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Overall Political Science Ranking or Specialization Ranking?


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If I'm trying to maximize my chances of getting a tenure track job, should I focus on the overall USNews ranking of a school or the USNews ranking for my specialization? I'll also factor in fit and placement record, but I'm wondering which ranking ought to matter more in the decision.


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You mean to accept a department?

You should look at potential mentors/advisors and look at the placement of their students (students who directly worked with those people). You should also look at the placement of the department but focus on the placement for those in your field. Some departments place better in one field and then place nobody in another field. You should also take into consideration the % that got a job. Many department post the 2 people that got TT jobs but that's different if their cohort is 4 people versus 20 people. 

Then there are other stuff to consider, like mentoring style of potential advisors; do faculty coauthor with students?; will funding be enough?; do they make you be TA a lot or do they have time in which you don't have to TA/RA and only study? 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I agree with MrsPhD's advice. Department --> Subfield --> Advisors: you get admitted to a department, and within it you choose a subfield. That dominates the first 2 years of your program. But the bulk of the time you're in graduate school is spent working with your advisor and a committee of 2-3 others. Those are the people who will have the biggest effect on your research and placement potential. Of course, there are halo / reputation effects from a highly ranked department that boost all candidates coming out of that program so in a perfect world the choice of best advisor for you and choice of department ranking are not completely at odds with each other.

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