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Thread: California PhD programs

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    California PhD programs

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    How would you rank the quality of the following California econ PhD programs: UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis, University of Southern California, UC Los Angeles, and UC San Diego? Please explain briefly.

    Also, how dangerous, politically liberal, and/or expensive is living near UC Davis, USC, UCSD and UCLA?

    Thank you!

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    Re: California PhD programs

    I think this depends on your field. As a development econ person I rank these like:
    1. UCSD
    2. UCLA (not that good for dev but overall good ranking)
    3./ 4. UC Davis /UCSB (I think Davis has better placements but UCSB has cool faculty and great location)
    5. USC/UC Irvine. (Not really sure about either of these schools. Seems like many people apply to UC Irvine so it's probably better ranked).

    UC Davis is very safe and a cute/fun/liberal college town despite the fact that it seems quite rural. USC is in the middle of LA so probably higher on crime. Note that UC's tend to have stipends on the lower end and require RA/TA most if not all semesters.

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    Re: California PhD programs

    Quote Originally Posted by econhappy View Post
    I think this depends on your field. As a development econ person I rank these like:
    1. UCSD
    2. UCLA (not that good for dev but overall good ranking)
    3./ 4. UC Davis /UCSB (I think Davis has better placements but UCSB has cool faculty and great location)
    5. USC/UC Irvine. (Not really sure about either of these schools. Seems like many people apply to UC Irvine so it's probably better ranked).

    UC Davis is very safe and a cute/fun/liberal college town despite the fact that it seems quite rural. USC is in the middle of LA so probably higher on crime. Note that UC's tend to have stipends on the lower end and require RA/TA most if not all semesters.
    Thank you for your informative take. Does anyone else have thoughts on these schools?

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    Re: California PhD programs

    UCLA and UCSD are both top 20 programs. Which of the two is better depends on your subfields/interests since they have different strengths. I think UCSD has placed slightly better the last few years.
    The other 4 are all top 50 programs but definitely a step below UCLA/UCSD. Again, which is "best" depends on your subfields/interests.

    Too many people concentrate on a precise ranking like US News or their own subjective ranking, but you should be looking at things in context of tiers, top 10, top 20, top 50 etc. Within a given tier different schools tend to be roughly comparable in terms of educational quality and placement, but once you get outside the "top 10" schools are usually not able to maintain a large enough department to be strong in every subfield. In general, assuming you are funded at both choices, always pick a school in a higher tier unless it does not fit your interests at all (and if it does not fit your interests at all you probably should not have applied there). But if two programs are in the same tier and one program has a slightly higher rank than another according to some ranking like US News, but the slightly lower ranked one is a better fit for your interests and funding is similar, then go to the one that better fits your interests.

    I am not familiar with COL, crime etc for California so I can't help you with that.

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    Re: California PhD programs

    Quote Originally Posted by zshfryoh1 View Post
    UCLA and UCSD are both top 20 programs. Which of the two is better depends on your subfields/interests since they have different strengths. I think UCSD has placed slightly better the last few years.
    The other 4 are all top 50 programs but definitely a step below UCLA/UCSD. Again, which is "best" depends on your subfields/interests.

    Too many people concentrate on a precise ranking like US News or their own subjective ranking, but you should be looking at things in context of tiers, top 10, top 20, top 50 etc. Within a given tier different schools tend to be roughly comparable in terms of educational quality and placement, but once you get outside the "top 10" schools are usually not able to maintain a large enough department to be strong in every subfield. In general, assuming you are funded at both choices, always pick a school in a higher tier unless it does not fit your interests at all (and if it does not fit your interests at all you probably should not have applied there). But if two programs are in the same tier and one program has a slightly higher rank than another according to some ranking like US News, but the slightly lower ranked one is a better fit for your interests and funding is similar, then go to the one that better fits your interests.

    I am not familiar with COL, crime etc for California so I can't help you with that.
    The idea of thinking in tiers is a great one, thank you!

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    Re: California PhD programs

    I think econhappy’s ranking is quite good and what zshfryoh1 said makes sense too. I personally would put UCLA and UCSD in the same tier, and I would like to add that UCSB’s placements are quite good as well (they even placed one to UC Davis in 16–17). Plus from my limited experience interacting with UCSB’s faculties, I feel like they do care a lot about their PhD students and their faculties are cool and nice, at least that is my (probably biased) estimation.

    As a former UCSD undergraduate student, I felt very safe and comfortable in La Jolla, though it is an expensive place to live. I heard and believe that Santa Barbara is like a paradise (meaning quite likely even better than La Jolla). Don’t know too much about politics aspects though since I personally am not too interested in it.

    Other than UCLA and UCSD, I would lean towards UCSB, but obviously it highly depends on your interests and other preferences.

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    Re: California PhD programs

    Quote Originally Posted by axias View Post
    I think econhappy’s ranking is quite good and what zshfryoh1 said makes sense too. I personally would put UCLA and UCSD in the same tier, and I would like to add that UCSB’s placements are quite good as well (they even placed one to UC Davis in 16–17). Plus from my limited experience interacting with UCSB’s faculties, I feel like they do care a lot about their PhD students and their faculties are cool and nice, at least that is my (probably biased) estimation.

    As a former UCSD undergraduate student, I felt very safe and comfortable in La Jolla, though it is an expensive place to live. I heard and believe that Santa Barbara is like a paradise (meaning quite likely even better than La Jolla). Don’t know too much about politics aspects though since I personally am not too interested in it.

    Other than UCLA and UCSD, I would lean towards UCSB, but obviously it highly depends on your interests and other preferences.
    I have also heard that La Jolla is an expensive and safe town. Thank you for your comment!

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    Re: California PhD programs

    Does anybody have some information on UCSD's micro theory program? Strongly considering the school and saw that they have a few interesting micro people (Joel Sobel and Joel Watson in particular) but it's also considered a strong metrics school as well.

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