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Yale or Stanford?


ep2175
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in need of some advice here. i'm studying ethnic politics & violence (focused on the middle east), and trying to decide between stanford and yale.

at this point i have visited both schools, and liked both - though they are very, very different programs and departments. perhaps some of you can help me wade through the pros/cons of it all? part of the issue is that when i visited stanford, most of the faculty who i'd be working with was away (david laitin, lisa blaydes, jeremy weinstein) -- so i only have other peoples' opinions to go off of. when i visited yale, i met with almost everyone i have an interest in working with, including some leading political theorists (i found stanford a bit lacking in the realm of theory, but i might be wrong).

people out there who know the program at stanford - what do you think?

those who know yale - what do you think?

some details that might help on the feedback front - i do not have a background in political science (i studied area studies), so at this point i am very open methodologically. i'm interested in learning the whole range of tools, but i just don't want to get stuck somewhere that is dogmatic about the discipline (which is what i've heard from some about stanford).

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I don't know much about Yale on ethnic violence and civil war, but I know Fearon and Laitin at Stanford are pretty awesome in this area (though from a very quantitative perspective, esp. Fearon). Yale has a better reputation for political theory overall probably, but I don't think either faculty is clearly better at the moment. I'd say it depends on interests. If you're more interested in continental philosophy, critical theory, Straussianism, or early modern/modern political thought then Yale is better. However, if you're interested in analytic/liberal approaches, ancient political thought, or American political thought, then Stanford is better.

Stanford's rep in political science might be better overall, but the schools are close enough that you should probably just go completely on subfield strength and particular faculty. If you care about weather, then Stanford is MUCH better (basically perfect weather year round), though Palo Alto is boring to many people.

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Fearon and Laitin are great, but Yale has a pretty strong group on political violence: Kalyvas, Wood, Sambanis, Blattman, Lawrence, Darden (and maybe Lyall or Wilkinson if you believe the rumor boards). Not to say one or the other is better, just different.

Having lived in both places, I actually like New Haven a little better than the Palo Alto end of the Bay Area. The weather is worse, certainly, but New Haven has I think better food (Modern, The Pantry, Sally's and Pepes, decent Thai food), is a more diverse and vibrant place to live, and is effectively as close to NYC as Palo Alto is to SF (that is, it's just far enough to make it seem like a pain in the middle of the semester). I'm from the East Coast, though, so I'm partisan.

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Fearon and Laitin are great, but Yale has a pretty strong group on political violence: Kalyvas, Wood, Sambanis, Blattman, Lawrence, Darden (and maybe Lyall or Wilkinson if you believe the rumor boards). Not to say one or the other is better, just different.

Having lived in both places, I actually like New Haven a little better than the Palo Alto end of the Bay Area. The weather is worse, certainly, but New Haven has I think better food (Modern, The Pantry, Sally's and Pepes, decent Thai food), is a more diverse and vibrant place to live, and is effectively as close to NYC as Palo Alto is to SF (that is, it's just far enough to make it seem like a pain in the middle of the semester). I'm from the East Coast, though, so I'm partisan.

Okay, I'm not a polisci person but I've lived in both places too. I'm from California and I think Palo Alto is a WAAAAAY better place to live than New Haven, hands down (although I have to concede the point about food). So I guess it is a matter of taste! :D

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Both Yale and Stanford are great schools, but placement wise, I heard that Yale PoliSci Ph.D grads have not been doing very well on the job market recently. Maybe you should check the placement records for Yale and Stanford PoliSci Ph.D grads for the past two years?

Good luck deciding on a school!

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One thing you might want to do is check out what graduate students are writing their dissertations on. It will give you a good idea of what kind of work the profs are willing to supervise and how many other people you'll be able to have fruitful discussions about your research with. On the Yale website, only a relatively small percentage of students have websites, but among these, there were definitely a lot of people working on ethnic violence (I didn't look at Stanford).

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thanks all. very helpful advice across the board. i will be weeding through grad student dissertation topics this afternoon.

as for the weather - i acknowledge the point and admit i would love to live it up in california for a few years. but that said - i'm from new york, so a connecticut winter is not going to kill me. plus - we east coasters just love to have something to complain about. don't really know what i'd do without it, at this point.

AllFiredUp - fair enough. i'll try to get it together soon.

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...just wanted to throw another factor in the midst, in case anyone has any input / words of wisdom.

i study the middle east, and a bit concerned that stanford can't offer me much on that. important? not important?

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...just wanted to throw another factor in the midst, in case anyone has any input / words of wisdom.

i study the middle east, and a bit concerned that stanford can't offer me much on that. important? not important?

Most places aren't going to be able to offer you much on that so I wouldn't weigh it too much into your decision. There are very few top tier Middle Eastern scholars in our profession.

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