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Neo_Institutionalist

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  1. From my research, pretty much all of the departments in the top 10 have a very strong quant bent. Since quant methods are considered the cutting edge of political science, and the top 10 I'm sure try to compete with each other on who can produce the most cutting edge research, I would argue most departments in the top 10 are heavy on the quant methods. The CHYMPS schools probably have the best quant training methods though and would have a more quantitative bent. How much more, that's not for me to say because I am not in any of those programs.
  2. In what discipline or area of study was the nonfiction book that you sold? To be completely honest with you, if the book was not about a subject within political science and was not published by an academic press, ad coms, particularly at top schools, will not really care, because it will not demonstrate your propensity for rigorous research in political science. That's not to say it's meaningless or that you can't put it on your CV, or even describe in your statement of purpose how the research you conducted to write your book lead you to want to further study political science (im assuming thats what you want to study since you're posting in a political science forum). There are many academics who are on twitter and discuss and even post links to their research work or upcoming book publications, so I don't think that having a lot of followers on social media or lots of media coverage on your research will be dispositive. Assuming your book is not on a political science topic that is researched in academia, I doubt they will be "excited" that you have already completed a dissertation length research project. Since academics seem to be fairly pretentious and only concerned with what goes on in their discipline, I also doubt they would be excited to have a mini celebrity in their program. They don't care for celebrity. They just care if you can produce exceptional research in your field of study. As far as if it would be reasonable to use a chapter from your book as a writing sample, that would be fine if you don't have anything else. Otherwise, if your book is not about a Poli sci topic, then I would look into conducting your own independent research project in an area of interest within one of the major sub disciplines in political science (American, comparative, international relations, political theory). Good luck!
  3. I have not done a PhD in political science, but I will be applying to PhD programs in the fall and I have consulted numerous sources on getting into top PhD Poli Sci programs, including current grad students and professors. I've had the good fortune of chatting with numerous Stanford Poli Sci grad students and professors in person, so I feel I have a pretty good idea of what is needed for admission into top programs. However, since im not a current Poli sci grad student, feel free to take what I have to say with a grain of salt. Before I get into my advice, I just want to ask, why the switch to poli sci? what about it, and Far East Asian studies interests you? How do you become interested in this topic? What is your plan after graduating with your PhD in poli sci? As far as your competitiveness is concerned, it's a bit hard to gauge based on the limited info you have provided. But based on the limited info you gave, if im being completely honest with you, as it stands you are not competitive for the schools you want to apply to, especially Stanford and Columbia. However, this doesn't mean you can't get competitive. There are things you have within your control that can greatly help increase your odds. As someone who is also applying to poli sci PhD programs coming from a different field (history for me), I think it's first important to be sure that you are familiar with the poli sci literature in IR, Far East Asian studies. This familiarity will be crucial for your SOP (statement of purpose), especially for someone such as yourself coming from linguistics, because admissions committees need to know that you have a good grasp on what the current state of the literature is and how your own research interests fit in and add to the current state of research. If you cannot articulate this in your SOP, you will have a very hard time getting into top programs such as Stanford and Columbia. Have you read any articles from the leading journals in the field--APSR, the Journal of Politics, and the AJPS? Have you read any books on IR, specifically in East Asian studies? I would highly recommend doing so if you haven't. I think your level of familiarity with the literature will also determine whether or not you should defer for a year or go straight into a PhD program. If you aren't very familiar, or only have a cursory understanding, I would definitely hold off a year to do some research, and perhaps even work on an independent research project that you could use as a writing sample, just to show the ad coms your understanding of how to do political science research. For people like you and me applying to poli sci from a different field, it's going to be a bit of a challenge, though not impossible. For you, GRE, Letters of Rec, and Statement of Purpose are going to be crucial in convincing ad coms you are highly qualified for rigorous poli sci research. You will be competing with hundreds of other highly qualified applicants in top programs, so you have to find a way to stand out positively to ad coms. Because there are so many applicants and few open spots for admission, ad coms will be looking for reasons to reject you, especially at places like Stanford (ranked #1), and Columbia (ranked #7). Just as a warning, even people who have perfect GPA's and perfect/almost perfect GRE scores still don't get into top programs like Stanford or Harvard, so don't be disappointed if you aren't accepted into those programs. Beyond GPA and GRE scores, ad coms are looking for fit, and how well a student's research interests fit with the research interests and strengths of the department. Which leads me to my next point. I'm not sure if you were only giving a small sample of schools you want to apply to, but if those are the only schools you are applying to, you should really be applying to a much broader range of schools within and outside the top 20. Because the application process is so competitive, you will be significantly lowering your odds of getting into grad school if you're only applying to 3 programs, two of which are in the top 10. Also, why do you want to apply to NYU, Stanford, and Colombia? You really should be applying to schools that fit your research interests. Not saying that those schools don't, but I feel there are probably other schools that have just as strong, if not stronger, faculty doing Far East Asian studies. Grad school will be at least 6 years, so you want to make sure that you're attending a school that will have faculty and potential advisors who are interested in similar research topics as you, or else you will be miserable trying to work with scholars who cannot really help or advise you on your research topic. Perhaps you should spend more time reading faculty profiles at different schools and the articles/books they've published to find a school that's a right fit for you, and not just selecting schools because they are in the top 15 or 20. As far as letters of rec, if the best you can do is getting letters from linguistics professors, that's ok. Make sure those professors will write you glowing letters of rec, on the order of "this person is one of the best students I've ever worked with". Also if these professors can attest to your research capabilities, this will be helpful as it will demonstrate to ad coms your propensity for research. If you could somehow get letters of rec from poli sci professor that are familiar with you and your work, that would be better of course. Your SOP will be crucial for you. This will be your chance to demonstrate your propensity for research in political science, your familiarity with the literature, how your studies have lead to your interest in Far East Asian studies, and how your research interests will contribute to and push past the frontiers of research in your sub field. Although this statement of purpose was written for a PhD history department, it's still an exceptional example of a statement of purpose that you can use as a template for your own statement of purpose (obviously modifying it to fit political science and your own personal situation): http://ls.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/statement_of_purpose.pdf Finally, as you mention, your quant GRE score is not great, however neither is your verbal GRE score. If you really want to get into Stanford or Columbia, you will need 160+ in both the verbal and quant, preferably a 165+ in both. Most schools have an implicit cut score just to make it past the first round, so that's why it's important to get as high a GRE score as possible. Also, if you want to get into top 20 programs and you have no math/quant experience, your quant GRE score will be especially important as someone coming from a different field, because ad coms use this GRE quant score to determine whether or not you would be able to survive the school's quant methods sequence. Also, poli sci as a field is becoming increasingly quant heavy (even in IR, though it depends on what specifically your research interests are), so be prepared that you will have to take quant methods sequences, especially in the top programs. You will be reading journals with a lot of math and you will be expected to output in your research quant methods, especially if you want to be published in a top journal. It's very difficult to do qual only work and there are very few scholars who do qual only work. Even the qual leaning scholars still use mixed methods. Hope this helps. If you have any more questions let me know
  4. Ya I would second what you are saying schuaust. I've actually spoken to grad students and professors from Stanford (and a couple people on this forum from Harvard and Princeton) and they pretty much uniformly told me that taking/auditing any sort of math class outside of being a student would pretty much be a waste of time and recommended against doing it because unless you're taking math classes at an ivy league school, its hard for ad coms to assess the rigor and quality of the training you received in those classes, especially if you aren't getting a grade for it. Moreover, they said even if you did take math classes, they probably would probably have a marginal effect on your application at best. So Dpan, I would stop trying to worry about taking quant classes before you apply because you will take a quant methods sequence in grad school. What I've been told is to just focus on getting the best GRE quant score you can (165+ would make you very competitive), and which is what I would recommend you do. So instead of taking up time taking game theory or stats classes, use that time instead to study for the GRE and writing a well written SOP. I think that would see a bigger return for your efforts.
  5. Hmmm...interesting. I think that QS are crucial, though if you don't have any I don't think it's dispositive. Political Science as a whole, as a consequence of its influence from economics, has been and is currently very quantitative. So yes, I think what faculty at Colombia told you is 100% correct, but to my mind, this advice really applies to the ideal, prospective applicant who is young in their college career and has the ability to make choices in quant class selection that will increase their odds of being accepted into top programs. I've spoken to some people on this forum who had almost no quant skills and still got accepted into top programs. Ultimately, the admissions process is almost entirely arbitrary and idiosyncratic. Because admissions committees change every year, the preferences of individual admissions officers changes accordingly. Also, the current cohort of students within each subfield, which professors are currently teaching or on sabbatical/left for another school, etc. are factored into the ad com's decisions. All these variables, among others, have an effect on applicant decisions, so it's sometimes hard to offer advice. I would say, speak to other faculty and students from other schools, because clearly I received different answers. Overall, your lack of QS may make it more difficult for you to get accepted into the tippy top programs such as Harvard, Stanford, or Princeton, and the like, but it's certainly not impossible. I would still apply to top programs and try hard to spruce up other areas of your application profile. My top options are Stanford, Harvard, Berkeley, MIT, and Northwestern, mainly because they have faculty working on political economy, development, state formation/capacity, and most critical for me, historical institutionalism. Of course I will be applying to many other schools. Given my lack of heavy quant skills (I took a single stats course and that's it), I have no illusions about my prospects being admitted into those top schools. I'm just going to try to make the other aspects of my application stand out as much as possible to provide a compelling case of acceptance into their program. And I think that's about all you can do as well.
  6. I am not currently in a PhD program in political science (I will be applying in the fall), but I have done extensive research and spoken to numerous poli sci grad students and faculty. I graduated with a BA in History, so I am also coming from a non quant background, and this has been a concern of mine as well. Here's what I have heard from the people I have discussed this with: First, IR is the 3rd least quantitative of the 4 major sub fields within political science. Although there are definitely quantitative oriented scholars in IR doing quant work (James fearon comes to mind), there aren't as many as in, say, American politics, where it's almost a prerequisite to take courses in stats, linear algebra, econometrics, game theory, and the like. Second, as I mentioned before, I was also concerned about my lack of quant skills coming from a history background, and the general response I got from current grad students and professors (at Stanford and UCLA no less) is this: not having a quant back will not be a huge mark against you. It would matter more if you were applying to be an americanist or were interested in doing quant methods. From my understanding, many applicants do not come in with extensive quant backgrounds, though this may be changing as the field as a whole has been going in a more quant oriented direction. Moreover, auditing courses in stats/game theory wouldn't necessarily hurt you, but it may not be worth your time. From my understanding, PhD programs, particularly those in the top 25, wouldn't really weigh the classes you audited very heavily, especially if it wasn't taken at a top level institution for a grade, because there's no objective way ad coms would be able to determine how well you did in the class, or the rigorousness of the methods and course work. So it certainly wouldn't detract from your application profile, but it also would likely only help you out marginally, if at all. In fact I was told by all the Stanford grad students and professors that I shouldn't waste my time auditing quant classes. The best thing to do would be to get as high a score in the quant section of the GRE as possible. Finally, if you are accepted into a program, you will be required to take a quant methods sequence anyways. Overall, I think ad coms will recognize that you come from a discipline that is almost entirely qualitative, and factor that into their decision (as well as the fact that you want to do IR which as I've said before is much less quant heavy). They will look to other aspects of your application profile, which you will want to ensure are stellar. That means you want to get glowing letters of rec from faculty, write an exceptionally well written statement of purpose clearly stating your reasons for wanting to get a PhD in poli sci and your research interests, and scoring high on the GRE overall (particularly in the quant section). The fact that you have received prestigious scholarships, speak two languages, and have publications will certainly help you out a great deal, I believe, with ad coms. I think for you in particular, since you are coming from a PhD program in an entirely separate field, clearly explaining and providing a compelling argument for why you want a PhD in political science will be crucial. I'm sure others will have something else to add/a different take. Hope this helps!
  7. I'm curious to know why you hope to go to law school after getting an MA in poli sci. What is the purpose for that? As someone who went to and graduated from law school, you will not benefit much from doing both, because they are trying to teach you and socialize you to do different things. MA programs in poli sci are trying to train you to enter into academia or public policy, whereas law school is training you to analyze and think critically, to train you for the bar exam, and to prepare you for a career as a lawyer. Consequently the teaching, methodologies, and logics for each graduate program are going to be very different, and do not necessarily inform the other. Getting an MA in poli sci will do very little to help you out in law school. Law school is significantly more applied and is not very theoretical or abstract; you will not be discussing any political theory much or how that shaped laws in the US. The closest you would get to something like that is a U.S. constitutional law class, but even then political theory plays little role in the analysis of the constitution and U.S. Supreme Court case law. Also, as Dwar has stated, I would caution against doing an MA in poli sci in the first place. I've heard good things about doing MAPSS, but that program is really to prepare students to enter into PhD programs in poli sci. So if you don't have an intention to get a PhD, I would recommend against applying to that program. However, I've heard some bad things about Columbia's MA program from numerous sources on this website who have had personal experience in Columbia's MA program. Columbia's MA program is largely separate from the PhD program, so you will not be getting the same teachers from that program teaching the MA program. You also will not get the same kind of training, will not be taking the same classes, or have access to the same resources, as students in the PhD program. So I would strongly recommend against it. But honestly, I would really ask yourself what your purpose is--and by extension your career goals-- for wanting to get an MA and a law degree. The only thing both will do is stick with you hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and really no better job prospects-in either poli sci or as a lawyer- from having done both programs.
  8. Absolutely not. Plenty of ppl have gotten into top 10 programs with lower GPA’s than that. The only way it could potentially have a negative impact is if you want to be a quant methodologist or an Americanist and you have a lot of B’s and B+’s in all the math classes you took. Other than that, ur gonna be fine. Most ppl would kill to have a 3.9 gpa
  9. I happen to personally know one of the professors at UCI (this person is currently advising me on a research project), and when I spoke to them last week, this person told me they already sent out their decisions a couple weeks ago.
  10. Ya of course! If I can help someone else who is in a similar situation as me then I’m gonna do it. And yes I am applying this fall. I would be more than happy to chat with you more, so feel free to get in contact with me either here or DM.
  11. I am actually in a very similar situation as you. I graduated from UG in 2010, went to law school, graduated in 2015, but after the horrible experience that was law school and a soul sucking internship with an attorney, I decided the legal profession wasn’t for me, especially after some of the horror stories I’ve heard from lawyer friends re: hours, stress, etc. Although I haven’t applied to grad school in poli sci yet (I will be this fall), I have done over a years worth of research reading books, forums like this, blog posts, speaking with professors and current poli sci grad students. So my answers to your questions are based on responses from students and professors to questions I had similar to yours. With that out of the way, now onto your questions: Re: a writing sample. My understanding is that faculty don’t really look too deeply into writing samples, so most people coming straight out of UG just revise a thesis paper they wrote that discusses a topic in poli sci. However, because you have been out of UG for a while, I imagine your writing has improved, so try to revise a political science paper you wrote. If you have never written a poli sci paper, I would then suggest writing a new paper on a topic in poli sci that interests you. Re: work experience. That really doesn’t factor much into an Adcom’s decision making process, unless it’s in a relevant field (working as a research assistant, doing research at a think tank, etc). Your legal career experience won’t be factored most likely because it signals little about your ability to conduct original, compelling research. Re: whether it’s self sabotage to state in your SOP that you have no interest in going into academia. The answer is a resounding YES! If you mention this in your SOP, you have almost no chance of getting into any programs, even lower ranked ones. This actually brings up a salient point I want to make regarding your decision to apply to PhD programs. If you have no desire to go into academia, I think it’s crucial to ask yourself why you are even applying to PhD programs in the first place. Why are you applying to a PhD program? What do you want to do with it if you don’t want to go into academia? I’m going to be completely honest with you: if you have no desire to go into academia I think you are wasting your time applying. The whole point of PhD programs is to socialize students into graduating with an intent to go into academia, and thus the curriculum is centered around that. Moreover, these programs teach you a fairly narrow skill of how to produce original compelling research that will contribute to the existing (and fairly esoteric) knowledge in your particular sub field. The opportunity cost of spending, on average, 7 years in a PhD program is quite high if you don’t want to go into academia, because outside of academia, your PhD in poli sci will not mean much or place you in a superior position when applying to non academic jobs. If you want to go into public policy, getting an MPA or MPP would serve you much better because a) that’s all you really need to go into public policy b) it takes less time c)the programs teach more relevant skills for a career in public policy or the private sector, and d) these careers are looking more for experience and who you know rather than your degree. I hope this helps. I don’t mean to be harsh, I’m just being honest and trying to save you time and money. If you have any other questions feel free to DM me.
  12. Congrats!!! Wow that is incredible! My dream school! Does this complicate your decision on which school to attend?
  13. Im also interested in qualitative methods and it seems that northwestern has quite a few scholars who are qualitative methodologists. If you’re into historical institutionalism, James Mahoney at northwestern is an excellent qualitative scholar.
  14. It shouldn’t hurt you at all. There is much cross fertilization between economics and political science, particularly in political economy. I’ve known quite a few people on this forum (one of whom got into Harvard) that was a math/Econ major and only had recs from math and Econ professors. As long as you clearly explain in your statement of purpose how your research interests fit within the field of political science and within the department you are applying to specifically, you will be fine. As far as whether you have a chance at these schools, as many on this forum would tell you, it largely depends on a multiplicity of factors, including the competitiveness of the applicant pool, the professors that happen to be on the admissions committee, what mix of interests and sub fields the admissions committees would like to comprise the entering class for that year, the strength of your statement of purpose, etc. In some general sense, yes you have a shot, particularly with your high quant score. You may want to retake the GRE again to see if you can improve your verbal. I hear some schools take the highest scores from each section for each test you submit. The competition is usually pretty great at the top schools like Stanford and Berkeley. Since your GPA and GRE are pretty solid, much will depend on your letters of rec, and particularly the strength of your SOP and whether your research interests are a good fit for the department. Stanford has a particularly strong institutional bent, with leanings in economic history. As one Poli Sci professor at Stanford told me, “we are known as an economic history department housed in a political science department”. Hope this helps.
  15. Hello, Based on your profile, sounds like you are a pretty strong candidate for many schools. Now, to answer your questions: "What should I be doing to 'pimp out' my thesis. Should I be trying to get published/look at awards?" I definitely don't think you should be looking at getting your work published. Based on my numerous talks with political science professors, current grad students at Stanford and UCLA, and people on admissions committees, all of them have said that it is un necessary, namely because the journals admissions committees would even care you get published in are top journals like the american political science review and the american journal of politics. These top journals are incredibly difficult to get published in for even grad students and academics, let alone undergrads. Moreover, getting published is a very long process, and at this point, if you're gonna apply this December, you probably won't have anything published before then. However, I would try to see if you could get some awards for your thesis. That will definitely add to your CV. "Should I even bother applying for the next cycle? My thesis won’t be done by December and I won’t have Spring 2019 grades which will hopefully be raising my GPA" This is a personal decision based on your own assessment of your situation. But considering you thesis won't be done by December and you won't have your Spring 2019 grades on your application, I would probably hold out this cycle and apply to the next one. This way, you can try and RA for a professor and start building relationships with professors this coming school year so that way you can get really good letters of recommendation, which is a crucial part of your application profile. "What range of schools should I be looking at?" The range of schools you should be looking at depends on which school is the best fit for you and your research interests, and which school has numerous faculty that do research in your area of interest. Many people will probably tell you to try and get in the top 20, and while I think that is probably good advice, I think fit is just as important. If you do want to get into a top 20 or even a top 10, I would suggest trying to get a 165 or above on the Quant section of the GRE. "I need to get some additional recommenders. I’ve seen advice on here along the lines of “just ask to be an RA for free” but I don’t think there’s much opportunity for that at my school. Should I cold call professors to ask to work with them? I haven’t cultivated many good contacts in my dept. other than my thesis advisor." As I mentioned before, try to spend next school year developing relationships with your professors. The benefits to this will be twofold: you will get much better letters of rec, and you can try to become their RA. This is why I also suggested you try to apply the cycle after this one. It will give you more time to flesh out your application profile. Hope this advice helps!
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