

    LSE vs Cambridge: My undergrad profs had very good things to say about LSE's masters, and not much to say about Cambridge. The feeling I get is that LSE is much more vibrant right now-- their candidates place well in Europe and the US, and LSE profs seem to be more present in US seminar rotations, at least.

    You can compare placements here:
    lse PhD Job Candidates
    cambridge job market

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    Quote Originally Posted by callmebetty View Post
    Chisquared, no detailed comparison is necessary, but could you tell me why you think LSE is better than Cambridge? Is it the faculty? The structure of the course? Do schools in the US look more favourably upon the LSE programme?
    1. LSE has a better faculty in terms of research output and recognizability to professors in the US.
    2. If you pick the right courses (i.e. take the most advanced ones available to you), you'll almost certainly learn more than at Cambridge. I have a feeling that Cuak2000's friend is comparing MSc micro at LSE to micro at Cam. MSc micro is only slightly more advanced than undergrad micro, so you'll want to stay away from that. Take advanced micro, or MRes micro if you can.
    3. The option to enter the PhD program with a distinction upon graduation.

    If you're really serious about doing a PhD, you should consider transferring to the MSc EME.

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    Thank you Lucette and chisquared. Your information was very helpful.

    I am strongly considering going for the two-year Msc Economics at LSE now because there weren't enough Maths courses in my undergrad syllabus and I can rectify that by taking the advanced math courses in the preliminary year. Also, if allowed, I can replace the Microeconomic Principles paper in the 1st year with Microeconomics for Msc and then take Micro for Mres in my second year.

    Is it possible to transfer to the Msc EME, given the limited number of places and the fact that it wasn't one of my programme choices in my application? I haven't seen guidelines for it anywhere on the website or read about such instances on this forum.

    In any case, I'm not so sure that it's the best route for me (if I consider transferring it will be to the 2-year EME and not the 1-year, for the same reason stated above)-going through the EME syllabus it seems that you can't take the Macro course if you're also taking Micro for Mres. I can however take Macro for Msc plus Micro for Mres in my 2nd year of Msc Econ. I would choose Macro over quantitative economics etc. so the Msc Econ seems to be the better option for me. Plus quite a few people from my university go for the Msc Econ every year but I've never heard of someone going for the EME-perhaps it's too hard to get in anyway.

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    2 out of 2 members found this post helpful. Good post? Yes | No
    If you don't want to worry about the "gap" year, why not apply for JPAL or something along those lines? Since you're interested in development it would be a great opportunity for field work and you may have a leg up since you are originally from India. If you search the forum there are a few very good threads about JPAL from people who've done it.

    Edit: Just using the quick search, here's a fairly recent thread with some good info: http://www.urch.com/forums/phd-econo...next-year.html
    Last edited by AREStudentHopeful; 04-20-2011 at 02:29 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by callmebetty View Post
    Is it possible to transfer to the Msc EME, given the limited number of places and the fact that it wasn't one of my programme choices in my application? I haven't seen guidelines for it anywhere on the website or read about such instances on this forum.
    I've heard of people who've done it before, so it's certainly possible. You'll have to contact the department about it, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by callmebetty View Post
    In any case, I'm not so sure that it's the best route for me (if I consider transferring it will be to the 2-year EME and not the 1-year, for the same reason stated above)-going through the EME syllabus it seems that you can't take the Macro course if you're also taking Micro for Mres. I can however take Macro for Msc plus Micro for Mres in my 2nd year of Msc Econ. I would choose Macro over quantitative economics etc. so the Msc Econ seems to be the better option for me.
    If true, this is certainly a good reason to do MSc Econ instead of MSc EME, especially if you're not interested in econometrics. I've never heard of students in MSc Econ being allowed to take MRes Macro, though. You may also run into trouble getting permission of the course instructor for either of the MRes courses.
    Last edited by chisquared; 04-20-2011 at 10:03 PM.

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