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  1. As someone who first got a policy-oriented MA, worked in industry for a few years, and then went on to get a Ph.D., the distinction you're trying to create isn't real. It's just not. I think you may have missed the point of me listing off the various institutions. It's not that they are great schools, it's that many of them come from the type of programs you claim add no value in the job market. I concede the point that I don't have complete data on the effect of an MA from varied institutions on the job market. But as a good social science researcher I am sure you know that some evidence is better than none. I've presented you with my data points, what are yours? You're currently a Ph.D. candidate, so what are you basing this advise off of? Did you get a terminal MA? How much time have you spent in government and government consulting work? Maybe you have done all of this and we have both had very different experiences. That's possible. But if you haven't had at least a few years of experiences in the market you're commenting on I would recommend you question how informed your perspective is.
  2. I can't agree with you. If you spend time in government or industry you will know that's not the case. The primary difference between the "applied degree" programs and all the others is what their front office focuses on for placing students. During my time in industry students from programs like Georgetown and Johns Hopkins were the most prevalent, but that's largely because they graduate 3-4 times as many students. I regularly worked with people that had masters degrees from places like Duke, Harvard, UCSD, Columbia, NYU, and others. Some positions are just as, if not more, competitive than the academic job market and an MA will open up doors that simply would not be there before. You can make a pretty good career at someplace like the CIA or a think tank with an MA. Without it you'll hit your ceiling fairly quickly. Another point on the statement that they won't make you more competitive is the simple fact that so many consulting firms are willing to pay for your MA. I know of at least 2 people who got poli sci masters funded by their employer. Consulting firms bill in large part based on your education, and many government positions explicitly require a graduate degree. An employee with an MA allows consulting firms to bill more and fill more positions. Your point about opportunity cost is also not necessarily true. If you get a fair bit a technical training during your masters it will boost your starting salary much higher than what you would have gotten otherwise. I know several people with MAs that landed data science jobs right out of school and are now making six figures with only a couple of years of experience. If, on the other hand, you want to study something like theory and plan to work at a non-profit or political campaign then yeah, you're right. Skip the degree and get the experience. An MA is expensive. It is not for everyone. There are more valuable degrees you can get. But they absolutely have more value than simply boosting your Ph.D. resume. They are a great option for many students depending on their goals.
  3. Sorry but this is simply not true. MA programs are cash cows (although not necessarily for the PhD students), but that doesn't make them useless outside of a resume booster for PhDs. The right MA will position you well for government or consulting jobs that you wouldn't be competitive for otherwise. Chicago's MAPSS and Georgetown's SFS come to mind as excellent programs that will go a long way towards placing you in highly competitive jobs outside of academia. If you want to do something like work for the foreign service, NCTC, or consult for other political or national security related clients, I would absolutely recommend getting a masters and not a Ph.D.
  4. oats

    Turning down an offer after accepting it

    It is absolutely bad form but please don't commit 5-7 years of your life to your second choice program because you felt bad about backing out. Think hard and make sure this is what you want. If it is, email the DGS and let them know you've had a change of mind and would like to go to a different program.
  5. oats

    Summer before application-Language or Quant?

    Then I think it comes down to what type of research you want to do, and how tied you are to whatever region you're studying. Not knowing your broader background or goals, I'll say a couple of things that may be able to help inform you: 1. If you're planning to do qualitative research focused on a single region, then I would expect you to at least know the basics of the region's language. Beyond that though, foreign languages really are almost no value added in my view beyond signaling that you're at least moderately intelligent. This is coming from someone who learned two. 2. I'm not familiar with Middlebury's program, but recognize that even full immersion in a foreign country will not get you very far in the language if it's only for a summer. Especially if you're learning anything more complicated than spanish/german/french. If you already have a good foundation in the language and the summer program is an immersion experience that might really solidify the language, then it is a bit more appealing. 3. For the majority of scholars, a computer language will be much more valuable than a foreign language. Consider focusing on the computational courses at ICPSR if your stats are already solid.
  6. oats

    Summer before application-Language or Quant?

    Quant no question. Remember if you're looking into a Ph.D. you're looking to be a scientist in a very literal sense. Knowing a foreign language can signal you're a capable person, but they do not help you do science. There may be an exception if you're doing area studies, but even then I would argue that methods are still more important. Methods are much more relevant and will do more to help you get into a good program. Even if you yourself don't want to be a quant researcher, it's very important that you're able to engage with it in an intelligent way.
  7. oats

    What would you do (advice)?

    I generally agree. I guess the distinction I'm trying to make is that all MA programs are cash cows, but some will help you get into Ph.D. programs while some will only help you on the job market. Chicago has a good reputation of helping students transition into Ph.D. programs. That said, no MA is a guarantee that you'll get into a good Ph.D. program. It's also a very expensive investment, so you should think long and hard about getting an MA with the intent of increasing your chances with Ph.D. programs.
  8. oats

    What would you do (advice)?

    My advise is to worry less about the ranking and worry more about who your potential advisor at UC Davis is. Ranking is important, but grad students and prospective grad students put a lot more stock into it than actual academics. A mid tier program with an excellent advisor is better than a top tier program with a poor advisor every time. So disregard the ranking for a bit. Ask yourself who you'll be working with at UC Davis. Talk to some of their past students. Look at how they have done of the job market. If you're comfortable with their outcomes, go to UC Davis. If not, I recommend going to Chicago. My last choice by a large margin would be to go to LSE. A lot of MA programs are largely cash cows and won't help you get into a Ph.D. program much. My impression is that LSE falls into that camp. Chicago, on the other hand, probably has the best reputation for preparing students for rigorous research programs. If you don't like UC Davis, go to Chicago and take methods.
  9. I'm curious as to why you would want a political science degree if you don't want to do political science. An all too common misconception is that you get a political science Ph.D. to have an informed or authoritative opinion on politics -- to be a subject matter expert. This is not the case. Political science Ph.D.s are for people that want to be scientists. Meaning formulating and testing hypotheses, and then publishing the results of your experiments. If you don't want to do that, I don't recommend getting a Ph.D. Subject matter expertise comes with the Ph.D. true, but it also comes with extensive training in the scientific method. That scientific training is the difference between a 2 years masters and a 5-6 year Ph.D. So if you just want to be a subject matter expert and don't want to be actively doing science, I advise going for a masters degree. No need to spend 4 years of your life on scientific training if you don't want to be a scientist.
  10. oats

    2018-2019 Application Thread

    Much less so but I would strongly advise against getting a political science Ph.D. with the intent of going into policy/government. It's unnecessary and incredibly expensive in terms of opportunity cost. If this is your intent I would encourage you to think deeply about why you really want a poli. sci. ph.d. as the only good reason to get one in my opinion is to be doing scientific research. The marketplace outside of academia cares much more about the tangible skills you bring to the table (i.e. stats, programming, salesmanship, etc.). To acquire these skills you're better off either getting an MA or Ph.D. in another field. If you want to be a subject matter expert for some consulting firm or go in the foreign service, a masters degree in a poli sci field is sufficient and a Ph.D. is overkill without adding much value.
  11. oats

    Michigan vs. Ohio State

    Michigan is generally considered to be one of the strongest schools from a methods standpoint. OSU is no slouch in this department either. I would say that the above poster is not correct in saying there's no reason to go to OSU if you can go to Michigan. It largely depends on what your area of expertise is. If you're just generally interested in a certain subfield, then michigan is probably a safer bet. If you have more specific interests then it's a different story. For example, you're interested in a specific methodological approach my impression is that Michigan has a better reputation in Bayesian methods while OSU has more robust computational methods. The best advice I can give you is this though: Don't take advice on which school to attend from applicants. They are on the outside looking in and really do not have a very informed perspective to offer. Start talking to people in the discipline, specifically in your field.
  12. oats

    2018-2019 Application Thread

    I'm not an applicant. I'm on the other side of a Ph.D.
  13. oats

    2018-2019 Application Thread

    A bit off topic but generally speaking a B from a mid to range school would be less disqualifying than a B from an Ivy or similar school. It's well understood that grade inflation is rampant at the top while mid tier and state schools give grades that are more indicative of aptitude. There's kind of a goldilocks zone between Harvard and your local community college. My own experience in grad school reflected this. I went to a small state school and sweat blood for my grades. Then when to an elite graduate university and grades were basically free.
  14. oats

    2018-2019 Application Thread

    As someone with similar experience, I completely disagree. And if you've never seen a student with linear algebra come though... I'm not sure what to even say to that.
  15. oats

    2018-2019 Application Thread

    I did not say people are getting denied because they don't have 3 semesters of calculus. Nor did I say math was the issue. Just the most obvious thing to look at from my experience. Calc 3 and linear algebra is an ideal scenario. Not many students have that (and those that do are usually the ones that go to the top ranked schools) so it won't automatically disqualify you. What will cause a problem though is a single semester of calculus. Especially if you got anything less than an A, and don't have any other quant skills to bring to the table like econometrics or a programming language. Again, doesn't immediately disqualify you; so much depends on your field, potential mentors, the other people in the applicant pool, and how the stars align. The point is this: applicants tend to think of their application in terms of GRE, resume, publications, letters, statement. If you're applying to top 10 schools math is just as important. So when someone lists off all the great things about their application and says nothing of math, look at what's under that rock first.

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