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Cornell applied economics VS Madison economics VS Chicago Harris


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Hi everyone. I have recently got full funded offers from these programs. My research interests mainly lies in political economy, development, economic growth. Could you please give me some suggestions on whcih programs should I choose.



pros: I have already passed the PhD Q exam at Harris during my master study. So I could graduate in 4 years. Many first-tier faculties (Robinson, Blattman, Sonin, Durlauf, Ito, ......) that conduct excellent researches. And also Harris fits my research interests well.

cons: not strong performance in econ job market (may be better in the future because of their great hiring)? Policy PhD may be discriminated in the econ market? Not that rigorous training in econ (compare with other 2 programs).


Cornell applied economics and management.

Pros: Taking most of their courses with econ PhD, rigorous training. Strong placement records (even better than their econ department) and have many chances to coauthor with their professors.

Cons: Few of the faculty members have top 5 publication records. Nobody does the political economy in their department.


Madison economics PhD

Pros: Excellent training and professors. Highly ranked in econ PhD programs.

Cons: Not so many professors that fit my research interests (only want to work with 2 professors). Not strong placement records. Too many cohorts, high competition in terms of resources. And maybe high attrition rate in their q exams (rumor?)


I appreciate any suggestions and comments! Thank you.

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I would recommend the schools in this order:


#1: Chicago Harris: You would likely be quite successful and happy in this program. It's a smoother transition. And moving costs are not a factor assuming you're currently in the same area.

#2: Cornell: If you're mostly interested in the placement records of past students, this school does seem most impressive. But you may have to modify your research interests even if slightly.

#3: Madison: This is a highly sought after school by many people, and the quality of the program may be elevated, I don't know. But you might be best served to try to get more information about how this school treats its students and how accommodating the professors are in helping with your research interests.


Since you've already gotten into all three schools, why not have a call or email blast to each professor you'd like to work with and see before you commit where you'd be the most fulfilled. That's my two cents, sorry I don't know too much about the schools but I am familiar with the names.

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Generally, top 5 PPol strictly dominates anything outside top 20 Econ. However, seeing as to how Wisconsin-Madison is top 15, it isn't that clear cut. That being said, if you're really certain you're going to be staying in your current field, there is little merit to be gained form moving away from Harris, since you've already passed the qualifiers.


There is one last thing. You need to be cognizant of the fact that PPol grads very rarely get placed into Econ departments.

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