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Oxford vs. Cambridge: MPhil International Relations watch

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    Hi Zach,

    To answer your previous question, I can tell you that Oxford requires a minimum 3.8 GPA and that admissions are HIGHLY competitive (there is an acceptance rate of 6% for the MPhil in IR). I was actually very surprised when I received notification of my acceptance.

    I am unsure whether the writing samples mean very much to the admissions committee, but I would certainly assume that they do. Just send in the best written work that you have produced over the past few years, and I'm sure that you will be fine. You may have to spend a significant amount of time editing/re-writing - I spent the entire winter break drafting an abstract of my senior thesis.

    As for the letters of recommendation, be careful who you choose to write them! I was told by a professor that they are the single most important factor in the admissions process (aside from academics, of course). Be sure to make a lasting impression on a few of your professors over the next year. FYI, Oxford requires three letters and Cambridge requires two.

    Hope this helps, and best of luck to you. Feel free to contact me in the fall when you are going through the application process. I will already be living in Oxford, and will be more than happy to answer your questions.

    Cheers,
    Robert

    (Original post by wblur02)
    That information is definently helpful. Unfortunatley, I'll have to push out 4,000 unread words as well-- then again, I guess thats nothing compared to the expected writing in an MPhil program at Oxford. haha.

    I have one other question, if you don't mind. Does the review committee favor MPhil applications that express interest in eventually pursuing the DPhil? I've heard that this is the case, but I don't really trust the source.

    Thanks again for the good information. I really appreciate it.

    cheers,
    zach
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    Hi Claire,

    I have been accepted at New College (I was fortunate enough to be given an offer at the college to which I applied), and am sure that you will be hearing something soon.

    I think that the website said that 25-30 were accepted LAST year, but that this year there were only 10 (I could be wrong about this).

    I have also been notified by the department at Cambridge that I have been given an offer, but my self-service page still has me classified as "Applicant". Have you received official notification from them? All in all, I have been terribly disappointed with the bureaucracy at Cambridge. In the time that it has taken them to process my application, I have received official notification of acceptence by the department, a college offer, and (potentially) secured funding at Oxford. Oh well, it makes my decision easy.

    Keep in touch, and let me know any new developments with your college situation!

    Cheers,
    Robert

    (Original post by ClaireLeigh)
    Hi Rob, Alex and Sean,

    Rob- how many did Oxford accept onto the course this time? The website said 25-30. I wonder why they have cut back this year..

    Like you, I am still waiting to hear from a college. Magdalen have said no, so i guess i am being pooled to other colleges. Do you think i should phone Oxford and inquire? Have you heard from a college yet? I feel kind of nervous knowing i could now be sent anywhere.

    I too have been nominated for an ESRC studentship to cover all 4 years of an MPhil/Dphil. Couldnt believe my luck. This will be confirmed in late June.

    Cambridge only just told me i had the offer of a place, and now its too late for funding applications, so they really screwed up there. I dont want to sully the name of my old university, but they really have been useless!

    And yes, we should definitely stay in touch. Strange that we have already met in a random chatroom. I guess we'll all get to know each other quite well over the coming years..

    Claire
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    Rob, I will keep these things in mind when I apply next year. I will probably begin to prepare my writing sample over the summer so I don't have to deal with it during the fall term.

    I noticed that you are studying at Rice. I'm actually from the Houston area (Missouri City to be exact) though I now live in Austin. Anyway, thankyou again for the advice... (its comforting to know i can have a little less than a 4.0 hahaha)

    best,
    zach
    (Original post by robmoore)
    Hi Zach,

    To answer your previous question, I can tell you that Oxford requires a minimum 3.8 GPA and that admissions are HIGHLY competitive (there is an acceptance rate of 6% for the MPhil in IR). I was actually very surprised when I received notification of my acceptance.

    I am unsure whether the writing samples mean very much to the admissions committee, but I would certainly assume that they do. Just send in the best written work that you have produced over the past few years, and I'm sure that you will be fine. You may have to spend a significant amount of time editing/re-writing - I spent the entire winter break drafting an abstract of my senior thesis.

    As for the letters of recommendation, be careful who you choose to write them! I was told by a professor that they are the single most important factor in the admissions process (aside from academics, of course). Be sure to make a lasting impression on a few of your professors over the next year. FYI, Oxford requires three letters and Cambridge requires two.

    Hope this helps, and best of luck to you. Feel free to contact me in the fall when you are going through the application process. I will already be living in Oxford, and will be more than happy to answer your questions.

    Cheers,
    Robert
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    hey MPHIL guys and gals,
    this is pretty weird, I also got in for the MPHIL in IR at Oxford, and have already accepted the offer. This is such a coincidence for us all to 'meet online'.
    To people still waiting for their college replies (sorry about Magdalen claire!), this is what i did. New college were sitting on my application for yonks so I took a page out of my five year old cousin's book and nagged them for a reply. they got back to me within the week, so that's that sorted.
    to rob, re: new college. first of all it is amazingly beautiful, and quite large so you will get a good mix of people. moreover we get accomodation for two years, so that's that sorted. PLus we are the closest college to the IR departemnt, literally a two minute walk. Our second year accommodation will be - literally - twenty yards away from the department and library. that's a huge plus. i went and visited in march and was really impressed by the dep't. I was expecting the usual creaky facilities but the place is spanking new with amazing facilities.
    oxford vs. cambridge vs lse: good to see that i am not the only one being messed around by cambridge IR. they seriously need to get their act together. I think your best bet is oxford hands down. it has a much higher RAE rating (6* vs 4), it is a much smaller course (IR at Ox will have at most 15 students vs 60 at cambridge), and it is two eyars. MY impression of the cambridge course is that it is a bit rushed, i don't know how we are meant to do proper research and do a 25 000 word diss. in 9 months.
    I don't think that the IR at LSE is as good as Ox. either. I don't think it is fair to say that LSE IR academics are more reknown. Yes yes I know there's barry buzan et al., but at oxford there's avi shlaim (fingers' crossed my tutor!!), macfarlane, caplan, fawcett, piscatori etc. Also as I am currently in the lse library right now typing this I can sayfrom experience that the uni in london is incomparable to oxbridge, where the intellectual community is much more tightknit. Anyhow, while LSE would be brilliant, I think that IR at OX is the way forward.
    WEll anyways, I'm sure I will see you in OXford in October, btw. i think that we must be half of next year's class!
    regards
    Madjdy
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    btw,
    congrats rob i didn't notice your message that you got into New College. That means we'll both be there for two eyars doing IR. wicked. it should be an amazing two years.

    just a few words regarding US vs UK. While I have nothing but respect for American universiites, but I think that the MPHIL at oxford is going to be much more rigorous that the equivalent at SIPA or W.W. Ispent a while agoniziing over which uni to choose but now i think oxford was the right choice. Also I don't really think it is fair to say the DPHIL is not as good as a US PhD. What attracted me to do an MPHIL (and possibly conitnue to DPHIL) is that I don't have to waste time mucking about and tutoring undergraduates. If you know what you wanna do you can zoom through and get a doctorate in three years minimnum four years average. That's me personally, however if you're not sure what you wnat to write your thesis on then I suppose the classes etc that are mandatory in the US would help focus your options. anywyas, I don't think a DPhil from Oxfrod in politics is any less prestigious than a top american phd. that said I want to go to the US eventually too (possibly law).

    anyways, i'm sure wherever you are you can get a top education if you apply yourself. whatever, gotta get back to revision!
    M
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    I have been reading the forum and am really amazed at the insight some of you have provided to others. I have four questions which have been on my mind for a while and I would like to know if anyone can help me out.



    First question: UK masters programs in IR are incredibly competitive to get into, much more so than equivalent US programs. So I would be interested in knowing if I have a shot at Cambridge, Oxford, and LSE. Here is my background:

    •I’m from the US, with an Ivy League degree (from Cornell), which I completed in a total of two years:
    -I had two majors, Policy Analysis and Management and Biology
    -My Policy Analysis and Management GPA was about a 3.7
    -My Biology GPA was about a 2.7
    -Therefore my cumulative GPA worked out to be a 3.2 even though my GPA is relevant coursework was significantly higher. (Does this lower cumulative GPA preclude me from Cambridge and Oxford? From what I read this is the case.)

    •I am currently doing an online/distance MSc in Financial Economics at SOAS. So far I’ve aced all of my classes. This degree will be complete just as I’m ready to enroll in a Master’s in International Affairs.

    •I will have four years of very international, high-level strategy consulting experience. I have spent almost a year on an engagement in China (living in Shanghai) and have worked on other projects in Taiwan, Korea, Mexico, Brazil, and South Africa.

    •Beyond my daytime job, I started a study abroad company in 2004 and its been pretty successful.

    •I speak Chinese, Spanish, and Portuguese.

    •GRE scores – very strong verbal, pretty strong quant and analytical.

    So do I stand a chance at Cambridge or Oxford or LSE? Or does my undergrad GPA kill me?



    Second question: What is the reputation of Sciences Po? I have read a lot on this forum about LSE vs. Oxford vs. Cambridge and even a bit about the US schools, but no one ever mentions Sciences Po. Personally, I think I would be really interested in going there as you would be constantly immersed in quite a different culture.



    Third question: What is the value of an econ/trade-focused PhD in International Relations to the private sector once I finish. I have a great interest in a PhD, mainly for myself and for my own intellectual curiosity. That said, I intend to work in the private sector and I don’t want to be unemployable afterwards. Ideally I see myself doing sell-side research on international sovereign debt or possibly even international equities. Is a PhD going to make me unemployable? Or could it be an advantage? I would intend to study a topic related to the politics of financial economics in emering markets - which is, I think, is highly relevant to the career path in finance I just described.



    Fourth and final question: how does tuition UK work for UK/EU vs international students? I am a dual US-German citizen, though I have lived in the US my whole life (I’m German through my mother). I know in certain programs, for EU students, tuition is lower though I don’t know for which programs. Can someone please explain UK/EU vs. Non-EU tuition for the IR programs at Cambridge, Oxford, and LSE? And if anyone knows, what about Science Po?



    Thanks in advance for your advice. Also, if anyone has any questions that I could answer (perhaps on careers in consulting or any other topics, please post or email me, I’d be glad to help).

    Carl
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    (Original post by csj7)
    Second question: What is the reputation of Sciences Po? I have read a lot on this forum about LSE vs. Oxford vs. Cambridge and even a bit about the US schools, but no one ever mentions Sciences Po. Personally, I think I would be really interested in going there as you would be constantly immersed in quite a different culture.
    I'm not in a position to respond to your other questions, but I have heard about Sciences-Po; in fact, a close friend of a good friend of mine (third hand knowledge!) got into this program at Sciences Po so I'll just relate what I heard about that.

    Sciences-Po is apparently a pretty good institution, well reputed, and has good programs, but there's one constraint: language. I think there are some courses taught in English, but the better programs are taught in French, so applicants are required to have a good grasp of that language. Fluency is preferred, I hear.

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    carl,
    can't help you much regarding GPA's, i do know that you pretty much need a 1st in the UK to do IR at the top schools. OXford's website says a 1st is equivalent to 3.8. but i'm sure work experience counts for a lot.

    re: tuition fees, because you are a german citizen you could conceivably pay home rate fees, meaning 3 000 pounds a year instead of 10 000. but you have to list germany as your home address, as it works through residence rather than nationality.

    rerivate sector work. doing IR will definitely help you to get a job in consultin like Mckinsey or the IMf or somehting like that. lot's of people go to academia, others to the city.

    re: sciences-po, i was thinking about it myself. it is the top school in france for social sciences (alongside ena - ecole nationale d'adminstration). it is nowhere near as hard to get into as oxford and cambrdige, and most of their new courses are - believe it or not - in english. while it is prestigious, i wouldn't say overtly so.
    hope that helps
    M
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    First, thanks to both of the previous posters. The information is very useful. I have some follow-up questions/clarifications.

    (Original post by Madjdy)
    re: tuition fees, because you are a german citizen you could conceivably pay home rate fees, meaning 3 000 pounds a year instead of 10 000. but you have to list germany as your home address, as it works through residence rather than nationality.
    M
    Madjdy,

    Again, thanks for your help. I would ask one clarification: surely, if an American student has a UK address he doesn't pay home tuition, right? I mean, from what I’ve read, it is both citizenship and, possibly, residence are requirements. I remember reading the posting on this website of a Bulgarian student in a UK university who was complaining that he had lived in the UK but didn't qualify for UK tuition because he was not a EU citizen.

    And when you say "home rate fees," is that rate the same for all of the schools? I thought the fees were different between Oxford, Cambridge, and LSE (specifically, I thought LSE was a bit more expensive).

    So, essentially, if I listed someplace in the EU as my residence when I applied (say by having my company transfer me to a 6-month stint in Europe) I would qualify for home rate fees?

    Thanks,
    Carl

    -------------------------------------------------

    Everyone else,

    Any more impressions on how Sciences Po (the English languages programs) stack up in terms of reputation against top US/UK programs? Would you say Science Po is top for IR in Continental Europe?

    Or anyone with more thoughts on the value of an IR PhD to private sector? Or anyone who could give me a good sense of my chances in a top UK IR program?

    Thanks again.
    Carl
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    carl,
    this is how it works, firstly, some universities charge different fees to EU/UK students and to foreigners. the LSE charges a flat rate to everyone, while oxbridge and others differntiate.

    regarding residnece: you have to be a permanent residnet. i've been in the UK since i was 13, but with a student visa so I pay foreigners' fees. and to get home fees you have to reside in the eu continously for something like three years, so six months won't cut it. a way round this is to list your grandparents' address as your home address and then they might take the bait!

    regards,
    M
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    M -

    That clears up that question... thanks very much. The only remaining question I would have is about the tuition rules for Sciences Po, but I imagine its going to be hard to answer that question on this forum.

    Anyway, your answer was very helpful. Perhaps I should take up permanent residence in London for a two year Master's at LSE (I really like the program in Global Market Economics), then work a year or two, and then go to a PhD on the reduced cost. I could take up permanent residence as a German citizen, I believe.

    The only downside to that is, from the people I know in the US (I'm thinking natural sciences and econ - I don't know about IR) most PhDs here are paid for by grants. So I don't know if even home fees would be a big advantage in the UK, as I think most PhD programs in the US are bankrolled by someone else, aren't they?

    Anyway, your answers are very helpful and thanks very much once again.

    Carl
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    (Original post by csj7)
    Everyone else,

    Any more impressions on how Sciences Po (the English languages programs) stack up in terms of reputation against top US/UK programs? Would you say Science Po is top for IR in Continental Europe?
    In terms of prestige, I think that there are a good number of US/UK unis (such as Oxford, Cambridge and LSE) that are held in better esteem than Sciences-Po for their IR programs. But with respect to Continental Europe, Sciences-Po compares well, I think.
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    (Original post by csj7)
    M -

    That clears up that question... thanks very much. The only remaining question I would have is about the tuition rules for Sciences Po, but I imagine its going to be hard to answer that question on this forum.
    Carl
    Tuition at Sciences-po depends on the program, on their new ones, for example their 2 year masters in public adminstration - which is in english and rips off the SIPA program, even in their brochure - fees are 20 000 euros a year, quite steep for france. until two years back everyone paid a pittance of around 1 000 euros. so it varies, check out their websiteon www.sciences-po.fr

    regarding funding in england, if you're a top student and english you can get funding and grants for your phd's, if you're foriegner there are things called ORS which pay for the difference in fees between home and overseas rates. they're pretty hard to get. hope that helps
    M
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    Hi Carl,

    I think you've got a good shot at the UK programs based on your background. Your Biology GPA is low, no doubt, but it is easily overshadowed by your work experience.

    Did you know Science Po has a with LSE in IR? You should know French, but with your language skills in Spanish and Portugese, it shouldn't be terribly hard to pick up.

    Ph.D. and private sector - tough to say. From you background, I would wonder why you haven't gone for an MBA yet. Most people I know in strategic consulting that last out as long as you do are either considering or getting ready to go to their MBA programs. It might be a closer match for what you are thinking of, and you get it a lot faster than you would a Ph.D. But, getting a Ph.D. would not be a detriment to your private sector job prospects. You will probably end up in the research arm of a bank or consulting firm, which may cut off opportunities to work with clients. Alternatively, consider the development banks for employment. Of course, you must tailor your work during the Ph.D. to develop the skills needed in these jobs. A great grasp of quantitative modeling on macroeconomic issues is necessary.

    Generally, I'm a little puzzled. Why do you want a degree in International Relations? Would an economics degree be more on target with your projected career path?
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    Carl,

    I wanted to address a number of questions you have. In regard to your first question - I think to a certain degree getting admitted is a matter of fit- is your profile and background suited to their program. When I look at the International Relations web site at Oxford for example, the MPhil course offers papers in a variety of areas but they are mostly dealing with political and military matters. There is a paper in International Political Economy- but the entire degree does not seem to focused on international trade.

    I really think you have to leverage your existing background and language skills and demonstrate in the application how the new degree would add and help you in doing what you want to do.

    My take is that the MPhil course in IR at Oxford typically takes people out of university or with a couple of years of experience. I'm not sure if your added experience is a plus from their perspective. I also have doubts that an online degree is going to be seen as a great asset.

    As Chengora stated, you might be better off with a degree in economics that focuses on trade matters. If you are interested in Oxford, not only would I look at the economics program, I would look at Politics and Development Studies as well. I think they focus on some of the issues you might be interested in - and they are easier to get into from an admissions standpoint.

    Another option- are you interested in a particular region- China or Latin America? Regional studies are a lot easier to get into. For example, Latin American studies at Oxford gets far fewer applicants- you could probably get into that program and major in economics.

    Regarding your third question, I think you would be better off with an MBA hands down if you want to be doing sell-side research on international sovereign debt or international equities. If you don't want to do an MBA, perhaps you could pursue a DPhil in economics at Oxford- I don't think it will make you unemployable. Another option is to do a degree in Finance- I think LSE offers a good program in that area.

    At the end of the day, in terms of what you want to do, I'm not sure the MPhil in IR at Oxford is the right choice for you and I think it might be very difficult for you to get in. I would be looking at other programs -in particular, I would look at LSE as they have a wide range of Masters degrees.

    Hope this helps.




    I have been reading the forum and am really amazed at the insight some of you have provided to others. I have four questions which have been on my mind for a while and I would like to know if anyone can help me out.

    First question: UK masters programs in IR are incredibly competitive to get into, much more so than equivalent US programs. So I would be interested in knowing if I have a shot at Cambridge, Oxford, and LSE. Here is my background:

    •I’m from the US, with an Ivy League degree (from Cornell), which I completed in a total of two years:
    -I had two majors, Policy Analysis and Management and Biology
    -My Policy Analysis and Management GPA was about a 3.7
    -My Biology GPA was about a 2.7
    -Therefore my cumulative GPA worked out to be a 3.2 even though my GPA is relevant coursework was significantly higher. (Does this lower cumulative GPA preclude me from Cambridge and Oxford? From what I read this is the case.)

    •I am currently doing an online/distance MSc in Financial Economics at SOAS. So far I’ve aced all of my classes. This degree will be complete just as I’m ready to enroll in a Master’s in International Affairs.

    •I will have four years of very international, high-level strategy consulting experience. I have spent almost a year on an engagement in China (living in Shanghai) and have worked on other projects in Taiwan, Korea, Mexico, Brazil, and South Africa.

    •Beyond my daytime job, I started a study abroad company in 2004 and its been pretty successful.

    •I speak Chinese, Spanish, and Portuguese.

    •GRE scores – very strong verbal, pretty strong quant and analytical.

    So do I stand a chance at Cambridge or Oxford or LSE? Or does my undergrad GPA kill me?

    Third question-What is the value of an econ/trade-focused PhD in International Relations to the private sector once I finish. I have a great interest in a PhD, mainly for myself and for my own intellectual curiosity. That said, I intend to work in the private sector and I don’t want to be unemployable afterwards. Ideally I see myself doing sell-side research on international sovereign debt or possibly even international equities. Is a PhD going to make me unemployable? Or could it be an advantage? I would intend to study a topic related to the politics of financial economics in emering markets - which is, I think, is highly relevant to the career path in finance I just described.

    Thanks in advance for your advice. Also, if anyone has any questions that I could answer (perhaps on careers in consulting or any other topics, please post or email me, I’d be glad to help).

    Carl
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    Chengora,

    Thanks for getting back to me, your comments are really insightful. I've tried to address each of your questions/comments below.

    (Original post by Chengora)

    Did you know Science Po has a with LSE in IR? You should know French, but with your language skills in Spanish and Portuguese, it shouldn't be terribly hard to pick up.
    Yes, the English language program at Sciences Po is the one I’m familiar with/thinking about. French is not a requirement for the degree, but many electives would be in French, so hopefully I could pick it up quickly (at least by the second year, which is when the curriculum allows for electives). I took 2 semesters of French in college, so I know the basics. Moreover, when I try to read French, given my knowledge of other romance languages, I can pretty much understand 80-90%. Understanding oral French is a different story, but I’m sure emersion in France would fix that.

    The combo degree with LSE is of great interest, as it the combo degree with SIPA. I’m considering both.

    What is your impression of the quality of this program? I noticed you have given some other people really astute comments about job prospects coming out of various programs in the US/UK. But what kind of job prospects do you think people have coming out of Sciences Po, should I decide to not do the PhD?

    (Original post by Chengora)

    Ph.D. and private sector - tough to say. From you background, I would wonder why you haven't gone for an MBA yet. Most people I know in strategic consulting that last out as long as you do are either considering or getting ready to go to their MBA programs. It might be a closer match for what you are thinking of, and you get it a lot faster than you would a Ph.D.
    Certainly I have considered an MBA. I have two issues with an MBA - first, I think I want to be able to get into an executive MBA, preferably at Wharton or INSEAD. My reasons for preferring an MBA are the standard reasons. First, the students in the classes have much more experience (often 20-30 years) and you can therefore learn much more from them (not to mention the network you build is more high-level). The other obvious advantage of an executive MBA is that because you do it while working, you don’t have to take time off of your career and it is normally bankrolled by your company.

    But my real motivation for a PhD vs MBA lies else where, not so much in terms of career goals. Its more something I want to do for myself.

    First, I would really enjoy the intellectual aspect of a PhD. I really love reading the Economist, reading books about economics and politics, etc, etc, etc. So my first motivation is because it is something I think I would enjoy greatly.

    Second, a PhD seems to really open up a whole other set of opportunities – in development banks (which you mentioned), in terms of Washington think tanks, and in terms of academia. I am not leaning towards any of these right now, but who know, my interests might change. All of these paths sound truly fascinating. Academia is particularly interesting for me because my family is from a part of the country where there are a lot of great schools, but not much else in terms of relevant work. A PhD would really provide a good way to get back there is I wanted to settle there in the long run (10, 20 years from now).

    Third, if I go strait to working in a research department in a bank, I will be doing a lot of the grunt work. By doing a PhD, I won’t get paid as well (I wouldn’t get paid at all) but at least I’ll skip a lot of the heavy lifting/due paying that many of my friends are suffering through now. Working in consulting has sure been a steep learning curve, but I must say, it is also a lot of excel crunching and power point jockeying (not to mention the project’s scope can, sometimes, be quite narrow, even when the projects are highly strategic).

    What do you think? Do these sound like sane motives? Or should I just go to get an MBA right now like everyone else (this is a question I have asked myself a number of times)? Sometimes I think that might be the best path? Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.

    (Original post by Chengora)

    Getting a Ph.D. would not be a detriment to your private sector job prospects. You will probably end up in the research arm of a bank or consulting firm, which may cut off opportunities to work with clients. Alternatively, consider the development banks for employment. Of course, you must tailor your work during the Ph.D. to develop the skills needed in these jobs. A great grasp of quantitative modeling on macroeconomic issues is necessary.
    Again, thanks for the great insight. As I said, I would be shooting for the research arm of a bank (hopefully sovereign debt research focusing on emerging markets or the economics department). Development banks are also an area I have considered, as I mentioned earlier, but I think either banking or consulting is where I will ultimately end up. I am a consultant now, most of my friends are consultants, I am sure there will be almost no value of having a PhD in International Relations for a regular consultant. The only exception to this might be the initial reaction, "wow, he has a Dr. in front of his name," you might get from a client when you hand them a name card. In all seriousness, I don't think I would really care about that initial 'wow' or if I would even print such a thing on my name cards.

    In any case, I don’t think I want to do consulting as a career – I want to work on issues that are broader than issues facing a single company or a single product. I’m much more interested in the macro than the micro. While consulting is somewhat intellectual, it is a lot about the micro side of things – issues facing a particular product, or at most, a particular company. I think this is broadly true of banking as well, with the possible exception of some positions in research, particularly sovereign research or economics departments (which is where I want to land). However, even sovereign debt research can be pretty micro.

    (Original post by Chengora)

    Generally, I'm a little puzzled. Why do you want a degree in International Relations? Would an economics degree be more on target with your projected career path?
    Also, I have certainly considered a degree in Economics and am considering applying for the MSc in Global Market Economics at LSE. I am also taking a distance degree in Financial Economics now through SOAS and have tons of Econ as an undergrad. I have always done stellar in these classes. I really love econ theory but I don't like the heavily quantitative aspect of econ. But from what I understand, that is all a PhD in Econ is - quant, quant, quant. I have read most successful econ grad students are not Econ undergrads, but physics and math undergrads. I can handle math to an extent, I did well in Econometrics and pretty good on the quant section of standardized tests, but I can't live and breathe to math to the extent that would be necessary for a PhD. A master's degree might be another story, depending on the curriculum.

    So if I where to study international relations I would focus very heavily on Economics/Trade. In fact, LSE also has a program called "the Politics of the World Economy," which sounds fascinating. I am also considering applying for that (decisions, decisions). But in terms of a PhD, that really couldn't be in pure econ, as much as I love the theory but the quant would kill me. Therefore, to answer your question, a degree in IR/Government with a heavy focus on econ/trade is the other obvious choice. I have always loved these subjects and have always done very well in them. What do you think? Does this sound logical?

    ---------------------------------------------

    To sum up, thanks very much for your thoughts. I really, really appreciate it. Your feedback is truly invaluable to someone at the point in my life where I am.
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    Thanks Treff... that is what I am hearing from a few people.

    (Original post by treff)
    In terms of prestige, I think that there are a good number of US/UK unis (such as Oxford, Cambridge and LSE) that are held in better esteem than Sciences-Po for their IR programs. But with respect to Continental Europe, Sciences-Po compares well, I think.
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    Hi M -

    Thanks. Its too bad Sciences Po changed their tuition so drastically. I wonder how the financial aid works - either for Americans or European (Germans). Their financial aid websites are all in French, so I'm going to really have to concentrate to read it.

    What are ORS? Is that a form of loan or a form of grants? I imagine its a subsidized loan of some sort?

    Carl

    (Original post by Madjdy)
    Tuition at Sciences-po depends on the program, on their new ones, for example their 2 year masters in public adminstration - which is in english and rips off the SIPA program, even in their brochure - fees are 20 000 euros a year, quite steep for france. until two years back everyone paid a pittance of around 1 000 euros. so it varies, check out their websiteon www.sciences-po.fr

    regarding funding in england, if you're a top student and english you can get funding and grants for your phd's, if you're foriegner there are things called ORS which pay for the difference in fees between home and overseas rates. they're pretty hard to get. hope that helps
    M
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    I think you were commenting on some of the statements I made earlier and I wanted to respond. Read what I wrote carefully- I did not say or imply that the US PhD is unequivocally better than the DPhil. I was directing my comments to Americans who are interested in becoming professors in the United States and advising them on which degree to pursue. Maybe American professors and administrators are being parochial but that doesn't change the fact that in most fields, the qualification they prefer for a university position is an American PhD. At least in politics, the PhD is longer and more comprehensive and thus, they see it as more rigorous.

    I don't know how the PhD is viewed versus the DPhil in other countries. I agree with you on that -it may be viewed as being just as prestigious as an American PhD.

    As for the MPhil at Oxford, I think that you are correct -it might be more rigorous than some comparable American degrees just because of the lengthy thesis that is involved. But again for an American who is interested in working in the field, having to do a thesis may not be the most important factor. Obtaining the right skills and being able to do an internship are arguably just as imporant. While the MPhil at Oxford in IR is excellent, I would argue that some of the MPhils (like those in regional studies) lack quantitative rigor and need to be revised.
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    Hi KrkRbts,

    Also, thank you very much for your advice. I can't tell you how helpful it is for someone like you to share the benefit of your experience in this field with me. I've tried to address your comments and questions below.

    (Original post by KrkRbts)

    In regard to your first question - I think to a certain degree getting admitted is a matter of fit- is your profile and background suited to their program. When I look at the International Relations web site at Oxford for example, the MPhil course offers papers in a variety of areas but they are mostly dealing with political and military matters. There is a paper in International Political Economy- but the entire degree does not seem to focused on international trade.
    Yes, I have noticed that schools like Oxford and Cambridge really do seem to have a very different focus from my interests. From what I can tell, this is in contrast to, say, SAIC in Washington or SIPA (esp if you have a related concentration) or, of course, some place like LSE. What other schools do you think have more of a focus on economics?

    (Original post by KrkRbts)

    As Chengora stated, you might be better off with a degree in economics that focuses on trade matters. If you are interested in Oxford, not only would I look at the economics program, I would look at Politics and Development Studies as well. I think they focus on some of the issues you might be interested in - and they are easier to get into from an admissions standpoint.
    Great point. As I mentioned to Chengora, I probably wouldn't shoot for the strait econ. Development studies programs are really quite far from my career goals as well. Do you know of any programs in the UK or US (or in Europe for that matter) with good econ master's programs. I know in the US, few top schools have terminal masters programs. Of course there is LSE in the UK, but what about Oxford or Cambridge?

    (Original post by KrkRbts)

    Another option- are you interested in a particular region- China or Latin America? Regional studies are a lot easier to get into. For example, Latin American studies at Oxford gets far fewer applicants- you could probably get into that program and major in economics.
    That is a really good tip. I will keep that in mind. The trouble is, I'm really interested in emerging markets generally. I speak Chinese fluently and have spent a year in China (I will likely spend next year (Sept 05-Sept 06) there as well). So Asia would be a clear choice. But at the same time, I've done tons of work/studying in Latin American as well and speak Spanish almost at the level of native and also speak Portuguese pretty well. In fact, I was born in Colombia. So it would be a tough choice choosing between the two regions. But really your idea is a very good tip and something that, while it seems obvious once you pointed it out, I had not considered before. Thanks for this.

    (Original post by KrkRbts)

    Regarding your third question, I think you would be better off with an MBA hands down if you want to be doing sell-side research on international sovereign debt or international equities. If you don't want to do an MBA, perhaps you could pursue a DPhil in economics at Oxford- I don't think it will make you unemployable. Another option is to do a degree in Finance- I think LSE offers a good program in that area.
    Thanks again for your comments. I think I explained to Chengora why I would be hesitant to jump into an MBA right now. I know my real interests lies in a politics/IR degree with a focus on econ, so much so that it makes me question my outlined career focus. In terms of a pure econ or finance degree, the level of math turns me off quiet a bit. I mean, in my current job as a consultant I have a lot of quant exposure, I spend many late nights in front of the warm glow of excel or visual basic or SAS. It’s not so bad, but I don’t love it. Also, I don’t think the level of quant skills required a PhD in Econ.

    The more I think about this, the more I come to realize that perhaps sell-size research on sovereign debt. I know I mentioned equities, but that is really not what I’m interested in, equities is really too narrow. Also working in the econ department of a bank might not be a good fit for me. For one, debt can really be a lot of focus on number crunching models to calculate whether bond yields are 1/10th of a point-off what they should be (yawn).

    At the same time, econ department can be a lot of the sort of heavy quantitative analysis that I want to avoid in my graduate studies. On the other hand, econ departments can be much more about talking to clients and writing reports. I know a guy in an econ department in an i-bank down the street (he’s a former roommate). He is US-focused but he tells me that the bank doesn’t even has its own model – it uses Macroeconomic Advisor’s model, a firm out in Saint Louis. So many this econ department wouldn’t be so bad.

    I am also considering other opportunities for PhDs such as development banks, think tanks, academia, or perhaps certain types of consultancies focusing on government clients (because the type of consulting I do, strategy consulting for MNC clients, there is really zero use for such a degree). As I mentioned to Chengora, academics could also be a good option long term. Plus there are a lot of this sort of jobs in Washington (a city I would much rather live in than New York).

    (Original post by KrkRbts)

    At the end of the day, in terms of what you want to do, I'm not sure the MPhil in IR at Oxford is the right choice for you and I think it might be very difficult for you to get in. I would be looking at other programs -in particular, I would look at LSE as they have a wide range of Masters degrees.
    I think this is very salient advice and I really appreciate all of your thoughts. Thanks very much. This is all incredibly helpful.

    Carl
 
 
 

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