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plddp

Duke vs Princeton

7 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Hi everyone, just looking for a sounding board on this one: is it crazy to be considering Duke vs. Princeton? I was fortunate to get full funding from Duke, and I think with differences in cost of living (particularly if my partner lives in NY) the stipend from Princeton just evens things out.

I did a campus visit to Duke and went to the hosting weekend at Princeton. Both programs felt very similar in terms of their very personal/welcoming approach and focus on strong academics. The class I sat in on at Duke was very impressive (both in terms of lecturer and student engagement) but less so at Princeton, but they were different subjects and I'm sure there are idiosyncrasies across courses at any school. The student culture at Princeton was amazing, but I don't want to be too swayed by that because I didn't get to experience it at Duke. Both seem to have good opportunities to pursue my interests in behavioural science and program evaluation, albeit in quite different contexts.

Right now, the main thing making me lean towards Princeton is that I'm not American, and the campus/town/alumni felt more cosmopolitan than at Duke/Durham. The Princeton name is also much more recognised where I'm from (maybe Fresh Prince of Bel Air/West Wing played a role?) but name isn't everything to me. On the other hand, Princeton seems to have strengths in international policy but I am more interested in domestic, developed country issues (just not the US in particular).

Thanks for reading and for any thoughts :)

Edited by plddp

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Congratulations on your acceptances! With funding out as a factor I would consider curriculum, brand (bleh, but it matters, right?) and location: 

  • Curriculum: Which program has the core and classes that you really want? I know that Sanford has a strong core, while maintaining the flexibility to tailor your MPP with a selection of electives from across Duke's graduate schools (law, Fuqua, etc). While you can choose a specialization you don't have to, and outside the core you can pretty much design your program based on whatever classes you want to take. I didn't apply to WWS so I am not entirely sure what their curriculum looks like, but I have heard that it has a pretty specific core, specialization and advancement requirements. 
  • Brand: Duke and Princeton are both amazing, but I believe (other commenters, feel free to correct me!) that WWS has an edge over Sanford, especially in international policy circles, and is considered on par with HKS (that Ivy thing...). 
  • Location: Where do you want to live?? 

Good luck! And hey - if you choose Duke, I'll see you at Sanford! :)

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Posted (edited)

I think @QK91 summed it up pretty well.  And from reading between the lines it looks like you're leaning toward Princeton on points 2 and 3.  I would actually go further than QK on both points, because it's my impression that Princeton is one of the 3 or 4 globally recognized U.S. universities, whereas you can't say the same about Duke.  

Also, for point 3, I heartily agree with your suspicion that the Princeton area -- an hour or so from NYC -- is way more interesting for an international student.  That's where I'd want to be if I were coming to the U.S. for the first time.  Don't get me wrong -- I've lived near Durham for 15 years now and I like the area.  It's only 20 minutes from Raleigh too, which is a cool, up-and-coming mid-size city.  But it's no NYC.

So unless you see something about the Core or other course offerings at Sanford that really sways you, it seems like Princeton is a better fit.  I say this reluctantly because I too am going to Sanford and would love to have another highly-competent international student in my cohort. . . but the good news it that you can't really go wrong when choosing between two amazing places, so congratulations on that at least! :)

Edited by 3dender

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Both are excellent schools but I think they are not comparable. Princeton is tier 1 school in general and Duke is tier 2. 

Personally I would choose Princeton over Duke in no time, but then, really depends on which field you want to study. At the phD level, the prof that you will be working with is more important than the school you are "branded" with. Masters degree is a different story though.

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11 hours ago, dregon03 said:

Both are excellent schools but I think they are not comparable. Princeton is tier 1 school in general and Duke is tier 2. 

Personally I would choose Princeton over Duke in no time, but then, really depends on which field you want to study. At the phD level, the prof that you will be working with is more important than the school you are "branded" with. Masters degree is a different story though.

I'm not sure where you're pulling your information from but: Princeton and Duke are both well-regarded schools. Both schools are "regarded" as top 20 programs in multiple fields. Princeton is in the Ivy League but one has to remember that the Ivy League is a sports conference. It doesn't mean that schools that aren't in it don't offer "better" academics. There are a lot of great schools comparable to Princeton and Duke.

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2 hours ago, Warelin said:

I'm not sure where you're pulling your information from but: Princeton and Duke are both well-regarded schools. Both schools are "regarded" as top 20 programs in multiple fields. Princeton is in the Ivy League but one has to remember that the Ivy League is a sports conference. It doesn't mean that schools that aren't in it don't offer "better" academics. There are a lot of great schools comparable to Princeton and Duke.

I see where you are coming from. I totally acknowledge that Duke is a decent school. It can be compared to some of top Canadian schools like U of Toronto, which also regularly ranks within top 20 in most fields. That being said, I don't really like to distinguish schools by rankings but considering European and Asian schools, both Duke and UofT don't really place within top 20 in the world anymore in a lot of fields. They do in any respectable American sources that ranks based on English publications and citations made in English journals. Then, there are Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and several others. There are some traditional American schools that just won't be defeated by anyone's, any rankings, and any places. 

Ask any professor in Government field. They will tell you Princeton is a better school. Also, the post was made by someone who is applying to government studies, which is a field quite clearly Princeton does a better job at placing their graduates. 

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