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Profile Evaluation - PhD Political Science (maybe combo MPP)

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Brothers and Sisters, comrades and friends (if you get this reference, congratulations), 

I'm applying to PhD PS programs this upcoming fall and need a reality check.

Here are my details: 

BA (2016, graduated early): Political Science and Economics w/ Public Policy from Private University in the T75 of USNews Rankings. Special Honors in PS. Also studied abroad briefly in the UK (one 4-credit political economy course, got an A for what that's worth...).  

GPA: 3.53 / Poli. Sci. GPA: 3.7 (had one bad semester that drags down my overall GPA. High school gf broke up with me...*insert cliche story here*). 

GRE: V: 163; Q: 160; AW: 5.5 (An aside, why don't these programs just administer a fluid IQ test? Will my newly rediscovered knowledge of basic trigonometry help me better understand the study of politics? Isn't IQ basically what they're trying to get at with this? I have questions...) 

LOR: One from a political scientist who reviewed my poli sci thesis, one from an economist who reviewed my econ thesis, and one from a think tank supervisor (who has a PhD in political science and I've worked with extremely closely over the course of the last few years). None are famous, if that's of any relevance.  

Brief Background: 

- Currently work as an RA at a think tank, have several published reports/blogs/other research products but virtually none are single author (Note: not published in academic journals).I know academics don't necessarily consider these types of publications as valuable/transferable experience but nonetheless. 

- My work has been featured prominently in various media publications and in policy deliberations, but I also know that this kind of thing isn't necessarily going to be weighed as valuable. 

- Lots of other experience interning around DC in various branches of government. 

What I want  

What I want is to pursue normative questions of the functions of government. I am thoroughly unconvinced by "off the shelf" political philosophies/ideologies. Would love to find a department where I could pursue questions regarding the role of government, and also the roots of political institutions/norms (along these lines, I have an interest in cultural evolution that I'd like to flesh out). I also have a laundry list of other eclectic interests that fall (at least somewhat) under the umbrella of PS. 

I also have a significant, if peripheral, interests in moral/analytic philosophy (almost had enough credits for the logic minor, but didn't have enough cash to add a semester) and also in evolutionary bio. So if I were to land in a department (or univ.) with a few faculty that focus on the philosophy of social science that would also be great. 

Thus, based on my characteristics/background. . . 

1. What range of schools should I expect to get in to/aim for?

2. Are top 10's too significant a reach?

3. Should I bother applying to some back-up terminal masters programs? Or are these always a waste of time/money? (I've heard mixed advice)

I've also considered a few combo MPP/PhD programs that might be more attracted to my background than pure PS programs, but haven't come to any strong conclusions about the utility of the dual-degree. Would welcome thoughts on this as well. 

I know I'm asking a few different questions here, so obviously feel free to respond as you see fit, to whatever pieces you feel qualified to answer, and thanks in advance for your help. 

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People probably aren't responding bc it's August.  Was admitted to UCLA this year with a middling funding package.  Had a higher GRE than you in every section, lower GPA in every way, and less research experience.  Also didn't have a senior thesis.  I know of people who were admitted with far worse funding packages, so I'm guessing that your numbers and experience are more than good enough to give you a shot.  Also, if looking at backup MAs check Chicago.  They have several options geared towards building up your academic resume as I recall (don't recall too well) from my own research into this.  Finally, of your 4, my understanding is that Stanford is a tier above.  Excuse my bad grammar -- this is a brain vomit -- I just stumbled here.  That's all I've got for what it's worth.  Don't want to wade out of my depth.

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7 hours ago, unknow said:

People probably aren't responding bc it's August.  Was admitted to UCLA this year with a middling funding package.  Had a higher GRE than you in every section, lower GPA in every way, and less research experience.  Also didn't have a senior thesis.  I know of people who were admitted with far worse funding packages, so I'm guessing that your numbers and experience are more than good enough to give you a shot.  Also, if looking at backup MAs check Chicago.  They have several options geared towards building up your academic resume as I recall (don't recall too well) from my own research into this.  Finally, of your 4, my understanding is that Stanford is a tier above.  Excuse my bad grammar -- this is a brain vomit -- I just stumbled here.  That's all I've got for what it's worth.  Don't want to wade out of my depth.

Thanks for the reply - good luck at UCLA 

7 hours ago, unknow said:

 

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Im at UCSD. Sounds like your would apply for political theory subfield? While we are looking to hire a new theorist, our theory department is really lacking. IR as good as ever, AP is on the come up, and CP appears to be on the come down. Important things to consider when choosing a school. You stats look decent. I got in here with a slightly higher GPA and verbal GRE but less research experience. Work experience in nonprofits did play a role according to me advisor who was on the committee. Didnt really apply anywhere else for PHDs except Columbia and got waitlisted. I applied for MPPs. You would probably get into any MPP school you apply to with your background. Worth considering if academia isnt your number 1 goal. WWS is amazing and almost beat out a great offer from UCSD.

Edited by Nozistin
Some extra info.

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You have a great shot anywhere, and I mean that honestly. Top tens are definitely within reach. Good luck!

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