Question about US Ivy League Schools compared to International/Abroad Schools

<p>Hey, (sorry about the repost, I posted on the same topic in "College Search" and couldn't delete or edit after I realized it'd be more appropriate in the Graduate Program Section) I'm new :(</p>

<p>I had a question. Does anyone know how the London School of Economics (LSE) ranks against American Ivy League schools? Are they of the same caliber education and reputation? I'll be doing an MA in Public and Economic policy, after I finish my undergrad in economics and political science (honors).</p>

<p>I'm finishing up at the University of Washington (Seattle), and I was accepted into LSE recently, but I'v always wanted to do an Ivy league school post-grad. So LSE as an option kind of came out of right field, and I don't really know how to compare it to other options like Columbia, or even Georgetown or Johns Hopkins. I understand networking is important-regarding whether I want to work in Europe or the US afterwards to some degree.</p>

<p>But all that does prestige of the school and faculty compare with Ivy league in the US? I've checked rankings, and they are all over the place. If anyone can offer me a more in depth answer, I thank them in advance. Any advice, of course, is appreciated.</p>

<p>If you're planning on getting a PhD, then LSE is a great option. From what I've heard it's very academically-focused. However, pre-professionally, it is inferior to the stateside schools such as Columbia, Georgetown, and Johns Hopkins (even Tufts). So it really depends on what you want. I've heard the coursework at LSE is what you make can get your masters by taking only 3 or 4 courses and a thesis, or you can work hard, do extra coursework, and get much more out of it. That being said, a one year program will never be as thorough as a two year program, so you also have to keep that in mind.</p>

<p>Prestige/Reputation-wise, I think LSE is very, very well regarded in Europe. I studied in France, and I know people there thought of LSE on the same level as, say, Columbia (but maybe not Harvard or Oxford). I know its undergraduate program is one of the toughest to get into in England, so I think a lot of that carries over to its masters programs as well.</p>

<p>Resultantly, I think this may help a bit in the job search after graduating despite LSE's lack of pre-professional focus. That is, if you want to get a job in Europe. But if you want to work in the US, you will be at a disadvantage. I think LSE has a pretty good reputation stateside, but certainly below the Ivy League level. And those in the field of IR or public policy will most likely not regard it as highly as Columbia, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, or Tufts.</p>

<p>However, having LSE on your resume will certainly help you more than hurt you in absolute terms. Relative to having Columbia, Gtown, JHU, or Tufts on your won't be quite the same.</p>

<p>And some advice: I was also really set on an Ivy League for grad school since I fell just short of it as an undergrad. But as I've applied, been accepted, and researched each school further, I've realized that it's not necessarily something you should focus on. Sure the name recognition helps, but ultimately what matters is the network you can make, a program's reputation in the field, and where you'll get the best academic and personal experience. Just because a school is Ivy League doesn't necessarily mean it has the strongest graduate program in a certain field. While Columbia, Harvard, and Princeton certainly have amazing programs, I doubt you'd find many people in the field who thought, say, Johns Hopkins SAIS (generally regarded as the best in the field) was inferior to Columbia SIPA just because it's not an Ivy League school. Something to keep in mind.</p>

<p>Anyway, congratulations on LSE! I know several people there right now who seem to love the program (particularly living in London), so I'm sure it'll be a fantastic experience. Best of luck.</p>

<p>when referred to as the ivy league, it's usually for the undergrad programs. when it comes to grad programs, the eight schools in the ivy league offer great options, but other schools do just as well if not better i.e. Stanford and MIT. when people refer to an ivy league education, it's usually referred to the that particular culture and experience for the undergrads of those eight schools.</p>

<p>Yea decidedfactor, i'm doing a two year MA in Public and Economic policy, I didn't want to do a one year masters. Also they have a joint program with SIPA that i'm working hard now for, boosting up my CV etc. The protocol is I apply to spend the second year in Columbia, apply my first year at LSE.</p>

<p>Does that change the picture at all? Thanks for the advice though, both of you. I'm just a little out of touch with LSE and its background.</p>

<p>In case you haven't heard, LSE and Columbia joined together for a MA program in something related to international history. Students spend first year at Columbia and second year at LSE. So you can pretty much say that LSE and Columbia are ranked the same.</p>

<p>bo435 is correct- when people refer to Ivy League, generally it's really for undergrad. Graduate school ranking and prestige is very different and requires a different perspective. MIT, Stanford, U of Michigan, UCB, and UCLA are AMAZING schools at grad level and often beat out some of the Ivy League schools in department ranking. So honestly, your only 'shot" at the Ivy League was during your undergrad (for freshmen or transfer admissions) :)</p>

<p>Key question: what do you want to do in life? Whether you go to LSE or a place like John Hopkins SAIS is little matter if you want to do something like go into the Foreign Service. It gets to be very different if you want to possibly take a stab at investment banking (which some succeed in doing from SAIS, and maybe it's possible in London from LSE, but I get the feeling not). </p>

<p>I'll be candid is saying that an LSE Master's program comes across as a bit of a degree factory to me. LSE is extremely prestigious at the undergrad level. And I think at the PhD level, it's got some extreme bright spots as well. My impression, perhaps way off base, is that it has the MA program to make money. That's okay; a lot of prestigious schools have similar programs to do the same kind of thing -- Harvard for example in parts of its programs.</p>

<p>Having said that, I've talked to several people who very much enjoyed the experience at LSE.</p>

<p>To get into the likes of SAIS or SIPA, you will likely want to have overseas experience and a language before applying. This is not always the case, but often. </p>

<p>There is a huge "Ranking International Relations Programs" thread that is ongoing and is moderated by user UCLAri. Take a look at that.</p>

<p>I gave LSE a call and with the joint programs they have with SIPA etc, the ball still seems to be in SIPA's court. Essentially, the impression that I got was that after LSE accepts students into joint programs they still have to pass through SIPA's scrutiny, while the reverse seems to be less of a problem with LSE acting as a rubber stamp. It seems as if SIPA holds more sway because its...i dunno, more prestigious? </p>

<p>I was thinking about working in an EU institution after graduation or possibly world bank focusing on their government corruption and development division. I've heard the MA money-maker description of LSE before, so is there a way I can see if my program is legit? I mean, i'd rather wait and thinks things through if my education is in a bit of jeopardy. I'v worked hard for a shot at a prestigious and beneficial post-grad education to thin myself out from the general public, but I don't want it to go to waste because of a poorly planned or rushed decision. Agree?</p>

<p>If you want to work at the World Bank, look at the following thread:</p>

<p><a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Regarding the SIPA/LSE program and relative prestige, even if schools are in the same general range of prestige it doesn't mean that they are of equal ease to get into. SAIS used to have (maybe still does) a joint law/MA program with Stanford, but generally speaking it was thought to be harder to get into Stanford Law than into SAIS, I believe. Does that mean SAIS is less prestigious than Stanford law? I suppose so. On the other hand, if they were out of one another's ball park, it doesn't seem likely that Stanford would have linked up with SAIS. This goes to ticklemepink's assumption above that SIPA and LSE are of equal prestige because they have a joint program.</p>

<p>I think the only way to test if a program is "legit" is to ask as many people as possible about their experiences and about what they have been able to do with a degree afterwards.</p>

<p>I will say that it seems there may be a disconnect between what you are intending to achieve and what positioning to do so you'll gain from the kinds of programs you are looking at, esp. perhaps LSE. Research, research, research, ask questions, and if necessary adjust your plans. On the face of things, it seems as if you are flying a bit blind. I don't mean to be snide. I am intending to prod you to be as proactive as possible to get your questions answered.</p>

<p>I'v memorized the rankings in my head, contacted a few people, called London a couple of times, and I know the website by heart. But "good", "prestige" etc...these seem like relative terms and there is so much information that is subjective. I'v got my questions answered, but I don't know if I believe some of the answers given. Now i'm just trying to see if anyone here has any other information I might have missed, or if they are reinforcing some information i'v already found out. Thanks for the help though, a lot of things are clearing up.</p>

<p>What's your background? I assume you are European or at least have a European passport if you are thinking about working for an EU institution. If you are not or don't, with all due respect, you should really do more homework. You can't work for the EU generally unless you a citizen typically.</p>

<p>You should study a fair amount of economics. For things you've said you want to do, I would say the following degrees could help you, tiered in order of my perception of their prestige and perhaps ability to do what you want:</p>

<p>Definite Tier 1</p>

<p>Columbia SIPA
Harvard K-school
Johns Hopkins SAIS (somebody in one of the post says this is the best international studies program, but I won't comment further on this since I have a degree from here).
Princeton WW School
Tufts Fletcher</p>



<p>The thing is these are all "generalist" degrees, meaning you don't come out with clear-cut technical skills typically. I would consider getting an MBA in conjunction which also is a generalist degree but teaches more technical skills and puts one on a path for jobs that will give you technical skills like investment banking or public finance, etc. Or law school.</p>

<p>If you are an American, you simply won't get a respected long-term position in the World Bank handling something like corruption unless you have a top-tier PhD, IMHO. Sorry. It's really competitive. And it's an institution that tends to look down on non-doctors.</p>

<p>I think you should not listen to what the schools say about themselves. Find people who have good and bad things about all the good schools. Don't take anyone's word fully, but pay more attention to people who provide balance in their responses talking about good and bad. Because one can always find both cranks and cheerleaders, and the views of these can be stilted.</p>

<p>You "get the feeling" LSE is less ideal for investment banking than JHU, Georgetown, and even Tufts?</p>

<p>That is laughable. Anyone who even visited LSE knows that Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, and the rest of the world-leading banks have a permanent presence on campus. They recruit more LSE graduates for front office positions than graduates from any other university in Europe, including Oxford and Cambridge. (This, despite the fact that Oxford and Cambridge each have more than twice as many students as LSE.)</p>

<p>This is but one of many totally unfounded statements Incredulous has made in this thread. </p>

<p>To the readers: Take what decidedfactor and Indcredulous say with a huge grain of salt; their posts in this thread are sprinkled with half-truths and totally baseless claims (mixed with some comments that are actually reasonable).</p>

<p>LSE "lacks pre-professional focus"? Are you kidding me? I'm a current student and that's one of the aspects of this place I hate most -- it is extremely pre-professional. There are loads of things I hate about LSE and the people who study here. But lack of "pre-professional focus" at LSE is a totally made-up claim coming from someone who clearly hasn't a clue what (s)he is talking about. </p>

<p>Readers beware!</p>

<p>Yea I have European citizenship and a undergrad BA in economics/Political Economy (with Honors). I chose LSE because of its networking with European firms/institutes. I'm just doing one last reconsideration between JHU and LSE.</p>

<p>Actually I looked extensively at LSE, applied, and was accepted there. I also spoke with a few friends who currently attend there so, while I don't attend LSE, I'm at least reasonably informed.</p>

<p>What I mean by lack of pre-professional focus is in comparison to a school like SAIS/SIPA/Fletcher etc. You take courses on management, you're required to have an internship, there are many courses on applied skills, etc. At SIPA, as well, you can work as a consultant in your second year if you're focusing on Economic and Political Development as part of your curriculum. This is the type of pre-professional structure I'm talking about. At LSE, from what I know, the courses are academic and theoretical in nature. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it prepares you far better for a career in academia than it would for professional career in IR.</p>

<p>If this isn't the case, then how is LSE pre-professional?</p>

<p>That said, I imagine a two-year program in Economic and Public Policy (or whatever it was) is probably a fair bit more pre-professional than the program I was accepted into. And, as I mentioned, LSE must be great for networking and getting a job in Europe. But that doesn't mean it has a pre-professional focus. Perhaps you can enlighten us?</p>

<p>I considered applying to LSE after being accepted by UCL and was told by some friends of mine in the UK that LSE is looked at as a degree factory at the master's level. I'm sure the career options are stellar coming out of LSE, but I don't think it would carry the same weight as a similar degree from one of the top international relations programs in the US.</p>

<p>Bear in mind that LSE is a university, not a job training centre. So yes, academic courses are primarily academic (this should not be surprising). The intense pre-professional atmosphere of the school comes not from abritrary rules mandated by university bureaucrats about what classes you take and how you spend your time. It comes from the constant 'buzz' of students incessantly discussing careers, interiewing for internships and jobs (of their own volition), recuiters on campus from all of the most famous international organisations, banks and consultancies, alums now working the most desirable jobs who still occasionally hang out at the Tuns Bar, multiple career events exclusive to LSE students on campus and at corporate head offices every day of the week, not to mention the constant stream of heads of state, Nobel Laureates, CEOs, managing directors and others who visit to give guest lectures, presentations or networking events... the list goes on and on.</p>

<p>Hmm if LSE is a degree factory then Oxford and Cambridge are mega-degree factories, since they each graduate twice as many students per year as LSE does. And besides, if it is considered a degree factory then how come, to quote Intaglio5, "the career options are stellar coming out of LSE"?</p>

<p>Let's get back on the subject of pre-professional versus academic education. If LSE forced me to take courses on 'management' or 'applied skills' I would ask for my money back. Besides, much of what you might consider academic are actually applied subjects. Subjects like econometrics; anything with the word 'policy' in the title; and anything with the word 'management' in the title, to be crude about it (does not hold true 100% of the time, but generally this is the case).</p>

<p>I'm not here to defend LSE as the greatest uni on earth or anything; what I'm saying is that this place is as pre-professional as it gets. Most people come here for one reason only: top career prospects. I came here looking for an academic education in development economics, and to meet visionaries. I got most of the education I was looking for and then some, which I'm pleased about. But instead of visionaries I've met people who for the most part are very disciplined, focused and risk-averse. This type of person makes an excellent student; but excellent students are often not the ones who make history.</p>

<p>To be honest, if your goal is to work on a national or subnational level in the US government or some state government, then US schools are your best bet. Of course US schools have closer ties to US organisations (this should not surprise you). If you actually want to live and work globally then I'd recommend looking beyond the narrow scope of the north-eastern United States and California. Because not many people in the rest of the world know anything (or care) about universities like Tufts.</p>

<p>I'll agree and say that the "degree factory" argument about LSE is a bit misguided. From what I know, the argument goes like this: it's far easier for Americans to get into LSE, because they pay a far higher tuition and therefore subsidize the European/UK students. Thus it is a "cash cow"/"degree factory." But this isn't true for a majority of the programs at LSE. If you look at the tuition costs for their graduate programs, European/UK students pay the same amount as American students. So while they are perhaps stingier with aid for Americans than European students, I don't think it's quite as big of a "cash cow"/"degree factory" as people claim it is. The acceptance rates for most LSE programs (10-20% for a lot of them) also attests to that.</p>

<p>Now, for the pre-professional discussion. First I'll say that stateside pre-professional IR programs don't artificially inject pre-professionalism into their curricula via bureaucratic and "arbitrary rules." The courses/requirements are built by people with experience in the field to give students work/pre-professional experience WHILE they study the academic aspects of IR. Everything you mentioned regarding career services, speakers, etc. is also present at the US IR programs. But in addition there is a pre-professional component that complements academic coursework. And I mean this above and beyond "applied skills" subjects. I'm talking internship requirements, consultancy opportunities, and job preparation courses.</p>

<p>My argument is not that LSE lacks any sort of career or professional preparation, or that it poorly prepares its students for the job market. Obviously LSE is a major brand in Europe, and that alone gives one a leg up in the job search. My point (perhaps improperly articulated) is that, in comparison to SAIS/SIPA/Fletcher, the school's structure and focus is more purely academic and prepares one less for the actual "career" aspects in the field. One may need this or one may not, but that was never my argument.</p>

<p>Granted, as you imply, it depends on which track of study at LSE you follow. But, for example, a "softer" subject such as Human Rights at say, SIPA, will still include hard skills such as economics, management, interview prep, policy analysis, etc., whereas it won't at LSE. I know the program I was admitted to at LSE (Political Economy of Late Development) was quantitatively and pre-professionally lacking (though theoretically very strong and academically fascinating, hence my applying in the first place). So, I suppose that goes for the argument I mentioned in my first post that, from what I've heard, LSE is what you make it.</p>

<p>I don't knock the school. I think it's a great university and, had I not gotten into some higher level US programs, would've gladly chosen it over second tier US schools such as GW and the University of Chicago.</p>

<p>I think we are going to disagree on your comment about the LSE brand being strong in Europe; the LSE brand is strong in Canada, the middle east, Asia, Africa, and Australia. Oh, and Europe too. Its reputation is weakest in the US relative to the rest of the world, but even there the brand is extremely strong compared to the vast majority of American universities. Tufts, JHU, and Georgetown will get you far in the US I realise, but outside the US those brands are fairly weak.</p>

<p>You consider Chicago a second tier university? Perhaps it doesn't have a world-leading IR program, but the university itself is much better regarded than JHU or Tufts; ummm probably roughly the same as Columbia, slightly lower I suppose... anyway... This is in the rest of the world I'm talking about. I know in the US you have a special "US News" ranking that everyone follows.</p>

<p>"Granted, as you imply, it depends on which track of study at LSE you follow. But, for example, a "softer" subject such as Human Rights at say, SIPA, will still include hard skills such as economics, management, interview prep, policy analysis, etc., whereas it won't at LSE."</p>

<p>As an aside, if you consider management, interview prep and policy analysis hard skills, all I can do is shake my head and wish you all the best. At LSE, you get to pick your electives. Economics for someone who has maybe an intoductory econ course under their belt (I am an economist myself) will not be anything remotely close to "hard skills". In fact, you would do better by borrowing some textbooks from the library and working through them on your own. Into economics (or economics at the level of International Relations majors) is a waste of an elective if you ask me. If you want training in proper "hard skills", despite the fact that you signed up for a degree in Human Rights or International Relations or another similar degree, LSE gives you the freedom to do that, to the best of my knowledge (for my program I have a ton of freedom). From econometrics to stochastic calculus to advanced game theory to virtually any other course the school offers, in any department, you are free to add whatever "hard skills" electives you like to your programme. If you want interview prep, there are loads of classes and one-on-one sessions available all the time. Nobody will force you to take them. But if you want them and are motivated enough to show up, they are available. </p>

<p>The point is, at LSE and at other non-American schools, you get the freedom to choose the electives you think will be valuable to your education and/or career. In the US (and Canada), university bureaucrats decide what is valuable for your education and for your career. I moved to Europe from the North American system back in undergrad for this very reason: freedom to choose. I am the one paying, afterall. But hey, if you prefer to have administrators and bureaucrats make your professional development decisions for you, then North America is the place to be. I won't argue with that. </p>

<p>What the heck is GW and why am I supposed to be surprised that you preferred LSE over it?</p>

<p>Maybe we are missing each other a bit in this discussion because you seem to be concerned only with International Relations departments while I am talking about overall universities.</p>

<p>To the OP: If you are set on a career in the US then go to a US school. If you are thinking of working in the rest of the world, study in the rest of the world or at one of the VERY TOP American schools (Harvard, Princeton, maybe 1 or 2 others. Not Georgetown, JHU or Tufts). Since you already have an American undergraduate degree, the degree from abroad will likely help you, not hinder you in the US. However Harvard or Princeton would help you even more.</p>

<p>You seem to be misinformed about the nature of qualifying US programs. While I will admit that Americans are rankings obsessed, graduate IR programs are one of the few programs that are rarely ranked. US News has no ranking for them, never has. Foreign Policy magazine ranked them beginning in 2005 (and again in 2007), but even those rankings are subject to much debate and the methodology is widely acknowledged as flawed. As a result, no one really considers them on an "official" basis (or shouldn’t, at least). That’s why most discussion of US IR programs results in “tiers” (exemplified earlier in this topic alone). I base my considerations of IR programs (and, as you mentioned, perhaps we differ in that you say you're considering the university as a whole) upon much research into various programs as well as insight from people who have attended these schools, work in the field, and work at these schools.</p>

<p>Graduate school is not like undergrad: you can't simply base your decision on what is the best "overall" university. To go to a well-recognized school with a poor graduate program in a particular subject would be a major waste of money and time. I don’t know how it is in Europe, but the best undergraduate schools in the US do not necessarily have the best graduate programs.</p>

<p>On that point, some notes: No, the University of Chicago does not have a top tier IR program. It is generally seen as somewhat of a cash cow (more rightfully so than the LSE program), and is more a gateway into academia than the other US programs (based on placement records, as well as their FAQ). As well, it is not as competitive to get into as Fletcher/SIPA/SAIS/SFS. I’m well aware that the university itself is internationally-renowned. That’s irrelevant to why I mentioned U. of Chicago’s IR program.</p>

<p>GW is The George Washington University (in Washington, DC) and is generally regarded as top of the second tier IR programs in the US, just below the Columbia/Johns Hopkins/Georgetown/Tufts level. No one said you needed to be surprised, but I’ve previously read some debate on the forums about which is the stronger program at the master’s level, GW or LSE. Granted, it’s an American-centric discussion. But I don't necessarily agree, which was my point.</p>

<p>I don't doubt the LSE brand is strong worldwide. The OP spoke of working in Europe and America, hence we’re addressing those two regions.</p>

<p>In the IR field alone, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, and Tufts have extraordinary reputations. In the US, FAR stronger than LSE. Without a doubt. Internationally, it's debatable (well, not for Tufts, which I’ll give you flat out, but for the others). I've heard many like you say that LSE's reputation dwarfs them, while others have said that because the alumni presence abroad is strong, the reputation internationally is strong. I spent a year at Sciences Po as an undergraduate (directly enrolled, not through some coddled study abroad program), and I'd have to say that Columbia was considered better than LSE, Georgetown on the same level. This is from French, Chinese, British, Irish, German, Italian, Japanese (and so forth) students. Granted, that's people in the know (since Sciences Po caters to the French elite), but isn't that what matters if we're considering job potential derived from reputation/renown/prestige?</p>

<p>In the end, branding is an important issue, but it is not the only issue, which I tried to express in an earlier post.</p>

<p>As far as hard skills go...from what I’ve read, the requirement of these subjects for the entire student body positively colors study throughout the ENTIRE curriculum. If the entire student body has a background in economics (as irrelevantly basic as you claim it to be), then that creates some benefit, as any topic can be understood with a wider perspective by virtue of a core curriculum. If students are versed in a core pre-professional skill-set, then theory or academically-natured courses can be approached with that mindset. It doesn’t make it better or worse, but it does make it more pre-professional than LSE, which I think was the argument to begin with.</p>

<p>And the requirements aren’t suffocatingly restrictive. We’re talking 5 courses out of 16-20 needed to complete the degree. That leaves one to still take far more courses than one would in an entire year with no core requirements at LSE, no?</p>

<p>Its funny how insecure some people get. Its a testament to how "good" LSE really is.</p>

<p>"Hmm if LSE is a degree factory then Oxford and Cambridge are mega-degree factories, since they each graduate twice as many students per year as LSE does. And besides, if it is considered a degree factory then how come, to quote Intaglio5, "the career options are stellar coming out of LSE"?"</p>

<p>When I say degree factory, I don't mean "an institution which grants degrees." LSE's brand is a reflection of its undergraduate curriculum and its Pubilc Policy master's courses -- not the huge swath of topics it covers at the master's level for which the acceptance rates are 40%+ (and for which funding is non-existent).</p>