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atlas

Good PhD in Political Science/IR Programs in Europe?

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Hi,

I am thinking of applying to PhD programs in Political Science in Europe. Certain schools I know are good for example the London School of Economics, SOAS, Oxford, etc. But I am looking a little beyond these programs to possibly Italy, France, Germany or the Netherlands. The program I attend would have to be in English. My focus is International Relations and I have a particular interest in issues relating to Western Civilization. I already have a master's degree in Political Science/International Relations. I am American so I am also wondering about funding, and if I don't get any university funding would my only option be to take out American private school loans?

Can anyone recommend some solid schools to apply to in Europe and comment on payment options? I am particularly interested in hearing from an American student who has gone to Europe to do their PhD in Political Science (IR) ....And find out how this turned out for them. Thanks for any assistance!!

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Before someone says something really snarky, would you mind explaining why you are wanting to get an IR degree outside of the US? Are you intending to come back and teach in the US?

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Why would I want to get an International Relations degree outside the US? There are many reasons, but more specifically a huge part of my international relations training has been through travel and living in other countries, so why not study abroad? Thanks for any information on good IR programs in Europe....if you know of any.

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Would you mind answering the second part of my earlier question (it will help me answer your original question)? Are you intending on teaching in the U.S.?

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It's possible that I might teach in the US...but I spend a lot of time out of the US, so no I don't have my heart set on teaching in the US. Basically in the past ten years I've spent about 6 of those years outside the US. I might just stay in Europe....that's why I'm looking for some good programs to apply to there. I'd actually really like to go to school in Italy or France, but the good programs I know of in France are taught mostly in French....and I'm just not that sure about Italian universities at this point.

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Tidefan's question was quite relevant. The majority opinion seems to be that coming back to the US to teach with a European PhD is very difficult (nearly impossible?).

In Italy, you might want to look at the European University Institute in Florence.

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Here's the thing, it is going to be nearly impossible to find a decent teaching position in the US with a European degree, especially if you are an American who went overseas to get said degree. The first question I would ask if I was looking at such an application is "why would you go elsewhere when the best political science programs are in the states?"

The other issue is the HUGE difference between IR in the states and IR in Europe (especially on the continent). There are both methodological issues and philosophical ones. So, really, I guess I would suggest that you do your homework, research these differences and decide if they are worth factoring into your decision making.

Third, if you are serious about this (and from what you have written I think you are), you really need to get into the mindset of applying to schools that !) are going to get you the best training possible 2) provide you with the opportunities that you are after, i.e. research interests, funding, placement records and a very distant 3) are in a location that you could see yourself living for 5-7 years (although some European degrees are much shorter than this).

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Thanks for your assistance. I am applying to some programs in the US too, but I am looking to apply to some others in Europe as well. I'll check out the school that was mentioned in Florence, Italy also.

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"The majority opinion seems to be that coming back to the US to teach with a European PhD is very difficult (nearly impossible?)."

It really depends on what type of research you are doing and the school that you are coming from. The statement that it is nearly impossible to to teach with a European PhD does not reflect reality . It does not explain why there are people with Oxford and LSE PhDs teaching at schools such as Stanford and Harvard to name just a few. Stanley Hoffman received his PhD from Sciences Po and Roderick Macfarquhar has a PhD from LSE. Maybe some people on this board do not consider them true political scientists.

It also really depends on your research interests. If you are interested in theory and history when analyzing international relations, you probably would not want to teach in Michigan's political science department. If you are interested in quantitative methodology for international relations research, you probably would not want to teach at Oxford.

Also, depending on what you consider a true political science department or what you consider international relations, there are a number of European PhDs teaching at Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, etc. The Dean of the School of Foreign Service has a PhD from LSE.

"The first question I would ask if I was looking at such an application is "why would you go elsewhere when the best political science programs are in the states?"

Unfortunately, this statement is not really reflective of reality either. Oxford, LSE, and Cambridge have quite strong programs, and depending on your research interests, they may be more suitable. If there is a faculty member at Oxford that is more fitting for your research interests than one at Berkley, it would make sense to go to the school where your research interests are best met.

"Third, if you are serious about this (and from what you have written I think you are), you really need to get into the mindset of applying to schools that !) are going to get you the best training possible 2) provide you with the opportunities that you are after, i.e. research interests, funding, placement records and a very distant 3) are in a location that you could see yourself living for 5-7 years (although some European degrees are much shorter than this)."

The best training possible really depends on what methodology you are interested in. If you are interested in qualitative research, LSE outshines Michigan.

I agree completely that if you do qualitative IR research, you may have more difficulty finding a job in US political science departments that are looking for a faculty member do research that is not qualitative. It really comes down to what your research interests are. If you are not interested in quantitative methodology, why devote 6 years of your life and the rest of your life doing that type of research if it does not interest you?

I agree as well that there are less Americans with PhDs from outside the US teaching in top political science programs. That is representative of a) the type of methodology predominant in a department B) wanting to stay in the US to do a PHD c) funding: its quite difficult to get any funding abroad. Its more appealing to go to a program in the US because you have a higher chance of getting funding than spending 100,000 dollars of your own money on a PhD in Britain or France, etc. d) research interests and whether the department in the US fits your research interests.

Stating that LSE and Oxford are not as good as a top US school is not that representative of the truth.

If you want to use quantitative IR methodology, schools in Europe do not have the concentration of leading faculty comparable to in the US.

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If the previous poster will notice, I did not include LSE and Oxford in my discussion (I explicitly said programs on the continent, which does not include the UK).

Here are the 2009 TRIP Rankings of the best IR programs in the world. Notice that there is not a single school on the European continent (not including the UK) on this list.

Overall Rank Ph.D. Program

1 Harvard University

2 Princeton University

3 Stanford University

4 Columbia University

5 Yale University

6 London School of Economics

7 University of Chicago

8 University of California, Berkeley

8 Oxford University

10 University of Michigan

11 University of California, San Diego

12 Massachusetts Institute of Technology

13 Cornell University

14 Aberystwyth University

15 Cambridge University

16 Johns Hopkins University

17 Georgetown University

18 New York University

19 University of California, Los Angeles

20 University of Minnesota

21 Ohio State University

22 University of Rochester

23 Duke University

24 Tufts University

25 Australian National University

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Gradstudent1985 I completely agree with you. I actually finished my master's degree in IR abroad and most of my professors were from Oxford and LSE. I think some academics don't realize there are great institutions outside the US. The only problem I had with the Oxford, LSE professors, at least for the newer graduates, was that they didn't seem to have as much teaching/classroom experience because they had spent all their time researching while getting their PhD.

I agree LSE, Oxford, Science Po, possibly St. Andrews are quite popular for Political Science students in Europe...and some of these students are definitely finding work in the US. They may have to do a post-doc first, but so do a lot of people.

Basically I already know about the "ivy league" type schools in Europe I was just hoping a few people would write in and tell me about their great Political Science Dept. in Europe, which I might not be familiar with.

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Atlas -

I can give you a bit of info on Sciences Po since I graduated from that school with a Research Masters in Comparative Politics.

Obviously, Sciences Po is a prestigious school, and probably one of the most high-profile poli sci schools in Europe. However, if you had to choose between LSE/Oxford and ScPo, I'd recommend that you go for LSE & the like. The main reason for that is that historically, Sciences Po was never very strong research-wise -- the school is known for training people to become public policy experts, not academics. Now, they do have a doctoral school that they're really trying to develop, and there are excellent teachers there, but it still lacks in resources tremendously. The library is too small for instance, and funding is scarce. Also, you'll barely have any classes at all as a PhD student there (just a few seminars here & there).

On the other hand, one thing to consider is that Sciences Po has numerous exchange agreements with excellent American universities, and many doctoral students take one year or a semester to go do research at schools such as Columbia, Berkeley or Princeton, and excellent fellowships are usually offered. So you could get the best of both worlds in a sense: doing a PhD in France in only three years' time, and spending a year in the U.S. developing contacts with professors there in case you want to eventually go back & look for a job/post-doc there.

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Parisienne,

Thanks for the information. I would apply to Sciences Po for my PhD, but as I understand it classes are taught in French and English and I would have to speak French pretty fluently...is this correct? Do you know if it possible to just take classes in English only at Sciences Po at the doctorate level? I've heard good things about this school and I love that city.

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Atlas,

As far as the language in which classes are taught, my understanding is that the Economics doctoral program is the only one where classes are exclusively taught in English, unfortunately. You should also keep in mind that, again, there are very few classes that you'll be able to take as a PhD student at ScPo. Only Masters students have regular classes.

Also, if your interest is IR, you should be aware that Sciences Po's IR doctoral program is actually quite particular. When getting into the program, you need to choose an angle through which you'll want to study IR (politics, economics, or history), yet the program still fashions itself as a "multidisciplinary" one, where for instance students need to take economics classes to complete the degree (or so I've understood). To be honest, the ScPo IR PhD program is very confusing and complicated. It's not actually affiliated to any formal poli sci department (same as the Comparative Politics PhD -- both are sort of "stand alone" PhDs), and the doctoral school calls it the "Discipline Plus" program... I'm not sure I ever understood the way it was organized.

So all in all, again, if it comes down to Sciences Po vs. LSE, go for LSE. Yes, Paris is a wonderful city, and it's certainly cheaper than London and has a better quality of life overall. However, you'll find that the quality of life & resources available to you as a doctoral student at Sciences Po cannot compare to that of the LSE's, even less so to that of American universities. Sciences Po has a really great reputation for all of its Masters programs, but its PhD program still has a long way to go (which is understandable though since, again, the administration started focusing on the doctoral school only recently).

Hope this helps!

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Parisienne,

Thank you very much for the information! I forgot that there would be few classes to take at Sciences Po for the PhD, but I assume I would probably have to write my disseration in French. I basically know what I am going to write my disseration on, so I am looking for schools that match up with this as well. I am going to continue to look at Sciences Po and decide if it's do-able for me. I'm not really interested in applying to Oxford, but I might apply to LSE. There is also a program in Germany I am looking into. Plus I will apply to some schools in the US and maybe solid programs in Canada and Australia too. I want to have a variety. Thanks again!!

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