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UChicago - CIR MA


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Hi guys,

Is there anyone who is currently attending UChicago's CIR MA program or already completed it willing to give me some advice on it? If you are currently attending, what are you doing and how is it? If you completed it already, how did it help you go into PhD and what would you have done differently? Is there anything I should know before coming in? As the program is only 1 year long, I would hate to waste any time and be unable to fully utilize the resources and opportunities. Thanks in advance! :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm a CIR alum and think highly of the program, particularly for its ability to prepare students to succeed in getting into and excelling in PhD programs. Rather than rehashing previous posts, check out my comments, and those from many other folks, in the following threads about getting the most of a masters and CIR specifically. I'll also re-mention that you should make the most of each opportunity you can - especially since you're only there 9 months. RA for a professor whose work you admire and who you think you might like to write a LOR, present at MPSA while you are in Chicago, think strategically about the courses you take and what they signal to admissions committees, etc.

If you have further questions, feel free to PM me.

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@stangertimes: I am! But after talking with my professors and others, I'm pretty set on going there! :)

Edit: Oh btw, are you more of policy or academic person?

Edited by McMuffin
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McMuffin and strangertimes, I'd certainly be interested to hear your impressions of the campus day (since I cannot attend myself) once you've returned and sorted things out if you've any fresh insights on the department. Have a good visit!

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@stangertimes: I am! But after talking with my professors and others, I'm pretty set on going there! :)

That's nice to hear! I guess I will see you there! Do you mind telling me what informed your offer? As in, what attracts you to CIR and what do you think are the major strengths of the program (according to what your professors said, etc)...

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@verdigris: Will do! I hope you have good options to choose from!

@strangertimes: Sadly, for me, CIR is my only choice. I wish I had such good range of options like you. :( At this point, I'd kill for SAIS (even though I got cocky and only applied to PhD). Bad PhD cycle :P. This is more like an arranged marriage and going to see the suitor for the first time. But from what I hear, CIR is very strong academically and is good for PhD prep program. It's unlike any other terminal master's out there since it's a lot less policy oriented. Also, Robert Pape and John Mearsheimer are to me as Justin Beiber and Ryan Gosling are to girls. And Chicago is the only terminal MA that I found to give any substantial funding! I come from super poor family, hence my name. And uh... it's short and flexible! I plan to reapply to lots of PhD again next cycle, but if that still doesn't fall through (according to my concerns) then there is option for 2nd year specialization! Or I can do a joint program with Harris! :D Finally, I love Chicago as a city!

Edited by McMuffin
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@verdigris: Will do! I hope you have good options to choose from!

@strangertimes: Sadly, for me, CIR is my only choice. I wish I had such good range of options like you. :( At this point, I'd kill for SAIS (even though I got cocky and only applied to PhD). Bad PhD cycle :P. This is more like an arranged marriage and going to see the suitor for the first time. But from what I hear, CIR is very strong academically and is good for PhD prep program. It's unlike any other terminal master's out there since it's a lot less policy oriented. Also, Robert Pape and John Mearsheimer are to me as Justin Beiber and Ryan Gosling are to girls. And Chicago is the only terminal MA that I found to give any substantial funding! I come from super poor family, hence my name. And uh... it's short and flexible! I plan to reapply to lots of PhD again next cycle, but if that still doesn't fall through (according to my concerns) then there is option for 2nd year specialization! Or I can do a joint program with Harris! :D Finally, I love Chicago as a city!

Those are some pretty strong reasons :) And UChicago is a great place to be "arranged" married to, haha. I guess I'm only confused because I do not want the policy route to be closed off to me, and going to school in DC has a major advantage in terms of that. Anyway, if you'd like to chat on Campus Day feel free to send me a PM and I'll give you my real name :)

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@verdigris: I came back from CIR visit day yesterday, and I must say that I was very impressed with the program! As far as the first impression goes, I found that Chicago is very heavy in Realist tradition coming from American perspective. I attended Bob Pape's lecture on strategy and was little bit phased by his idea of "off-shore balancing". I suppose Mearsheimer is similar since he was Bob's mentor. I think the Polisci tradition in Chicago is geared more towards qualitative methods, although Ethan BDM provides some training in quantitative methods. I also liked the close guidance provided by the preceptors helping you preparing for future PhD applications. And also, the program seems to be very academically oriented than policy due to the heavy emphasis on the master's thesis and workshops. Coming from semester-based college, quarter system scares me a bit, but I guess I'll just learn to live with it. Also, in terms of preparing for PhD, preceptors told me that most students are advised to take a year off or pursue joint degree with Harris or do second-year specialization (very competitive) before applying. Not much of a feeder program to PhD than I hoped.

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I don't know how much of a "feeder program" McMuffin was expecting CIR to be, but I don't know of another masters program that does as good a job of getting people into PhD programs in Political Science (specifically for those interested in IR and Comparative) as Chicago. It is true that CIR doesn't feed directly into Chicago's PhD program at a very high rate, but graduates do have a very high success rate of getting into top ranked PhD programs. I know it's only a one year snap-shot, but their admissions to top schools is a nice example ( http://cir.uchicago.edu/page/cir-glance ). I was in a different cohort, and our year also did very well and are attending a range of schools including; Harvard, Princeton, UCLA, Michigan, Wisconsin, Yale, etc.)

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@verdigris: I came back from CIR visit day yesterday, and I must say that I was very impressed with the program! As far as the first impression goes, I found that Chicago is very heavy in Realist tradition coming from American perspective. I attended Bob Pape's lecture on strategy and was little bit phased by his idea of "off-shore balancing". I suppose Mearsheimer is similar since he was Bob's mentor. I think the Polisci tradition in Chicago is geared more towards qualitative methods, although Ethan BDM provides some training in quantitative methods. I also liked the close guidance provided by the preceptors helping you preparing for future PhD applications. And also, the program seems to be very academically oriented than policy due to the heavy emphasis on the master's thesis and workshops. Coming from semester-based college, quarter system scares me a bit, but I guess I'll just learn to live with it. Also, in terms of preparing for PhD, preceptors told me that most students are advised to take a year off or pursue joint degree with Harris or do second-year specialization (very competitive) before applying. Not much of a feeder program to PhD than I hoped.

Thanks for the recap! That seems to more or less match with my expectations and I'm already brushing up on some of the recommended reading from the CIR website since I am relatively unfamiliar with some of the Realist IR "classics" as it were, and I'm glad to see that there is at someone balancing the department with a qualitative viewpoint. That being said, however, I suppose it might be useful to take some statistics if there's time, though I don't necessarily relish the prospect.

Overall, I'm glad that the visit left you with a good impression. Hopefully there will be some information about registration and orientation in the near future!

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I finished the Graduate Housing application just now. But I'm also applying to I-House. I probably won't get an apartment of my own. I like things furnished and maintained for me! :D

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Good to hear that we're all set for next year!

I heard you get it couple weeks after you submit your acceptance letter.

I haven't received mine as of yet and it's been about four weeks, although I wonder if they're waiting until the acceptance deadline to give them out. I do look forward to setting up a network ID, however, to take a look at TA positions when they start to become available.

I'm also looking at the graduate housing options as well. The I-House looks interesting, but at the same time it seems a bit pricey for a dormitory. Hehe, I agree--it's nice to have things furnished and ready before you arrive.

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Good to hear that we're all set for next year!

I haven't received mine as of yet and it's been about four weeks, although I wonder if they're waiting until the acceptance deadline to give them out. I do look forward to setting up a network ID, however, to take a look at TA positions when they start to become available.

I'm also looking at the graduate housing options as well. The I-House looks interesting, but at the same time it seems a bit pricey for a dormitory. Hehe, I agree--it's nice to have things furnished and ready before you arrive.

I agree! The I-House is pricey. McMuffin, how did you apply to the I-House without your UCID? And verdigris, what other options are you looking at?

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@strangertimes: Really? The single at I-House is like $2150 per quarter, which is like $700 a month. I don't think it's too bad.

You can register for I-House application account without UCID here. I didn't apply yet, since they have yet to open for Fall 2012, but I will soon.

@verdigris: Are you PhD student? What TA positions? :o

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@strangertimes: I think I will almost certainly apply for an apartment through Residential Services, but I'm also looking at other private apartments in the Hyde Park area just to satisfy my curiosity. Of course, if something better comes along I'm always ready to keep my options open.

@McMuffin: I may have misspoke, what I meant was to look at lower positions maybe as a research assistant, grader, tutor, etc. since I am not a PhD student. There's a section of the student employment website for UChicago that lists these positions alongside postings for lecturers, TAs, preceptors and such but it requires a network ID to sign in. I'm definitely hoping to find some sort of job for the year if possible.

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