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Everything posted by Wesson

  1. They say they want cohorts of around 8 to 10 students, so they probably admit something like double that. A good guess would be that they admit approximately 5-6 students in each of IR, comparative, and American politics.
  2. Getting an M.A. can indeed help you get into a better Ph.D. program. It also can give you a relatively efficient sense of whether grad school is really right for you. But I've always felt that the best way to do it is to go to a school with a terminal M.A. program and no Ph.D. program. That way, the faculty are on your side when you're ready to move up, and they're probably practiced in helping you find the right Ph.D. program. Plus, no burned bridges.
  3. Several grad students in my department have accepted tenure-track jobs for next year, all at public universities. From what I've heard, the salary range is between right around $50,000 and the mid to high 70s. It's my understanding that entry-level salaries tend to increase faster than salaries at other ranks. For example, it apparently is common for a first-year assistant professor to make as much as or more than a fourth- or fifth-year assistant professor, and sometimes even more than a department's lowest-paid associate professors.
  4. Ohio U. is in the MAC conference. Look at the other schools there. I'm think some others have a funded M.A. For example, I'm pretty sure Miami (Ohio) has a funded M.A. program in political science.
  5. Outside of a few places, mostly Ivy League schools, all but a tiny few associate professors are tenured. But some universities--again, mostly Ivy--promote people from untenured assistant to untenured associate. Those universities have longer tenure clocks than the norm. So, a second-year or third-year associate professor at Harvard or Yale quite likely is untenured. But someone who is at most other universities and/or has been an associate more than four or five years almost certainly is tenured.
  6. At most places, associate professors are tenured. Some schools (e.g., most or all in the Ivy League) have longer tenure clocks, and do have untenured associates. There also are a few other rare exceptions, such as public universities that are not allowed by state law to hire with tenure, meaning newly-hired associate and even full professors may be untenured for a year or two. As a general rule, I'm not a fan of listing specific faculty with whom you'd like to work. It's better, in my view, to say that your interests are in the areas of X, Y and Z, and it's clear that the department has considerable strength in those areas, and leave it at that. When you list a specific person, that person may be 1) the department's most disliked member, 2) about to be denied tenure, 3) about to leave for another university, 4) increasingly unproductive, 5) unwilling to work with grad students, 6) fine in general, but on bad terms with one or more members of the admissions committee, 7) about to move into administration, 8) in the process of shifting the focus of his or her research, etc. It's really hard for you as an applicant to know this, yet there's a risk that the admissions committee will view you as being clueless for naming who you named.
  7. Given your undergrad GPA, it's probably your best shot. You'll need to do so incredibly well in the M.A. (3.9+) that a) your M.A. faculty will write very strong letters when you apply again to Ph.D. programs, and the grad GPA will give search committees a reason to downplay your undergrad grades. If your GREs are strong, an equally strong showing with the M.A. should make you competitive down the road for Ph.D. programs.
  8. I don't know that there's an absolute right or wrong on your question, but I probably wouldn't mention it. The two risks in mentioning it are 1) someone may infer that it would interfere with your prospects for timely completion of the Ph.D., and 2) mentioning it may sound like you're trying to introduce it as a reason why departments should look more favorably on your application. The other important factor is that, since it's a major part of your life, one or more of your letter-writers very well may bring it up. It probably would be better coming from them than from you.
  9. I agree with the others that the Master's is probably your best bet. There are Master's programs that will give you funded offers. They are not at the level of Ph.D. funding packages, but they'll pay tuition and a small stipend. The faculty at those programs mostly received their Ph.D.s at the sorts of places you probably want to apply. They will be your new letter-writers. Also, you may be able to transfer two or three of your Master's courses to your Ph.D. program, meaning the time getting the Master's is not entirely lost. Lastly, getting a Master's is a relatively painless way to confirm that more graduate school is right for you.
  10. Frankly, I think your best bet is to learn the stats. You don't need to have a background in stats to survive a methods sequence, you just need to do the work and not panic about it. Most programs start you at the beginning. Even if you end up doing qualitative research, you'll need to engage the quantitative scholars, which means you'll need to understand them, which means you'll need the stats background. My advice is to find programs that have scholars who are studying the questions you find to be interesting, irrespective of method, and take it from there. A lot of people, when starting out, aren't too enthusiastic about stats courses, but, once they see that the material in those courses may help them to answer the questions they find to be interesting (i.e., once stats becomes a means to an end rather than an end in itself), they learn what they need to learn.
  11. As to what JDs could teach, in my department the obvious ones are Con Law, Supreme Court, Law and Policy, and International Law. Other options would depend on the person's focus in law, but could include courses such as Ethics and Politics, Intro to Policy, Federalism, International Organizations, etc. Someone with a focus in international law presumably would have a different 3-4 courses than someone with a focus in Constitutional law or someone with a focus on law and policy.
  12. Well, again, I agree that there are some courses the J.D. could teach. In my department, we have just over 100 undergrad courses on the books. If I really stretched it, there are 20 that I probably could teach. There are about 10-12 that I am very comfortable teaching. Depending on the breadth of the person's training, it looks like there are as many as 8-10 that a J.D. could teach, and 4-5 that most J.D.s should be able to teach. So, consistent with my earlier claim, I'd say the J.D. can teach something in the neighborhood of 5-10% of what my department offers. And, for what it's worth, we bring in some J.D.s to teach some of those courses. As to your other points, first, I don't think it's moot at all that the J.D. has had no teaching experience. My kids have watched me drive their whole lives, but I wouldn't put them behind the wheel with no added training. Sitting there watching just isn't enough. Now, if the J.D. is willing to take a semester or two to enroll in some courses on how to teach, and to lead some discussion sections, this deficit could be rectified. Second, as to your claim that political scientists teach law and politics courses outside of their specialties, this isn't so in my experience. The people who teach such courses are faculty who either hold both a Ph.D. and a J.D. or who quit law school after a year or two before moving to a Ph.D. program. Also, there are several Ph.D. programs with strong law and politics concentrations, and they produce a large number of the judicial politics faculty. These faculty aren't teaching law courses, they're teaching on the intersection of politics and law, and they possess direct training in that area. Third, political scientists generally do not teach very far outside of their areas, nor would they feel they possess the competence to do so. My case, as outlined in the first paragraph, exemplifies this: stretching matters as far as absolutely possible, I still wouldn't feel competent to teach over 80% of what my department offers. So, sure, with some remedial work on how to teach, the J.D. can teach a few courses, but it's a long way from there to claiming that the J.D. can step in and teach more than a small segment of political science courses. All of that said, the other posters also are right that a large part of what we do is research. In my department, research is, by contract, defined as a larger portion of my responsibilities than is teaching. For nearly every tenure-track job in political science, the person will need to publish something, whether a little or a lot. What passes for research in law schools is very, very different from what political scientists do. It's quite hard to imagine many J.D.s finding this to be a smooth transition. And note that there's an important trade-off here. The sort of department that could most easily hire a J.D. would be a large department, one that is large enough to have one or two faculty devoted to law and politics. That probably will mean a faculty with a minimum size of at least 15 to 20. Well, departments that large usually are the ones with the highest bars in terms of research expectations. Thus, the dilemma for the J.D. is that the sorts of departments where that person is most qualified to teach will, as a general rule, be the ones where the person is worst-suited to meet the research requirements for tenure.
  13. There are various points to consider. A J.D. is a trade degree. It prepares one for the practice of law. People who receive a J.D. typically receive no training in teaching. People who receive a Ph.D. typically have to take one or more courses on how to teach, and also typically are assigned to teach discussion sections to help prepare them to become professors. Thus, the J.D. will, on average, be much less prepared to step into the classroom than will be the Ph.D. Beyond that, there is the matter of substantive preparation. You seem to think that the entirety of political science is about U.S. law and policy. The J.D. would have no substantive qualification to teach the vast majority of courses on political theory, comparative politics, international relations, or political behavior, and only would be qualified to teach a portion of courses on U.S. institutions and policy. Even within the realm of law and politics, keep in mind that a lot of law students are busy taking courses on contracts, antitrust, etc.--matters that are relevant for politics, but that hardly are central to what political science departments teach. Another point is that people with J.D.s do get hired to teach some political science courses. There are some tenured and tenure-track political science faculty who hold J.D.s as their highest degrees, and there are many, many people with J.D.s who are hired as adjuncts to teach courses on law and politics, Constitutional law, etc. Of the offerings in any given political science department, I'd guess that a J.D. might possess the substantive qualifications to teach 5-10%. Let's turn this around--if the Ph.D. and J.D. are as interchangeable as you have suggested, should we permit people with Ph.D.s in political science to practice law? I would think not. Yes, there is a tiny bit of overlap between training in law and training in political science, but we're talking about two mostly different disciplines.
  14. If the choice is between a professor in another field and a political science TA, I'd lean toward the professor, particularly if the professor is in a related field. Your general inclination here is right--you want writers who know you well. So, I'd choose the professor from the other field and possibly even the TA over a political science professor who only knows you well enough to write a short form-letter sort of rec. In my own case, the letters all were from faculty and they all knew me well, but two of three were in a different field than political science. It didn't seem to hurt at all.
  15. Actually Tufnel, your original speculation was on the mark. All journal publications will not necessarily help you as an applicant, and some may hurt you. There are a lot of journals. Many refereed journals are generally viewed as being third- or fourth-tier. They publish some weak research and they have relatively high acceptance rates. They may be viewed as credible in the discipline as a whole, but, as an applicant, your audience isn't the discipline as a whole. The highest-ranked graduate programs are also the largest, which means most people apply to and receive their Ph.D.s from departments ranked in the top 40 to 50. Faculty at those kinds of departments generally aim high with their research, especially the faculty who are likely to be on graduate admissions committees (because deadwood faculty don't get placed on these committees). The last thing faculty want to have to do is break incoming graduate students of bad habits. If you have published in a fourth-tier journal, and especially if you make a big deal of it in your statement, you risk having someone on the admissions committee think that you don't get it, that you'd be coming in misinformed about the nature and quality of work expected of you. At these programs, virtually all faculty have journals they view as falling below the line of being credible, journals where, given the choice, they'd rather not publish a paper at all than publish it in journal x, y or z. If you have published in those journals, it is unlikely to help your case, and it may hurt. When putting your application together, I highly recommend that you read through it from the perspective of someone on the admissions committee, and especially that you do so with an eye toward red flags.
  16. I agree with the previous post. "Lower-tier" can mean a lot of things. For some people, it means anything below the Journal of Politics, while for others it means obscure journals with very high acceptance rates. If your lower-tier journal is generally viewed as a credible outlet--e.g., a journal ranked in the top 40 or 50 or so in the various rankings of journals--then publication there will help or will be neutral. Here's one simple check. If any of the faculty where you're applying have published in the journal in question, then publishing there isn't going to hurt you and it probably will help you.
  17. I suggest that you contact some of the DGSs in advance, outline your situation, express interest, and ask whether your undergrad GPA would rule you out. My guess is that you'll have some top 20 programs remain in play.
  18. Some departments are very selective in what information they post. If they only post jobs rather than full stats, you can devise rough estimates of placement on your own. For example, if a department takes in 12 new students each year, placement averaging 5-6 per year would be approximately full placement (assuming 50% attrition along the way). So, if they're only listing 1-2 placements, that's a red flag. If you don't know the size of their incoming cohorts, you can count how many students are listed as current graduate students, and divide by 4 or 5 to get a decent estimate.
  19. If your GREs top 1400 and your letters are strong, you'll have a good shot at a top 25. You're right to be looking at places like Davis and Illinois. You can get excellent training there, and they place their students well. I do think your odds of getting in at a top 10 or 15 are slight, but even that depends on the GREs and letters. As to the MA option, there are plenty of places that have funded MA programs. If I were you, I would look to such a program before dipping too far below the top 25. If you have a high GPA in the MA program, plus letters from people there, you'll be in excellent shape for admission to a top 25 if the first try doesn't work.
  20. Five places in the rankings is simply too few to matter. If you were looking at a top 10 vs a lower top 25 or a top 25 vs barely top 40, I'd encourage you to attend the higher-ranked school unless it flat-out felt wrong for you. That's because search committees often draw informal lines regarding what group of departments they'll consider seriously when looking for candidates. But these lines are fuzzy, and exceptions are made. If you feel you'll be more comfortable, better trained, more productive, and ultimately a stronger candidate by attending say #22 rather than #17, that will more than make up for the very slight gap in the rankings.
  21. Too arbitrary? In truth, I think not. I wrote that a Ph.D. in political theory from IU "presumably won't be getting you hired at a top-10 program," and I think that presumption is correct. Is it possible for it to work out otherwise? Sure, but it isn't very likely. First, in general, very few people with a Ph.D. from a non-top 25 program are hired, especially for their first jobs, at top-10 programs. It happens, but it's uncommon. Second, political theory in particular is a buyer's market, has been one for a long time, and looks to be one into the future. That said, the vast majority of scholars work outside of the top 10, and it appears to me that one could receive excellent training in political theory at IU, so I wouldn't be hesitant to go there.
  22. FWIW, I just looked, and UIUC has two political theory faculty, neither with a Ph.D. from Indiana. Also, I'm not sure IU cracks many top-25 lists any more. They used to, but that was some time ago. That said, if you feel good about the people with whom you'd be working, and you're o.k. with the nature of the job market (i.e., that your IU Ph.D. presumably won't be getting you hired at a top-10 program), then I'd say go for it.
  23. Yep, that's common. Some come right out and ask while others dance around the point, but they want to know. If the other programs have some attributes relative to the one you're visiting, it's generally in your interest to provide the information when asked. Nothing makes your stock rise in a DGS's eyes like knowing other people want you. In some cases, they'll even sweeten the offer.
  24. I've looked in to a similar matter at some U.S. departments, and the story you've heard above is consistent with what I've learned. Most universities have university (i.e., not department-level) requirements regarding how many hours of coursework a student must take at that university to receive a Ph.D. from that university. The logic is that you wouldn't want to call the person a Ph.D. from X University if that person took no courses there. How much remedial work does your original institution want you to take? If no bridges have been burned, it seems like returning there might be your best option, at least in terms of finishing sooner rather than later.
  25. Wesson


    I did not know until now that Baylor has a PhD program. Interesting. Do you know much about it? For example, how many students do they bring in, how many PhDs do they grant, and what sort of placement have they had?
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