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Dloverstreet

Best Places/Departments (Econ/Poly Sci/Public Policy) to Study Political Economy?

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I am interested in pursuing a PhD in Political Economy, Institutional Analysis, and Political Economy of Development. Originally, I was convinced that Economics schools were the best route to study these fields coming from a Bachelor's degree in Econ, but the more research I've done, the more schools outside of Econ departments I've found that specialize in Political Economy.

Several Economics schools like George Mason, Florida State, Clemson, and West Virginia were suggested to me for my research interests, and they certainly do have scholars interested in those fields at each of those schools. But I've come to find that several Public Policy (UChicago) schools and many Political Science (MIT, Duke, Columbia, etc.) schools offer Political Economy as concentrations. If this is what I want to study, which route would offer me the best opportunities after graduation, going into an Econ, Public Policy, or Political Science PhD?

Any suggestions would be helpful, thank you!

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I'm not very familiar with your specific fields of interest, but the "hybrid" political science/economics departments (i.e. Stanford GSB, Harvard PEG, Caltech, etc.) along with the public policy schools (Princeton WWS, Chicago Harris) probably offer what you are looking for. Graduates seem able to go on both the political science and economics job markets. Some schools, like Harvard PEG, require you to choose between political science and economics tracks, which might affect your approach to political economy and which job market to target.

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@Dloverstreet what you wrote reads to me more like political science with polecon major. Definitely research PhD programms that have strong faculty in it. Also, there is always an option to take courses in econ/pubpolicy once you are enrolled

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2 minutes ago, ihatedecisions said:

Definitely research PhD programms that have strong faculty in it. Also, there is always an option to take courses in econ/pubpolicy once you are enrolled

I agree with this. Also know that often times there are various subfield divisions within IR that departments create. For example, a department may have political economy as a subfield of IR, along with institutions or conflict studies. But i agree that you should be looking for strong political economy faculty and reach out to them and ask if their program is well suited to your interests. 

ALSO, just want to point out that public policy PhD programs are a whole other ball game from political science. They often times require an MA and i believe many of them except some level of field work. 

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Hey thanks guys for all the advice, you guys have some great suggestions. I have a Bachelors degree in Econ and an MPP, so going on the Public Policy school route for a PhD shouldn't be an issue since I've already got that Masters degree.

Obviously fit with the program and faculty is a huge concern, but beyond that, would a degree from a Policy school be less marketable afterwards than a degree from a straight Econ or Poly Sci department? I'm hoping to go into academia, but if that's not possible, I wouldn't mind doing research at a think tank. I've read a lot of opinions both on this forum and Urch that think of Public Policy degrees as "second tier" Econ degrees. I definitely haven't felt that with my MPP, but I'm concerned a PhD could be viewed differently. I would think the multi-disciplined nature of a policy school would work perfectly with what I'd like to study, and that's why the program at UChicago's Harris is so appealing. What are your opinions on Public Policy PhD's?

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11 minutes ago, Dloverstreet said:

What are your opinions on Public Policy PhD's?

From what i understand (and please take this with a grain of salt), Public Policy PhD's are viewed better in industry, but not necessarily in academia. From what I've seen it seems like your statement about them being second tier does hold some truth to it. For example, if a Public Policy PhD and a Political Science PhD apply for the same position within a political science department, all other factors equal, the political science PhD will get the job. I would assume the same goes for econ departments.

With that line of thinking it would figure that public policy PhD's would work in public policy departments, but from what I've seen online that isn't always the case. Those types of programs often want professors with real world experience, EX: Ambassadors, congressman, policy makers. People who can teach their students about the industry world and have the experience and technical know-how to back it up. Essentially, they seem to value different things then what other more academic oriented departments/schools generally do. 

 

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From what I understand, the absolute top public policy schools (harris and HKS) do very well at placing political economists, but that is because they operate more like applied micro degrees than typical public pol schools do. If you look at the faculty of those schools, they're all political scientists and economists at the top of their field, not practitioners. Outside of getting into one of those schools, you're probably better off going to a top poli sci/econ department.

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Would it be fairly easy to transition from Econ and Public Policy over to Political Science for a PhD? Here's my profile if it makes it any easier:

Undergrad at Arizona State: BA Economics (3.85 GPA), minor Political Science

Economics: Macro Principles (A), Micro Principles (A), Intermediate Micro (A), Immigration & Econ (A+), Intermediate Macro (A), Money & Banking (A+), Labor Economics (A), Game Theory (B), Capstone (A+), International Economics (A)
Math: Calc 1 (A), Calc 2 (C), Statistics (A), Calc 3 (B), Proofs (A-), Econometrics (A+), Linear Algebra (B+), Real Analysis (B+), Differential Equations (A)

Grad at Arizona State (Master of Public Policy): GPA 3.98

Public Service Research I (basically applied econometrics) (A), Microecon of Public Policy I (A+), Public Service Research II (A+), Program Evaluation (A+), Public Policy Analysis (A), Microecon of Public Policy II (B), Applied Econometrics (A-), Public Budgeting and Finance (A), Advanced Policy Analysis (A), Capstone (A)

GRE:
165 Q, 160 V, 4 AW

My letter of recommendations would come from professors in the School of Public Affairs, not the Econ department (although I could probably get one if I really tried from the Econ department, but it probably wouldn't be as good as my MPP recommenders). I could also get one from a research fellowship I am currently doing at George Mason University in Political Economy.

I have a paper published in a lower-tier Public Policy journal of which I am the sole author and will have some experience with research with my fellowship at George Mason.

I also have 2 years of work experience, some research experience at a think tank and 1.5 years in state government as an Analyst.

 

From what I've read, work experience can be helpful for Public Policy, but for other fields like Econ and Poly Sci it doesn't really matter unless it's research in the field. Would it be a safer bet for me to stay Public Policy or switch to Poly Sci or back to Econ?

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Posted (edited)

I think if you're trying to go to one of the programs I mentioned earlier, work experience does not matter because they're not training students to go work in government, they're training them to work in academia. At the end of the day, harris and HKS are not really only public policy schools in name--they're quite distinct from the other public policy schools that are training students to work largely outside of academia.

As far as your profile goes, that seems like what they'd looking for--especially because it sounds like you do have research experience. 

Edited by Bean6618

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Dloverstreet said:

Would it be fairly easy to transition from Econ and Public Policy over to Political Science for a PhD? Here's my profile if it makes it any easier:

Undergrad at Arizona State: BA Economics (3.85 GPA), minor Political Science

Economics: Macro Principles (A), Micro Principles (A), Intermediate Micro (A), Immigration & Econ (A+), Intermediate Macro (A), Money & Banking (A+), Labor Economics (A), Game Theory (B), Capstone (A+), International Economics (A)
Math: Calc 1 (A), Calc 2 (C), Statistics (A), Calc 3 (B), Proofs (A-), Econometrics (A+), Linear Algebra (B+), Real Analysis (B+), Differential Equations (A)

Grad at Arizona State (Master of Public Policy): GPA 3.98

Public Service Research I (basically applied econometrics) (A), Microecon of Public Policy I (A+), Public Service Research II (A+), Program Evaluation (A+), Public Policy Analysis (A), Microecon of Public Policy II (B), Applied Econometrics (A-), Public Budgeting and Finance (A), Advanced Policy Analysis (A), Capstone (A)

GRE:
165 Q, 160 V, 4 AW

My letter of recommendations would come from professors in the School of Public Affairs, not the Econ department (although I could probably get one if I really tried from the Econ department, but it probably wouldn't be as good as my MPP recommenders). I could also get one from a research fellowship I am currently doing at George Mason University in Political Economy.

I have a paper published in a lower-tier Public Policy journal of which I am the sole author and will have some experience with research with my fellowship at George Mason.

I also have 2 years of work experience, some research experience at a think tank and 1.5 years in state government as an Analyst.

 

From what I've read, work experience can be helpful for Public Policy, but for other fields like Econ and Poly Sci it doesn't really matter unless it's research in the field. Would it be a safer bet for me to stay Public Policy or switch to Poly Sci or back to Econ?

Have you considered UC Berkeley? They're one of the few schools that has both a top rated public policy and a top rated political science program. Schools like Princeton are incredible for polisci but surprisingly not ranked that high for policy, particularly policy analysis. Michigan is another school that pulls of top notch public policy and polisci programs, and obviously there's Harvard. 

I had a work associate who got a PhD at UC Berkeley and spoke very highly of their political economy faculty in their policy PhD program at the Goldman School. 

Edited by Paulcg87

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20 hours ago, Paulcg87 said:

Have you considered UC Berkeley? They're one of the few schools that has both a top rated public policy and a top rated political science program. Schools like Princeton are incredible for polisci but surprisingly not ranked that high for policy, particularly policy analysis. Michigan is another school that pulls of top notch public policy and polisci programs, and obviously there's Harvard. 

I had a work associate who got a PhD at UC Berkeley and spoke very highly of their political economy faculty in their policy PhD program at the Goldman School. 

I have looked into Berkeley's program, but they actually don't have a lot of information about their program online and they haven't been too responsive when I've tried emailing them for more information. I'll keep looking for more information about it, thanks for the tip!

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7 hours ago, Dloverstreet said:

I have looked into Berkeley's program, but they actually don't have a lot of information about their program online and they haven't been too responsive when I've tried emailing them for more information. I'll keep looking for more information about it, thanks for the tip!

I don't know if it makes any difference but Cal (UC Berkeley) is in an interesting situation right now. The school just recently ended all in-person courses like Harvard and Stanford and has decided to go with online classes for the time being. This, combined with the fact that GSPP is supposed to release admissions decisions this week for the MPP program, has probably put their program admin and a lot of the faculty in a situation where they are not terribly responsive. Whatever you do, good luck!

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