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GSPIA vs. Korbel vs. Chicago CIR


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I’ve been accepted with partial funding at both GSPIA and Korbel in the their security studies programs. I have also been accepted into the 1 year MA program at Chicago CIR.


Which university has the best security studies program?

Is Chicago’s CIR 1 year program worth passing up two highly regarded security studies programs?

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What's your objective? Is this PhD preparation or are you interested solely in professional preparation? Either way you may find the MA rankings in the TRIP survey (page 66) useful.

Frankly, regardless of your goals, I'd take Pitt GSPIA off the list, you'll notice it's not ranked in the top 25 of the survey linked and the faculty there simply aren't as strong. You also consider seriously the fact that Chicago is a 1 year program while Denver takes 2 years and think about which of those appeals to you.

You said you got partial funding at Denver, but given its longer duration, I'm guessing that overall Denver will cost as much or more than Chicago. Assuming that's right, I would *definitely* go to Chicago if this is PhD prep. If you're interested in a policy career, it's a closer call but I would probably lean Chicago given its significantly greater overall prestige/resources, somewhat higher ranking, and stronger faculty. However, it's a simple fact that you will learn more in 2 years at Denver than 1 at Chicago, so it's not necessarily a clear cut choice.

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NOT PhD preparation. Purely interested in a policy career. Hence, my hesitation about such a theory heavy program such as Chicago's. Chicago's career placement data is also lacking when compared to GSPIA or Korbel.

Does Chicago's prestige make up for not having a more defined security program?

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Chicago CIR merits asking this forum.

I would find out from Chicago, directly if possible, what Harris School courses you'd be able to take (and whether John Mearshimer will be teaching next year ot not, since he is not listed on the political science department's "tentative" course list). That will matter a lot for the value of your degree. The CIR thesis will allow you to develop some specialist knowledge in a security studies topic, possibly a policy topic. The program seems to have a good record placing people.

But weigh whether you'd be getting the policy analysis, economic, and statistical training you'd probably get at Korbel. Also, you didn't mention how much funding Chicago offered, but weigh the monetary costs too.

This should be over in the Government Affairs forum.

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I used to be in CIR, and they normally let people take courses at the Harris School. However, some of them were dependent on the approval of Harris School (and they were mostly approved unless it was a compulsory class for Harris students, in which case all the spots would have definitely been taken up).

Though I'm not really sure how much methods training it's actually possible to acquire in a year, probably not much. Also, the thesis has to be written while completing 9 courses in one year, which doesn't give you that much time to work on the thesis.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm actually in a similar boat--I just visited both Korbel and CIR last week, and both offered me the same amount of money (30K). However, at Korbel this covers two quarters of tuition, while this covers nearly the whole program at Chicago. While I was a bit more worried about the one year program and the intensity of it, I was impressed by the strong faculty and the small cohort. 40 to 50 people means that you get much much more attention from the career coordinator and the preceptors, as opposed to the hundreds of students that attend Korbel or other MA programs. Everyone at Korbel was arguing how being out in the middle of nowhere in Denver wasn't bad for their careers and they could make the same connections, but I didn't buy it. Their faculty seems to have a high turnover rate was well

I also noticed that nearly all 130 people there were white, except for me, which was a little off putting for someone who grew up in an urban, diverse environment. That obviously was just a "could you see yourself living here" factor for me though. I also remember seeing a fox run through the campus the morning I arrived, which really kind of underscored how out of the way the place is. Despite CIR not being the same as a two year master's, I'd actually think it would have more connections and opportunity for networking.

Also, Zahar, I asked about Mearsheimer and was told that while he won't be teaching next year, he will be at Chicago and working on research, and he will be available for CIR students to consult with him, he will be holding workshops, and might be looking for RAs from CIR. Supposedly he treats CIR people no differently than his own PhDs. My tour guide actually was working with him on her second year specialization

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