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Thread: Choosing between programs (UAB/BGSE/PennState/SSE)

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    Re: Choosing between programs (UAB/BGSE/PennState/SSE)

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    One thing to note is that while information on this platform is aplenty when it relates to US schools, the same cannot be said for European schools. It needs mentioning, however, that if you're indifferent between EU and US placement, SSE is among the top few places to go to in Europe. If you look at their placement history, they consistently place very well in European/Asian schools.

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    Re: Choosing between programs (UAB/BGSE/PennState/SSE)

    Generally, what would be the pros/cons of pursuing a Ph.D. in the US versus Europe? A few people are of the opinion that the US job market is well organized and superior to that of Europe, and a poster on this thread also said that an academic job pays much better in the US.

    I had split my applications between US and European schools almost equally, but most of my peers chose to apply solely to the US. Penn State is certainly good for my field of interest, so if I receive funding (I am still very hopeful that I'll be taken off the waitlist) should I automatically prioritize that school? I am also waiting to hear back from Stony Brook, but since I got into SSE I had taken it off my list. Maybe I shouldn't do that.

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    Re: Choosing between programs (UAB/BGSE/PennState/SSE)

    Quote Originally Posted by tutonic View Post
    SSE is among the top few places to go to in Europe. If you look at their placement history, they consistently place very well in European/Asian schools.
    This is true, their placement record is good. But the few inputs I have received about the job market in Europe is making me nervous.

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    Re: Choosing between programs (UAB/BGSE/PennState/SSE)

    But I wouldn't give Penn State so much more credit than SSE, because look at the placements here: Initial placements of Ph.D. Graduates — Department of Economics. These are also mostly European and Asian placements. If it were me, I would apply to Penn State as a backup school, but since there's no difference in placements as compared to SSE, I would wholeheartedly choose to go to the "top" school of the respective region rather than a "middleground" school of the states. If it were me, I would find SSE much more stimulating. Plus, you might get to be a part of the Nobel Prizes fanfare and meet all kinds of new people. I would probably also have applied to Penn State, but with a full ride to a top school like SSE, the only thing stopping me would be whether or not I could handle learning Swedish over the next 6 months! I wish you the best...

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    Re: Choosing between programs (UAB/BGSE/PennState/SSE)

    I am afraid the following will be so obvious to you given that you are an Urch user, but maybe my comment will help narrow down your school list.

    Probably you applied to such top master's programs as BGSE, Bocconi, PSE, and LSE EME because you thought it could then hopefully help you receive a PhD offer at a top 10 school at least. However, it might not be a good idea unless you are really sure you can be one of the best students in your class. My opinion is based on numerous discussions with students/graduates from those programs and professors familiar with the admissions game. Underperforming will severely damage your chances to be admitted to top 30 programs, let alone Penn State (which is surely on the rise and arguably a top 20 program right now). Remember that in the top European master's programs you would have to compete mostly against the guys that already had a bachelor's degree from those institutions, and thus have better connections with professors there and are more familiar with the coursework.

    Still, even if you are sure you can excel at such a soul-crushing program at LSE EME, I think that Penn State is already a very good option. I second to2012's take on the program. You should not worry about the research fit or what happens if your interests change - Penn State is strong in many areas. I cannot say the same about UCSB, which seems to be predominantly good at environmental economics, a much narrower topic (maybe Professor Startz can counter that). Btw, if you have doubts about Penn State's placements being mostly Asian schools, remember who placed there, as well as look at the econjobrumors's job market updates --- Penn State has a couple of candidates having multiple flyouts to top US schools in the last 5 years or so. Also, keep in mind their median placement and compare it to that of some traditional top 20 programs (like Wisconsin, UCLA, UCSD, Duke) --- it is impressive to say the least. Also, Asian schools are also good and not that easy to get into.

    If you would like to know the differences between European and US job markets, I strongly recommend browsing the econjobrumors website. The content is trash at times, but if you look hard enough, you will see many valuable insights there.

    Good luck with Penn State! I am sure you will get off the waitlist for funding and do well there.

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    Re: Choosing between programs (UAB/BGSE/PennState/SSE)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kazakh View Post

    Probably you applied to such top master's programs as BGSE, Bocconi, PSE, and LSE EME because you thought it could then hopefully help you receive a PhD offer at a top 10 school at least.
    It is true that I applied to LSE EME as a backup in case I didn't get into a decent Ph.D. program. But all the others (BGSE, Paris) are entry points to their Ph.D. programs. I am not sure if PSE gives any funding for the first two years of coursework, but at least there is no tuition fee.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kazakh View Post
    Still, even if you are sure you can excel at such a soul-crushing program at LSE EME
    I don't think I will choose this option now; going through the application process once was enough for me. But I am still waiting to hear back.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kazakh View Post
    If you would like to know the differences between European and US job markets, I strongly recommend browsing the econjobrumors website. The content is trash at times, but if you look hard enough, you will see many valuable insights there.
    I'll have a look at this website. Thankyou so much for your input!

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    Re: Choosing between programs (UAB/BGSE/PennState/SSE)

    Quote Originally Posted by dogbones View Post
    But I wouldn't give Penn State so much more credit than SSE
    When I'd applied to these schools, I had a preference for SSE over Penn State. But I am reassessing my opinion now. I will probably have an easier time adjusting at Penn State. I think I'll try to get in touch with current graduate students to find out more.

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    Re: Choosing between programs (UAB/BGSE/PennState/SSE)

    Quote Originally Posted by padma View Post
    When I'd applied to these schools, I had a preference for SSE over Penn State. But I am reassessing my opinion now. I will probably have an easier time adjusting at Penn State. I think I'll try to get in touch with current graduate students to find out more.
    That makes a lot of sense, good point!

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    Re: Choosing between programs (UAB/BGSE/PennState/SSE)

    A few points from my perspective as well:

    * It is true that salaries in the US are 2x those in Europe (with few exceptions). But it is also true that the cost of living in the US is significantly higher. Having lived in the US and in Europe, my feeling is that there isn't much of a difference in terms of purchasing power parity adjusted consumption possibilities. (Remember, things like child care, health insurance, pensions, education costs are often coming out of your salary in the US, while they are often provided for free in Europe.)

    * Whether you'll attend SSE or Penn State will significantly influence your likelihood of securing a job in the US. As you can see from Penn State's placement, they don't regularly produce people who place in the top 10 schools (although they sometimes do). If you land at a lower-ranked school in the US, it might actually be better to get a decent job in Europe. This is because the heterogeneity in faculty quality in the US is very large across schools, but small within departments, while in Europe it is often small across schools but can be large within departments. In Europe, there are many places who are extremely good at subfield x, while subfield y is really sub-par. This may seem to rank the European place low on average, but you shouldn't forget that they have top people in one subfield. If that's your subfield, bingo! Penn State is obviously a better choice for you then if you think the risk of your research field changing is large.

    * This latter point also makes it important to be well informed about the relative strengths and weaknesses of European departments. You can't just simply say, "Oh look, SSE is a good school, I should go there." but you should check out who at SSE is good (and if you're interested in the field) and who is not. For SSE this matters a little less than for lower-ranked schools because they are basically good at almost everything.

    If you get admitted to Tilburg and need to make a decision between Tilburg and other places, let me know. I'm a faculty member there and happy to provide insights (with the usual disclaimer of course that personal opinions may be biased).

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    Re: Choosing between programs (UAB/BGSE/PennState/SSE)

    Go to the program which offers you full funding, even when you have enough money for supporting yourself during some years. Funding is a signal of how they value your background and, especially, how they think about your potential of success.

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