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  1. Option 2 is the better option if your only goal is top 10 PhD program. The biggest factor for admissions is going to be research experience and you are much more likely to be able to RA or do strong independent research at an institution with more resources and high-profile faculty. One thing I would add is that you should cut out the master's step. Getting a master's in sociology does not significantly help you get into a PhD program and is often very complicated to fund. Some people do it and it works out well, but it should be plan b, not your first choice. I totally understand if you don't want to spend several extra years working towards your bachelors, but if the only goal is PhD programs I think it would be most likely to pay off in the long run. I think you are correct about the (unfortunate) role of prestige in academia and aiming high is usually worth it.
  2. There's a lot to talk about here, so I'll try to break it down succinctly. - Yes, you definitely have a chance. You have great GREs, a strong GPA, and good work experience. I think it's fair to identify the lack of research experience as your weakest spot, but you should know that most people don't have published work when applying either. It's ok to be thinking about class or work projects as your main research experience at this point, you just have to sell why it's relevant. Programs do not expect you to be the complete package already or else you wouldn't need them; they want to see that you have the tools to do well though. - Related to the last point, I do think it's worthwhile to sell your quantitative methods skills. It doesn't have to be the central point of your statement of purpose, but you should absolutely make it clear that you have them. This 100% will not lock you into only doing quant work for your time in graduate school. I had only done qualitative work prior to applying, and stated that I wanted to do qualitative work. I now have only done quant work in grad school and no one even remembers what I wrote. - Getting on a working paper would be a good way to signal research experience, but if you believe it's totally antithetical to your interests I'm not sure it's worth it. Ideally you want to be able to point to something you've done to signal the types of stuff you intend to do. A working paper would signal your methodological skill, but if you're not going to write about it as your research interests then I think it's valid to not do it. - As far as choosing schools go, you absolutely should shoot high in terms of prestige. You don't want to only apply to top 5-10 programs, but you do have a shot at them with your scores and work experience. I can't help you as much with selecting the schools because I'm not that familiar with economic sociology, but I will say that stratification is at the core of a lot of sociology departments. There are very few strong programs overall that are weak in this area, so I don't think you can go too wrong. I think the best thing to do is look for schools where there are at least 3-4 tenured faculty you would want to work with.
  3. It sounds like you already have pretty much the best type of position you can? A huge number of other students in my cohort (top 10 program) worked at social science think tanks like Urban Institute, MDRC, etc. before applying. You have the scores, the grades, and the research experience. The letters might be the weakest part of your application, but overall that is still an incredibly strong profile. I will also say that sociology programs usually respect the methodological training and recommendations from other social science disciplines. Graduate level sociology is very different than undergrad, so often the most important thing is methods and research skills, rather than specific sociology subject-area knowledge.
  4. I don't think you should read too much into this. Departments are pushing for professionalization and a quicker clock largely because of incentives on their end, which means you'll get different info depending on who you talk to. I was told 6 years by my department when going through the application process, but I now know that's largely a joke. I certainly can't think of anyone done in 5 and the vast, vast majority are in the 7-8 range. This is at a top department with small cohorts and ample resources. I do think it is true that different departments have different priorities on this. You're right to point out that Duke has been pushing professionalization very strongly, but my larger point is that you shouldn't look to cohort size as the main indicator or trust random information. And, at the end of the day you should expect to take longer than what the department promises you is the goal.
  5. When I applied none of my schools updated the application status beyond submitted until a decision had been sent out, so don't freak out if it doesn't say under review.
  6. I second this. Do not spend $5000 to take one class!! I have tons of students in my cohort who were not soc majors in undergrad. I also wonder if you're overrating how much it helps to have a rec letter from someone in sociology. If you can get recs from professors in other fields, especially ones that are sociology adjacent like econ, that is perfectly fine. I have heard from professors that tons of students get a masters thinking it will help find recommendations, and that this is a mistake. More often than not professors are not focusing on their master's students and you don't have enough time to get to know them before working on your application. I can only imagine this problem is even worse for a non-degree student.
  7. One thing to keep in mind is that the spread can be in part due to how schools notify you of acceptance. For example, UNC has some variation, but it's all in a week or so period. This is because they have a faculty member you listed on your SoP call you, so it depends on that professor's schedule. Other schools will do it by email, so it all goes out at once. I'm sure these things also change year to year. This is mostly to say that it is not worth getting stressed and assuming you've been rejected somewhere just because some people have already gotten in. I had schools where I thought this was the case and I just got a phone call a couple days later entirely due to scheduling.
  8. Most sociology programs do not admit you to work with one specific person, unlike some other fields. A single POI is not going to make or break your application (especially if they're not on the admissions committee) and most interactions you have with the department about admissions decisions will go through someone like the department chair, head of the admissions committee, or director of graduate studies. Specific faculty I had listed as potential advisors did contact me after I had been admitted places, but I did not interact with them beforehand or about the application process.
  9. Oh no, I should've double checked about this! I did not apply, so I may just be repeating misinformation I heard elsewhere. Take this with a grain of salt and sorry if it stressed you out.
  10. What programs are you applying to that you know have interviews? Chicago is the only one I know of. Not sure what advice there is beyond basic interview advice, since they don't appear to be that common.
  11. You have nothing to worry about. Great GRE, Good GPA, and strong work experience. I think high_hopes is right both that econ by itself is not a problem (and sometimes a bonus!) but you should make sure you can give a compelling case about why you're interested in sociology. There are multiple econ undergrad students in my cohort (top 10 department) and no one even remembers exactly what everyone's major was at this point. And, because statistical skills are a big part of the field, and often criticized among incoming soc students, econ gives you a leg up. I wouldn't worry about not having taken sociology classes either. In general the philosophy of phd programs is to turn you from a research consumer to research producer. In fact, I think too many applicants spend the whole time talking about what sociology they like (presumably from a class they took), rather than what sociology they intend to produce. The majority of your required courses in grad school or going to be methods courses, not content courses for this reason. So, if you have the foundational interest and the beginnings of the ability to research on it, this makes for a great statement of purpose. It also doesn't have to be super specific! Economic sociology makes perfect sense given your background, is a strong subfield in a wide range of departments, and is something you should plausibly be able to make the case for.
  12. Ok, there's a couple things going on here, but I'll do my best. First of all, ignoring GRE for a second, you are a very strong applicant. Good GPA, strong research experience, a clear substantive research interest/project, and strong recs. All of that is fantastic and you should feel great about it! I know it's easy to focus on the one negative aspect here. So, there's two ways to approach your problem. 1) The vast majority of your application is fantastic and your GRE scores are not disqualifying enough by any means. I think you should get into a fully-funded, and most likely top 20, program with your application as is. 2) You have a strong enough profile that you could shoot a little higher than that with a really strong GRE. Given your econ background and quantitative focus, I also believe you would be able to with adequate study time. While schools know that GRE math is not real math, it might look a little odd at the truly top end (top 5-10) to have a strong quantitative focus and have that be your weakest GRE score. This is really your judgment call as to how much you care about the top outcome of reach schools, versus how much you're happy to be at a good fully-funded school. I'm also slightly confused by your implication of how GRE score reporting works, so I want to check my understanding. It was my belief that you can choose whether or not to send your scores. If this is the case, there's not that much downside to taking the test on Friday and seeing what happens, other than money and time. Is my understanding correct? Lastly, regarding recs, I think this is a good problem to have. It looks like you have four potentially strong recs, two of which are very strong. I got into a top program with one very strong rec and two that I believe are about the quality of your #2; this puts you ahead of the median for sure. Personally, the advice I've always been given is to go with a professor who knows you very well, rather than one who looks slightly more impressive on paper. To me this signals using #4 over #2. I don't think there's much downside at all to having an econ professor, and in fact most sociology grad programs like econ for the strong quant methods focus. Committees care more about methods and research experience than subject area knowledge. I do think if you have apps that allow additional recs it wouldn't hurt to use #2 as well. I hope this was helpful, and please feel free to reach out to me via pm. I'm happy to give more of my personal experience, but I don't want to dox myself.
  13. Second what high_hopes says. In general, methods courses are more valuable than content-based courses. PhD programs are largely designed to turn you into research producers, rather than consumers. Most of the coursework you will have in grad school is methods based for these reasons. Any opportunity you can get to give yourself a head start there will make you a great candidate. In addition, if there's any type of course you can take that gives you an option for an independent project, thesis, or even just original research paper you should do it. You will need a writing sample for your PhD application and in general this will show ad comms that you haven't just read sociology, but can actually practice it as well. Finally, take all opportunities to meet with faculty, go to office hours, etc. I was lucky enough to have a fantastic undergrad mentor this way and I got a job working as her research assistant after graduating. My relationship with her strengthened my application enormously, as it boosted my recommendations, my resume, and gave me more primary research opportunities. Sociology is also a small world. I got into my mentor's alma mater and other schools where she has a relationship, and I don't think that's a coincidence. It's not nepotism, but a recommendation means more if the ad comms know the person it's coming from. Feel free to pm me if you want to talk in more detail.
  14. It definitely is not too bold to ask! For the record, all of the Soc PhD programs I've been in contact with have offered to reimburse travel expenses, at least up to a certain amount. I am not familiar with master's programs, but I think it is certainly reasonable to ask.
  15. To preface, I don't know the field of chemistry at all and it sounds like you have a tough decision between two great programs. Congratulations! I will, however, say that you should consider editing some of the more self-identifying information out of your post, especially since you say some not-so-flattering things about a potential advisor by name. I don't mean to sound condescending and I wish I could offer you more help on the decision itself, but I do think this is good practice on the internet in general.
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