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I think the rankings issue is  still in-play, as many (hopefully, all) of you will be choosing Ph.D. programs to attend. That being said, here are a few thoughts:

1. Productivity matters. You will likely get a job based on your publications and the quality of your dissertation (as well as teaching effectiveness). So prestige/program quality makes a huge difference in the quality of your methodological training, in the quality of your peers, and the faculty around you. That being said, I have friends in CHYMPS programs that have "famous" advisors who hardly give them the time of day. Go to the department that you believe will enable you to write the best damn dissertation you possibly can. 

2. Letters of recommendation/connections from faculty members will be important. This is the same reason that students from higher ranked schools often do better in graduate school admissions. If you are choosing between two college seniors/two newly minted Ph.D.'s with similar profiles, you will (in that high noise, low signal environment) prefer the one who is recommended by a scholar you know, or whose work you know to be of high quality. So it's helpful to attend a program with well-connected, well-respected faculty. That being said, if you do truly excellent work at a lower ranked program, you can likely find at least one recommendation outside of your institution. 

3. Productivity is actually everything. Productivity is also affected by more things than we tend to think. Your environment and your happiness will affect the quality of your work. A student from Princeton may have a leg up, but if I'm happier living where I live and he hates living in NJ, then I'm going to produce better work, and I will take his job. So don't consign yourself to miserable living situations for the sake of rank. Be prepared to make lifestyle choices because few graduate programs are well-payed, but just be aware of the situation. If you have Seasonal Affective Disorder, you probably will not work up to your potential in Chicago. If the stipend is unreasonably low compared to cost of living, and you have to spend 5-7 years eating ramen in an unheated apartment, you probably won't do very good work either. 

So yeah. tl;dr, more than rankings, focus on what universities will give you the best training and the best shot at producing good scholarship. That is correlated (but not tightly) with the USNWR rankings. 

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I got into Maryland Holy shit I thought I was going to strike out. I'm so freaking happy right now. I actually don't have to go back to Japan now to do PhD work.

She said Yes!!! She is Yale. Claiming an admit, slightly hysterically.  Edit: notified by POI email. 

^ Seek professional help. That goes for anyone that is expressing significant depression symptoms, and definitely suicidal thoughts. Your mental health is way more important than god damn gr

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3 minutes ago, Qw23 said:

Anyone hear from Emory yet? Saw the post from the result board and refreshed my application page and received nothing. Getting more and more nervous...

I checked my application, too, and there is nothing new. I'm starting to get nervous, as well. 

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23 minutes ago, StrengthandHonor said:

So prestige/program quality makes a huge difference in the quality of your methodological training

Do you have any evidence to back up this claim? Not necessarily disagreeing, but I've never personally seen or been convinced of any correlation between prestige and quality of methodological training, especially not a huge difference. I find it very hard to believe that Harvard, Stanford, etc. have any observable difference in quality of methodological training than say UNC or U Chicago.

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I wouldn't necessarily take the Emory acceptance at face value, @deutsch1997bw and @Qw23. Anyone who posts on the placements page is likely to have stopped by here, and would be unlikely to leave you in the dark. In the same vein, a PSR troll who stops by here would notice that you're really on tenterhooks about Emory...

Back to the rankings discussion.

I love @StrengthandHonor's response. One of my faculty recommenders (top LAC) served a few stints as provost, and stressed to me that prestige is important, but isn't everything. A mix of probabilistic and deterministic factors are at work:

Probabilistic: By virtue of their selectivity, top programs have exceptional students who place well by merit, not by the program's doing.

Deterministic: (1) Top programs tend to have more funding, which allows students to attend more conferences and devote more time to research; (2) the quality of one's peers and teachers has an effect on the quality of one's own work; (3) in job searches, name brand might get a candidate past the first round of cuts.

Note that only one of the deterministic variables is a direct result of prestige. If you can get ample funding and excellent training in your subfield at a non-CHYMPS school, then a good chunk of elite tier's advantage has been controlled for.

I'll also note that it's worthwhile thinking about goals. @StrengthandHonor's comments about happiness apply here. My search was limited to the mid-Atlantic, since my fiancee is tied down in law school for another two years. We're getting hitched this summer, and political science just isn't important enough to ditch my wife.

Moreover, if my be-all-end-all was to become the greatest political scientist of a  generation, then I would have cast the net further, but as it is, my goals are more modest. I'd be happy teaching 3/2 or 3/3 at a mid-tier public or semi-selective LAC, and make a few worthwhile contributions to my subfield. While Harvard would be amazing, mine is a feasible goal anywhere in the top 30 or 40. 

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3 minutes ago, swampyankee said:

We're getting hitched this summer, and political science just isn't important enough to ditch my wife.

Blasphemy! (But seriously, congrats! Family and personal happiness should always come first).

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Decided to leave Lurkerville and create an account, considering that due to low scores I'm already envisioning a second application round next year :( Good luck to you all though!

 

Just a question on interviews, if we haven't received them, should I assume news won't be good? I'm not sure what UWashington (Seattle)'s policy is with interviews but I see a few people have received them and that's really upped my anxiety.

 

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46 minutes ago, toad1 said:

Do you have any evidence to back up this claim? Not necessarily disagreeing, but I've never personally seen or been convinced of any correlation between prestige and quality of methodological training, especially not a huge difference. I find it very hard to believe that Harvard, Stanford, etc. have any observable difference in quality of methodological training than say UNC or U Chicago.

I was referring more to the gap between top-15 programs and 20-40th ranked programs (or lower) instead of the gap between different t15 programs. 

 

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Guys and girls...the rankings thing is straight-forward:

Ideally, you want to go to a CHYMPS. A top 10 is good. A top 20 is fine. Outside top 20? Not advisable. 

That's it. 

Are there caveats? Sure. For example, the big publics in the 7-20 range are pretty hit or miss. The privates in the same range fund and place their students better. Does Emory place their superstars well? Certainly. Are there some very highly ranked programs that don't really punch their weight in terms of placement (*cough* Duke *cough*)? Yes. 

But all of this is to say that these exceptions are relatively minor and inconsequential.

I strongly, strongly advise you to not try to 'buck' the rankings/prestige trend. It's hierarchical for a reason. As you move up the ladder the training is better, the faculties are better, the methods are better, the funding is better, the resources are better, and the networking is better. All of these factors are going to help you, maybe, get a job. And you can sit there and say, 'but what really matters is what you publish'...okay...but that doesn't change the fact that you should try to go to the best institution you possibly can, and if you cannot get into a certain threshold of program, you should seriously consider (and that's really a nice way of saying: don't fucking do it) not attending and trying again. 

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Finally!

I longed for the sentence "The graduate committee was highly impressed with your application. " from UNL. Moreover, a provided, annual stipend is more important for an international student. Happy dawn(bc it's 4AM...).

P.S. Non-resident tuition is only 8,000$...? How can this happen among graduate programs, which include exorbitant tuition...?

 

 

 

 

Edited by Wiesbaden
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10 minutes ago, Comparativist said:

Guys and girls...the rankings thing is straight-forward:

Ideally, you want to go to a CHYMPS. A top 10 is good. A top 20 is fine. Outside top 20? Not advisable. 

That's it. 

Are there caveats? Sure. For example, the big publics in the 7-20 range are pretty hit or miss. The privates in the same range fund and place their students better. Does Emory place their superstars well? Certainly. Are there some very highly ranked programs that don't really punch their weight in terms of placement (*cough* Duke *cough*)? Yes. 

But all of this is to say that these exceptions are relatively minor and inconsequential.

I strongly, strongly advise you to not try to 'buck' the rankings/prestige trend. It's hierarchical for a reason. As you move up the ladder the training is better, the faculties are better, the methods are better, the funding is better, the resources are better, and the networking is better. All of these factors are going to help you, maybe, get a job. And you can sit there and say, 'but what really matters is what you publish'...okay...but that doesn't change the fact that you should try to go to the best institution you possibly can, and if you cannot get into a certain threshold of program, you should seriously consider (and that's really a nice way of saying: don't fucking do it) not attending and trying again. 

With all due respect, I don't think anybody should discourage anyone from pursuing their doctorate because they can't get into a prestigious enough school, especially when that person doesn't know any of the other people's circumstances. Some of my best professors were from schools like University of Alabama or local universities people on this board wouldn't have even heard of let alone get ranked in the top 20 -- while some of my worst professors were from very elite schools. Thankfully my favorite professors didn't listen to this sort of advice, otherwise I wouldn't be one of the many (hundreds/thousands of) beneficiaries to their mentorship. If you want to be a political scientist, get your PhD at the very best school you can get into, rankings/prestige considered. If it isn't considered 'elite' by the masses, but it still seems preferable to any alternatives outside of academia, don't pay any attention to this elitist nonsense. Hard work will pay off in the end. And even if it doesn't, you would regret forever if you instead fall back into a job you aren't passionate for and grow miserable for because you didn't have the grades, scores, or research experience for an elite program that very few get selected for.

I'm not saying be reckless, I'm not saying sign away your life to endless student loans.. but I am saying that, if this is the path you want to take, make it happen. Don't let anonymous people on the internet tell you that the best program you can get into isn't good enough. Maybe it isn't good enough for them but it is good enough for you.

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31 minutes ago, toad1 said:

With all due respect, I don't think anybody should discourage anyone from pursuing their doctorate because they can't get into a prestigious enough school, especially when that person doesn't know any of the other people's circumstances. Some of my best professors were from schools like University of Alabama or local universities people on this board wouldn't have even heard of let alone get ranked in the top 20 -- while some of my worst professors were from very elite schools. Thankfully my favorite professors didn't listen to this sort of advice, otherwise I wouldn't be one of the many (hundreds/thousands of) beneficiaries to their mentorship. If you want to be a political scientist, get your PhD at the very best school you can get into, rankings/prestige considered. If it isn't considered 'elite' by the masses, but it still seems preferable to any alternatives outside of academia, don't pay any attention to this elitist nonsense. Hard work will pay off in the end. And even if it doesn't, you would regret forever if you instead fall back into a job you aren't passionate for and grow miserable for because you didn't have the grades, scores, or research experience for an elite program that very few get selected for.

I'm not saying be reckless, I'm not saying sign away your life to endless student loans.. but I am saying that, if this is the path you want to take, make it happen. Don't let anonymous people on the internet tell you that the best program you can get into isn't good enough. Maybe it isn't good enough for them but it is good enough for you.

The game has changed. Sorry to say, but it doesn't work that way anymore. 

Obviously do what you want...I never said otherwise. But don't say I didn't warn you. 

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I agree with @toad1. Lots of excellent profs come out of programs that aren't in the top 20. Few top scholars, of course, because the programs don't attract the top talent and have fewer resources. But non-elite programs offer viable paths. I looked at the placement pages of three schools to which I'm not applying (so less self-investment), and which are a good cut under the top 20. Here's where we get the following gripes:

"Placement pages are incomplete." --probably, but no intentional misinformation or omissions
"Doesn't count how many people don't finish." --sure, but that number can vary anywhere

Those points aside, we notice that more grads end up in government, consulting, or big data than at the top 20. That said, the jobs look pretty good -- probably in the six digits -- and so while grad school was an inefficient use of time, neither did they have to spend 50-120K earning an elite MPA.

Among those in academia, the majority of placements are at directional schools and LACs. They won't be big-name political scientists, but will have happy careers as teacher-scholars. A few turkeys at for-profits, so watch out. But several more with very enviable, tenure-track jobs: Tulane, Johns Hopkins AIS, Naval War College, Missou, UMass-Boston, Georgia Tech, Cincinnati, Arkansas, Houston, Creighton, Kentucky, Texas A&M, West Point, Miami-Ohio, UNC-CH, Tennessee, Iowa State, ...

Ultimately, no one is going to grad school for big bucks and job security. Take this journey because of the joys involved -- the intangible benefits. But this is not the MFA Creative Writing forum. A social science PhD has economic value. The academic job market is tight, but not impossible, and there are plenty of opportunities outside of it as well. I try to do very careful research about commitments as large as these, and I haven't seen any compelling evidence from the "CHYMPS or bust" crowd.

https://clas.uiowa.edu/polisci/graduate/recent-placements
https://coss.fsu.edu/polisci/ph-d-alumni
https://politicalscience.columbian.gwu.edu/sites/politicalscience.columbian.gwu.edu/files/downloads/GW Political Science Placement Data.pdf

For further review: the most recent graduate placement report from APSA

http://www.apsanet.org/Portals/54/Users/220/92/28892/GPS.PlacementReport.FINAL.020817.pdf?ver=2017-02-08-161820-687

 

Edited by swampyankee
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@swampyankee

I totally agree with you. While reality is harsh (and we should confront it as it is), the entire cohort of the grad applicants (especially of political science) are bunch of stupids, in terms of financial consideration and job security; if you want a secure job with high payment, you should go to law school or MBA (as long as I know, average GRE scores of these programs are acutally lower than poli-sci). With tones of opportunity cost that we already paid and will pay happily, we all look dumb enough to the normal people outside this bubble that we are in even if we are in a more presitigious bubble.

I understand how reality is, and it is always good to know how things go, but still, basically we all are bunch of nerds who feel euphoria when we study.

 

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13 minutes ago, purifieddrinkingwater said:

Hey, congrats! I am also admitted to Emory and comparativ-ish. I wonder if Emory is a strong contender for you. What else schools do you want to hear from the most?

Did you receive an email from a POI?

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