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Everything posted by behavingmyself

  1. This post gives a good dose of realism about the difficulty of being admitted to a top program if you went to a weak undergrad. But I have two points of disagreement: 1) I think the post is too pessimistic about the economics PhD in general. I know many people who went to graduate school outside of the top 10: friends from graduate school, which was not all that far from the top 10, and my current students, who are much further. Only a small fraction seem to regret the decision. The people for whom it's an obviously bad choice tend to leave within a year or so (often involuntarily), so you aren't sinking five or six years into it. The main bad scenario that you want to avoid is that you are lost at sea and not accomplishing anything in grad school but nonetheless stubbornly refusing to give up. 2) I agree with the advice that you should be excited about economics in the sense of doing research, not just taking classes. The PhD is a degree in research. But I think it is also important for prospective graduate students to like the idea of doing at least some of the other tasks related to economics that can finance your salary once you are out of grad school (teaching, policy work, consulting). By mid-career, most economics PhDs are spending most or all of their time on these activities. This is especially important for students from lower ranked programs, who are less likely to get even an initial placement which involves a lot of time for independent research.
  2. The question I think everyone should make sure to ask is how often students meet with their advisors. This is a question which has a fairly precise answer -- at least, if you ask it in a form like "for example, how many times did you meet in the last three weeks?" And time investments by advisors are (in my view) the most important thing which differs between comparably ranked programs.
  3. I disagree somewhat. On the one hand, all of these are very important questions to ask about your actual peers. On the other hand, the group present on a visit day can be very unrepresentative of the actual set of peers you would have. People often get into a number of schools, so the fraction of people on a school's visit day who wind up going to that school might be quite low, and the fraction of an incoming class who are on the visit day can be quite low as well. An added bonus of befriending the people on visit day, though, is that it will make the logistics of moving easier and might help you find a roommate.
  4. I can't really speak about Yale specifically. But value-added for programs usually comes from three main sources: 1) Coursework. The core courses are very similar everywhere within a ranking range, but there is variation in field courses. 2) Peers. It is important to be in an environment where people are excited about economics. Many, many people coauthor with friends from grad school. 3) Advisors. Departments vary enormously in their culture of advising. You want to be in a department which considers the production of graduate students to be important, and where faculty spend time with their students. This culture can vary by field within a department too. I just don't think #1 is important at all (other people think it matters somewhat) and #2 is hard to predict beyond looking at ranking because there can be so much variation across cohorts. So, in making your decision, I really think you should focus on #3. In particular, I always think the most important thing you can do on a visit day is to ask every grad student you meet, "how often do you meet with your advisor?"
  5. You should not pursue a PhD if a placement in those ranking ranges is the only acceptable outcome to you. While you may have some private information about your type, the fraction of economics PhDs who place in such schools is quite low. However, as minskymoment says, there are many satisfying jobs available for econ PhDs despite lower apparent prestige. For example, there are many very bright people in government positions who work reasonable hours, make good money, have great colleagues, and have an enormous influence on the world through their work.
  6. Econometrics courses are usually narrowly tailored to the topics you need to know the most about as an economist. Additional statistics coursework is beneficial to students who have an interest in econometrics, but it generally shouldn't substitute for taking econometrics. This is, of course, unless the econ faculty in your department feel that the statistics course aligns especially well with what economists need to know, or if they feel that the econometrics course is excessively watered down.
  7. Agreed with chateau. You already know this, but I'd emphasize that a letter from a PhD student, even if they know you well, will be discounted extremely heavily. A top 40 department will not view a UMass PhD student as capable of judging which students are top 40-caliber. I would also be wary of asking for a letter from someone who has never read a letter of rec before. I think 75-100 won't be an issue. There is a big gap in competitiveness between such places and top 50. The downside is that there is also a gap in training and placement.
  8. Being in the top decile of your undergrad class at Oxford alone would surely be enough for some school in the 10-25 range in the US to admit you. Even people with mediocre grades from elite institutions can swing admission to a top 25 department. In fact I would wager at even money that you could still work out admission at somewhere in this ranking range to start this fall, despite being months past the application deadlines. Strong letters, research experience, and good performance in a master's would make you competitive anywhere.
  9. If you're close to the top of your undergrad class at Oxford, I would imagine you will have no trouble getting into master's programs. While the PPE program has a little less math than ideal, American and Canadian schools around the level of the schools you've listed would generally be quite eager to admit you directly to a PhD program. (I can't speak for European schools.)
  10. We will be able to give you more informative feedback if you fill in the standard profile information: PROFILE: Type of Undergrad: Undergrad GPA: Type of Grad: Grad GPA: GRE: Math Courses: Econ Courses: Other Courses: Letters of Recommendation: Research Experience: Teaching Experience: Research Interests: SOP: Other:
  11. Please do not post about topics that you do not know about. This board is used to help people who are interested in graduate school. Ill-informed comments presented with great confidence are much more harmful than not commenting at all. In case you were not trolling and simply unaware, the ranking you linked is NOT what people mean when they refer to the US News ranking. They mean the ranking of economics graduate programs: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-humanities-schools/economics-rankings And Stanford GSB's economics program does place people into top econ departments: https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/programs/phd/placement/academic-placements#academic-area-10006 Please do not continue to make other posters incur the cost of correcting your statements.
  12. If the people who are polled by US News can read the IDEAS rankings, then yes, the US News rankings contain strictly more information than the IDEAS rankings. I am a professor at a research university. But good luck to you as you embark on your M.A. program this fall.
  13. US News is a reputation ranking of graduate programs. It is constructed by asking people which programs are good. Therefore it is going to seem subjectively reasonable to most economists. The only downside is that it is only a ranking of US programs. The IDEAS rankings are quite unreliable. For example, the ranking of graduates places Queen's above Stanford GSB, which exactly zero people who are not the biological mothers of Queen's affiliates think is reasonable. Part of this unreliability is because lots of people don't have RePEc profiles. Part of it is because IDEAS doesn't account for department size. Part of it is because it is difficult to come up with simple metrics that encompass what people think of as quality. The point is, you should treat the IDEAS rankings as only the roughest of guidelines to which departments are good.
  14. The ranking difference is large enough that you should almost certainly pick UNC. Yes, the US News rankings are (in general, as well as in this particular case) a reasonable reflection of average opinion in the profession.
  15. I think this is a reasonable summary of where people place. Two caveats: 1) Not everyone gets tenure at their initial placement. On average, people wind up at worse institutions later in their career. 2) Most of these placements are not so research intensive. For example, liberal arts colleges will expect you to write papers, but this is not because they expect your papers to change the world; it is because writing papers forces you to keep up with recent developments in the field, which improves the quality of your teaching. As I've expressed before in this thread, I think it is completely reasonable for someone to decide that they would be interested in these kinds of positions. The lifestyle is attractive and the pay is perfectly fine – or even excellent, if compared to many applicants' home country outside option.
  16. The fact that they are tied in the rankings is an indication that none has a clearly better reputation than the others. Personally I would rate Davis somewhat above the others, and the others about equally.
  17. In what sense would you say that's different from people considering attending a program inside the top 50? I would agree with statements like that the quality of training becomes noticeably worse shortly outside the top 50, and that the quality of the inside option falls more quickly than the quality of the outside option for the average student who is capable of gaining admission to a PhD program. But the thing of needing very specific reasons to attend a PhD applies to everyone.
  18. A couple of points where I disagree: 1) The divisions between tiers are not clear, and there are exceptions to picking a school in one tier over a school in another. I would for sure take a funded Northwestern offer over an unfunded Chicago offer, for example. Students with strong field preferences may also not want to follow the tier strategy, e.g. a student who is certain of wanting to do macro should pick BC over Caltech. Perhaps an easier rule of thumb is that you need a strong rationale for picking a school more than 5 ranks below your highest-ranked admit in the US News rankings, and an exceptional rationale for picking a school more than 10 ranks below your highest-ranked admit. (These numbers might expand from 5 and 10 to 10 and 20 once you get to outside the top 50.) 2) I don't think it's not worth it to attend a PhD for students outside the top 50. I teach in a department outside the top 50 and I think most of our students are making a perfectly reasonable life choice. The point is just that those students need to be aware of what their likely job market outcomes would be, and not go into a PhD if they would only accept working at a research university.
  19. If you're in Boston, there are a number of schools which will let you take real analysis as a part-time student. BC and Tufts might be good options for you.
  20. http://advanced.jhu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Success-Non-Suceess-of-New-Phds-JEP-Summer-2014.pdf If you are only interested in initial placement in a research-based position, you can also consult placement lists, which are available from almost all reputable PhD programs. (These will of course omit students who left the program or did not place through the econ job market.)
  21. I think it's fine to accept and change your mind later. It's their fault for expecting students to commit before you can have any idea where else you'll be admitted. I'm sure you wouldn't be the first person to turn them down in that way. And even if you totally alienated them and they remembered you for it (neither is likely), the reputational costs are small compared with the benefits of going to a better program.
  22. The US News ranking of US programs is essentially the only ranking that I think is helpful for a prospective graduate student. You are probably better off comparing lists of recent placements than you are using rankings, and even better off by asking the opinions of relatively informed people. The RePEc rankings are particularly misleading in my opinion.
  23. In my department, the cost of tuition is about $2000 per year in the dissertation phase. You should definitely confirm the numbers with an advanced grad student there (email is fine if you can't make the visit day) before making any decision. In fact, you really ought to ask the grad students about costs generally.
  24. What region are you from? How important is it to you to publish work which will be known internationally?
  25. Even if you try to keep up with them, they will almost certainly forget things about you which might have allowed them to write a stronger letter. The fact that there might be some time before you apply means it's even wiser to ask them now, since otherwise there is more time for them to forget.
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