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PhD in IR with no quantitative skills


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Hello all! I am PhD Candidate in History and I recently spent a year as a visiting scholar at an Ivy League under a Fulbright. That gave me the idea to apply for a second PhD in IR in the US. I have been in contact with Brown, UPenn and some other Universities, which stated that I would be eligible to apply for a PhD.

The main problem is that I have zero quantitative skills, since my background is in humanities. Is there anything I can do for that? Auditing courses in statistics/ game theory in my home country would not be something that can be displayed officially. How important is a background in QS if you have received prestigious scholarships, you have publications and you speak two foreign languages?

Thank you in advance!

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I am not currently in a PhD program in political science (I will be applying in the fall), but I have done extensive research and spoken to numerous poli sci grad students and faculty.  I graduated with a BA in History, so I am also coming from a non quant background, and this has been a concern of mine as well.  Here's what I have heard from the people I have discussed this with:

First, IR is the 3rd least quantitative of the 4 major sub fields within political science.  Although there are definitely quantitative oriented scholars in IR doing quant work (James fearon comes to mind), there aren't as many as in, say, American politics, where it's almost a prerequisite to take courses in stats, linear algebra, econometrics, game theory, and the like.  

Second, as I mentioned before, I was also concerned about my lack of quant skills coming from a history background, and the general response I got from current grad students and professors (at Stanford and UCLA no less) is this: not having a quant back will not be a huge mark against you.  It would matter more if you were applying to be an americanist or were interested in doing quant methods.  From my understanding, many applicants do not come in with extensive quant backgrounds, though this may be changing as the field as a whole has been going in a more quant oriented direction.  Moreover, auditing courses in stats/game theory wouldn't necessarily hurt you, but it may not be worth your time.  From my understanding, PhD programs, particularly those in the top 25, wouldn't really weigh the classes you audited very heavily, especially if it wasn't taken at a top level institution for a grade, because there's no objective way ad coms would be able to determine how well you did in the class, or the rigorousness of the methods and course work.  So it certainly wouldn't detract from your application profile, but it also would likely only help you out marginally, if at all.  In fact I was told by all the Stanford grad students and professors that I shouldn't waste my time auditing quant classes.  The best thing to do would be to get as high a score in the quant section of the GRE as possible.  

Finally, if you are accepted into a program, you will be required to take a quant methods sequence anyways.

Overall, I think ad coms will recognize that you come from a discipline that is almost entirely qualitative, and factor that into their decision (as well as the fact that you want to do IR which as I've said before is much less quant heavy).  They will look to other aspects of your application profile, which you will want to ensure are stellar.  That means you want to get glowing letters of rec from faculty, write an exceptionally well written statement of purpose clearly stating your reasons for wanting to get a PhD in poli sci and your research interests, and scoring high on the GRE overall (particularly in the quant section).  The fact that you have received prestigious scholarships, speak two languages, and have publications will certainly help you out a great deal, I believe, with ad coms.  I think for you in particular, since you are coming from a PhD program in an entirely separate field, clearly explaining and providing a compelling argument for why you want a PhD in political science will be crucial.

I'm sure others will have something else to add/a different take.  Hope this helps! 

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17 minutes ago, Neo_Institutionalist said:

I am not currently in a PhD program in political science (I will be applying in the fall), but I have done extensive research and spoken to numerous poli sci grad students and faculty.  I graduated with a BA in History, so I am also coming from a non quant background, and this has been a concern of mine as well.  Here's what I have heard from the people I have discussed this with:

First, IR is the 3rd least quantitative of the 4 major sub fields within political science.  Although there are definitely quantitative oriented scholars in IR doing quant work (James fearon comes to mind), there aren't as many as in, say, American politics, where it's almost a prerequisite to take courses in stats, linear algebra, econometrics, game theory, and the like.  

Second, as I mentioned before, I was also concerned about my lack of quant skills coming from a history background, and the general response I got from current grad students and professors (at Stanford and UCLA no less) is this: not having a quant back will not be a huge mark against you.  It would matter more if you were applying to be an americanist or were interested in doing quant methods.  From my understanding, many applicants do not come in with extensive quant backgrounds, though this may be changing as the field as a whole has been going in a more quant oriented direction.  Moreover, auditing courses in stats/game theory wouldn't necessarily hurt you, but it may not be worth your time.  From my understanding, PhD programs, particularly those in the top 25, wouldn't really weigh the classes you audited very heavily, especially if it wasn't taken at a top level institution for a grade, because there's no objective way ad coms would be able to determine how well you did in the class, or the rigorousness of the methods and course work.  So it certainly wouldn't detract from your application profile, but it also would likely only help you out marginally, if at all.  In fact I was told by all the Stanford grad students and professors that I shouldn't waste my time auditing quant classes.  The best thing to do would be to get as high a score in the quant section of the GRE as possible.  

Finally, if you are accepted into a program, you will be required to take a quant methods sequence anyways.

Overall, I think ad coms will recognize that you come from a discipline that is almost entirely qualitative, and factor that into their decision (as well as the fact that you want to do IR which as I've said before is much less quant heavy).  They will look to other aspects of your application profile, which you will want to ensure are stellar.  That means you want to get glowing letters of rec from faculty, write an exceptionally well written statement of purpose clearly stating your reasons for wanting to get a PhD in poli sci and your research interests, and scoring high on the GRE overall (particularly in the quant section).  The fact that you have received prestigious scholarships, speak two languages, and have publications will certainly help you out a great deal, I believe, with ad coms.  I think for you in particular, since you are coming from a PhD program in an entirely separate field, clearly explaining and providing a compelling argument for why you want a PhD in political science will be crucial.

I'm sure others will have something else to add/a different take.  Hope this helps! 

Wow, thank you so much for that! I really appreciate both your time and your kindness to share this information!

I was a Visiting Scholar at Columbia under a Fulbright and I had some conversations with faculty members. One of them insisted that QS would be crucial in the admissions process even if I were applying for Political Theory. Despite the fact that he may exaggerated a bit, almost all- or the great majority of- the PhD Candidates in IR have some solid background in QS. That's why I am concerned.

I took a look at the website of the University of Michigan and they seem to seek for strong QS as well for their prospective student.

 

If I may ask, which Universities are your top options?

 

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Hmmm...interesting.  I think that QS are crucial, though if you don't have any I don't think it's dispositive.  Political Science as a whole, as a consequence of its influence from economics, has been and is currently very quantitative.  So yes, I think what faculty at Colombia told you is 100% correct, but to my mind, this advice really applies to the ideal, prospective applicant who is young in their college career and has the ability to make choices in quant class selection that will increase their odds of being accepted into top programs.  I've spoken to some people on this forum who had almost no quant skills and still got accepted into top programs.  Ultimately, the admissions process is almost entirely arbitrary and idiosyncratic.  Because admissions committees change every year, the preferences of individual admissions officers changes accordingly.  Also, the current cohort of students within each subfield, which professors are currently teaching or on sabbatical/left for another school, etc. are factored into the ad com's decisions.  All these variables, among others, have an effect on applicant decisions, so it's sometimes hard to offer advice.  I would say, speak to other faculty and students from other schools, because clearly I received different answers.   

Overall, your lack of QS may make it more difficult for you to get accepted into the tippy top programs such as Harvard, Stanford, or Princeton, and the like, but it's certainly not impossible. I would still apply to top programs and try hard to spruce up other areas of your application profile. 

My top options are Stanford, Harvard, Berkeley, MIT, and Northwestern, mainly because they have faculty working on political economy, development, state formation/capacity, and most critical for me, historical institutionalism.  Of course I will be applying to many other schools.  Given my lack of heavy quant skills (I took a single stats course and that's it), I have no illusions about my prospects being admitted into those top schools.  I'm just going to try to make the other aspects of my application stand out as much as possible to provide a compelling case of acceptance into their program.  And I think that's about all you can do as well.  

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29 minutes ago, Neo_Institutionalist said:

Hmmm...interesting.  I think that QS are crucial, though if you don't have any I don't think it's dispositive.  Political Science as a whole, as a consequence of its influence from economics, has been and is currently very quantitative.  So yes, I think what faculty at Colombia told you is 100% correct, but to my mind, this advice really applies to the ideal, prospective applicant who is young in their college career and has the ability to make choices in quant class selection that will increase their odds of being accepted into top programs.  I've spoken to some people on this forum who had almost no quant skills and still got accepted into top programs.  Ultimately, the admissions process is almost entirely arbitrary and idiosyncratic.  Because admissions committees change every year, the preferences of individual admissions officers changes accordingly.  Also, the current cohort of students within each subfield, which professors are currently teaching or on sabbatical/left for another school, etc. are factored into the ad com's decisions.  All these variables, among others, have an effect on applicant decisions, so it's sometimes hard to offer advice.  I would say, speak to other faculty and students from other schools, because clearly I received different answers.   

Overall, your lack of QS may make it more difficult for you to get accepted into the tippy top programs such as Harvard, Stanford, or Princeton, and the like, but it's certainly not impossible. I would still apply to top programs and try hard to spruce up other areas of your application profile. 

My top options are Stanford, Harvard, Berkeley, MIT, and Northwestern, mainly because they have faculty working on political economy, development, state formation/capacity, and most critical for me, historical institutionalism.  Of course I will be applying to many other schools.  Given my lack of heavy quant skills (I took a single stats course and that's it), I have no illusions about my prospects being admitted into those top schools.  I'm just going to try to make the other aspects of my application stand out as much as possible to provide a compelling case of acceptance into their program.  And I think that's about all you can do as well.  

Thank you again so much! I wish you all the best with your applications!!

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If you don't mind me asking, why would you want to get a second PhD? Are you planning on leaving your history program?

Getting a PhD should not be viewed as a fun learning experience. It's a 6 year commitment made explicitly to train and place academics. If you're attracted to topics within Political Science, why not continue to do so in your history program? There are some people like Hal Brands at SAIS with history doctorates that do topics considered to be of interest to PoliSci.

It seems like you're coming from a qualitative background, and in my opinion, there would be little to no benefit spending 6 years just to do more of the same stuff you're already doing in a qualitatively oriented PoliSci program. There might be an argument to switching to PoliSci to learn quant skills, but there is no reason to do so unless, again, you suddenly want to do quantitative work. Even then, you can learn many of these skills on your own, and there seems no reason to spend 6 years doing so.

The only way I see this not being a waste of time is if you don't like history anymore and plan to leave your current program, or you're independently rich and can afford to spend 6 years of your life. Either way, it sounds like a waste.

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4 minutes ago, staylite said:

If you don't mind me asking, why would you want to get a second PhD? Are you planning on leaving your history program?

Getting a PhD should not be viewed as a fun learning experience. It's a 6 year commitment made explicitly to train and place academics. If you're attracted to topics within Political Science, why not continue to do so in your history program? There are some people like Hal Brands at SAIS with history doctorates that do topics considered to be of interest to PoliSci.

It seems like you're coming from a qualitative background, and in my opinion, there would be little to no benefit spending 6 years just to do more of the same stuff you're already doing in a qualitatively oriented PoliSci program. There might be an argument to switching to PoliSci to learn quant skills, but there is no reason to do so unless, again, you suddenly want to do quantitative work. Even then, you can learn many of these skills on your own, and there seems no reason to spend 6 years doing so.

The only way I see this not being a waste of time is if you don't like history anymore and plan to leave your current program, or you're independently rich and can afford to spend 6 years of your life. Either way, it sounds like a waste.

Thanks for your insight! My studies are narrowed down to the history of a small region and offer me almost none employability. My university doesn't have any exceptional status either.

When I spent time at Columbia O was excited with IR theory and political science in general. These things are not something I can do myself. I need to get quantitative skills and dive into game theory and get the opportunity to work in a productive environment.

I am not rich, so I will also need funding. 

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Even a good political science program will have people who strike out on the job market. Judging from your other thread, I think there would at least be some chance for you to get into a good program, but then what? From this thread and your other thread, it seems as if you have interests in Chinese FP and IR theory. Do you speak Chinese as of now? Better yet, do you speak it fluently? A good chunk of the China field today is done by native Chinese or ABCs. These are the people you will be fighting against on the job market. It's true that many of them end up going back to China, but many of the best get offers in the US as well. That's not to say non-Chinese can't study China - that would be ridiculous - but you do have to be realistic about your current skills and how ridiculously tough the job market is right now.

 

What are your goals exactly? Furthermore, what does game theory have to do with Foreign Policy? Are you trying to go into formal modeling? When I hear people talk about studying Chinese Foreign Policy, I think of qualitative or quantitative work - not formal/game theory. Someone else in the thread mentioned Fearon - who very much does do applied formal stuff- but even the situations that arise in his work are relatively broad. Trying to learn Chinese and devote yourself to not just learning game theory but to actually justify your models is something that will take time. You might not even be interested in Chinese foreign policy by the time you're done with your studies - or game theory for that matter.

 

One allegory comes to mind. There is the story of the Christian who came to be disillusioned with Christianity. He wanted to stay religious however, and ended up converting to Judaism. Then as the years passed, he was disenchanted, and went off to learn of Eastern religions. And so on, you get the idea.

 

I'm not trying to be skeptical, but this is not a decision to be made lightly. You indicate that you did work at Columbia - reach out to people there and ask what they think. Ask them to reach out to the scholars you're interested in working with. I think it's great that you have these interests, and I wish you success, but I don't want you to six years later regret doing another PhD after your first one didn't seem to do the job.

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6 minutes ago, staylite said:

Even a good political science program will have people who strike out on the job market. Judging from your other thread, I think there would at least be some chance for you to get into a good program, but then what? From this thread and your other thread, it seems as if you have interests in Chinese FP and IR theory. Do you speak Chinese as of now? Better yet, do you speak it fluently? A good chunk of the China field today is done by native Chinese or ABCs. These are the people you will be fighting against on the job market. It's true that many of them end up going back to China, but many of the best get offers in the US as well. That's not to say non-Chinese can't study China - that would be ridiculous - but you do have to be realistic about your current skills and how ridiculously tough the job market is right now.

 

What are your goals exactly? Furthermore, what does game theory have to do with Foreign Policy? Are you trying to go into formal modeling? When I hear people talk about studying Chinese Foreign Policy, I think of qualitative or quantitative work - not formal/game theory. Someone else in the thread mentioned Fearon - who very much does do applied formal stuff- but even the situations that arise in his work are relatively broad. Trying to learn Chinese and devote yourself to not just learning game theory but to actually justify your models is something that will take time. You might not even be interested in Chinese foreign policy by the time you're done with your studies - or game theory for that matter.

 

One allegory comes to mind. There is the story of the Christian who came to be disillusioned with Christianity. He wanted to stay religious however, and ended up converting to Judaism. Then as the years passed, he was disenchanted, and went off to learn of Eastern religions. And so on, you get the idea.

 

I'm not trying to be skeptical, but this is not a decision to be made lightly. You indicate that you did work at Columbia - reach out to people there and ask what they think. Ask them to reach out to the scholars you're interested in working with. I think it's great that you have these interests, and I wish you success, but I don't want you to six years later regret doing another PhD after your first one didn't seem to do the job.

Once more, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and write such a detailed answer- it helps me organize my thoughts and set realistic goals.

Starting from the allegory, it's a great one and it's a situation I worry about myself. But having devoted my whole adult life in studies and research and given the fact that I want to become a researcher in academia, I have to get into a good program that will at least provide some opportunity for decent employment. I know that the job market is terrible at the time, but it is the only reality for people like me in humanities.

You're right about my skills, I am actually pretty much aware of them and that's why I opened my other thread.

 

Regarding game theory, "dive in" was a wrong expression. I meant to take courses on it, as it is a big part of diplomacy and plays a role in the concept of global hegemony. I wish I could study what O.A Westad does- global hegemony without modeling- but this is not possible.

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In that case, I would recommend going on the job market for history while applying to PoliSci programs at the same time (including funded MA programs in Canada). You are going to be at a disadvantage by having a PhD - admissions committees are risk-averse and have a limited amount of funding. Figure out exactly what it is you want to study and whether a program has scholars that can accommodate those goals. Talk to your letter writers and be frank about your situation and how they can best help you. If your adviser is willing to help and vouch for you, all the better - although I can imagine many advisers would be unwilling to do so.

 

I would also be flexible about career opportunities. Look at different think tanks and organizations and see if they have research positions available (this is where your letter writers can potentially help). Even if you are convinced that this is the route to take, be open about your future. I've seen or heard of too many people spend 6 years of their life who end up without a job, or getting a job and hating academia. Either way, best of luck to you.

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One thing to consider, and I’m not sure if it has already been said, but as you pointed out some programs are quantcentric. I applied this last cycle and with some background in R and Qualtrics landed in 2 quantitative schools, meaning non-mixed methods, and one great mixed methods program. I have been predominately trained in IR theory moving into experimental design. Either way though you’ll undergo a quant sequence, have you considered the ICPSR summer program? Im not sure on the cost, but if there are specific methods you feel learning would benefit you it might be worth it. Or just apply to non-quantitative centric programs. McGill has a masters that you can get funded or try for CIR/MAPPS at Chicago. 

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7 minutes ago, Corsette said:

One thing to consider, and I’m not sure if it has already been said, but as you pointed out some programs are quantcentric. I applied this last cycle and with some background in R and Qualtrics landed in 2 quantitative schools, meaning non-mixed methods, and one great mixed methods program. I have been predominately trained in IR theory moving into experimental design. Either way though you’ll undergo a quant sequence, have you considered the ICPSR summer program? Im not sure on the cost, but if there are specific methods you feel learning would benefit you it might be worth it. Or just apply to non-quantitative centric programs. McGill has a masters that you can get funded or try for CIR/MAPPS at Chicago. 

ICPSR seems really interesting but unfortunately I now live in Europe. Would a certificate from Harvard Extension School be a proof of quantitative skills background? Thanks so much for taking the time to add info- I appreciate it!

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On 4/17/2019 at 7:26 AM, dpan said:

ICPSR seems really interesting but unfortunately I now live in Europe. Would a certificate from Harvard Extension School be a proof of quantitative skills background? Thanks so much for taking the time to add info- I appreciate it!

I’m not sure if it’s been said, but as idiosyncratic as the application cycles are anyway if your statement of purpose doesn’t involve doing quantitative methods if may not really matter. IR is one of the subfields where heavy quant may not be needed, specifically if you are doing interpretivism. Also something to consider is to learn by doing rather than certification—program languages such as r, Stata, or python will boost your app, but you’ll learn them during you quant sequence anyway depending on the program. In the end it really depends on how you view the world—are you more a “show me the data” type? Or are there phenomena that are unobservable by the traditional positivist mentality? So my overall advice is know what you are interested in and have an idea of what methods you are going to employ to do so. If your primary method is qualitative textual analysis, who cares about quants? However If you’d rather back up theory through analysis of the correlates of war project and other datasets, you probably should do something to boost base quants knowledge. Feel free to reach out if you like. 

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On 4/14/2019 at 4:57 PM, dpan said:

Thanks for your insight! My studies are narrowed down to the history of a small region and offer me almost none employability. My university doesn't have any exceptional status either.

When I spent time at Columbia O was excited with IR theory and political science in general. These things are not something I can do myself. I need to get quantitative skills and dive into game theory and get the opportunity to work in a productive environment.

I am not rich, so I will also need funding. 

Several thoughts here (current PhD candidate at a lower-tier R1): 

1) If you have regional expertise it seems like working for the government would be an option, but I'll assume you've considered this and that you prefer to stay in academia
2) If that's the case, is working at a teaching University an option? Even with a degree from a top-tier program lots of people end up with 4-4's, and there's nothing wrong with that kind of job (except in a world where we've devalued teaching). 
3) If you are shooting for an R1, IR theory isn't really going to be what gets you a job. It is not true that IR is non-quantitative, there are certainly IR scholars who are oriented toward theory, but most of the ones getting jobs at R1 schools have quantitative skills (there are notable and interesting exceptions, but speaking from a position of having to game the market a bit, you will at the very least need to demonstrate competence in some 'empirical' methods). Most of the IR 'theorists' getting jobs are more sociologically oriented, so they aren't doing the same kind of inductive theorizing that Waltz/Mearsheimer/etc. did/do. 
4) Even with that degree you aren't ensured a better job than you can get now. 
5) Quantitative skills might help you get into a program, but all programs will have a required methods sequence. I don't think that's going to be something that kills your chances. 
6) I'm sure you already know this, but this is likely 5 more years of making very little money, there's a big opportunity cost to think about. 

I'm not trying to dissuade you, but if you haven't thought about some of these things, you likely should. 

Good luck! 

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15 minutes ago, schuaust said:

Several thoughts here (current PhD candidate at a lower-tier R1): 

1) If you have regional expertise it seems like working for the government would be an option, but I'll assume you've considered this and that you prefer to stay in academia
2) If that's the case, is working at a teaching University an option? Even with a degree from a top-tier program lots of people end up with 4-4's, and there's nothing wrong with that kind of job (except in a world where we've devalued teaching). 
3) If you are shooting for an R1, IR theory isn't really going to be what gets you a job. It is not true that IR is non-quantitative, there are certainly IR scholars who are oriented toward theory, but most of the ones getting jobs at R1 schools have quantitative skills (there are notable and interesting exceptions, but speaking from a position of having to game the market a bit, you will at the very least need to demonstrate competence in some 'empirical' methods). Most of the IR 'theorists' getting jobs are more sociologically oriented, so they aren't doing the same kind of inductive theorizing that Waltz/Mearsheimer/etc. did/do. 
4) Even with that degree you aren't ensured a better job than you can get now. 
5) Quantitative skills might help you get into a program, but all programs will have a required methods sequence. I don't think that's going to be something that kills your chances. 
6) I'm sure you already know this, but this is likely 5 more years of making very little money, there's a big opportunity cost to think about. 

I'm not trying to dissuade you, but if you haven't thought about some of these things, you likely should. 

Good luck! 

Thanks for your time and for answering my question- I really appreciate it!

Could you please explain what is 4-4's job? Teaching and research is my professional goal, so that's why I am seeking a high status program. I need to keep my chances realistic though and find a nice place to live as well, as I would spend the fourth decade of my life over there.

Would you suggest any specific programs? Regarding quantitative skills, they are essential in IR from what I've understood so far. Would you recommend anything I could do to get some in order to increase the chances of admission?

 

Thanks again!

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2 hours ago, dpan said:

Thanks for your time and for answering my question- I really appreciate it!

Could you please explain what is 4-4's job? Teaching and research is my professional goal, so that's why I am seeking a high status program. I need to keep my chances realistic though and find a nice place to live as well, as I would spend the fourth decade of my life over there.

Would you suggest any specific programs? Regarding quantitative skills, they are essential in IR from what I've understood so far. Would you recommend anything I could do to get some in order to increase the chances of admission?

 

Thanks again!

A 4-4 would be a job where you teach four classes a semester. Most professors in my program are on a 2-3, which is more research oriented. Some Universities have 2-2's, and smaller state schools will often have 3-3's. You would have minimal expectations for research in a 4-4 school (probably 2-4 publications while your tenure clock is going, and some of those would be book reviews in peer-reviewed journals).

Realistically, getting into 'top schools' is a crap-shoot. You might get in, and having relationships through the Fulbright program might help, but you really should apply widely and consider what a 'top program' means to you. Your research interests should primarily be what dictates your applications, so see who is publishing in your area and where they are. If some University has a critical mass of scholars you are interested in (think 3+, or someone who is really, really interesting) then that is a good place to apply. As for the quantitative skills, I'm not really sure what to tell you. You will have a methods sequence, and that's where you will acquire those skills. Taking a stats course where you learn regression analysis and perhaps knowing some calculus wouldn't hurt. I didn't have the calculus but I did have the stats - I think it was somewhat helpful, but not especially. I don't think methods training will make or break your application - but then again, I've never served on a selection committee. Perhaps ask that question in the "faculty perspectives" thread, and also ask about what Universities might think about people who have gotten one PhD and are applying for another. I'm sure it's not common, but I doubt it's unheard of.

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14 hours ago, schuaust said:

A 4-4 would be a job where you teach four classes a semester. Most professors in my program are on a 2-3, which is more research oriented. Some Universities have 2-2's, and smaller state schools will often have 3-3's. You would have minimal expectations for research in a 4-4 school (probably 2-4 publications while your tenure clock is going, and some of those would be book reviews in peer-reviewed journals).

Realistically, getting into 'top schools' is a crap-shoot. You might get in, and having relationships through the Fulbright program might help, but you really should apply widely and consider what a 'top program' means to you. Your research interests should primarily be what dictates your applications, so see who is publishing in your area and where they are. If some University has a critical mass of scholars you are interested in (think 3+, or someone who is really, really interesting) then that is a good place to apply. As for the quantitative skills, I'm not really sure what to tell you. You will have a methods sequence, and that's where you will acquire those skills. Taking a stats course where you learn regression analysis and perhaps knowing some calculus wouldn't hurt. I didn't have the calculus but I did have the stats - I think it was somewhat helpful, but not especially. I don't think methods training will make or break your application - but then again, I've never served on a selection committee. Perhaps ask that question in the "faculty perspectives" thread, and also ask about what Universities might think about people who have gotten one PhD and are applying for another. I'm sure it's not common, but I doubt it's unheard of.

Ya I would second what you are saying schuaust.  I've actually spoken to grad students and professors from Stanford (and a couple people on this forum from Harvard and Princeton) and they pretty much uniformly told me that taking/auditing any sort of math class outside of being a student would pretty much be a waste of time and recommended against doing it because unless you're taking math classes at an ivy league school, its hard for ad coms to assess the rigor and quality of the training you received in those classes, especially if you aren't getting a grade for it. Moreover, they said even if you did take math classes, they probably would probably have a marginal effect on your application at best.  

So Dpan, I would stop trying to worry about taking quant classes before you apply because you will take a quant methods sequence in grad school.  What I've been told is to just focus on getting the best GRE quant score you can (165+ would make you very competitive), and which is what I would recommend you do.  So instead of taking up time taking game theory or stats classes, use that time instead to study for the GRE and writing a well written SOP.  I think that would see a bigger return for your efforts.  

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