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BunniesInSpace

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  1. Honestly this all sounds fine to me and I'd aim for anywhere form 1-30 ranked programs if I were you. I see no reason to limit yourself to applying to anywhere. Re: writing sample. No one actually wants an MA thesis length paper, so don't bother with it. Most places want a minimum in the ballpark of 10-30 pages, which pretty much any thorough research paper will make it to once you double space (which most of them want you to do anyways), throw in the bibliography, add in a graph or two, add in tables, etc. And if you don't, I don't recall seeing any programs that specifically say that you can't attach two or three shorter papers instead -- in fact many programs say you should do this if you don't have a longer writing sample. Really. Don't sweat it. Not everyone who gets into great schools does a senior or MA thesis, and admissions committees don't expect everyone to have a 60 page paper ready to be judged. In fact places will be unhappy if you do send in a 60 page thesis -- they have to judge tons of applications, no one has the time to read 60 pages.
  2. I'd suggest asking on the government affairs section of this forum, or maybe an MPA/MPP subreddit or even the political science subreddit. This is mostly focused on political science PhD apps and we can't give you a good an answer as they can about the MPA/MPP admissions process.
  3. The poli sci forum here is almost exclusively focused on political science PhDs. You'll probably have better luck in the governmental affairs subforum, where they talk about programs in SAIS/SIPA/WWS etc. pretty regularly. That being said, SAIS for International Affairs says their middle 50% GRE quant range is 152-161 (https://sais.jhu.edu/academics/degree-programs/master-degrees/master-arts-international-affairs/class-profile-maia), so a 160 would be perfectly fine. I doubt anywhere would be much more stringent that JHU (perhaps WWS excluded, where admission there is a different beast altogether).
  4. Of the top 10/near top 10, I'd consider that general ranking correlates highly with how strong the quant offerings are at a given department. Notably more quanty than meets the eye: NYU (check out their FAQ with their "if you're reading this soon enough, please take calc" section) and Stanford (relatively weaker at political theory than other top programs, and many dropouts and graduates go onto heavily technical roles). Notably less: Yale, Chicago (both historically schismed depts where the quants did not win), MIT (less dramatically schismed, but also not the math powerhouse that one may expect when one thinks about MIT the school).
  5. I recommend as many as possible (that are a good fit, of course) if you're unsure about where you stand. Plenty of people apply to 10+. Most schools offer application fee waivers if it's a financial hardship.
  6. Do you have any info about these programs/especially about funding for these two programs? I thought about applying to those but ultimately didn't because I couldn't find much beyond Blattman's blog post about it. They seem similar to QMSS at Columbia (I think that's what it's called) which I've seen on some CVs of CHYMPS grad students. QMSS also seems like a great quant-social science oriented master's program with a solid pipeline to awesome PhD programs, but I can't say anything about finances there either.
  7. Also everywhere in the top 20. Notable exceptions are UCLA and Ohio State, but both fund a vast majority of students and I think TA-ships aren't too bad to obtain beyond the first year.
  8. This probably isn't the most helpful thing, but it seems really weird to apply to those four schools. UI-Chicago and Loyola are among the worst-ranked PhD programs in the US, while Northwestern is very good (I think they admit less than 20%) and Michigan was perhaps the most selective school last year (they admitted something like 4% of applicants, although that was an anomaly). It'll be fine that your undergrad is in English lang teaching (though the total GPA could maybe hurt you), because your grad degree is relevant. For top schools, they won't care about your teaching experience. It's hard to judge how competitive you'd be without your grad GPA and GRE scores, and I doubt that anyone can really give you a good answer without those.
  9. Everything in your profile looks quite good, though getting a couple more points on each GRE section could be helpful. I'm sure that those will bring you beyond the first cut of prospective applicants. Beyond that, things are probably going to fall onto the quality of your letters and your SoP, which I can't really judge for you.
  10. GPA could potentially be a small red flag, especially coming from a school that is presumably not well-known. Higher major GPA helps. GRE scores are good -- raising the Q can't hurt but overall they aren't a problem. Professional quant consulting is good, a higher GRE Q score combined with quant work experience can make it known that you have serious quant chops. Here's where I think you'll get dinged: 1. Interested in theory track but none of your recs are from theory people. No one can really speak to your aptitude in political theory. 2. No one cares about professional references (the only possible exception I can think of in your case was if the employer talked about how good you are at quant stuff and you were applying as a methods applicant). 3. It's not fair that it's like this, but having unknown recommendors will hurt you. This becomes less of a problem the further down the rankings you go. There's a reason the best schools are mostly filled with students who went to prestigious undergrads/undergrads with good polisci departments, and it's not just because inherently smarter people tend to go to better undergrad departments. 4. Seemingly no research experience in theory/not a lot of previous coursework in theory classes. I think it may be difficult to write a convincing Statement of purpose if you're not well-versed with the current literature in the field. Coming from anon-polisci background, you're going to have to convince the admissions committees that you know what the field is all about, and that you belong in it. That being said, major GPA (given that it's econ related)+ great GRE scores + quant job make me think you'd get some bites in the 20-40 range. Check out MAPSS at Chicago too -- I think with your GRE score you could get a serious scholarship and it would allow you to simultaneously get polisci experience, get a higher GPA, and get recs from famous people in the field.
  11. Why do you think there's a big discrepancy in between your methods course performance and your quantitative GRE score? What kind of topics were covered in these methods courses? I'll echo what everyone else here is saying: yes, those GRE scores need work if you want to get into somewhere in the top 25. It's really hard to imagine anyone being very good at methods and doing average on the quant portion of the GRE unless the methods courses are too easy. Pretty much all programs ranked 25 or better that publish average scores for their students has a 160+ average. 159V could also really benefit from a boost of a couple points or more. Top 50 and top 75 programs, sure, you wouldn't necessarily need to retake.
  12. Your chances, based on what you've written here, is pretty decent. Definitely stand a chance and assuming that you have cohesive and not-too-weird research interests, and write a standard personal statement and I'd be pretty surprised if you blanket applied to the top 20 and didn't get in anywhere. CMU and Wake Forest aside (and I know you didn't go to CMU because they don't have poli sci), the schools in the top 20-30 in US News all have very well-connected people in political science, which is a plus. Bonus points if you went to Michigan because they're top 6 in political science lol. That being said, there definitely are things you can and should do to improve your profile. Work the Q score -- the V is completely fine and if you get a 165 on test day, awesome. Q is generally the easiest section to improve, and I think breaking 330 really can put you into an elite category of applicants. Also, if latin honors are based entirely on your thesis work, ask people why you didn't get summa and use that criticism to improve your sample. If that's not how it worked, ignore what I just said (my school did latin honors by gpa only so I'm not familiar with how other systems work).
  13. Here's my two cents on everything here: 1. First, a 3.7 is ok. People on admissions committees are familiar enough with the UK grading system to not get their panties in twist when they see something like what I presume is upper second class honors. One chart I saw (from a different school) made it look like about 20% of students got a better grade, which is like, not the greatest but not the best. Clearly it means you're competent and stuff, but it doesn't scream "academic superstar". That being said, some of the smartest people I know don't have the best GPAs, and people are aware of that. It won't carry you, but maybe aside from Harvard or Stanford, won't sink you either, especially because it's in a different field. Plenty of ivy league near-4.0 types apply to top political science programs though, so the chances that a 3.7 will be seen as as a plus are very slim. 2. If you go to USC and get an MPA with a GPA over 3.8, that will probably be a good thing. Recs from economists or political scientists who teach in the program will be very very good. It's not the most efficient way to end up in a political science PhD program, but I don't think it's really the worst thing to do because you'll be exposed to a lot of a fair amount of government-related research. Also it's probably much better than doing nothing. 3. I wouldn't value an MA in Political science (or the UChicago cash cow MAs) over a top MPA/MPP. Most programs that offer political science MAs are either not that great of programs in general, or treat their MAs as cash cows (Duke, NYU, Chicago without scholarship), and committees know that. The bonus of an MPA/MPP is if you decide you like what's going on in it, you'll have employment prospects when you get the degree. 4. It is my opinion that if you go to USC and do well (3.8+ (but higher the better), very good recs, some kind of research experience), you can be in a good place to apply to PhD programs in the caliber that you want to get into. If your goal is Columbia/Stanford/NYU, will be better off doing this than directly applying without it. Bonus points if it makes you better at quantitative work and can write a quantitative writing sample. 5. To agree with someone who posted above, your internship probably will not matter very much unless there's a research component to your work. These internships might have some kind of "cool" factor but ultimately it won't make your application. 6. Your GRE scores, as-is, will get you rejected at all three programs you've mentioned. NYU and Stanford love high quant scorers. NYU loves to brag about being really hardcore with methods -- if you don't believe me read their FAQ. You need to get the quant score up. When I applied to these programs my goal was 165/165 but had decided I would settle for anything over 160/160. I recommend something similar. Is a 156 to 160 is not statistically a significant jump, but 160 seems to be some magical number that a lot of people just equate as "competent enough to read academic papers." The number used to be 700 on the old GRE, which is a much higher percentile. Are these numbers pretty much arbitrary and based off a a stupid "what is ten points beneath a perfect score" rule? Yes. Do people value these stupid magic numbers? Yes. Take a look here to see what kind of GRE/GPAs people who get into these programs have. That being said, GRE scores alone will not get you in. They'll get you rejected though.
  14. The best advice anyone can give you is to do both of the following: 1. Look at departments where you'd like to end up working, look at the CVs of newly hired professors, and see what kind of places they got their PhDs from. 2. Have candid conversations with faculty that have served on hiring committees and get their opinion on it. Ask if it's reasonable to expect an Australian/NZ job if you graduate from your school's PhD program. See if you can find placement statistics on it. Does your professor think the value of an American PhD is that it opens up doors to academia in the US (which aside from a couple universities in Aus/NZ are largely more "prestigious")? Or because American PhDs are generally more sought-after even outside the US? (No idea if either of those two statements are true btw, that's for you to find out) FWIW I see more people from Oxbridge/LSE PhDs than Australian PhDs on American faculty. No idea if that means anything but it's just an observation.
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