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Duke or NYU? Needs decision advice!


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Hello all! I first one to congratulate everyone on their amazing offers! As everyone is in the stage of decision-making process, I wanted to bring up a question. I am seriously in between NYU and Duke and I was wondering what you guys think?

-So the advantage of Duke is that it is more prestigious than NYU and life is much easier there with the phd stipend though their methods training is not as impressive as NYU

-The big advantage of NYU is the rigorous methods training, which I think makes a candidate a lot more competitive in both academia and private sector job market, though the life is MUCH harder with that stipend to live in NYC.

I would appreciate if you guys can share what you think!

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I'm not sure if Duke is more prestigious that NYU. It is similar.

Duke has a good methods sequence/training as well. There are a lot of people who do advanced methods that went to Duke and some methodologists as well. As far as I know, the methods training/focus is different. At Duke, students take classes in the stats/computer science department, so they focus on statistics, Bayesian statistics, machine learning, etc (Duke has one of the best stats departments in the country). NYU focuses more on causal inference and experiments, though you have Spirling doing text analysis and Rozenas is a Duke PhD so he does more statistical modeling. 

Your focus should be more on your substantive interests (American, Comparative, IR) and look for a couple of people who could be your advisors (so associate level, maybe full professor as long as they are not retiring, and some people that are about to get tenure). Try to ask them about their current projects and see if they co-author with graduate students. You can also try to talk to their students during the visiting weekend. Ask about people leaving/retiring (I know J Larson is leaving NYU, for instance).

 

 

 

 

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Check and compare attrition rates and placement performance. It is one of the most important info with respect to choosing grad school. You may acquire this info by asking current grad or profs during the visiting day or via email (regarding the way you ask, check the latest post that Takeruk wrote)

Or you can compare the matriculation and placement. Since both institution accept around 12 students (NYU says it accept average of 12 and Duke says it accept 12-15 - you may set it 13.5), by simply subtracting the placement from the entering cohort, you can calculate attrition (here, the solution may include phds without job - but that is as important as attrition since what you consequentially wanna know through this is how the entering cohort end up after spending tones of opportunity cost).

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3 hours ago, Albert01 said:

Check and compare attrition rates and placement performance. It is one of the most important info with respect to choosing grad school. You may acquire this info by asking current grad or profs during the visiting day or via email (regarding the way you ask, check the latest post that Takeruk wrote)

Or you can compare the matriculation and placement. Since both institution accept around 12 students (NYU says it accept average of 12 and Duke says it accept 12-15 - you may set it 13.5), by simply subtracting the placement from the entering cohort, you can calculate attrition (here, the solution may include phds without job - but that is as important as attrition since what you consequentially wanna know through this is how the entering cohort end up after spending tones of opportunity cost).

You are being naive. 

Both programs are similarly ranked and with similar placements. At this point, what will matter is the effort the candidate makes, not a general difference between Duke/NYU. Also, it is hard to know placement in 5-6 years. 

What could matter more is placement by subfield and advisor(s). Maybe this particular candidate has an interest in something that program X is better than program Y. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, MrsPhD said:

You are being naive. 

Both programs are similarly ranked and with similar placements. At this point, what will matter is the effort the candidate makes, not a general difference between Duke/NYU. Also, it is hard to know placement in 5-6 years. 

What could matter more is placement by subfield and advisor(s). Maybe this particular candidate has an interest in something that program X is better than program Y. 

 

 

Thanks for your advice. You provide a precious standard with respect to considering placement; it seems that we better check placement advisor-basis than school-basis.

But my point is to consider average attrition rates of the programs (due to several reasons including Qual, personal matters, etc which must vary by program) that can be estimated through placement that schools post on their website rather than placement per se; and I think this is the only way we can acquire any info about attrition except directly asking faculty or current grads.

Combined with students' mentality-type (for instance, with grit and enjoying challenge or risk-averse and performing better with firm, guaranteed supportings) attrition rate can be an important issue for selecting the school. Admittedly, the difference between rates is only meaningful when such difference is based on systematical factors rather than due to personal 'noises'.

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8 hours ago, Albert01 said:

Thanks for your advice. You provide a precious standard with respect to considering placement; it seems that we better check placement advisor-basis than school-basis.

But my point is to consider average attrition rates of the programs (due to several reasons including Qual, personal matters, etc which must vary by program) that can be estimated through placement that schools post on their website rather than placement per se; and I think this is the only way we can acquire any info about attrition except directly asking faculty or current grads.

Combined with students' mentality-type (for instance, with grit and enjoying challenge or risk-averse and performing better with firm, guaranteed supportings) attrition rate can be an important issue for selecting the school. Admittedly, the difference between rates is only meaningful when such difference is based on systematical factors rather than due to personal 'noises'.

It is hard to estimate attrition because it is not the case that everyone on the market is from the same cohort. Students go at different times because some take longer than others. Also, not everyone goes on the job market because some decide not to go into academia, others get postdocs before getting listed on websites, etc. 

You can ask about attrition in visits. I know people that went to Duke and NYU, and there is nothing out of the ordinary with attrition. They are not kicking out people for no reason.

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3 hours ago, MrsPhD said:

You can ask about attrition in visits. I know people that went to Duke and NYU, and there is nothing out of the ordinary with attrition. They are not kicking out people for no reason.

Thanks. That is relieving. I waa worried since I read that in some programs the rate goes up high as 40 to 50 percent.

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56 minutes ago, Albert01 said:

 

Thanks. That is relieving. I waa worried since I read that in some programs the rate goes up high as 40 to 50 percent.

That is more an Econ thing because they admit big cohorts and then kick out a lot of people. I have known of PhD programs in Political Science in which 40-50% of a cohort was kicked out for failing to pass comps, but it was not a regular thing, just something that happened once. Most departments like Duke or NYU have small and the people that leave are those that (1) realize that they don't want to do a PhD (2) don't study or put any effort and are asked to leave (3) fail comps (if you are already working with someone and make an impression, is less likely that you will fail comps, unless you really do a bad job and it is not a "bordeline" case; usually, you can retake comps once). I've found (3) to be the lower case of attrition. 

 

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I agree with @MrsPhD - I have only heard of a few cases in which a student was asked to leave a poli sci phd program because they failed comps. It seems that there are two more common types of attrition:

1. Those who leave within the first couple of years to pursue other opportunities / follow their partner / etc

2. Those who never manage to finish their dissertations.

The first type is almost entirely idiosyncratic, and should not be of concern to you when choosing a program. The second type is usually not program dependent, but it could be indicative of issues w/r/t advising. If you haven't already, I would strongly recommend that you speak with some of your potential advisors' current students; this can help you identify warning signs about the faculty member (unresponsive/hard to work with/might be leaving/etc) and give you a sense of their respective advising philosophies.

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