25 Nov 2008

Grad School Bleg

I got this email:
I was wondering if you had any opinions about applied natural resource economics programs, I'm in the middle of applying to PhD programs... and thought you might be in the know about some programs.

I'm currently planning on applying to Minnesota, Colorado State, Oregon State, Berkeley, Davis... and a few others but would appreciate any suggestions.
Opinion? You want opinions?!?

Well, my first opinion is that you check who does ERE at any of these schools. Make sure there are enough people in your field. (Also remember that plans change; I went as a development economist and came out a resource economist.) Talk to them. If they do not return emails or phone calls, be prepared for the same treatment when you are trying to get your dissertation done. Also look at how many students are in each field. It helps A LOT to have peers.

Second, look where graduates go. If they all go into academic positions, it's probably not too applied.

Third, remember that you can move, but that's a pain. Most programs teach similar things and your experience is likely to be unique. My opinion is that it's hard to know the best place ex-ante and that most places turn out ok ex-post. (Also remember that optimizing life events is often a frustrating waste of time!)

Fourth -- read the comments that others leave here.