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Neo_Institutionalist

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  1. From my understanding by reading similar posts and responses on this forum, Colubmia's MA program is not that great. With some exceptions, MA programs are just a way for schools to get extra money from students in order to pay for and support the PhD students, and Columbia seems to be no different. There isn't much cross listing of courses between the MA program and the PhD program, which is what you want if you were to attend an MA program. Without scholarships, Columbia's tuition is very expensive, and doesn't include the cost of living in new york, which is incredibly expensive. Taking all these factors into account, in my opinion it's just not worth it; what you could get out of it is outweighed by other negative factors. I have heard great things about Chicago's IR program. It's rigorous and the professors who teach your classes are the same ones that teach courses in the Phd program. They tend to have excellent placements for students. As far as getting a JD, may I ask why you want to get a JD? I have a JD, and after experiencing the hell that was law school, I think it's important to seriously think about your true intentions for going to law school. It's certainly not for the faint of heart. You should only get a JD because you want to practice law, not because you want to have it on your resume to help you get a leg up in another profession (trust me, it won't help). I made the mistake of going into law school and not understanding what law school actually required of you, nor did I understand what it was that lawyers actually did. I wish I had done the research and interned at a law firm for a year before making the decision to waste over 300k in loans for a degree I will not end up using (going back to school to get a PhD in poli sci instead, lol). The only reason you should go to law school to become a lawyer is because: you enjoy reading boxes full of legal documents, cases, statutes, and regulations--often written in arcane language and legal jargon--for 10-20 hours a day you have an adversarial, competitive personality and don't mind getting in other lawyer's faces when they invariably start threatening you with lawsuits you are cool working more than 12 hours a day in an incredibly high stress environment you are okay with working in a profession with a high rate of narcissistic personalities with inflated sense of egos, who sometimes engage in shady practices to win cases or negotiate better deals for their clients and screw you over you are okay with spending the first five or so years of your legal career doing all the grunt work for senior associates and getting yelled at for simple editing errors (like accidentally misspelling a word or forgetting to put a comma in the correct place) you enjoy doing fairly mundane, monotonous work, such as tracking how many billable hours you have billed clients, and lots of proofreading: memos, letters to clients, legal briefs, and written motions to the court Now, I don't want to completely disparage the legal profession. There are some phenomenal lawyers out there doing a lot of amazing, selfless work. Not all lawyers are jerks and being a lawyer isn't always stressful. I have plenty of friends who I graduated with from law school who love their jobs. I'm just making you aware of what the legal profession actually entails, because there is a lot of misconceptions put out their by the media. Film and tv glamorizes lawyer's lives, and portrays lawyers always in court, standing up for justice, and making big, passionate speeches. However, cases rarely go to trial, because it's expensive, time consuming, and awful. Most people just settle out of court. And the legal profession has one of the highest rates of chronic alcohol abuse. And the legal profession itself is changing. More and more people are leaving the profession because they are realizing some of the negative effects it can have on living a normal life. It's a very old profession, and consequently much of the culture, structure, and rules are ossified and out of date, so it's been struggling in recent years to catch up with advances in technology. Now, jobs that first year associates and paralegals do (which is basically looking up case law), can be done much more efficiently (and error free) with artificial intelligence, so it's harder to get a job. If you are seriously considering getting a JD because you want to practice law, I would try to intern at a law firm first and see how you like it. Also, read this article on whether or not you should go to law school: https://abovethelaw.com/2013/10/deciding-to-go-to-law-school-in-one-epic-flowchart/?rf=1 Hope this helps!
  2. Neo_Institutionalist

    Don't talk about this!!! ?

    Where were you waitlisted?
  3. Neo_Institutionalist

    2017-2018 Application Cycle

    where have you decided to go instead?
  4. Neo_Institutionalist

    2017-2018 Application Cycle

    how do you do this if you are not affiliated with an academic institution (i.e. you've been out of school for a year or so)?
  5. Neo_Institutionalist

    2017-2018 Application Cycle

    This is a political science sub forum, not a policy one, so when people say Columbia, they are referring to Columbia's PhD program in Political Science, not SIPA.
  6. Neo_Institutionalist

    2017-2018 Application Cycle

    Congrats! Even though it's waitlist, I still think that's a pretty big accomplishment! I hope you get off the waitlist. What subfield?
  7. Neo_Institutionalist

    2017-18 Cycle Profiles and Advice Thread

    Agreed! I’m applying next year and have been following some of these threads for months, trying to tease out as much as I can any helpful advice that will make my application profile better. So any advice would be greatly appreciated!
  8. Neo_Institutionalist

    2017-18 Cycle Profiles and Advice Thread

    I think you are right about this point on research experience. I've spoken to numerous people: political science professors, people who have been on ad comms in poli sci departments, and grad students from Stanford, Princeton, and UCLA, and they have all told me that unless you managed to get your research in APSR, or some other prestigious journal, you do not need to have a lot of prior research experience, although that certainly does help if other areas of your application are weak. And certainly, having much research experience is a great way to demonstrate to ad comms that you are capable of producing good research, but from many people I've talked to, it is not a requisite.
  9. Neo_Institutionalist

    2017-2018 Application Cycle

    Congrats! Northwestern is one of my top choices. I would love to work with James Mahoney!
  10. Neo_Institutionalist

    SOP for Political Science PhD

    I'd be happy to read yours, as well as csantamir's!
  11. Neo_Institutionalist

    MA then PhD, or just PhD?

    Yes North and Ostrom are dead. I was not saying that I wanted them to be my advisors, I was just simply stating that my interests align with the kind of work they did. Since posting this, I have spoken to many other people, including students who are in Stanford's political science PhD program, my graduate school counselor, and a professor of political science at a major research university. All of them have told me that getting another Masters would be a complete waste of time, and that there are other ways I can boost my profile without having to incur even more debt for a degree whose probability of getting me into a good program is somewhere close to zero. Additionally, I don't want to work in public policy; applied work is not of any interest to me. I want to teach and do research in academia. Accordingly, I will not be pursuing a PhD in public policy, nor will I be getting my masters.
  12. Neo_Institutionalist

    Success stories for people without a relevant undergraduate degree?

    I think others on this thread have given excellent responses so I won't repeat what has already been said. The problem I'm seeing, beyond what others have already mentioned, is that you do not really have an idea of what political science scholars actually study and research. As exponential decay has already pointed out, what I would call "lay" political science and "academic" political science are two very different things. Have you read any articles in journals such as the American Political Science Review or the American Journal of Political Science (just to name a few)? Have you read books from scholars in academia? Because it's not enough to just say "i really love political science" and not actually have an understanding of what academic political scientists study. If you haven't, then what I think is really important that you do to determine if academia in general, and political science in particular, is for you is to start reading work that scholars in political science write (if you haven't done so already). Political science is a very broad subject that has many sub disciplines and fields of study, with the four main ones being international relations, political theory, american politics, and comparative politics. Start by going to the faculty pages of top 20 schools, reading their profiles and seeing if their research sounds interesting to you. If it does, then try reading articles these scholars have written (which can often be found on their faculty page via a link to their own personal website). If you have read enough of these articles and you find them compelling--and reading these articles causes you to have questions/ideas regarding the field that you want to further explore--then perhaps getting your PhD in political science may be for you. The other thing I would say is, although it probably doesn't happen as often, but there are still a good amount of people who have an undergraduate degree that is not in political science but are still able to get into a top PhD program. To be sure, it will be harder for you, but it's not impossible. If this is something you are truly passionate about and really want to do, then I say go for it. But this means other areas of your academic profile will have to be stellar: glowing letters of recommendation from people who know you very well, an exceptionally well written statement of purpose, and very high GRE scores. I also think you should really consider getting your MA in political science. It will you give a taste of what academics in political science actually study, it will give you the ability to have work product in political science you can demonstrate to admissions committees, and it will give you the opportunity to hopefully have faculty in political science that can write you glowing letters of rec. I also really think it will prove to you whether or not academia is right for you. Hope this advice helps.
  13. Neo_Institutionalist

    Profile Evaluation - PE Focus

    I also have a sort of atypical profile. I have both my JD and MBA, and was a history major in undergrad. So I'm in a similar position as you in some respects. But I've been doing an extensive amount of research, including speaking to students from both Stanford and UCLA. Here is what I've found: 1) There's really not much you can do about your letters of recommendation, as far as your ability to get letters from political scientists. But this doesn't mean you're doomed. It's important that you get letters of recommendation from people who really know you, your ability to do research/be successful in grad school, and who have seen growth in your academic abilities. Naturally, top schools are risk averse and need to see evidence in your application profile that you will not only be able to pass comprehensive exams, but conduct original research, graduate, and get employed at a research oriented institution. One stanford poli sci PhD student told me that it's crucial that your letter writers really ham it up for you, basically along the lines of "this is the best student I've had in the past 10 years" or something to that effect. If you can get enthusiastic writers like that, I feel it will make you competitive, especially against people who have letters from high profile scholars but who wrote a very generic LOR. Accordingly, I think it's important that you think carefully about which letter writers can do this for you, and to have a frank and honest discussion about how you want your letter written. Here is some excellent advice someone gave me on this forum who is currently attending a top 5 poli sci program: "When it comes to your LORs more generally, be sure to have discussions with [your letter writers] about your applications and what you want their letter to do for your profile. You don't have a standard letter template - you want them to be able to speak to you as a person, student, researcher and as someone who is eager to learn/apply yourself when at first glance your previous grades might not reflect that. I know a lot of people who were admitted with letters from all sorts of people outside of political science, so I wouldn't worry there. They were largely running up against the same issue of having been outside of school for so long that they opted to have references from people who knew them better than their undergraduate advisor from six years prior." 2) Most of the CHYMPS schools (Columbia/Chicago, Harvard, Yale, Michigan/MIT, Princeton, and Stanford) all have faculty that do work in political economy, although I have heard that Columbia in particular is very strong in political economy. However, I think it is critical that you research faculty in top 30 schools that are doing work that you are interested. This will be key, because fit is everything. Programs will not except you if you're not a good fit. That's why you need to do your due diligence and read faculty member's work in political economy and see if they have similar interests. I know people like Barry Weingast at Stanford and Carles Boix at Princeton do a lot of work in Political Economy. As for a profile eval, you're 4.0 GPA is excellent and will definitely look good. You're GRE score is hard to contextualize without seeing the breakdown of your score for each section of the test. Overall, for someone in your particular situation, your letters of rec and statement of purpose will be crucial to contextualizing your situation and demonstrating your fit and ability to be successful in one of these programs.
  14. Neo_Institutionalist

    PhD in IR after a JD - profile evaluation

    This is very smart of you. And I'm glad to be of help. When I saw this post I knew I had to respond because I am in a very similar situation as you. I also graduated from a UC school (UC Irvine to be specific) and I also graduated from law school. After graduating law school and interning for an attorney, I realized my true passion was researching about ideas in political science, not being a lawyer. So for the past 6 months I've been doing an intense amount of research to determine whether or not this is the right path for me. I'm glad you are taking similar care in determining whether or not this is right for you, because getting your PhD is a huge sacrifice. This is why it's critical to determine whether or not you're truly passionate about research, because from what I've been told, there are definitely some very unglamorous parts about getting your PhD and academia in general, so being passionate about research is important to overcome those difficult parts. I do have one additional word of advice about your decision to be a law school professor. Although it is true that there are PhDs at law schools, the majority of faculty at law schools, including at low tier law schools, just have JD's (usually from Harvard or Yale). I went to a lower tier law school and there were hardly any PhD on the faculty. So not getting your PhD wouldn't potentially "shut you out", as you say, from being a law school professor. As you indicate elsewhere, simply having your JD from Yale significantly increases your chances of getting hired as a teacher at a law school, particularly because Yale law school places the highest number of their graduates on law school faculty. All of this is to say, you don't need to get your PhD just to teach at a law school. (I just want you to know I'm not trying to discourage you from getting your PhD; that is an extremely personal choice and I would never try to get in the middle of that. All of this is just something I feel should become part of your calculus in your decision making. Objectively, it may not make much sense to get your PhD when your JD would be adequate, due to the sheer opportunity cost of getting your PhD.) Moreover, the whole purpose of getting a PhD is not to place you on the faculty of professional schools (such as MBA or JD programs, although I think it may start becoming more common because of the limited faculty positions open at most universities). Your advisors for your dissertation, as well as the faculty more generally, will socialize you into thinking the only research that is worthwhile can only be accomplished by teaching at a top 20 institution, and not as part of a faculty at professional school. In fact, from what I've read, many professors may even discourage you from trying to become faculty at professional schools. But I do think it is important to let your advisors know that this is your goal at some point during your PhD program, so that way they can prepare you properly for that job market. If you do decide that you still want to get your PhD regardless and are set on teaching at a law school, the next thing to determine is what kinds of research questions you are more interested in. If your research interests/questions/ideas are more theoretical and abstract, teaching at a law school *may* not be for you. The types of questions faculty at law schools are typically attracted to are real world problems, and consequently their research is much more applied. Also, it's important to take into consideration what your PhD signals to faculty at law schools when you are on the job market. Ad comms know that PhD's are socialized into getting jobs at research oriented schools that are not professional schools, and that their interests are mainly theoretical, so they may be suspicious as to why you are applying to their schools. Thus, you would need to signal in your job cover letter that you are a good fit for the program (fit is everything) and that your research is focused on more real world problems. Again, Chris blattman is instructive here. He gives excellent advice for PhD candidates who are interested in applying for faculty positions at professional schools. You should definitely give it a read. https://chrisblattman.com/job-market/
  15. Neo_Institutionalist

    Should I retake the GRE?

    Just a caveat before answering this question. Overall, the admissions process can be a completely arbitrary process, particularly for the top 10 schools. Because the applicant pool at the top 10-20 are so competitive, even people who have perfect or nearly perfect GRE scores and GPA don't always get into those schools. So take my advice for what it's worth. Now, onto your question: Unfortunately, despite the fact you have a perfect verbal score, schools care much more about your quant score, and use that as their implicit cut off to move applicants past the first round of cuts. Your quant score is the bare minimum that you should be getting to help get you past the first round, but you may be a tougher sell in later rounds compared to other applicants who have higher quant scores, especially at schools like Yale, Stanford, Harvard, etc. that have very competitive applicants. You might be able to get into a program at Wisconsin or George Washington as is, but you would definitely be a tougher sell at the top 5-10 schools you listed. Your success would largely depend on how strong the other parts of your application are and whether they greatly outweigh your low quant score. Your research experience looks excellent, but your GPA is on the lower side; you would really need to make up for it with an exceptionally well written SOP (a given) and glowing LORs. Now, you don't provide too much info on who these professors are and whether they are well known or are superstars in the field. It's important that you have letter writers who will ham it up for you--which you seem to have-- but to make up for your lower quant score, letter writers from superstars in the field would help immensely, especially if these letter writers have connections at Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, etc. The unfortunate truth is ad comms at top schools pay attention to letter writers that are superstars or that are in the same circles as them because they trust them and their criteria for an applicant's potential success at a top program. I would add the caveat that, if your letter writer is a superstar in the field but barely knows you as a person and writes you a mediocre letter, that letter won't be given as much weight than a letter written by a lesser known scholar but who knows you very well and writes a glowing letter for you. All of this is to say, it's difficult to assess your profile given the limited info I have and the fact I'm not on an ad comm. However, I think that if you can, I would definitely retake the GRE, even if you end up with a lower verbal score. In particular, if your heart is set on getting into the top 5-10 schools, there are just way too many competitive applicants who have similar profiles but better GRE scores and GPA's to not retake the exam to try and increase your quant score. Hope this helps!
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