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Taking Classes Pass/Fail


cbsag123
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Hi everyone,

I'm a college student who wants to go to grad school for polisci (or something polisci related) right after college. I'm taking intro to statistics next semester, a class that's seen as one of the toughest weeders at my university. I was wondering, do you guys think graduate admissions committee's will care if I take this class pass/fail? I've already taken Econ 101 and a quantitative research methods class in the political science department and gotten an A in both of those.

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Take the course for normal credit. 

I definitely don't intend to sound mean, but if you are struggling with an undergraduate intro to statistics course, you have almost no shot at getting into (or succeeding in) a mainstream political science department. Many political science Ph.D. programs require somewhere between 3-5 methods courses for anyone who isn't a political theorist/philosopher. 

I can't speak for graduate adcoms, but I don't really know why you would consider taking such a course pass/fail. If you're just going to have a P grade on your transcript for intro to statistics, all you are telling an adcom is that you could achieve a minimum of a C in a basic statistics course. That (at best) tells the adcom nothing useful, and (at worst) makes them question why you wouldn't just take the course for credit. 

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I took all the methods courses that my psci department offered, and wanted to do more. I took statistics and probability courses in the mathematics department, credit/no credit. Having done well in my methods courses, I didn't think it would matter one way or another to adcomm. I'm happy I did so. I learned a ton and it didn't seem to hurt me a bit.

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I see. I have another question: At my university, they offer two different intro classes, a standard one and an easier one for people that aren't as good at math. Will admission officers know which stats course is the "regular" one? My university is a fairly big, well known university.

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I don't think taking intro to stats gets you competitive in PhD application. You probably want to take more advanced method classes after the introductory class. In that case, as long as you do well in those advanced classes, taking either of the intro classes does not matter that much.

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21 hours ago, cbsag123 said:

I see. I have another question: At my university, they offer two different intro classes, a standard one and an easier one for people that aren't as good at math. Will admission officers know which stats course is the "regular" one? My university is a fairly big, well known university.

I think that the only reason you should be taking courses in mathematics is for your interest. Put differently, you should not take these courses in order to make your grad application look stronger. If you want to learn more about statistics and probability, but you are unsure of your ability, take the first. If you are more ambitious and willing to put in work for the sole sake of knowledge, take the more advanced one.

Again, I don't regret venturing into the Mathematics department. But I did so knowing that I was doing it for its intrinsic, not instrumental, value.

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