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Dwar

Foreign Policy Magazine VS US News for IR

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Hey Guys, 

I wanted to get your opinion on university ranking systems. For this I am specifically talking about the International Relations field.

The two main ranking systems that I am talking about are those complied by Foreign Policy Magazine, "The Best International Relations Schools in the World", and US News and their list of the top political science schools. (Links at the end). While the rankings do have some similarities, like the obvious choices at the top, there are some major differences. Mainly the placement of the DC based schools at the top of the Foreign Policy list, and their placement in the middle or bottom of the US News list. Another oddity that I found was the complete exclusion of the University of Denver from the US News list, which I thought was odd considering they have a highly regarded IR school. I do understand that the US News ranking takes all of the political science subfields into account, but it still seems like the ranking systems are very different with some schools near the top of one ranking while sitting at the bottom of another. 

So I guess I am wondering which ranking do you guys think is correct, or more correct than the other? which one should a applicant place more weight when looking at potential grad schools?

 

Links:

US News: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-humanities-schools/political-science-rankings

Foreign Policy Magazine: https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/02/20/top-fifty-schools-international-relations-foreign-policy/

 

Side Note: I understand that ranking systems re inherently flawed, and that they should be taken with a grain of salt for ultimately deciding a grad school, but they are often a place to start for someone interested in graduate school within the field. 

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US news is you want to become an academic and teach at a university. They rank PhD programs. 

Foreign policy if you want to have a career with think tanks/the government/NGOs. I think it's mostly masters programs here, though apparently they take into account undergrad and PhD programs too. But for the most part, they're mostly talking about MFS, MPP and MPA programs. 

Edited by eggsalad14

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25 minutes ago, eggsalad14 said:

US news is you want to become an academic and teach at a university. They rank PhD programs. 

Foreign policy if you want to have a career with think tanks/the government/NGOs. I think it's mostly masters programs here, though apparently they take into account undergrad and PhD programs too. But for the most part, they're mostly talking about MFS, MPP and MPA programs. 

Thats what I had thought as well, but they do have an entire section devoted to academic careers titled "Top Ph.D. Programs for Academic Career in International Relations". 

Would you still consider them to be mainly career oriented, and less academic? 

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19 minutes ago, Dwar said:

Thats what I had thought as well, but they do have an entire section devoted to academic careers titled "Top Ph.D. Programs for Academic Career in International Relations". 

Would you still consider them to be mainly career oriented, and less academic? 

Well most of those on that list mirror top US News PhD programs, with exceptions of mostly DC schools (notably JHU, American, and Georgetown). If I had to guess, I'd say the discrepancy between the two is that the US news programs are looking at IR programs within political science departments (and subsequently rankings based on political science faculty), while the other is centered around policy school PhDs (and ranked by policy school faculty).

If you're in a PhD program it'll largely have an academic focus. But the methods and scope may be different in between the two. You'll probably never or very rarely read a piece from Political Analysis in a policy centered PhD program, but you definitely will in a political science one. 

Edited by eggsalad14

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3 minutes ago, eggsalad14 said:

Well most of those on that list mirror top US News PhD programs, with exceptions of mostly DC schools (notably JHU, American, and Georgetown). If I had to guess, I'd say the discrepancy between the two is that the US news programs are looking at IR programs within political science departments (and subsequently rankings based on political science faculty), while the other is centered around policy school PhDs (and ranked by policy school faculty).

If you're in a PhD program it'll largely have an academic focus. But the methods and scope may be different in between the two. You'll probably never or very rarely read a piece from Political Analysis in a policy centered PhD program, but you definitely will in a political science one. 

Gotcha, thanks for all your help! To be honest, I don't really take the rankings to mean all that much, I mainly used them as a launch pad to look at the various schools and programs that I ended up applying. 

Also, thanks for talking with me on two different forums! I appreciate it! 

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I personally think that the US News Rankings are pretty flawed from nearly all of the aspects. For example, they rank Brown University always pretty low compared to other state schools and private schools. I believe Brown is 40th in the list. However, when you look at the placements and the quality of the professors from Brown University, it is mostly way better than some of the schools ranked above it in the US News Rankings. 

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47 minutes ago, TheBunny said:

I personally think that the US News Rankings are pretty flawed from nearly all of the aspects. For example, they rank Brown University always pretty low compared to other state schools and private schools. I believe Brown is 40th in the list. However, when you look at the placements and the quality of the professors from Brown University, it is mostly way better than some of the schools ranked above it in the US News Rankings. 

I agree with you on that, US News does randomly place some Schools. For example the University of Denver isn't even ranked at all, while they do have a fairly prominent IR school which does offer PhD and Masters programs. 

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21 hours ago, Dwar said:

I agree with you on that, US News does randomly place some Schools. For example the University of Denver isn't even ranked at all, while they do have a fairly prominent IR school which does offer PhD and Masters programs. 

It's not really random. Places like Denver aren't ranked in US News because US news ranks Political Science programs (as well as the top 15 IR subfields within political science departments). Denver isn't ranked because it's the school of international studies, not the department of political science. While it's pretty similar to IR, it has very very little resemblance to the rest of a political science department. 

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22 hours ago, TheBunny said:

I personally think that the US News Rankings are pretty flawed from nearly all of the aspects. For example, they rank Brown University always pretty low compared to other state schools and private schools. I believe Brown is 40th in the list. However, when you look at the placements and the quality of the professors from Brown University, it is mostly way better than some of the schools ranked above it in the US News Rankings. 

I think Brown gets kind of severely punished on US News because they are decidedly not strong in much of the field, including some parts that are quite prominent within the field (weak quant school, not a lot of American subfield, (even though they are quite strong in other parts). US News ranks overall departments, not just specific subfields. That's why other specialized schools like Stony Brook also do worse than their placement suggests. 

Is this a flaw? Yes. But to say that's it's "pretty flawed from nearly all of the aspects" is wrong. 

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