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U of Florida vs Iowa State PhD program --Please help me decide for the college!!


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I have been accepted to PhD programs for the upcoming Fall at the University of Florida (UF) and the Iowa State University (ISU).

-> UF has a small program with younger faculty--most of them are recent graduates from ivy schools--while ISU has one of the largest Statistics department in the US.  

->UF is ranked #40 this year and ISU is tied at #20

-> Both places have research that interests me

-> UF has a better reputation as a research university in general

Please help me decide on picking the school for myself. What factors should I consider before making a decision? Are there any current graduate students or alum from these schools who can give some pros and cons on the schools?

 

Edited by sb052
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I attended University of Florida Statistics. Feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions about the program or Gainesville. 

Are you interested in academia or industry? If the latter, I don't think it will make much difference, and you should weigh things like location, size of stipend, etc. If you are interested in academia, I'm also not sure that one would give you an inherent advantage over the other -- hiring would be determined a lot by your PhD advisor, the letters of recommendation, and your CV (mostly how strong your publication record is).

I would caution that the USNWR rankings do not necessarily reflect academic placements. For example, UFlorida and Michigan State have better academic placements than some top 20 schools like Penn State. In particular, there are UF alum working in TT positions at places like Duke, University of Minnesota, and UT-Austin. This might partly be self-selection and not necessarily causation (i.e. maybe PSU students are more inclined to join industry). But it also shows that below the top 15 or so schools, the rankings are not necessarily correlated with academic placement (i.e. higher rank =/= better placements).

Edited by Stat Postdoc Soon Faculty
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If you want to go into academia, UF places well and their faculty has some very renowned senior people (Daniels, Doss, Michailidis, Hobert).  ISU is a lot more uneven - a lot of their faculty don't publish in top stats journals or they do interdisciplinary research (some of which is unique and cool but not going to easily land you a job as a stats professor). It is hard to do the research on their professors because ISU's website is so bad, but I don't think they have many people that can compare to the UF profs.

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Does Mike Daniels at UF still advise students? His research seems interesting to me; but his website is not updated and he seems to have a history of moving around departments. If anyone from UF could weigh in, it would help.

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24 minutes ago, mikstabio said:

Does Mike Daniels at UF still advise students? His research seems interesting to me; but his website is not updated and he seems to have a history of moving around departments. If anyone from UF could weigh in, it would help.

Mike Daniels still supervises both PhD students and postdocs. I think he will stay at UF for awhile -- he had left for UT Austin previously, but UF gave him a lot of money (>$200k salary) to come back and be the Department Chair. He has placed some students in great academic positions -- he has former students at UT Austin SDS, University of Louisville Biostatistics, and Boston University Biostatistics. He is also more applied, so if you are not that interested in theoretical stats, he is a good choice to work with (UF has also hired other more applied statisticians in recent years). 

I think most of the Assistant Professors would probably be good advisors too, as they are well-connected (one of them was co-supervised by two big names at Harvard Biostats -- Ivy League pedigree helps in that regard!), and they are pretty productive. It is always a bit riskier to work with an Assistant Prof since they're not tenured, but I don't think the ones they hired from Harvard or Penn will have any difficulty getting tenure, TBH.

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10 hours ago, Stat Postdoc Soon Faculty said:

I think most of the Assistant Professors would probably be good advisors too, as they are well-connected (one of them was co-supervised by two big names at Harvard Biostats -- Ivy League pedigree helps in that regard!), and they are pretty productive. It is always a bit riskier to work with an Assistant Prof since they're not tenured, but I don't think the ones they hired from Harvard or Penn will have any difficulty getting tenure, TBH.

Adding onto what my good friend @Stat Postdoc Soon Faculty has said, I have found that being joint advised by one senior professor and one junior professor has been extremely beneficial. If this is possible, I definitely recommend it.

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If you hold the programs equal with regard to research opportunity, I'll add that Gainesville might be a nicer place to live than Ames, and it's certainly a lot warmer. Congratulations on your acceptances! I don't think you can make a "wrong" decision here.

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