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Prestige Schools Dominate Academic Placement

Want to teach political science for a living? Go to one of a handful of top schools or don’t bother.

Inside Higher Ed (“Academic Superpowers“):

A new study finds that, in political science, earning a Ph.D. from one of a relatively small number of universities is the key to landing a job at a research-intensive university. And the study suggests that the number of academic “superpowers” is so small that good candidates from less-favored institutions are likely being overlooked.

The study looked at the 116 universities ranked by U.S. News & World Report for political science graduate programs, and examined where all of the tenure-track or tenured faculty members earned their doctorates. The top four institutions in the magazine’s rankings of departments — Harvard, Princeton and Stanford Universities and the University of Michigan — were the Ph.D. alma maters of 616 of the political scientists at the 116 universities (roughly 20 percent of the total). The top 11 institutions were collectively responsible for the doctoral education of about half of those in tenured or tenure-track positions at the 116 universities, leaving more than 100 departments to “contest the remaining 50 percent of openings,” says the study.

The reason why this might be the case is hardly a mystery:

[Study author Robert Oprisko] said that there is “a circular argument” to consider when asking why some universities are so successful in placement. “Are they being placed because these schools are awesome and they collect the best people, and the best people go there?” Plenty of great people do go to top programs, he said. But they are assisted in part by the great networks that are formed, and their institutional reputations — not just by their own qualifications. “When an institution hires someone from Harvard or Princeton, they want to say that those are great hires, and that there is prestige because of that, so the incentive is for those numbers to go up.”

For a generation now, there have been far, far more poli-sci PhDs applying for tenure-track positions than there are tenure-track positions. In the mid-1990s, when I first entered the job market, it was common for even really lousy jobs to attract 250 to 500 applicants.

So, if Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota* gets 300 applications for a low-paying position with an absurd teaching load that won’t allow professors to publish their way out of town, and 10 of them went to a highly prestigious institution that will confer that prestige on BHSU, why wouldn’t they get invited in for interviews over someone with a similar CV and a degree from Alabama?

When I was teaching, along with Steven Taylor, at what was then Troy State in the late 1990s, those doing the hiring had a different instinct: Why, people from Yale probably won’t like it here and they’ll leave in a couple of years and we’ll have to go through the hiring process all over again. While there’s something to that, it’s probably a self-defeating strategy. Yes, you want faculty who are a good fit with the institution. And someone with a Harvard PhD who grew up in New York City or Los Angeles and has an active research agenda might not mesh with an institution in Troy, Alabama or Spearfish, South Dakota. But there’s enough of an applicant pool to screen for that, hire people with prestige degrees, and improve the profile of your department.

That’s bad news for those of us who didn’t go to a Top 4, or even a Top 10, school. But that’s life in the big city.

UPDATE: Duke’s Mike Munger makes an obvious point elided above: The top schools get their pick of PhD applicants, so it’s not surprising that they have a very high placement rate.

But if admissions processes are based on grades, recommendations, and GRE scores, and if the top ten PS departments* choose the 150 best applicants each year, wouldn’t it be amazing if those departments did NOT dominate the job market?  Let’s assume that the admissions criteria are only 50% predictive of later success.  Still, year after year, 75 of the best young political scientists in the country are going to the top ten departments.

Sure, that means that there may be no value added in “top” PhD programs.  But if the admissions process selects based on traits that are actually correlated with ability, this is just sorting.   To put it another way, the admissions processes at top ten poli sci departments would have to be pretty dumb for anything other than dominance to occur.

That’s quite right. Of course, the bottom 75 graduates of those schools are likely placing in good, if less desirable, positions, too.

Via Chris Lawrence’s Facebook page

______________

*An actual place where I applied back in the day and found myself in competition with more than 250 others.

Related Posts:

About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. george says:

    It makes me wonder about what’s being taught in political science, that there’s no other relevant critieria that comes into play. In engineering and science, for instance, its very common for graduates of even relatively unknown (let alone not top ten) universities to get positions (and Nobel Prizes etc).

    Or are the refereed journals also dominated by the same graduates, so a ground breaking paper by someone from a lesser school never gets published and cited?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. SKI says:

    As you note, this isn’t new. I was advised about this when considering going that route in the early 90’s; that if I didn’t get into a top 10 or 12 school, not to bother.

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  3. JKB says:

    To be fair as was learned in the Havard-graduate professor Amy Bishop killings, there is real risk to hiring Ivy League out in the hinterlands. Their hopes and dreams have been crushed, their “specialness” show to be not that special so you risk losing more good professors than just the Ivy League climber.

    But there is an assumption here that should not be true. Namely, that to continue the research and study facilitated by obtaining a Ph.D. requires a professorship. Perhaps this was true in the age of the journal gatekeepers but these days, the talented non-elite schooled researcher can display their work free. And as we know from how the internet works, if the work is substantial enough, it’ll be “peer reviewed”. Often most viciously.

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  4. James Joyner says:

    @george: You can theoretically publish your way out of a lesser degree. Put out a great book and publish half a dozen pieces in top journals, and you’re marketable at mid-tier schools. Do enough, and you might even be able to climb your way to a prestige school (although probably not). But there’s a Catch-22: It’s a hell of a lot easier to publish if you’re teaching one class a semester and no more than three or four unique classes, ever. And the only people who get that are people teaching at top schools. If you’re teaching at Troy or Black Hills, your load is typically 4 classes a semester–if not 5–and those classes will be all over the board topic wise rather than confined to your research specialty. And there’s more committee work and other service requirements, too.

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  5. george says:

    I’m not sure how that works. In engineering, and science, many graduates of lesser known universities win professor ships and even Nobel Prizes by publishing groundbreaking papers – why doesn’t that work in political science as well? Or do the top colleges dominate the refereed journals, and refuse to publish work that isn’t from their own … and even then, wouldn’t the paper get picked up and cited by others?

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  6. george says:

    Opps, sorry for duplicate, thought my first one was eaten by the system :(

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  7. Brummagem Joe says:

    Want to teach political science for a living? Go to one of a handful of top schools or don’t bother.

    You can of course apply the same rule to the practise of law. If you didn’t go to one of the top ten law schools or were top of your class in the next 20 you’re not going to get federal clerkships or a job with a top law firm. Of course graduates of Regent law school can always find appointments in Republican administrations.

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  8. george says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’m guessing there are no post-docs in political science (oddly enough, it never occurred to me until now). In science and engineering, the post doc is where a lot of careers are made, before the burden of teaching falls.

    You mention publishing a book – is that a major factor in politican science? In physics, for instance, the book is usually something written at the end of a (famous) career, and written for non-physicists. Research and new theories are always published in papers (of course, publishing in Nature or Science is better than publishing in an unknown journal.

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  9. James Joyner says:

    @Brummagem Joe: But that’s a different thing. No one’s arguing that Alabama grads should be surprised that they’re not competitive for openings at Harvard, Stanford, and Chicago. The point is that it’s very hard to get a job teaching even at a no-name regional teaching school unless you go to a Top 10 school.

    By contrast, a graduate of Alabama’s law school can expect to make a decent living practicing law. No, he’s unlikely to get hired by one of the white shoe firms. But he’ll be competitive at most firms in the Southeast and in most of corporate America.

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  10. mantis says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    If you didn’t go to one of the top ten law schools or were top of your class in the next 20 you’re not going to get federal clerkships or a job with a top law firm.

    Yes, but you can still make a living practicing law. If you don’t get one of the few positions at a good school as an academic, often your best case scenario is many years of barely scraping by and hoping for a tenure-track position at one of the lesser schools that are relying more and more on underpaid grad students to do the work of teaching.

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  11. Brummagem Joe says:

    @JKB:

    Whether it should be true or not…… it is true. And I’m sure there are plenty of Ivy educated teachers at mid rank schools who are quite happy just as there are plenty of Ivy educated lawyers practising at mid rank law firms or in the bowels of Citigroup.

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  12. Brummagem Joe says:

    @mantis:

    Actually far from making a reasonable living in many cases you can’t get a job as lawyer on the basis of a degree from a lower ranked school

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  13. Brummagem Joe says:

    @James Joyner:

    JJ with all due respect I think you’re a bit out of touch with the employment situation for lawyers from lower rated schools. They can’t get jobs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  14. Moosebreath says:

    @James Joyner:

    “No one’s arguing that Alabama grads should be surprised that they’re not competitive for openings at Harvard, Stanford, and Chicago.”

    You missed Joe’s point. He’s saying that Alabama grads are not competitive for openings on Alabama Law School’s faculty, and that the positions will always go to someone with a high-profile clerking position, which means a graduate of a top 10 law school.

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  15. john personna says:

    At first glance I thought this thread and topic were not interesting to me, because I answer this question “no:”

    Want to teach political science for a living?

    But you know, it might relate to my interests. Those are the ed-tech revolution, and the strange push-back being generated.

    So … do you want to teach political science for a living? Or do you want a great and low cost educational system?

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  16. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Precisely. It’s exactly the same situation as JJ describes writ large since we’re graduating a lot more lawyers than political science PhD’s. I’m sure the same situation prevails in a host of other rather high altitude specialities……art historians, archeology, zoology, medieaval history, theology (if that’s really a subject lol), English literature?

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  17. mantis says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    Actually far from making a reasonable living in many cases you can’t get a job as lawyer on the basis of a degree from a lower ranked school

    That depends on what you consider a “lower ranked school.”

    What this post is talking about is the fact that unless you have a degree from a very small set of elite schools, sometimes as few as five, you can’t get a good job as an academic in your field.

    Are you saying that only lawyers from the top five schools can make a living? Because this is very far from the truth.

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  18. Brummagem Joe says:

    @mantis:

    Are you saying that only lawyers from the top five schools can make a living?

    Perhaps you’d like to show me where I ever said anything approximating to this?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  19. Moosebreath says:

    @mantis:

    “Are you saying that only lawyers from the top five schools can make a living?”

    No, he’s saying only lawyers from the top ten schools will get teaching positions. See the difference?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  20. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Moosebreath:

    As it happens one of my kids who went to a very good law school, graduated Summa, clerked for a federal appeals judge and practised law considered a career shift into acadaemia at one point a few years back and there very few if any openings.

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  21. Brummagem Joe says:

    Given JJ’s attachment to free market economics none of this should surprise him…..LOL

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  22. PJ says:

    @mantis:

    What this post is talking about is the fact that unless you have a degree from a very small set of elite schools, sometimes as few as five, you can’t get a good job as an academic in your field.

    The top four institutions in the magazine’s rankings of departments — Harvard, Princeton and Stanford Universities and the University of Michigan — were the Ph.D. alma maters of 616 of the political scientists at the 116 universities (roughly 20 percent of the total). The top 11 institutions were collectively responsible for the doctoral education of about half of those in tenured or tenure-track positions at the 116 universities, leaving more than 100 departments to “contest the remaining 50 percent of openings,” says the study.

    About 3000 positions. 616 are from the the top four, 884 from the next seven. Which leaves about 1500 for the “bottom” 105 institutions.

    While the odds are a lot better if you are from one of the top four or the top 11, I wouldn’t say that you can’t get a good job as an academic in your field if you aren’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. Just Me says:

    It seems like in some of the society and academia are moving towards a modern aristocracy.

    To get a good teaching job (and in some cases just a good job) it appears that you must graduate from a few elite institutions for certain fields (the less STEM oriented ones).

    It also seems that to get a job or appointment in government that one needs to graduate from these same elite institutions.

    Our society is building an academic echo chamber that will only affirm those like themselves. For both professorships and other high ranking government appointments and jobs-I am not sure this is a good thing, but I am also pretty certain it is going to stay.

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  24. JKB says:

    As an amusing aside, Never Yet Melted has a post regarding Harvard’s efforts to help their special charges deal with their specialness when dealing with mere mortals.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Separate but related topic:

    It’s not a coincidence the U.S. business community is trying to move heaven and earth to get additional H1-B visas, so it can bring over more and more scientists, engineers and computer techs from the likes of China, India, South Korea and Taiwan. Nor is it a coincidence that corporate America simultaneously has a vested interest in outsourcing various high-paying, technical jobs. And these related phenomena are not entirely nor even are close to entirely predicated upon relative costs. Cheap labor is very important, of course, but that’s not all that’s going on here. The harsh reality is the U.S. education system has become a cesspool of liberal groupthink and politicized agenda pushing.

    So while Gen. Y continues largely to graduate with useless degrees, saddled with crushing debts, virtually unemployable outside of the academe itself, other countries’ labor pools inevitably will fill the voids and people elsewhere will benefit. That’s how labor economics actually works in the real world. And it’s all part and parcel of the big U.S. decline.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8

  26. Barry says:

    @george: “In engineering and science, for instance, its very common for graduates of even relatively unknown (let alone not top ten) universities to get positions (and Nobel Prizes etc).”

    I’d be highly surprised if the graduates of relatively unknown universities got many positions, since the glut is there, as well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. Barry says:

    @James Joyner: “By contrast, a graduate of Alabama’s law school can expect to make a decent living practicing law. No, he’s unlikely to get hired by one of the white shoe firms. But he’ll be competitive at most firms in the Southeast and in most of corporate America. ”

    I don’t have the figures, but I doubt this. See the Law School Transparency and Inside the Law School Scam blogs. If you don’t go to a top-10 law school, the probability of getting an actual law degree is pretty low, but the cost of attending is still in the $150K-$250K.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. Barry says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: “So while Gen. Y continues largely to graduate with useless degrees,…”

    This has been debunked by Krugman, among others. Do you know what the most popular bachelor’s degree is? (Of course you don’t)

    Business.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  29. James Joyner says:

    @Barry: Alabama is a top 30 law school, so it may be a bad example, but it has excellent placements. I’d wager that’s true of the top law school in any state. the “law school scam” site seems to be focused on unaccredited or otherwise marginal law schools.

    Are there too many lawyers? Sure. Do all of the graduates even of decent schools get jobs that put them well into the upper middle class? No. But the prospects for employment in your field are better at most decent law schools than the poli-sci PhD program across campus.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. mantis says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    Perhaps you’d like to show me where I ever said anything approximating to this?

    No, because I didn’t claim you said it. I asked if that’s what you meant. Apparently it is not, but I don’t know what you did mean.

    @Moosebreath:

    No, he’s saying only lawyers from the top ten schools will get teaching positions. See the difference?

    I do, but he was responding to my comment about lawyers getting jobs practicing law, not teaching. If someone wants to be an academic, they have a very hard time making a living without going to a prestigious school. If someone wants to be an attorney, they can make a living without meeting such high standards. That is my point.

    @PJ:

    While the odds are a lot better if you are from one of the top four or the top 11, I wouldn’t say that you can’t get a good job as an academic in your field if you aren’t.

    Define a good job. Does making $27k a year and teaching five classes a semester while trying to perform and publish research sound like a good job? A lot of the positions you are talking about are along those lines, and in some cases people are lucky to get them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  31. ptfe says:

    @PJ: Interesting that they don’t mention the numbers on how many students attend each of those schools to get a PhD. It’s one thing to do the bulk “these schools hire out the most grads”, it’s entirely different to look at them as a percentage of total graduates in the field.

    For instance, in 2010, Univ of Michigan (17), Stanford (8), Harvard (17), and Princeton (15) produced a total of 57 of the PhDs in the field. That’s 57 of 728, which works out to a little over 7.8% of the total graduates. Put in “skew” terms, if we assume a relatively static field, that means they get a roughly 2.5x better chance of being placed than their non-top-4 counterparts. It took a long time to get those four data points, so I’ll spare myself the hassle of the next 7; but if you figure that the average enrollment is probably about 15 at major universities, the next 7 should give about 105 grads — which is to say, about 160 of the 728 total, or 22%, once again conferring the 2.5x benefit.

    Assuming that the field is relatively static over time — i.e. the number of graduates from those schools hasn’t shifted significantly in recent years — the actual skew is not ZOMG 4/116 institutions (just over 3.4%) skewed by a factor of 5.5, but 7.8% skewed by a factor of 2.5. So it’s not nearly as bad as it seems at first glance. And that assumes that the number of institutions conferring these degrees is pretty static as well; if new institutions have joined the fray in the last couple decades, the historical pool may be more top-4-centric than the more recent (2010) sample would suggest.

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  32. Brummagem Joe says:

    @mantis:
    No, because I didn’t claim you said it. I asked if that’s what you meant. Apparently it is not, but I don’t know what you did mean.

    Then I’d say you have comprehension problems because it couldn’t have been clearer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  33. Brummagem Joe says:

    @James Joyner:

    In fact there plenty of law grads from lower ranked schools that are not scams in the sense that we know scams that can’t get law jobs and go do something else.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  34. Brummagem Joe says:

    @JKB:

    Wow…..I didn’t know there were web sites specifically catering to the inferiority complexes of guys like you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  35. mantis says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    Then I’d say you have comprehension problems because it couldn’t have been clearer.

    Ok, asshole, let’s go to the tape. You said this:

    Actually far from making a reasonable living in many cases you can’t get a job as lawyer on the basis of a degree from a lower ranked school

    I then responded that you needed to define what a “lower ranked school” is, because what James is talking about is the elite schools, of which there are only a handful. So I asked if you were saying that only lawyers who attended the handful of elite schools can make a living practicing law. You were not clear and you still haven’t answered the question. You’ve just been a prick about it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  36. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Just Me:

    It seems like in some of the society and academia are moving towards a modern aristocracy.

    There’s nothing new about this. The major difference from say 60 or even 40 years ago is that it is an aristocracy based on merit rather than lineage.

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  37. Brummagem Joe says:

    @mantis:

    Sorry but it my new rule……. I’m not responding to people who throw obscene ad homs around.

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  38. mantis says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    Sorry but it my new rule……. I’m not responding to people who throw obscene ad homs around.

    Bullshit copout. Argumentum ad hominem is insult used instead of a real argument, not in addition to it.

    It’s amusing that you don’t even recognize that your comment about my “reading comprehension” was the first shot fired. So it’s a copout coupled with blatant hypocrisy. Good work, counselor.

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  39. george says:

    @Barry:

    I’d be highly surprised if the graduates of relatively unknown universities got many positions, since the glut is there, as well.

    Ever heard of the University of Saskatchewan? I’d guess not. One of the local fellows (did a BSc and MSc there) still got accepted into Berkeley for his Phd, and ended up as a prof at Standford. Also got a Nobel Prize in chemistry. And that’s actually fairly common – there’s a list you can google for which gives the universities attended by Nobel Prize winners in physics. Quite a few from the major universities (top twenty say), but more from places that wouldn’t be in anybody’s top twenty.

    The key is that publishing a few good papers in Nature or Science is seen as much more important than where you graduate from. Of course, doing the research that gets you those publications is harder than just getting into a top ten university. The upshot is that what’s looked for is your publication and citation list, not from where you graduated, and it shows in the faculty.

    That’s even more the case in engineering, where if you look at the chief engineering officers or chief tech officers of engineering companies, most only have BSc’s, and more often than not from just state or provincial universities – but have a long string of successful projects behind them. Graduating from MIT can get you the interview, and even a job, but typically after that it depends on what you do, and as often or not the farm kid from some state university ends up doing as much or more.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  40. Just Me says:

    I’d wager that’s true of the top law school in any state.

    I think graduating from a top law school in a state would likely result in decent opportunities in the immediate region, but a law degree from a lower ranked school in the midwest or south east might make opportunities in New England difficult (especially given that so many of the elite schools are located in New England).

    There’s nothing new about this. The major difference from say 60 or even 40 years ago is that it is an aristocracy based on merit rather than lineage.

    There is a merit component, but I am still not convinced having almost all of academia being from a small set of elite schools brings much diversity-something colleges and universities say they value.

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  41. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Just Me:

    There is a merit component, but I am still not convinced having almost all of academia being from a small set of elite schools brings much diversity-something colleges and universities say they value.

    I’m not clear how it operates against diversity given that the intake at top schools is more diverse than say 40-60 years ago. Take Obama for example. Suppose he hadn’t gone into politics but had decided to teach constitutional law as a career and had sought a full time position at Chicago and ultimately tenure.

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  42. steve says:

    “The harsh reality is the U.S. education system has become a cesspool of liberal groupthink and politicized agenda pushing.”

    The reality is that US universities are the top rated in the world. Other countries send their students here.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  43. george says:

    @steve:

    The reality is that US universities are the top rated in the world. Other countries send their students here.

    Steve

    And that is absolutely true, especially at the Phd level. Oxbridge is the only other place I can think of that draws the same kind of international interest as the top US schools.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  44. Brummagem Joe says:

    @george:

    Don’t worry Oxford and Cambridge are cesspools of liberal groupthink and politicized agenda pushing too……LOL….Well except Peterhouse at Cambridge….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  45. and if the top ten PS departments* choose the 150 best applicants each year

    Wasn’t there an article on this blog just last week indicating that the top schools aren’t choosing the best applicants, rather than then wealthiest and best connected ones?

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  46. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @george: I don’t think you’re making the point that you think you’re making. At all. He got into the Ph.D. program at Berkeley — that is what made him one of the elites in his field. Stanford wouldn’t have touched him if he had gotten his Ph.D. from Saskatchewan.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  47. george says:

    @Gromitt Gunn:

    @george: I don’t think you’re making the point that you think you’re making. At all. He got into the Ph.D. program at Berkeley — that is what made him one of the elites in his field. Stanford wouldn’t have touched him if he had gotten his Ph.D. from Saskatchewan.

    Is Berkeley a top ten university in the US? For some reason I didn’t realize that; if so, you’re right, I didn’t make my point.

    How about someone like Alexei A. Abrikosov, Nobel Prize winner in Physics in 2003. Phd from Moscow State university, a very good school, but not a top ten school? I suspect he’d do better applying for a professorship in physics than your average Harvard Phd in physics. And that’s just a name I pulled at random. There are a lot of Nobel Prize winners in the sciences with non-Ivy league Phd’s.

    And a lot of others who’ve not got the prize yet, but are publishing papers at that level – and getting professorships despite their lack of elite Phd’s.

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  48. Just Me says:

    I’m not clear how it operates against diversity given that the intake at top schools is more diverse than say 40-60 years ago.

    I don’t mean racial diversity but diversity of thought-it basically becomes an academic echo chamber.

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  49. superdestroyer says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    The article about the Ivy Leagues had to do with undergraduate admissions and not graduate school. HOwever, even those connected and quota students benefit from attending an Ivy League because most people in the U.S. operate from the POV that the dumbest person at Harvard is smarter than the smartest person at Georgetown. Then the POV is that the dumbest person at Georgetown is smarter than the smartest person at the University of Maryland.

    If easiest way to get into an elite graduate program is attend an elite undergraduate program.

    A secondary question is what do all of the PhDs from second and third tier universities do for jobs. How many of them are working totally outside of their field and basically wasted their their time in graduate school.

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  50. john personna says:

    @steve:

    The reality is that US universities are the top rated in the world. Other countries send their students here.

    That is likely to remain true (speaking as an optimist), but the US system is starting a phase transition. One of the reasons academics argue about their roles is that they feel those roles at risk.

    I mean, you might have thought my comment above was coming at an oblique angle, but how related is this?

    College of Future Could Be Come One, Come All

    Any “agent” in the current system who is talking about “selection” is also thinking about that, at the same time.

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  51. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Just Me:

    I don’t mean racial diversity but diversity of thought-it basically becomes an academic echo chamber.

    Neither did I mean just racial diversity. The intake at Ivies is more diverse in all respects (income level, ethnicity and social background) than it was 60 years ago. I just took the president as a case in point because in all these respects he exemplifies the change. And given the amount of controversy in the academic community at the highest levels I rather doubt the existence of an echo chamber.

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  52. Brummagem Joe says:

    @john personna:

    College of Future Could Be Come One, Come All

    This sounds a bit like those confident predictions I heard around about 1997 that the dot.com revolution was going to render the Caterpillar distribution model obsolete.

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  53. john personna says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    What an excellent comment. It teaches in its awfulness.

    E-Commerce Spending On Black Friday Tops $1B For The First Time; Amazon Is The Most Visited Retailer

    But you know, because FedEx does not deliver earth-movers …

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  54. Rafer Janders says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    As it happens one of my kids who went to a very good law school, graduated Summa, clerked for a federal appeals judge and practised law considered a career shift into acadaemia at one point a few years back and there very few if any openings.

    Over generalising again? Your son’s circumstances are not the circumstances of every lawyer working and living in the US.

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  55. Rafer Janders says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    Actually far from making a reasonable living in many cases you can’t get a job as lawyer on the basis of a degree from a lower ranked school

    You wouldn’t actually like to produce some quantifiable evidence to support that contention would you?

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  56. john personna says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    I don’t think Joe is real. I don’t think “brummagem” is ironic self-description, I think it is the clue.

    I mean, could anyone seriously answer the world wide web with “ah, but heavy equipment is unaffected?”

    No. That is the work of an evil genius.

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  57. Rafer Janders says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    And I’m sure there are plenty of Ivy educated teachers at mid rank schools who are quite happy just as there are plenty of Ivy educated lawyers practising at mid rank law firms or in the bowels of Citigroup.

    Evidence please…how are you sure they are quite happy?

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  58. Rob in CT says:

    I have no first-hand knowledge to offer, but my best friend is a History professor. Starting out, he did his research and came to the conclusion that unless he got his PhD from one of about 12 universities, he might as well not bother. To be fair, he doesn’t want to teach at a community college. Neither does he expect (I don’t think) to chair the History department at Yale (just picking a name here, I actually don’t know if the Yale History department is great) or somsuch.

    He was ultimately successful in getting into a PhD program at one of the required schools, and graduated 2 years ago. He’s been able to get jobs, though so far nothing prestigious.

    That basically jibes with what James is saying here about Political Science.

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  59. Brummagem Joe says:

    @john personna:

    But you know, because FedEx does not deliver earth-movers

    Exactly…..but more to the point they don’t service them!

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  60. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Over generalising again? Your son’s circumstances are not the circumstances of every lawyer working and living in the US.

    On the contrary it was a very specific example or are you claiming there are numerous openings for educators at top law schools.

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  61. Brummagem Joe says:

    @john personna:

    I mean, could anyone seriously answer the world wide web with “ah, but heavy equipment is unaffected?”

    Oh yes…… it was only the heavy equipment business model that was affected by the dot com bust which wiped out was it about $4 trillion of wealth…..not serious money to you of course…..and no doubt it will be only a year or two before on line degrees from Phoenix will be as acceptable as degrees from Yale or Oxford.

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  62. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    You wouldn’t actually like to produce some quantifiable evidence to support that contention would you?

    Despite claiming to be a 250k a year lawyer you are apparently unfamiliar with the employment situation in your own profession.

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  63. Rafer Janders says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    Despite claiming to be a 250k a year lawyer you are apparently unfamiliar with the employment situation in your own profession.

    Bluster and ad homs aren’t evidence and I’m still waiting the evidence as it relates to the employment situation for lawyers in the US.

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  64. Rafer Janders says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    On the contrary it was a very specific example or are you claiming there are numerous openings for educators at top law schools.

    You claimed his experience was universal. You were over generalising in your original comment…..period.

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  65. Sahaar says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    or are you claiming there are numerous openings for educators at top law schools.

    Onus probandi….if you know what that means.

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  66. john personna says:

    @Sahaar:

    Onus probandi… a kind of troll food?

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  67. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Where did I claim his experience was universal?

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  68. Sahaar says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    Where did I claim his experience was universal?

    You claimed his experience as being the norm.

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  69. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Bluster and ad homs aren’t evidence and I’m still waiting the evidence as it relates to the employment situation for lawyers in the US.

    Would you like to demonstrate where I made ad hom attack on you in this statement. I merely commented on your apparent lack of familiarity with the (I’d have thought) well known employment situation in your own profession. One can only go by appearances which also applies to these rather ridiculous interrrogatories as a commentary on your general level of maturity.

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  70. Rafer Jander says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    And again you demonstrate your limited comprehension problems. At absolutely no point did I say your son’s experience meant nothing (perhaps you’d like to show where I did) but that you were over generalising which was my original rather mild complaint

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  71. Rafer Jander says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    Would you like to demonstrate where I made ad hom attack on you in this statement. I merely commented on your apparent lack of familiarity with the (I’d have thought) well known employment situation in your own profession.

    I’m still waiting for evidence……while you’re still blathering about vague and generalised abstractions.

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  72. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Sahaar:

    Well don’t you think it is the norm in that particular narrow case?

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  73. Rafer Jander says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    One can only go by appearances which also applies to these rather ridiculous interrrogatories as a commentary on your general level of maturity.

    Can’t resist the ad homs can you…..the sure sign of losing an argument……

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  74. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Rafer Jander:

    The difficulty lawyers from minor law schools have in finding employment is hardly a state secret but apparently beyond the compass of your knowledge.

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  75. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Rafer Jander:

    If the cap fits ……wear it!

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  76. Rafer Jander says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    The difficulty lawyers from minor law schools have in finding employment is hardly a state secret but apparently beyond the compass of your knowledge.

    Oh dear me……how unreasonable of me to ask for evidence of rather suspect assertions.

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  77. john personna says:

    @Rafer Jander:

    Sir!

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  78. Rafer Jander says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    The difficulty lawyers from minor law schools have in finding employment is hardly a state secret but apparently beyond the compass of your knowledge.

    Those actual facts are pesky things so best to ignore them….eh?

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  79. Rafer Jander says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    If the cap fits ……wear it!

    You may find this kind of bluster persuasive, I don’t.

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  80. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Rafer Jander:

    Oh dear me……how unreasonable of me to ask for evidence of rather suspect assertions.
    http://streeteasy.com/nyc/talk/discussion/22361-is-law-school-a-ponzi-scheme

    Ignoranti juris non excusat?

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  81. Rafer Jander says:

    @john personna:

    Ah, you’re right. For those who hadn’t realized, I was amusing myself by responding to Joe with cut and pastes of several of his own responses from posts over the last few days (which is why the writing sounded like him and not me). So, basically, I got him to argue with himself. Still, I’ve had my jollies, and we now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

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  82. john personna says:

    @Rafer Jander:

    That is kind of amusing, and illustrative. Perhaps now he will move on.

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  83. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Rafer Jander:

    I was amusing myself by responding to Joe with cut and pastes of several of his own responses from posts over the last few days

    A substitute for being able to think yourself?…..LOL

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  84. Brummagem Joe says:

    @john personna:

    Actually tweaking people like you and Jander is much more fun than playing solitaire. I think it was Jefferson who we were arguing about a couple of days ago who said ideas must be clearly expressed for the mind to work upon them……he must have had you in mind…..LOL

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  85. grumpy realist says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Dude, I think the “harsh reality” is that corporate America doesn’t want to pay decent salaries for U.S. grads in STEM areas. Pray tell me how a physics degree from MIT (which I have, by the way) is is “cesspool of liberal groupthink.”

    And if you think that MIT is a “cesspool of liberal groupthink” it may be that REALITY is liberal groupthink.

    Especially if your so-called conservative opinion involves Jesus riding on dinosaurs and a 6000 year old Earth. I’ll take “liberal groupthink” instead, thankyouverymuch.

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