In short, I think that in terms of chances to get into a top PhD: LSE > BGSE > UCL
I have received an offer for MSc Economics in LSE, UCL and Barcelona GSE. Now I need to make a decision and would appreciate some advice.
After the MSc I want to go on to do PhD. One of the places I really want to go for PhD is Columbia, however I also want to have a chance for the top 10 universities, just so I have the option.
My background is in Mathematics. I have a Master in maths from Cambridge.
I know that LSE has a better reputation outside the academic circles. But how does it compare with UCL and BGSE within the academic circles? Based on my research, BGSE economics master is more rigorous and the subjects are quite advanced, so it seems like a better PhD preparation whereas LSE seems more of a professional training. I've also been told many times that UCL is a better teaching institute than LSE. So my question is, which one would boost my PhD application better?
Fees and language are not a problem for me. I'm already fluent in Spanish (for living in Barcelona). And I have saved up some money from my previous scholarships to pay some of the fee, and since I'm from UK, if I study at LSE or UCL I can apply for an educational loan from my bank (although, admittedly it would be nice not to have to be in debt). I have also worked and studied at the same time for years, so I don't mind doing that again during my Master to earn my living.
Additionaly, if I decide to do a PhD in the US, I really want to get a Fulbright scholarship (there is a UK award program for British citizens). This is mostly for the prestige and the hope that being part of the Fulbright community would open more doors for me.
Thanks for reading this far! I'd appreciate any advice you may have.
I don't know how many of the advanced courses one can take at BGSE. If they allow you to take a fair number of them, the MSc at BGSE seems to be a far higher level than LSE. I don't know if BGSE has caught up in terms of reputation as yet though. BGSE's PhD placements look very good, but I don't think the list is comprehensive-they seem to leave out the lower ranked placements..
Are you talking about LSE econ or LSE EME. LSE EME is definitely better than UCL or BGSE, but as for LSE Econ its much closer. Also, I don't think LSE EME is less rigorous than BGSE, albeit I'm not very familiar with either program. Frequently LSE EME students who can't cut it also wind up dropping down to the LSE Econ program.
Has anyone done the MSc in Econ in either one of these courses?
*emerges from the Problem Set pit*
Based on what I've heard from friends and people I know, who went to LSE for the MSc Econ, I would strongly advise you to stay away from it IF i) Your aim is to go for a PhD AND ii) You are not sure if you will be at the top tail of the class. I know more than a couple of people who took that program and everyone told me that professors/letter writers only care about people who are at the top tail (and I believe there is around 100 people in each cohort).
Unless you want to go for the private sector, laymen prestige of your institution is not very relevant, especially if you want to apply for the top10. It does, of course, matter, but not as much as you may think. Establishing ties with people who do have connections (i.e. good researchers, well-established in their fields) is much more important than the "vanilla" prestige of your institution. That (along with diversity issues, of course) is why more than half of the people in a certain PhD cohort come from universities you probably never heard of. In that context (student-professor ratio and relationship), I have heard a lot of people praising UCL's program (I know 2 people who are there right now). Problem with UCL is that it's not the best place in the world if you want to do anything macro, but unless you want to do your PhD there this shouldn't be a problem.
BGSE also has a very good program (that strictly dominates UCL if you're a macro guy) with very good Masters placement in US PhD's (one of my colleagues took his masters there). I would also say that LSE is the harshest of the three with regards to funding.
Regarding Fulbright, you should be aware of some aspects that are not trivial (and that were unbeknownst to me until I got involved in the process): a) The funding usually only covers the first 2 years of the program, and is usually less than the average funding offered by departments; b) You might have to return to your home country after the program ends, thus closing you off from the US job market; c) It has not a large impact on admissions (only if you are a marginal candidate - you may benefit from it with respect to a similar applicant who has no funding). These aspects are, obviously, country-specific and may depend on the agreement that Fulbright has made with your home country.
*back to Problem Set pit*
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