Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Neo_Institutionalist

  1. Neo_Institutionalist

    Care to advise a lawyer turned would-be grad student?

    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.
  2. Neo_Institutionalist

    Care to advise a lawyer turned would-be grad student?

    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.
  3. Neo_Institutionalist

    2018-2019 Application Thread

    Congrats!!! Wow that is incredible! My dream school! Does this complicate your decision on which school to attend?
  4. Neo_Institutionalist

    2018-2019 Application Thread

    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.
  5. Neo_Institutionalist

    Profile evaluation: Econ/Math background

    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.
  6. Neo_Institutionalist

    Rising Senior Profile Evaluation

    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!
  7. Hello, I saw this post and figured I would weigh in because I come from a somewhat similar background as you. I also went to and graduated from law school. However, after some lengthy personal reflection after graduating, and after an internship working with an attorney, I realized my passions lay in theoretical examinations of political science issues, and that my personality and interests were unsuited for the demands of a legal career. Since coming to this conclusion I have spent a year and a half engaging in extensive research that has included talks with political science professors, grad students currently enrolled in top poli sci programs (including students at top programs who went to law school and are transitioning into academia), blog posts, forums, career counselors, and advice books on getting into grad school. I am not currently a grad student in political science, so I cannot speak to the success part of your question. However, I will most likely be applying to grad programs in poli sci this upcoming cycle (or after). Take my advice for what it's worth, but I hope I can impart some of the knowledge I've accumulated over the past year or so. Before I get to your specific questions, I just wanted to make a few general points: First, be sure you understand EXACTLY what you're getting into with a PhD program, particularly in political science. I think it's critical you ask yourself honestly about your motivations for wanting to go to grad school beyond just the fact that your interests are in "more academic approaches to law". I am not sure the extent of research you have done regarding grad school, since you don't really mention that in your post. But, assuming you don't know very much, I think there are a few things you should understand before pursuing this venture. From all the research I've done and all the people I've spoken to, I have learned that there are really only two reasons you should go to grad school: 1) you LOVE research; 2) you want to be a professor at a university so you can teach, but also so you can further your research goals and interests. Any other reasons for wanting to go to grad school, such as not knowing what else you want to do with your life, or wanting to have the prestige of having "PhD" attached to your name, or to earn more money throughout your career, are not good reasons to get a PhD. Indeed, there are better, less costly ways to accomplish some of those goals mentioned. I think there is a big misconception about what you do in grad school, what academics do in academia, and what it is academics actually research in the profession. This is part of the reason why I think so many students end up dropping out of grad school, because they haven't done the proper research to understand what it is academics actually do. Do you have any idea what area of political science your interested in researching? Have you determined what, broadly, are your research interests in political science? Have you ever cracked open a top journal like the american journal of political science or the american political science review? If you haven't done any of those things yet, I would HIGHLY recommend doing so. This will really help determine whether or not you're truly interested in topics political scientists research and whether the life of an academic is really the right path for you. Grad school itself, from what I've been told, is very different than law school. Rather than being taught broad range of topics like in law school, your focus is necessarily more narrow. Attrition is very high in grad programs, sometimes up to 60%. Some drop out after being unable to pass their comprehensive exams; others drop out during the dissertation phase. I've also heard that grad school can be a very isolating experience, because you spend most of your time cooped up in the library doing research for your dissertation. Consequently, it's really hard to relate to other friends and family members and people who aren't in you cohort. And in political science, the average time it takes to complete the program is around 7 years as opposed to 3 years for law school. Also, I think it's important to understand that the job market right now for PhD's is atrocious. There are just simply more PhD graduates than there are positions to fill at universities, and graduating from a top 20 program with awards, accolades, and publications still doesn't guarantee getting a tenure track job right after graduating from grad school. There is an adjunct teaching problem, where many PhD grads take adjunct positions in the hopes they'll get hired at their adjuncting institution. But adjuncting jobs pay very little, and I've heard of some grads taking 2 or more adjuncting positions at different colleges in the area and drive around all day to their different teaching jobs just to be able to make ends meet. Many times PhD grads are on the job market for 5 years before they get jobs; other times they just drop out of the job search completely. Even if you get a tenure track job, your struggles don't end there. There is a lot of pressure, particularly at an R1 university, to "publish or perish" before your up for tenure consideration. And your publications must be published in journals that are approved by the department. Even in those circumstances, where a tenure track professor publishes in the approved journals, you still may not end up getting the job. Assuming you're already aware of all these things, and have determined that grad school is for you, then I would also start figuring out what areas of political science interest you, and then trying to find the department and faculty that engage in that kind of research (assuming you haven't already done so). Figuring this out is one of the most important things you will do in preparation for applying to programs. Many people on this forum will make a huge deal about getting into a top 20 program, and while that should be a large consideration in your calculus of where to attend grad school, it shouldn't be the only consideration. Fit with the faculty and department is a huge part of your consideration for which programs to apply to, and determining your research interests will help greatly with this. The recommendation is that you should try to find at least 3-5 scholars in a particular department whose work you really enjoy. If you can't find that many scholars researching in your area of interest, then the school is probably not a good fit for you. Also, figure out whether you want to go the policy route or academic route. If you want to go the policy route, I really don't think it's worth the time to get a PhD in public policy. A PhD in public policy is not required to get a job in the policy world, and most public policy experts do not have PhD's. You would be better off getting an MPA or MPP at somewhere like Columbia, University of Chicago, or Harvard. What really helps you get a job in the policy world is experience and networking like crazy. Now, to answer your specific questions: "Should I finish out the LLM (I'm about 1/3 completed) in order to be a "more interesting" candidate for a PhD program?" No I don't think you should finish the program as I think it would be a waste of time, and I don't think you would be a "more interesting" candidate for a PhD program if you graduated with your LLM. Admissions committees look carefully for applicants that have potential to produce excellent, original research, to demonstrate a passion for research and the subject of study, the potential to move the discipline forward, demonstrated creativity, and curiosity and desire to explore ideas, not whether you are "interesting". Depending on the program, there is no research or major thesis component to LLM programs. Furthermore, many adcoms are unfamiliar with the curriculum involved in JD and/ or LLM programs. Consequently, there is nothing really in your LLM program that would likely signal to ad coms the qualities they are looking for in candidates. Hence, why I think you should just leave the program. "If you were transported back to 9 or 10 months before you wrote your applications, what would you do (differently or again)? Try to get something published? Focus more heavily on acing the GRE?" To be a strong, competitive candidate, you're going to need excellent letters of recommendation (preferably from poli sci faculty; if not, from faculty that know you very well and your potential for research), an exceptionally well written statement of purpose indicating your reasons for wanting to go to grad school, and a potential puzzle you would like to solve in your research, a writing sample, and great GRE scores, preferably above 164 in the quant section if you want to get into a top 20. So yes, I would try to focus on doing very well on the GRE, because ad coms use the GRE as a cut off point for the first round of cuts. Then after that, they start diving into things like your statement of purpose, letters of rec, etc. I would also see if you can try and get a research assistant position if you don't already have research experience. Again, because your potential for producing research is crucial in grad school, ad coms will be looking for research experience. As far as whether to get something published, I've had mixed responses to that question, but the general consensus seems to be no, because the journals admissions committees would even care that your work is published in is usually too difficult for someone other than academics to get published into. However, I personally am going to try to get something published. I do not have a quality writing sample, so I'm going to start from the ground up with a research project and then see if I can get it published. Doesn't hurt I suppose. However, getting work published takes quite a long time, so if you're thinking of applying this upcoming cycle, you might not having something published in time before you submit your applications. Sorry for the long essay. I know I might have offered extra information that you didn't need or already knew about. But I figured I would be thorough just in case. I hope this advice helps. If you have any more questions, feel free to DM me.
  8. 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!
  9. Neo_Institutionalist

    Don't talk about this!!! ?

    Where were you waitlisted?
  10. Neo_Institutionalist

    2017-2018 Application Cycle

    where have you decided to go instead?
  11. 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)?
  12. 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.
  13. 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?
  14. 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!
  15. 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.
  16. Neo_Institutionalist

    2017-2018 Application Cycle

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

    SOP for Political Science PhD

    I'd be happy to read yours, as well as csantamir's!
  18. 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.
  19. Neo_Institutionalist

    MA then PhD, or just PhD?

    I am currently researching the the prospect of getting a PhD in Political Science. My research interests are in american and comparative politics, specifically institutions and institutional analysis. My research interests align most with scholars such as Barry Weingast, Gary Cox, Douglas North, Elinor Ostrom, and Robert H Bates. Obviously, I would want to get into a top 10-20 PhD program. However, I have a checkered educational past. I went to undergrad at a top research university, majored in history and minored in political science, and got a 3.4. I then went to get a dual degree JD/MBA. I hated law school and did poorly, and got a 2.7. In business school I did better and got a 3.5. It wasn't until after graduating law school that I realized I truly didn't want to be an attorney, and that my passions were in political science, research, ideas, and teaching. I have almost no math experience, as I took no math in undergrad. The only math experience I have is in business school, where I took a single stats course and a corporate accounting course. I still have yet to take my GRE. I have read in these forums that you need to have taken quite a bit of quant classes in order to be competitive in top schools. Currently working as a research assistant for a scholar at a right leaning think tank (not sure if this would hurt me advertising this on my resume) Based on the above info: 1) Should I pursue a terminal masters program in political science or a public policy degree in order to make up for my deficiency in math courses, lower GPA, as well as to try and get research experience with political science professors so I can get good letters of rec? 2) The only people I could get a letter of rec from are the dean of my business school, an econ professor from my business school, and one of my law professors who I'm very close with. Are these sufficient, or should I pursue a masters so I can build relationships with professors in poli sci to get letters of rec from them? 3) If getting a masters is not a good idea, is there anything else I can do to bolster my resume (besides the obvious getting high GRE scores)? I spoke to a current PhD poli sci student at UCLA and he told me he didn't think it was necessary to get a masters. Thoughts?
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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/
  23. 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!
  24. Neo_Institutionalist

    GRE and Applications

    Well I think that may be dependent on what your GPA and GRE scores were. I think that would help me and others assess your chances of success
  25. Neo_Institutionalist

    PhD in IR after a JD - profile evaluation

    1. I know you stated that you are not necessarily looking for feedback on whether this is even a worthwhile endeavor for a JD student, but answering the question "why do I want a PhD" is a necessary question to answer before any other questions can be answered regarding your chances for success in being accepted into a grad program. To be sure, it is important that you discuss this with your professors to get their feedback, but keep in mind they may be biased in their assessments of whether you should pursue a graduate degree (something I have learned in my research). Basically there are only two reasons to get a PhD: 1) you are passionate about research and want to do so at institutions that will provide you with the best resources to accomplish your research goals; 2) You want to be a teacher at a research oriented institution. Any other reasons--wanting to advance in your career, not knowing what else to do with your life, or thinking getting a PhD will get you access to higher paying jobs--are bad reasons for wanting to get a PhD. This is because a PhD program is meant to do one thing: socialize you into thinking like a researcher and providing you with the tools to become successful at a research oriented university. Consequently, the skill set you obtain in a PhD program is rather limited and is not always applicable to jobs in the private sector. This is not to say you couldn't get other jobs in government or at think tanks with a PhD--indeed many grad programs are now encouraging students to look for jobs outside of academia (more on that later). But the opportunity costs of getting a PhD (which on average is 7 years for poli sci programs) is high. This leads into the next reason why you should really consider whether getting a PhD is the right thing for your professional career goals. The job market is absolutely atrocious. There are significantly more PhD graduates than there are positions available, which has created a whole class of students who are unemployed or perpetually working as adjuncts with very minimal pay. If you are interested in working at a think tank or public policy more generally, you could still get a job with just your JD. I know from personal experience that many think tanks accept JD graduates in research roles because I am currently working at a think tank right now, and when I was looking for jobs at think tanks, many job listings listed having a JD as preferable. So if this is your goal, just applying to think tanks or government research programs out of law school may be a smarter choice due to the reasons I mentioned above. If you really feel like you want more of a public policy oriented education in addition to your JD, then getting an MPP or MPA is probably a better option. Here are some links that will provide more information on what I have been discussing: https://chrisblattman.com/about/contact/gradschool/ http://100rsns.blogspot.com/ 2. Now to answer your questions and give general feedback. I have spoken to current poli sci grad students, including one who got his JD and two others from Stanford. They have all said that schools are indifferent regarding whether you graduated with a JD. Schools mostly care about your potential for producing interesting, original research and becoming a successful researcher at a highly ranked academic institution. This is due to the fact that schools are risk averse, and don't want to expend large amounts of faculty and monetary resources on students who have no chance of graduating with their PhD or getting hired as an academic. So you need to demonstrate that you have interesting questions and that you have potential for producing exceptional research. My guess is, it probably won't make much of a difference, due to the goals of law school and PhD programs are different. A law school's goal is to train students to think like lawyers and equip them with the proper tools to become successful lawyers. This is fundamentally different than the goals for PhD programs, which is to train you to become researchers. One has a more practical focus, the other has a more theoretical focus. Consequently, going to Yale Law School won't signal much to admissions committees your potential for research, nor will it provide an accurate barometer of the rigorousness of the program in relation to what is expected of students in a PhD program (again being due to the fact that what is expected in law school and PhD programs are totally different). It might help, especially if you publish articles about international law as it relates to international relations, and can get those articles published in political science journals. Moreover, there are political scientists who publish in law journals. But I am not sure if publishing in a law journal would signal anything to admissions committees, since the standards of what gets published in political science journals and law journals is likely different. It certainly couldn't hurt, but I would definitely consult someone on that. I don't think it would hurt necessarily, but not having research will not give admissions committees an indication for your competency in research, or your potential for success in research. Perhaps if you publish in a political science or law journal, it may help overcome your deficiency in research experience. 3. Here are a couple of other notes regarding your profile. a) the fact that you have a 4.0 in undergrad is excellent. Although it doesn't necessarily say anything about your ability to do research, it will help you get past the first round of cuts admissions committees make. b)the fact that you don't have a huge quant background won't hurt you. Political Science is not economics, which requires that you have a quant heavy background to be considered in top programs. From speaking with other current poli sci grad students, ad coms understand that most people applying to their programs probably don't have a heavy quant background and thus compensate for this fact by requiring you enroll in quant classes in your first year of a grad program. However, this is why it is crucial that you do well in the quant section of the GRE, because it signal to ad coms your success in the required quant classes. If you want a career as a professor at a research oriented school, you need to get accepted into a top 20 program. This means you need to get at least a 160Q score, but preferable a 165 or above. c) it is critical that you get letters of rec from professors who know you very well, and that you know will ham it up for you in their letters. According to one grad student I spoke with, it needs to be on the level of "this the best student I've had in the past 10 years", or something to that effect. It would be preferable to get most or all of your letters of rec from a poli sci professor (like the one you mentioned that was your advisor on your senior thesis), but if this is not possible, then get the other two letters from law school profs who are either well known in the poli sci circles (i'm sure there are a few at yale) or are just well known in the legal field generally, AND who know you and your work very well. Again, letters of rec from poli sci profs are preferable because poli sci faculty in ad coms will share with your poli sci letter writer a similar gauge of what success in a student looks like than would someone who is a faculty member from a law school. Consequently, ad coms place greater weight on letters of rec written from poli sci profs than from law school profs. Overall, in order for you to be competitive at a top school, you generally need a high GPA, high GRE scores, an exceptionally well written statement of purpose indicating your research interests, faculty you would like to work with, and what interesting research questions or ideas you will bring to the table, and glowing letters of rec. Publications would also be a nice resume booster. Of course, none of this guarantees you will get into a top program, because acceptance decisions are fairly random; it will merely make you competitive with other applicants. I know this is a lot of info to digest, but I hope it helps. If you have any other questions, feel free to message me. Ultimately, I highly encourage you do more research by speaking to current law school profs, past poli sci profs, and reaching out to current poli sci grad school students.

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.