The Department of Government at UT Austin is a wonderful place to attend graduate school; here are some reasons why:
(1) Terrific, intellectually-diverse faculty. The Government Department at UT is large (around 60 faculty), meaning that there are leading experts working in a wide range of research areas, including the role of emotion in politics, the nature of political institutions, and the comparison of policy agendas worldwide (to mention just a few).
(2) Culture of cutting-edge innovation. Tesla, Dell Technologies, and Oracle are all headquartered in Austin; Apple, IBM, and GM have major offices there as well. According to Manny Fernandez writing for the NY Times, “Few dispute that tech has turned Austin into one of the most vibrant and distinctive capital cities in America.” This spirit of creativity spills over into UT Austin, through, for example, the Texas Innovation Center.
(3) Nature and weather. Austin gets on average 228 sunny days per year; the average daily high temperature in January is 62 degrees F (17 degrees C), so the numerous lakes, rivers, and trails in and around Austin are readily accessible all year.
(4) International collaborations. UT Government faculty have extensive collaboration networks both within the US and also abroad, for example, with the University of Gothenburg in the Varieties of Democracy project. In addition, I am involved in collaborations with the AI and Global Development Lab, based primarily at Linköping University and Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. These networks can be invaluable in bringing a global perspective to research and in generating unique opportunities for graduate students.
(5) Quantitative methodology. UT Austin is a great place to learn about quantitative methodology and its many applications in the social and natural science. The Government Department has a diverse array of courses on methodology (from time series analysis to machine learning to network analysis). Other Departments at UT also offer wonderful courses in additional topics in statistics and machine learning. UT Austin is regularly a top contributing institution to leading machine learning conferences. For example, in 2021, UT Austin was the 17th best-represented institution globally across both academia and industry at ICML, one of the preeminent machine learning publication venues. Graduate students may also pursue a Master’s in Statistics from the Department of Statistics and Data Science during the progression of their Ph.D. UT Austin is also home to the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s Institute for Foundations of Machine Learning (IFML).
(6) Music scene. Austin has an amazing music scene. It hosts world-class festivals such as Austin City Limits (ACL) and South by Southwest (SXSW), and is home to notable live music venues such as the Continent Club and Stubb’s BBQ. Many of Austin’s restaurants and cafes regularly host live music as well (such as Mozart’s Coffee Roasters situated on Lake Austin).
(1) Courses: You can check out connorjerzak.com/teaching for the syllabi of courses I am or will be teaching at UT Austin.
(2) Opportunities: If you’re interested in being a graduate student in the Department or in working together as a postdoc on research projects in Austin or in Sweden jointly with collaborators, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(3) Nature photography: Here’s a link [instagram.com/connorjerzak] to some of my nature photography from the Austin area and beyond.
(4) Undergraduate admissions: If you’re interested in attending UT Austin as an undergraduate, this YouTube video provides a great overview of the admissions process at the university.