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Program Strength v. Subfield Strength v. Placement


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comment on which we think is most important? well... obviously i think some mixture of the three. but, i think there is an overall feel for a program, that is tied into "program strength," that matters. for instance, i am interested in work that draws upon and blends comparative politics and international relations. so, i looked for programs that have strengths in that area rather than just the one subfield. but, if you are highly specialized then this may matter less to you. i think program strength and subfield strength also tie into the faculty there-- not just if the faculty are well known, but if they are doing the type of work you would ultimately like to do-- because that is what you will most likely be trained in.

placement is obviously very important, as has been discussed ad nauseam... but there are no guarantees in life as far as placement goes. if the department's placement record mostly includes schools where you could see yourself being happy as a prof, then i would say that is probably the most important thing for placement. of course, if they are only placing 1-2 people each year out of 10 Ph.D.s granted, that would probably be a red flag.

just my (incredibly subjective) two cents. of course, when you only have one firm offer in hand, like me, the decision is a lot easier... haha.

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