• 博客等级:
  • 博客积分:0
  • 博客访问:8,153
  • 关注人气:60
  • 获赠金笔:0支
  • 赠出金笔:0支
  • 荣誉徽章:
正文 字体大小:


(2008-02-02 05:48:57)



Sunday, June 04, 2006
JD vs PhD: My Story


A student emails me a question about my offbeat journey through higher education:

Prof. Mankiw, Love
the blog, I've recently become hooked. I noticed you mention in an
earlier post that you spent one and a half years at Harvard Law School before switching to economics and earning your PhD. I guess I'm in a similar situation now....

我最近迷上了您的博客。我注意到您在前段时间的一篇文章里提到,您在哈佛转向经济学并拿到博士学位之前,曾经花了一年半的时间在法学院学习 。我想我现在和当时的您处在相似的情况下……

Anyway, I wanted to ask what ultimately compelled you to pursue economics instead of law, as I've been toiling with that decision myself. Did you intend to do a joint JD/PhD and focus your research on law and economics, or did you decide to leave law school entirely? I'm passionate about both fields and took a risk averse application strategy by applying to both types of programs, but most of the input I've received has been from those who abandoned economics to finish their law degree, not vice versa. If you
have any input or advice you could share, I'd be grateful.
Thank you, best regards,
[name withheld]


Let me start by summarizing my own education and early career:

  • June 1980: Graduated with A.B. from Princeton
  • 1980-1981: First-year PhD student at MIT
  • 1981-1982: First-year student at Harvard Law School
  • Summer 1982: Worked in law firm as summer associate
  • 1982-1983: Took year off to work on the CEA staff
  • 1983-1984: Back at MIT, finished PhD
  • Fall 1984: Back at law school, finished fall semester
  • Spring 1985: Taught micro and statistics at MIT
  • Sept 1985: Joined Harvard econ faculty as assistant professor
  • 1980年6月:从普林斯顿大学毕业,拿到文学学士学位
  • 1980年至1981年:麻省理工学院一年级哲学博士
  • 1981年至1982年:哈佛法学院一年级学生
  • 1982年夏:在一家法律事务所做暑期工作
  • 1982年至1983年:休了一年假,为经济顾问协会(Council of Economic Advisors)工作
  • 1983年至1984年:回到麻省理工学院,完成了博士学位的学习
  • 1984年秋:回到法学院,完成了秋季学期的学习
  • 1985年春:在麻省理工学院教授微观经济学和统计学
  • 1985年9月:以助理教授的身份加入哈佛经济学教师的行列

this looks random and disjointed, and to some extent it was. But I look
back at this period of my life as a time of experimentation, when I was
trying to figure out my own tastes and talents. A large part of early
life is trying to find your niche in the world. Open-mindedness and
experimentation were crucial for me, and I believe they are for many
others as well. That will mean some false starts (like spending a year
and a half in law school), but those false starts are part of a process
of learning about yourself.To get back to the specifics of the
question: My observation is that students who start both a JD and a PhD
in econ are much more likely to finish the JD than the PhD. (A related
observation is that those who finish both degrees are more likely to be
law professors than econ professors.)For most people, a JD is
the easier degree to finish, as it is all course work, and it takes
only three years. A PhD is typically five or six years, the second half
of which is devoted to original research. By comparison to a JD, a PhD
is a long, hard slog. That does not mean it's not worth it: some long,
hard slogs end up passing a cost-benefit test. But it does require a
greater degree of commitment and enthusiasm on the part of the student
to finish the degree.My case is somewhat abnormal. During my
period of experimentation, I learned that I was only a middling law
student. By contrast, I got my PhD with only two years of residence at
MIT. (I turned back the third year of my NSF fellowship to the US
taxpayer, but I won't claim any altruistic motive in doing so--I just
didn't need it.) In the fall of 1984, I found myself a so-so
second-year law student with a PhD under my belt and a small but
growing list of academic publications. It finally dawned on me that my
comparative advantage was econ, not law. Remembering the irrelevance of
sunk costs, I moved across the parking lot from the Harvard Law School
to the Harvard economics department, where I have now been on the
faculty for over twenty years.


Update: After reading this post, one of my law school teachers emails me: "too modestly, you described yourself as only a so-so student. I recall you as far better than that."It is nice to hear that I was a better law student than I recall being. In any event, while in law school, I decided, rightly or wrongly, that I had more natural ability in econ than law. I suspect that, while paying the law school's tuition, I spent more time writing econ papers for academic journals than studying the law books. That fact made me realize I was probably sitting in the wrong building on the Harvard campus.Update 2: More on my story.



阅读 评论 收藏 转载 喜欢 打印举报/Report
  • 评论加载中,请稍候...



    < 前一篇如何写得好

    新浪BLOG意见反馈留言板 电话:4000520066 提示音后按1键(按当地市话标准计费) 欢迎批评指正

    新浪简介 | About Sina | 广告服务 | 联系我们 | 招聘信息 | 网站律师 | SINA English | 会员注册 | 产品答疑

    新浪公司 版权所有