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Hi there! Apologies if this thread has been created elsewhere before as this is my first post and I can't find anything similar. 

My undergrad and master's degrees were both interdisciplinary (International Studies degrees) and I am now gearing up to apply to programs in a few months. I am having a hard time whether to apply to Sociology programs only, Political Science programs only, or both. And if I do apply to both, I assume it would weaken my application to apply to both programs in a single institution/university. 

Has anyone had experience with this? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thank you!

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Many schools won't let you apply to multiple programs at the same time within the same school, so definitely check those schools for their policies around that. (I haven't seen a school that allows it, actually.) Personally, I'm applying to a mix of Sociology and Gender Studies because I can do my research within both types of programs. I think just finding what fits you is what really matters rather than the title of the program itself. If the program has several faculty you'd love to work with, go for it.

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I applied to a mix of sociology and health services research programs because my research straddles the line. I wasn't actually interested in both departments at any of the same universities; In most cases, the faculty doing the research I was most interested in (i.e. most similar/helpful to my own interests) were concentrated in a single department. I found it really helpful to do a loosely structured review of the literature and choose my departments based on those initial findings. (It also helped later when people said, "Why didn't you apply to [highly ranked program]?" because I could just say that it didn't come up in my lit review.)

I was really worried about applying to such a diverse group of programs, but I could make a good argument for each of them in my SOP. The interview process and a review of the course catalog were the final deciders in my case. I ended up in a sociology program with a strong medical sociology focus and a lot of connections to health services research on campus. In retrospect, I'm glad that I focused less on the name of the department and more on the fit with my goals. Good luck!

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18 hours ago, iwearflowers said:

I applied to a mix of sociology and health services research programs because my research straddles the line. I wasn't actually interested in both departments at any of the same universities; In most cases, the faculty doing the research I was most interested in (i.e. most similar/helpful to my own interests) were concentrated in a single department. I found it really helpful to do a loosely structured review of the literature and choose my departments based on those initial findings. (It also helped later when people said, "Why didn't you apply to [highly ranked program]?" because I could just say that it didn't come up in my lit review.)

I was really worried about applying to such a diverse group of programs, but I could make a good argument for each of them in my SOP. The interview process and a review of the course catalog were the final deciders in my case. I ended up in a sociology program with a strong medical sociology focus and a lot of connections to health services research on campus. In retrospect, I'm glad that I focused less on the name of the department and more on the fit with my goals. Good luck!

This is really good advice. You should want to apply to departments at which there is faculty with whom you see yourself working together. Their research should probably guid your decision rather than the name of the department. Other decision factors might be the jobs you would like to work at after. We might be able to give more precise advice if you let us know what your research interests are. 

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Something else to consider is your long-term goals. Do you want to work in academia? It's arguably much easier to get a professorship with a sociology degree than a political science degree. Those with sociology doctorates can work in many different departments, including political science, but it's relatively rare for someone with a PhD in political science to get a job in the sociology department. Just check some faculty bios.

If, on the other hand, you're more interested in government jobs or the private sector, then I don't see any downside to a PhD in political science. Just make sure that you go to a program that funds you — I'm not sure, but funding might be more readily available in sociology departments.

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