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Let me actually break down this whole top 20 absurdity. Of the places that keep detailed info on placement Michigan (#4) places 60 percent of it's PhDs in TT jobs after 5 years, Notre Dame (#37) places 53 percent. Is Michigan still a better program, probably, but would I advise someone not to go to Notre Dame because it's not in the big bad top 20. No! In fact it makes relatively little difference. When I was applying I analyzed placement rate by looking at the number of placements over the last six years and dividing it by the number of grad students currently in the program and guess what? I decided not to apply to  Penn (#19), Northwestern (#19) or UCLA (#12) because of how poor their placement record was.  You know what schools placed more of their grade than these programs? Colorado (#40), Washington (#33), Notre Dame (#37), Virginia (#37), Stony Brook (#29), USC (#51), Brandeis (#81). And we're not just talking about small differences that could be explained by reporting errors, we are talking about 20 to 40 point swings. USC (#51) and WashU (#19) have recently placed better than Princeton (#3) and NYU (#12). Brandeis and Stony Brook are top notch programs that don't get the love they deserve. So believe in the top 20 if that's the best measure you can use, but do your homework before claiming it's the 'be-all-end-all'

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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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4 minutes ago, buckinghamubadger said:

Let me actually break down this whole top 20 absurdity. Of the places that keep detailed info on placement Michigan (#4) places 60 percent of it's PhDs in TT jobs after 5 years, Notre Dame (#37) places 53 percent. Is Michigan still a better program, probably, but would I advise someone not to go to Notre Dame because it's not in the big bad top 20. No! In fact it makes relatively little difference. When I was applying I analyzed placement rate by looking at the number of placements over the last six years and dividing it by the number of grad students currently in the program and guess what? I decided not to apply to  Penn (#19), Northwestern (#19) or UCLA (#12) because of how poor their placement record was.  You know what schools placed more of their grade than these programs? Colorado (#40), Washington (#33), Notre Dame (#37), Virginia (#37), Stony Brook (#29), USC (#51), Brandeis (#81). And we're not just talking about small differences that could be explained by reporting errors, we are talking about 20 to 40 point swings. USC (#51) and WashU (#19) have recently placed better than Princeton (#3) and NYU (#12). Brandeis and Stony Brook are top notch programs that don't get the love they deserve. So believe in the top 20 if that's the best measure you can use, but do your homework before claiming it's the 'be-all-end-all'

Where is your data on these specific claims?  My impression was that many of these schools do not publish a full list of their graduates post-PhD positions (including unemployed and non-academic) by graduation year, nor do they transparently publish transparent attrition rates - both of which are necessary to determine true placement levels.  The Nortre Dame placement webpage appears to only list successful candidates, of whom many are Notre Dame post-docs (who knows if that leads anywhere) - making it impossible to determine overall rate of success.  

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15 minutes ago, buckinghamubadger said:

Let me actually break down this whole top 20 absurdity. Of the places that keep detailed info on placement Michigan (#4) places 60 percent of it's PhDs in TT jobs after 5 years, Notre Dame (#37) places 53 percent. Is Michigan still a better program, probably, but would I advise someone not to go to Notre Dame because it's not in the big bad top 20. No! In fact it makes relatively little difference. When I was applying I analyzed placement rate by looking at the number of placements over the last six years and dividing it by the number of grad students currently in the program and guess what? I decided not to apply to  Penn (#19), Northwestern (#19) or UCLA (#12) because of how poor their placement record was.  You know what schools placed more of their grade than these programs? Colorado (#40), Washington (#33), Notre Dame (#37), Virginia (#37), Stony Brook (#29), USC (#51), Brandeis (#81). And we're not just talking about small differences that could be explained by reporting errors, we are talking about 20 to 40 point swings. USC (#51) and WashU (#19) have recently placed better than Princeton (#3) and NYU (#12). Brandeis and Stony Brook are top notch programs that don't get the love they deserve. So believe in the top 20 if that's the best measure you can use, but do your homework before claiming it's the 'be-all-end-all'

My gut feeling after reading this is that the quality of "TT jobs" is not factored in here. Someone could probably make the argument that some of the graduates from higher ranking schools tend seek postdocs in preparation for a better chance at landing a tenured job at a high ranking school. But then again I'm just speculating here. 

Additionally, the statement that USC and WashU have placed better than Princeton and NYU is simply beyond my imagination. I'm going to take a closer look at their placement records. Many of the young scholars in CP and whose work I've read are indeed from Princeton and NYU. In the subfield I'm interested in, I don't think I can recall anyone who's from USC or WashU.

 

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So I'm really curious what exactly you guys have in mind with this rankings stuff. There seems to be an awful lot of talk about political science rankings as though it is one homogeneous thing. Notre Dame may be ranked 37 in "political science" but is definitely a top ten program in political theory. And even then, "political theory" is still a pretty vague term to bandy about, since Notre Dame is definitely the best in the world when it comes to certain topics within theory, and pretty lousy at others. It strikes me as very weird to lump all these things together under a single hierarchy or causal picture. It strikes me as a whole lot better to focus on your own capacities and interests and to determine what school will give you the best training and opportunities in that respect. Honestly, it seems better to worry about becoming the best political scientist or theorist you can, and to then hope the rest will come--even going to the highest ranked programs in the world guarantees very little.

Edit: Also it seems worth keeping in mind that all placements aren't equal.

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@BobBobBob I'd take a 25 percent better chance at getting any TT job than a better chance at getting an R1. 

 

USChas placed 9 of it's 11 grads over the past two years in TT Jobs, and an additional one in a non-TT WashU has placed 13 of 14 in the past three years at TT jobs. Princeton over the past six years has placed about 47 percent of it's grads in TTs and 88 percent in either TT or non-TT. NYU is 53 percent TT, 86 percent total.

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I haven’t stopped in here in a long time. Comparativist is 100% right. Program rank is absolutely critical. Hiring committees get hundreds of job applications. They need a heuristic to speed up the process. Program rank is key. Just as key is the professional network of your advisor. The professional network of the professor at Harvard is a galaxy removed from the professional network of the professor at Pitt.

Outside of the Top 20 is really grim. I came out of a good but not the best Big 10 program. I’m a VAP with nothing lined up for next year. I have 3 peer-reviewed publications (1 solo-authored) and rock solid teaching credentials. In this year’s market I had one Skype interview and no fly outs for an interview. I might be driving for Uber in September.

Those placement rates? Heavily doctored. Schools love to count a student who did a postdoc then VAP then tenure track three times. 18 people were in my incoming cohort. All 18 of us were the stars of our undergraduate departments. 5 of us have academic jobs.

Those jobs outside of academia? I interviewed for a data scientist job last year at a tech giant. They were also interviewing people from Top 5 programs and the competition was fierce. People aren’t easily impressed by your PhD anymore because they have them too, often from a program better than yours.

Your professors with PhDs from Alabama? They probably came out on the market before the 2008 crash. In the 1990’s you got a job because you had a defended dissertation. Now you compete with assistant professors and Princeton PhDs even for a job at U of North Florida. Someone mentioned being content with a 3-2 or 3-3 job. I thought the same way in your shoes. Those aren’t consolation prizes- those are highly sought-after jobs. Those jobs get 250 applications. Look into what is happening to enrollment at universities. Pay particular attention to what is happening to liberal arts colleges. The marketplace is continuing to contract.

I’m not going to talk anyone here out of going to grad school. I was you. What I am imploring you to do is keep your eyes open when you are in a program. Think long and very hard about taking an MA and getting out. You’ll have more control over your own career, you’ll make a bigger difference in the world, and you’ll be happier.

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3 hours ago, swampyankee said:

and I haven't seen any compelling evidence from the "CHYMPS or bust" crowd.

 

Really?

It's well documented across all major disciplines, including political science, in all of US academia:

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/education/2015/02/university_hiring_if_you_didn_t_get_your_ph_d_at_an_elite_university_good.html

https://chroniclevitae.com/news/929-academia-s-1-percent

https://www.chronicle.com/article/PhDs-From-Top/136113

http://gppreview.com/2012/12/03/superpowers-the-american-academic-elite/

^^ Quote from above:

"Our research confirms that there is a direct correlation between institutional prestige and candidate placement. If we consider the highest ranked programs, the three tied at #1, we find that Harvard University has successfully placed 239 political scientists at 75 institutions—including twelve at Harvard. Princeton has successfully placed 108 political scientists at 62 institutions—including five at Princeton. Stanford has successfully placed 128 political scientists at 51 institutions—including three at Stanford. The highest ranked public university, The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (ranked number four overall), has successfully placed 141 political scientists in 61 institutions—including seven at Michigan. These four schools contribute 616 political scientists; roughly twenty percent of the total tenure-track lines in the discipline at research-intensive programs. The median institutional ranking for the 116 institutions covered is eleven, which implies that eleven schools contribute 50 percent of the political science academics to research-intensive universities in the United States. Over 100 political science PhD programs are graduating students that will contest the remaining 50 percent of openings." 

There's plenty more of this evidence, btw, and it's not hard to find.

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27 minutes ago, bigdummy said:

So I'm really curious what exactly you guys have in mind with this rankings stuff. There seems to be an awful lot of talk about political science rankings as though it is one homogeneous thing. Notre Dame may be ranked 37 in "political science" but is definitely a top ten program in political theory. And even then, "political theory" is still a pretty vague term to bandy about, since Notre Dame is definitely the best in the world when it comes to certain topics within theory, and pretty lousy at others. It strikes me as very weird to lump all these things together under a single hierarchy or causal picture. It strikes me as a whole lot better to focus on your own capacities and interests and to determine what school will give you the best training and opportunities in that respect. Honestly, it seems better to worry about becoming the best political scientist or theorist you can, and to then hope the rest will come--even going to the highest ranked programs in the world guarantees very little.

Edit: Also it seems worth keeping in mind that all placements aren't equal.

The problem is differences between subfields flatten out as you move up the ladder. In many cases lower ranked programs will stack certain subfields to make a 'comparative advantage' (think, the way that JHU, Brown, ND, stack their theory faculties for example). But as you move closer and closer to the top 20 and up, you'll notice that most departments are fairly strong across the board (with some differences and specializations of course). 

For example, those three aforementioned programs have great theory faculties - and I'm sure their programs are decent as well - but there's no reason to suggest that you wouldn't get a much better training/potential to land a job at Chicago, Berkeley, or Yale regardless of what type of political theory you study. 

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28 minutes ago, BigTenPoliSci said:

Those placement rates? Heavily doctored. Schools love to count a student who did a postdoc then VAP then tenure track three times. 18 people were in my incoming cohort. All 18 of us were the stars of our undergraduate departments. 5 of us have academic jobs.

Yes. And there's many other instances of 'cooking' that goes on:

1) They often don't specify position on the list. So you could get a VAP placement and that person may never find a TT job afterwards. This isn't a placement. Tied to this, sometimes they will list adjunct positions as placements. 

2) They aren't updated regularly. Someone quoted a placement page of a Florida university a couple of pages back. I took a quick look and decided to google some names. One person listed as being placed at the University of Alabama...yet, when you google their name they have no position there and the only thing that comes up is their graduate school pages. 

3) They very rarely include statistics about the number of people who don't get jobs...nor do they break them down by type, type institutional type, ect. I think UNC was the only one that really had decent statistics on this that I have seen.

4) They often mislead by only updating the placement page based on the ones that finally get positions eventually. There's rarely ever a progression to see what kind of struggle it was to get there. For example, oh we placed someone at Clemson this year! Oh wait, btw, he graduated 5 years ago and has been bouncing around from VAP to VAP to post-doc since then. 

5) In some cases, the placement records are just flat out erroneous. 

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Here is the page that shows 5 year placement at Notre Dame:

 

https://graduateschool.nd.edu/departments-and-programs/ph-d-programs/political-science/placement-history/

 

Here is the one showing Michigan's five year placement:

 

https://tableau.dsc.umich.edu/t/UM-Public/views/RackhamDoctoralProgramStatistics/ProgramStatistics?:embed=y&:showAppBanner=false&:showShareOptions=true&:display_count=no&:showVizHome=no&FOSDParameter=All+Rackham

 

Note the marginal difference. 

Also Oprisko et al don't control for program size. Of course Princeton places more people than WashU. It has over 100 students while WUSTL only has like 30. If you look at the placement efficiency ratings on that very study you see that the story isn't so clean. No one is disputing that CHYMPS are the best programs, just that there isn't a magic number where you can draw the line. These things are a lot more fluid and nuanced than top 20 or bust.

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36 minutes ago, BigTenPoliSci said:

I haven’t stopped in here in a long time. Comparativist is 100% right. Program rank is absolutely critical. Hiring committees get hundreds of job applications. They need a heuristic to speed up the process. Program rank is key. Just as key is the professional network of your advisor. The professional network of the professor at Harvard is a galaxy removed from the professional network of the professor at Pitt.

Outside of the Top 20 is really grim. I came out of a good but not the best Big 10 program. I’m a VAP with nothing lined up for next year. I have 3 peer-reviewed publications (1 solo-authored) and rock solid teaching credentials. In this year’s market I had one Skype interview and no fly outs for an interview. I might be driving for Uber in September.

Those placement rates? Heavily doctored. Schools love to count a student who did a postdoc then VAP then tenure track three times. 18 people were in my incoming cohort. All 18 of us were the stars of our undergraduate departments. 5 of us have academic jobs.

Those jobs outside of academia? I interviewed for a data scientist job last year at a tech giant. They were also interviewing people from Top 5 programs and the competition was fierce. People aren’t easily impressed by your PhD anymore because they have them too, often from a program better than yours.

Your professors with PhDs from Alabama? They probably came out on the market before the 2008 crash. In the 1990’s you got a job because you had a defended dissertation. Now you compete with assistant professors and Princeton PhDs even for a job at U of North Florida. Someone mentioned being content with a 3-2 or 3-3 job. I thought the same way in your shoes. Those aren’t consolation prizes- those are highly sought-after jobs. Those jobs get 250 applications. Look into what is happening to enrollment at universities. Pay particular attention to what is happening to liberal arts colleges. The marketplace is continuing to contract.

I’m not going to talk anyone here out of going to grad school. I was you. What I am imploring you to do is keep your eyes open when you are in a program. Think long and very hard about taking an MA and getting out. You’ll have more control over your own career, you’ll make a bigger difference in the world, and you’ll be happier.

I'm sorry for saying this, do not be offended!-but...may be, the problem is in you but not in the ranking of your program? You are thinking of driving Uber after completion of Ph.D. in a top-notch program?...well...

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14 minutes ago, arctic_ice said:

I'm sorry for saying this, do not be offended!-but...may be, the problem is in you but not in the ranking of your program? You are thinking of driving Uber after completion of Ph.D. in a top-notch program?...well...

I was being a bit metaphorical about the Uber thing, but since you are suggesting that I’m simply a loser let me reiterate: I have multiple peer-reviewed publications. I am one of the few from my cohort to get even this far. And unlike you, I have a PhD in political science and I am referred to as Professor _________ when I come in to work in the morning.

But don’t worry. The market is fully meritocratic, it is not stochastic, and you are just as brilliant as your undergraduate professors say you are. You’ll be sipping coffee in your tweed jacket and strolling across that picturesque campus soon!

unless you fail your comps... 

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26 minutes ago, buckinghamubadger said:

Also Oprisko et al don't control for program size. Of course Princeton places more people than WashU. It has over 100 students while WashU only has like 30. If you look at the placement efficiency ratings on that very study you see that the story isn't so clean. No one is disputing that CHYMPS are the best programs, just that there isn't a magic number where you can draw the line. These things are a lot more fluid and nuanced than top 20 or bust.

It doesn't really matter if you're looking at macro trends. The fact that roughly 80% of TT positions in political science are awarded to graduates from the top 20 speaks volumes of the overarching prestige-driven hiring of academia.

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2 minutes ago, Hamb said:

Alright, this thread is getting far too negative and personal. I think it might be best if everyone takes a chill pill for the evening on it and we return to discussing decisions tomorrow.

But that's just me, carry on if you must.

Agree. So, which institutions might we hear from tomorrow?

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 @BigTenPoliSci I am sorry that so many in your program found themselves in that situation. It is a real shame and I wish you the best.

But in all reality, there are top 20 programs where it is almost just as bad. For every 18 grads, my numbers show that only 5.4 got a TT job from UCLA, 6.5 from Northwestern and 6.8 from Penn. In other words your cohort probably looks just like some of theirs over the past five to six years. Point is that the solution isn't to put blind faith in a ranking system run by people who stand directly to profit from creating a perception of greater  competition.

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Hey everybody, not to shift the subject or anything, but I can say that I got an interview at the University of Illinois. Not sure what it means, but I just wanted to update everybody who may have applied there or are just curious. Best to all!!!

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To be fair to BigTenPoliSci- I had a professor who, while he wasn't one of my letter writers, I did have a lengthy skype call with because he was a much more recent PhD graduate who had a rough time of it as a lecturer before finally getting an associate professor spot, so I felt it would be good to get his input. He echoed a lot of what BigTen was saying in terms of just post 2008 academic world not being for the faint of heart. He offered a lot of words of caution and tempered expectations. I appreciated his frank advisement, but obviously I was going ahead with this anyway because the simple reality this is what I'm passionate about. You could pay me poverty wages and I'd still be happy to do this every day. (Hell, all the reading I've done the last year or two, nobody was paying me for anyway). But yeah, anybody who thinks once they've gotten their PhD that they are "in", best start looking at this the way Navy Seals look at their jobs- "the only easy day was yesterday".

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4 minutes ago, deutsch1997bw said:

Agree. So, which institutions might we hear from tomorrow?

I'm really hoping Northwestern comes through this week, although given the later results than normal this year I'm starting to think next week.

I didn't apply there, but UT Austin seems to notify late January most years as well.

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4 minutes ago, JMCrawfordNJ said:

To be fair to BigTenPoliSci- I had a professor who, while he wasn't one of my letter writers, I did have a lengthy skype call with because he was a much more recent PhD graduate who had a rough time of it as a lecturer before finally getting an associate professor spot, so I felt it would be good to get his input. He echoed a lot of what BigTen was saying in terms of just post 2008 academic world not being for the faint of heart. He offered a lot of words of caution and tempered expectations. I appreciated his frank advisement, but obviously I was going ahead with this anyway because the simple reality this is what I'm passionate about.

I have been told by a very trusted professor that I need to be aware of how brutal the market is. Wouldn't any sensical professor tell a student interested in attending a PhD program this? This is how you weed out those that aren't passionate.

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