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Will taking a sociology class increase my chances? (I have BA in econ)


aiaiaice
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I got my BA in econ 2.5 yrs ago and I'm currently working as a research assistant at an international org, but I really want to switch to sociology, most likely economic sociology.

I'm planning to apply for PhD programs at the end of this year (also thinking master's, but I probably can't afford that and I don't want to take loans...).

I went to a top 15 liberal arts college, GPA 3.88, GRE diagnostic test V-166/Q-167, and I think I will be able to be convincing in terms of why I want to study sociology, but my LoRs are probably gonna be weak and I have ZERO background in sociology itself, outside of the career-search & readings that I'm currently doing by myself.

 

I'm thinking about taking one sociology class at GWU for spring semester since they allow non-degree students, and maybe even get an LoR out of that. Would that increase my chances in any way? I want to have at least a little bit of certainty before I shed $5000 :( Also, if I do take a course, would an intro class suffice, or would that be too cheesy and I'd be better off taking a more high-level class?

I think it will be fun to take a class even if it doesn't help since I really regret not taking sociology in college, but it's just so much money... ? 

Edited by Wonderland93
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I think if you can make a convincing argument for why you want to study sociology, your B.A. major doesn't matter. Most departments' FAQs mention that an applicant's major doesn't need to be sociology. You could also contact programs you are interested and seek advice. 

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19 hours ago, socchi92 said:

I think if you can make a convincing argument for why you want to study sociology, your B.A. major doesn't matter. Most departments' FAQs mention that an applicant's major doesn't need to be sociology. You could also contact programs you are interested and seek advice. 

I second this. Do not spend $5000 to take one class!! I have tons of students in my cohort who were not soc majors in undergrad. I also wonder if you're overrating how much it helps to have a rec letter from someone in sociology. If you can get recs from professors in other fields, especially ones that are sociology adjacent like econ, that is perfectly fine. I have heard from professors that tons of students get a masters thinking it will help find recommendations, and that this is a mistake. More often than not professors are not focusing on their master's students and you don't have enough time to get to know them before working on your application. I can only imagine this problem is even worse for a non-degree student.

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I think the only situation where it would make sense for you to take a course is if:

- you don't feel you have good LoRs at this point

- you can comfortably spend the $5000

- the course has small enrollment and you will be able to build a relationship with the professor -- also the professor would need to be tenure-track

- the topic of the course is closely related to what you hope to study in a PhD program

- it is an upper level course that focuses in detail on specific topics where the prof would be able to write specific notes about your contributions to class and your research/writing

 

Even if these conditions are met, it might not be necessary. I certainly wouldn't take an intro course, a course without a tenure-track instructor (as the LoR wouldn't be seen as valuable), or a course in a random area of sociology that differs from what you want to take. There are tons of sociology PhD students who don't have a background in sociology and I highly doubt admissions committee care whether these students have taken courses in sociology. What they care about more is the ability to do social research and possibly some quantitative skills which can be developed in other programs, and the ability to propose interesting sociological research. The only reason to take a course would be if you think you could get someone who will write you an amazing letter that will strengthen your application.

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Don't spend that kind of money on a class. I was accepted to 2 sociology PhD programs with a BA in religious studies and a masters of public health (plus 3 years of work experience as a research associate). I'd never taken a sociology class before. Economics to sociology is a reasonable path, particularly if you do a good job of selecting schools and POIs.

For your letters, are you relying only on letters from undergrad? If your work involves research, I would encourage you to get at least one of your letters from senior staff at your job. The goal of a grad school recommendation letter is to have someone speak to your potential as a graduate student - can you persevere, communicate well, think critically and creatively, etc? Someone who has an advanced degree and works in research will be able to do this as well as a professor would, possibly even better since they will have likely had more opportunities to work closely with you in a broader variety of settings. I got one letter from a grad school professor and two letters from people I worked with who had PhDs and had supervised my work.

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