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Thread: Vanderbilt vs. Boston University

  1. #1
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    Vanderbilt vs. Boston University

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    Hello,

    I am quite torn between these two programs, both of which I feel are strong choices with a lot to offer. I figured I'd list out my pros and cons for each school, and see whether or not others had any insights!

    For context, I am mainly interested in political economics and public economics (although that can always change down the line). I am coming in without a ton of Math, so I would definitely be doing a bit of catching up during the first year (especially since I've been working for a few years since graduating undergrad). I would eventually like to work either in some government or public policy-oriented research position, and if I do go into academia I would see myself working at a small, liberal arts college with a strong emphasis on teaching.


    VANDERBILT

    Pros:
    - Small department, really take a personal interest in their students
    - Strong Law School/Political Science program (given my interest in political economics/law and economics)
    - Lots of female faculty members, which is really unique
    - Hamilton Scholar Award (extra 5000 dollars in addition to the standard stipend)
    - Nashville is a much more affordable city than Boston University

    Cons:
    - Far away from my friends, family and boyfriend (I'd have to fly home, which is less than ideal for me)
    - Few public transit options in Nashville (which I sorry about since I don't have a car)
    - Political economics professors do more theoretical work, while I'm interested in more applied/empirical work)
    - Smaller program means less course offerings, which could be an issue down the line


    BOSTON UNIVERSITY

    Pros:
    - Great location for me, close to friends and family members (also I just love Boston)
    - Seems as though the faculty and students are all pretty happy with BU and living in Boston, which is important to me
    - Strong job placement, particularly into positions that I see myself pursuing in the future
    - Political Economy masters option, which is something that I find very compelling
    - More course offerings that Vanderbilt (also proximity to Harvard, BC means potentially being able to audit/take courses there as well)

    Cons:
    - With a bigger program, I may get less personal attention
    - Much smaller stipend amount compared to Vanderbilt (especially relative to the cost of living)
    - Law School/Political Science Department is not as strong as Vanderbilt's
    - Not many professors who focus specifically in Political Economy (although others who do PE in addition to their main field)


    If anyone has any advice/insights about these two programs, that would be super helpful in the decision-making process. I am sure I would be happy and successful at either program, which makes the decision even more challenging.


    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    Re: Vanderbilt vs. Boston University

    BU hands down, given your interest in empirical political economy. There's Harvard/MIT nearby as well.
    If you are interested in econ placements, polisci departments are not useful for you- BU econ profs are strong enough to place you in econ.

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    Re: Vanderbilt vs. Boston University

    I had a similar issue. My favorite advice from people was "go where you will be happy". As long as you are confident that you can write your best dissertation possible at both schools, I personally think it comes down to where you will happy. Of course I can't decide that for you, but it seems like the difference in programs isn't so big (at least from what you wrote, I'm unfamiliar with them) that choosing one over the other will not hurt your career.

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    Re: Vanderbilt vs. Boston University

    Political Economy masters option, which is something that I find very compelling
    I realize that you've already made your decision, but just to make this information available as a public good:

    BU PhD students get a "Masters in Political Economy" along the way to the PhD once they have completed coursework and the 2nd year paper. It is only called "Political Economy" to distinguish it from the terminal Master's in Economics also offered by BU. That is, and MAPE from BU denotes 2 years of PhD level coursework and an MA in Econ denotes 1 year of master's coursework. There are no special political economy courses in the first two years (in fact, it isn't even an official field at BU, although there are many faculty doing work in this space who have placed students well so it's still a great place if you're interested in the field). So basically just ignore the Master's in Political Economy thing when you're applying or making a decision.

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