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How are the political science programs at UC Santa Cruz and Penn State


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Hi you guys. I'm an international student, applying for PhDs in political science. I have been rejected by many of top choices, and what I have now are UC Santa Crutz and Penn State. Both are PhDs. Regardless of their positions, living expenses, can anyone please give me some comments on these two departments. As I said at the begining, I'm an international student who don't know much of these two programs. I browsed their websites and it seems like Penn State was quite a quantitative-centered department, but UCSC did not provide much information. UC system is much more famous in my country, but Penn State seems better in PoliSci. I applied to these programs because my professor recommended strongly, and there is a very possibility that these will be my only offers. So, could anyone please tell me more about them and which offer should I take? 

Thanks very much and wish all you guys good luck with you application. 

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What are your interests? How do these institutions rank in relation to your interests? Is there faculty at either institutions that have overlapping interests? How strong is the overlap? What is their placement record? These questions can be answered by simply going onto the department website and doing basic homework.

Also, I'm told that campus visits are highly informative. You should go to those. 

Edited by correlatesoftheory
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1 hour ago, correlatesoftheory said:

What are your interests? How do these institutions rank in relation to your interests? Is there faculty at either institutions that have overlapping interests? How strong is the overlap? What is their placement record? These questions can be answered by simply going onto the department website and doing basic homework.

Also, I'm told that campus visits are highly informative. You should go to those. 

 

Thanks man. I did my online work, that helped, but I also want to know how American students/insiders think of these programs. Yeah, I will be at the open house events of these two schools. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Penn State is a well-known and highly-regarded program. If you want a highly quantitative program, there's probably nowhere you could go that's higher ranked except Rochester. Just getting waitlisted with Penn State is an accomplishment.

I went to UC Davis for undergrad, and my professors there routinely warned me not to apply to UC Santa Cruz (without me even mentioning the school). I did some digging around, and the job placement numbers for Santa Cruz are pretty poor compared to the average PhD program, and it's ranked pretty low. I'd imagine that if you really want to get a PhD at a school in California that's not insanely competitive, check out UC Santa Barbara or UC Riverside instead.

Edited by GonnaFailAnyMinute
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21 minutes ago, GonnaFailAnyMinute said:

Penn State is a well-known and highly-regarded program. If you want a highly quantitative program, there's probably nowhere you could go that's higher ranked except Rochester. Just getting waitlisted with Penn State is an accomplishment.

I'm sorry, but this is a crock of shit. Completely false.

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58 minutes ago, Comparativist said:

I'm sorry, but this is a crock of shit. Completely false.

And I should believe you because...? And which part are you disputing - Penn State being highly regarded? UC Santa Cruz being a lower-ranked program? UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside being overall stronger than UC Santa Cruz? None of that is controversial.

Edited by GonnaFailAnyMinute
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15 minutes ago, GonnaFailAnyMinute said:

And I should believe you because...? And which part are you disputing - Penn State being highly regarded? UC Santa Cruz being a lower-ranked program? UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside being overall stronger than UC Santa Cruz? None of that is controversial.

I think it was pretty obvious what I was disputing considering what I quoted. The following statements in particular:

1 hour ago, GonnaFailAnyMinute said:

If you want a highly quantitative program, there's probably nowhere you could go that's higher ranked except Rochester. Just getting waitlisted with Penn State is an accomplishment.

You are saying that PSU has better quantitative training everywhere including Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Columbia, NYU, Michigan, Yale, Princeton, and Chicago? No, sorry, it does not. Some of those places actually train and place methodologists every cycle. 

PSU has good methods, particularly for a top 30ish department...but let's not post misinformation here. It doesn't even compete with the high end of programs in the US.

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8 minutes ago, Comparativist said:

I think it was pretty obvious what I was disputing considering what I quoted. The following statements in particular:

You are saying that PSU has better quantitative training everywhere including Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Columbia, NYU, Michigan, Yale, Princeton, and Chicago? No, sorry, it does not. Some of those places actually train and place methodologists every cycle. 

PSU has good methods, particularly for a top 30ish department...but let's not post misinformation here. It doesn't even compete with the high end of programs in the US.

I'm going off of feedback I've gotten in my own search for programs that specialize in quantitative methods. The programs you list are strong in that area, probably stronger than PSU, but are generally also well-rounded in other areas. I'm sorry if your misinterpretation of what I said was offensive to you. You might want to lighten up a bit - life's short.

Edited by GonnaFailAnyMinute
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Honestly, I would not seriously consider UCSC - while there are many UCs worth attending, Santa Cruz is not one of them. If the placement list that they have on their website is comprehensive, they barely place any of their PhDs in academic positions (either US or international). PSU seems to be the clear choice.

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PSU student here. We are great in quantitative methods, but obviously the top 10 are going to place better and in most cases have more cutting-edge methods training and greater variety. That's not to say we don't have our strengths relative to many institutions - we're certainly making advances in our infrastructure for big data social science in a way that not many programs outside the top 10 are doing, but we're not the holy grail second only to Rochester.

We do well in big data methods and most large-N statistical methods. We even have quite a few students doing experiments, though this is mostly learned from ICPSR or through collaboration with faculty here who do experiments. If that's your thing, then Penn State would not be a bad choice. However, if you want to do formal theory, or bayesian statistics (we don't have a bayesian in the faculty at the moment), it's not the department for you.

Just to respond to Comparativist, we have placed people in methods hires in the past (though they are more known for their substantive work), and there are some top-notch grad students who will be going on the market in the coming years in methods. Obviously, we're out-placed still by the top 10, though we're not chopped liver in this area (and I didn't think you were saying that, either). The good news for any future methodologists is that it's probably the least rank-conscious subfield in the market (and there's usually a shortage of good methodologists), but rank still helps.

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