PROFILE:Type of Undergrad Institution: R2, Ranked just inside the top 200Major(s)/Minor(s): BS Political Science/BA HistoryUndergrad GPA: 3.41 Overall, 3.85 at Baccalaureate granting institution
Type of Grad: Same institutionGrad GPA: 3.85GRE (V/Q/AW): 164/158/4.0Any Special Courses: Graduate Seminars in history.Letters of Recommendation: 3 letters from professors at my institution (1 IR, 2 Americanists) Research Experience: Honors Thesis in Political Science as an undergraduate. Coauthored a paper in my first semester of my MS program, which was presented at ISA South. Currently serving as an RA on multiple projects, including one paper where I will be included as a co-author. Teaching Experience: NoneSubfield/Research Interests: International Relations (my current work examines political economy, conflict, and IOs, but I am looking to go more in the IPE/CPE direction)Other:RESULTS:Acceptances($$ or no $$): Colorado-Boulder($$), University of Florida (4 year funding)Waitlists: Northwestern (unofficial)Rejections: WUSTL, UNC, Penn, Ohio St., Pittsburgh, Virginia, Emory,Pending:Going to: Almost certainly CU-Boulder
If I had to do this all over again, I would definitely have been prepping and taking the GRE in the three years between my application cycles. This year, my spouse and I didn't decide I should apply until October, and I hadn't been prepping because I thought I wouldn't be going back until about 2021. As such, I just went with my Dec. 2015 GRE scores, which were okay, but not stellar. That said, I generally don't think my GRE scores were disqualifying in most cases, although the Q would have been concerning for WUSTL, UNC, OSU and Emory, imo. If I had worked on the GRE right along, I could definitely have gotten the Q into the mid-160s, which may have gotten me one or two more acceptances. Similarly, my late start meant my SoP was not nearly as polished as I would have liked. Frankly, with my SoP, I count myself lucky to have gotten into CU-Boulder, which has a pretty strong placement record relative program ranking. It could have been worse.
Also, FIT MATTERS! CU had, by far, the greatest number of professors for me to work with (at least 7 faculty members that had research that overlapped with mine in some form or fashion). I think this was a major factor in getting in. It also may have helped that they had a graduate student from my institution in residence, which I didn't realize at the time. For those in political science programs, it might be beneficial to get contact info for recent PhD admits out of your department to both get info about grad programs from a student perspective and get a handle on what your department's academic network looks like. Having knowledge of where current PhD candidates are from your institution can give you an idea of which PhD programs are familiar with the quality of students from your current institution. This honestly had not even occurred to me until I mentioned my CU admit to my faculty mentor, and she mentioned that another student from our department had gone there. If you start the process in April or May, it should give enough time to follow these leads. If I had known I would be applying, I would have been laying the groundwork that early.