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Hi everyone!

I am graduate from a very technical political science program. I have taken several game theory, econometrics and stat courses. I applied to CP/political economy and methods programs in political science. I have been admitted to Texas AM and Penn State. I am waitlisted by Rice. I have also been accepted to MA from CIR (Chicago), NYU, and SAIS. I am not sure how to proceed now. Since my initial intention is to stay in Academia, I do not think I can get placed in very strong schools from these two programs. I feel like Penn State's dual-title PhD in Data Analytics and Political Science is a great option. I think it would lead to opportunities for many private sector jobs. If I do not get placed at a good program, I would be interested in working in political risk analysis.

I think Texas A&M have a better political economy and methods training, but I am not sure. 

Which PhD program would be a better option between Texas A&M and Penn State? If I get accepted to Rice, would that be a better option?  

I received 1/2 ride from CIR. Do you think it is worth paying taking the MA program and reapply next year? Given that I have acceptance from two solid programs, I am not sure paying MA is a wise thing to do? 

Any comment is appreciated! 

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From what I have seen, Texas A&M and Penn State have good placements. Not amazing placements, but still good. As long as you are ambitious and motivated, I think you could make a great go of it with either option. Really, it comes down to do you want to take a risk and take the Masters from Chicago or NYU and maybe get into their Ph. D. programs down the line or take the sure fire bet and just go for A&M or Penn State now?

If it were me, I would go with Penn State or Texas A&M. The road will be rockier for stellar placement, but as long as you stay motivated, you will get what you want. Between the two, it sounds like Texas A&M would be the better fit of the two. Mainly because if your ultimate goal is academia then you should focus your attention on that and worry about private sector if academia doesn't pan out. You can still get a rock solid private sector job with an A&M degree. It just seems the best of all worlds. 

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2 hours ago, vikinggrad1 said:

Hi everyone!

I am graduate from a very technical political science program. I have taken several game theory, econometrics and stat courses. I applied to CP/political economy and methods programs in political science. I have been admitted to Texas AM and Penn State. I am waitlisted by Rice. I have also been accepted to MA from CIR (Chicago), NYU, and SAIS. I am not sure how to proceed now. Since my initial intention is to stay in Academia, I do not think I can get placed in very strong schools from these two programs. I feel like Penn State's dual-title PhD in Data Analytics and Political Science is a great option. I think it would lead to opportunities for many private sector jobs. If I do not get placed at a good program, I would be interested in working in political risk analysis.

I think Texas A&M have a better political economy and methods training, but I am not sure. 

Which PhD program would be a better option between Texas A&M and Penn State? If I get accepted to Rice, would that be a better option?  

I received 1/2 ride from CIR. Do you think it is worth paying taking the MA program and reapply next year? Given that I have acceptance from two solid programs, I am not sure paying MA is a wise thing to do? 

Any comment is appreciated! 

Could you tell a little more about your profile (undergrad, scores, etc)? I think you already have two strong options in hand, but there is a possibility of attending CIR and learning and drastically improving your competitiveness so you can reapply the year after (not next year, but the year after the next, when you finish the whole CIR training and MA thesis). My CIR friends this year who were admitted to Princeton/Columbia/Duke and other top-10 programs for C/IPE. 

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Penn State has the better methods program if that is what you are interested in. They have more senior people and they have the Data Analytics thing, like you mention. They are have a group of students who regularly are interested in methods. If I'm not mistaken, they made a junior methods hire this year. In CP you have Matt and Sona Golder. They are really nice people and they care about their students. 

Texas A&M has methods people but they are all junior (except Whitten, though he just does one or two things). Sure, the website lists more but I am looking for people that teach graduate methods, write some type of methods paper or apply advanced methods to substantive problems. The positive aspect of Texas A&M is that is an "up and coming" department, it has been making good hires, and it has money. 

I'd go to the visiting weekends and see who could you see as being your advisor and if you hit it off or not. Your advisor cannot be an assistant unless they are about to go up for tenure (and you think he/she is going to get tenure). 

 

Edited by MrsPhD
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10 hours ago, Dreamer109 said:

From what I have seen, Texas A&M and Penn State have good placements. Not amazing placements, but still good. As long as you are ambitious and motivated, I think you could make a great go of it with either option. Really, it comes down to do you want to take a risk and take the Masters from Chicago or NYU and maybe get into their Ph. D. programs down the line or take the sure fire bet and just go for A&M or Penn State now?

If it were me, I would go with Penn State or Texas A&M. The road will be rockier for stellar placement, but as long as you stay motivated, you will get what you want. Between the two, it sounds like Texas A&M would be the better fit of the two. Mainly because if your ultimate goal is academia then you should focus your attention on that and worry about private sector if academia doesn't pan out. You can still get a rock solid private sector job with an A&M degree. It just seems the best of all worlds. 

1

Thank you for your response. I know what you mean. Admissions seem to vary significantly every year, which makes it a great risk to wait a year and reapply. Since the academia is too competitive nowadays, I feel like it is almost impossible to get amazing placements from programs ranked below 15ish. I personally know few people at top 5 programs that are having difficulties with getting tenure-track placements. 

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8 hours ago, MrsPhD said:

Penn State has the better methods program if that is what you are interested in. They have more senior people and they have the Data Analytics thing, like you mention. They are have a group of students who regularly are interested in methods. If I'm not mistaken, they made a junior methods hire this year. In CP you have Matt and Sona Golder. They are really nice people and they care about their students. 

Texas A&M has methods people but they are all junior (except Whitten, though he just does one or two things). Sure, the website lists more but I am looking for people that teach graduate methods, write some type of methods paper or apply advanced methods to substantive problems. The positive aspect of Texas A&M is that is an "up and coming" department, it has been making good hires, and it has money. 

I'd go to the visiting weekends and see who could you see as being your advisor and if you hit it off or not. Your advisor cannot be an assistant unless they are about to go up for tenure (and you think he/she is going to get tenure). 

 

3

Thank you for your insights. Which program do you think has better placement record? Since Texas A&M is slightly higher ranked, would that be the better option? I am aware having a strong advisor is crucial for a good placement. Would you say that Penn State's placement record may become stronger because political science departments increasingly value data science? From my research, it seem like even most quantitative schools like Rochester, is just starting to incorporate increasingly more data science courses.

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52 minutes ago, vikinggrad1 said:

Thank you for your insights. Which program do you think has better placement record? Since Texas A&M is slightly higher ranked, would that be the better option? I am aware having a strong advisor is crucial for a good placement. Would you say that Penn State's placement record may become stronger because political science departments increasingly value data science? From my research, it seem like even most quantitative schools like Rochester, is just starting to incorporate increasingly more data science courses.

I don't know. Texas A&M has grown pretty fast in the past 4 years or so, so students who benefited from this growth are just starting to go on the market. Thus, it is hard to compare both departments. 

I'd look at the former and current students from people you'd like to work with (where did they go, did they co-author with their advisors, did they get some type of grant, etc.). Focus on your substantive interests, rather than on methods. Also, a lot will be up to you, it is mostly about looking into which department would be a better fit for you, finding advisors who fit your personality (and are not mean for the sake of it) and research interests, etc.  

 

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I'm in a somewhat similar position deciding between A&M and another school plus some waitlists so I appreciate hearing everyone's thoughts on A&M! I was able to speak with my ideal advisor before applying and he sounded like they had a solid track record of co-authoring with their students and while their students didn't get "amazing" placements right out of the gate they did get TT positions at decent schools in geographically desirable locations which is honestly about all I'm looking for and it sounded like their results were about on par with others in their sub-field.

I'm coming from a totally different field though so I'm very curious to see what they say during the admitted students day next week.

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5 hours ago, SerenityNow! said:

I'm in a somewhat similar position deciding between A&M and another school plus some waitlists so I appreciate hearing everyone's thoughts on A&M! I was able to speak with my ideal advisor before applying and he sounded like they had a solid track record of co-authoring with their students and while their students didn't get "amazing" placements right out of the gate they did get TT positions at decent schools in geographically desirable locations which is honestly about all I'm looking for and it sounded like their results were about on par with others in their sub-field.

I'm coming from a totally different field though so I'm very curious to see what they say during the admitted students day next week.

Congrats! I attended their recruitment event earlier, and they said they were trying to make most faculty co-author with their students before they are out on the market. 

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 3/13/2018 at 12:54 PM, MrsPhD said:

I don't know. Texas A&M has grown pretty fast in the past 4 years or so, so students who benefited from this growth are just starting to go on the market. Thus, it is hard to compare both departments. 

I'd look at the former and current students from people you'd like to work with (where did they go, did they co-author with their advisors, did they get some type of grant, etc.). Focus on your substantive interests, rather than on methods. Also, a lot will be up to you, it is mostly about looking into which department would be a better fit for you, finding advisors who fit your personality (and are not mean for the sake of it) and research interests, etc.  

 

@MrsPhD, Thank you very much for your comments. I have few additional questions I want to ask you. How would you compare Penn State's methods training to top 15? Some of the faculty members have said that their training is at least as good if not better than the top 15 programs. Also how is penn state's prestige in the academia or industry? Is it well-regarded? 

I feel like the training at Penn State would be better suited for my interests, although I think Texas AM can help me more with academic placements. Yet, I don't know if I should take a year of and try to get into top 15. I know the training at Penn State will be sufficient for my work, but I dont think it will provide me a label like top well-known schools like Yale, Harvard, MIT, etc. Should I place emphasis on prestige, or am I overthinking this?

Some professors suggested me that I could start at Penn State and consider transfering to other programs? Would you recommend this path? Few students at Penn State have spent 3 years at Penn State and last 2 years at IQSS Harvard. Can PhD students spend last 2 years at other programs?

I hope you can help me out. I found your advice very useful. 

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3 hours ago, vikinggrad1 said:

@MrsPhD, Thank you very much for your comments. I have few additional questions I want to ask you. How would you compare Penn State's methods training to top 15? Some of the faculty members have said that their training is at least as good if not better than the top 15 programs. Also how is penn state's prestige in the academia or industry? Is it well-regarded? 

I feel like the training at Penn State would be better suited for my interests, although I think Texas AM can help me more with academic placements. Yet, I don't know if I should take a year of and try to get into top 15. I know the training at Penn State will be sufficient for my work, but I dont think it will provide me a label like top well-known schools like Yale, Harvard, MIT, etc. Should I place emphasis on prestige, or am I overthinking this?

Some professors suggested me that I could start at Penn State and consider transfering to other programs? Would you recommend this path? Few students at Penn State have spent 3 years at Penn State and last 2 years at IQSS Harvard. Can PhD students spend last 2 years at other programs?

I hope you can help me out. I found your advice very useful. 

There is not such thing as transferring to another department. You would have to apply to another department and start over (of course, you'd have some training which could be good). The students you mention probably have a pre-doctoral fellowship or are visiting students at Harvard. Of course, if that is what you'd like to do, it would be good option.

I have never seen someone spend 2 years somewhere else, though. Sometimes people spend a semester to a year somewhere else. But spending the time in which you are supposed to be writing your dissertation far from your advisor is strange (1 year is fine, but 2 years!). 

Yes, I know people at Penn State that got good jobs. You should look at their placements, but a lot of the work is going to come from you. Programs can give you tools, but it is how you use them and how much you invest in your work!

In the end, if you liked the professors are Penn State more, then there you have your answer. 

About applying again... That is a tough decision. You'd have to think whether you can do something in a couple of months to improve your package or not. 

 

 

 

 

 

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