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Hello all,

I need some advice. I am doing a PhD in Cold War History and after finishing my dissertation I intend to seek a second PhD in IR in the United States. My age is under 30 and my background is the following:

-BA at a University in Southern Europe.
-MA in Contemporary History at the same University (grade is 10/10).

-PhD Candidate in Contemporary History at the same University. Archival research in many archives in the US, UK, Brussels and elsewhere.

Visiting Researcher with full funding at top UK University.

Fulbright Visiting Researcher at Columbia, sponsored by a top political scientist.

I have published three book chapters and I work on two papers. I speak two foreign languages.

I have no quantitative skills and have not taken the GRE yet.

 

I am interested in doing research on China's foreign policy and security and I will try to take language courses in China. I would like to apply to: Columbia, UPenn and University of Michigan. I would love to work with Iain Johnston, but I consider Harvard impossible.

Could anyone give me any honest feedback and/or useful advice?

Thank you in advance!

 

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Hi dpan! I would apply broadly since getting into any single program is tough. Michigan, Columbia, and even Penn are as hard to get into as Harvard. UCSD, MIT, and many others ought to be on your target list.

Committees will likely ask themselves why you want a second Ph.D. and you will need to provide a super compelling reason. One concern will be that they'll invest a lot of time and money in you and you'll decide you don't like political science either. 

I would suggest brushing up on quantitative skills and if possible take classes while you're still enrolled in your current program.

Good luck!

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2 minutes ago, encyclopediabrown said:

Hi dpan! I would apply broadly since getting into any single program is tough. Michigan, Columbia, and even Penn are as hard to get into as Harvard. UCSD, MIT, and many others ought to be on your target list.

Committees will likely ask themselves why you want a second Ph.D. and you will need to provide a super compelling reason. One concern will be that they'll invest a lot of time and money in you and you'll decide you don't like political science either. 

I would suggest brushing up on quantitative skills and if possible take classes while you're still enrolled in your current program.

Good luck!

Hi and thanks so much for your advice!

It's not that I don't like history, I love it. It's that I want to study IR and get employed in foreign policy or academia. I want to engage with contemporary topics.

Is Harvard on the same tier as U Penn? What would you think of Cornell?

Thanks again!

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Posted (edited)
55 minutes ago, dpan said:

Is Harvard on the same tier as U Penn? What would you think of Cornell?

Harvard, Cornell, and Penn are each excellent programs. That said, Harvard is ranked higher tier than the other two. For example, USNWR ranks Harvard, obviously, #1, whereas Cornell and Penn are tied for #19. 

You mentioned that you will need to learn Chinese. Do you intend to do this before your start the PhD? I have a difficult time fathoming that you would be accepted without some language training. Then again, I have seen this happen.

Edited by politolog

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Just now, politolog said:

Harvard, Cornell, and Penn are each excellent programs. That said, Harvard is ranked higher tier than the other two. For example, USNWR ranks Harvard, obviously, #1, whereas Cornell and Penn are tied for #19. 

You mentioned that you will need to learn Chinese. Do you intend to do this before your start the PhD? I have a difficult time fathoming that you would be accepted without some language training. Then again, I have seen this happen.

Hi politolog,

thanks for your answer! Yes, I intend to do language training in my country and seek for funding for some training in China. Do you think that this would make any difference?

Thanks again!

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, dpan said:

Hi politolog,

thanks for your answer! Yes, I intend to do language training in my country and seek for funding for some training in China. Do you think that this would make any difference?

Thanks again!

No problem! I think you will be a more competitive candidate if you have some language training under your belt prior to applying. Even if it is not a lot, it will signal to the admissions committee that you're serious about studying China. 

Edited by politolog

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15 minutes ago, politolog said:

No problem! I think you will be a more competitive candidate if you have some language training under your belt prior to applying. Even if it is not a lot, it will signal to the admissions committee that you're serious about studying China. 

Great, thanks again!

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Oh, I didn't notice the part about having not studied Chinese. If you want to study China/IR/security and have neither strong language nor quantitative skills, you are going to be in a tough spot. I would beef up both as much as possible. The pool for China IR and CP is quite competitive, and in my experience the standout applicants who make it into top 20 programs are usually strong on both fronts. Places like Penn and Harvard both accept a small number of applicants... but it's right that Penn probably targets different people because they know it's hard to out-recruit Harvard, Stanford, etc.

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