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What political science grad programs should I consider?



Okay, so I know this is a rather vague question that has a lot of factors involved but I would appreciate any input you can offer!

I'm currently an undergrad Political Science and Economics major at UNC Chapel Hill and I will be applying to graduate programs (PhD political science) next fall. I'm trying to decide on what schools to apply to now and I am finding it very overwhelming as it's difficult to determine what programs might best suite me and to find statistics on each program (GPA, GRE, et.). I was hoping that you might have recommendations on what programs/schools I should consider? Again I know it's difficult to recommend programs with only a very minimal amount of info about me but I am so lost right now anything is helpful. A little bit about me:

As I said poli sci/econ double major at UNC CH, my overall GPA is 3.65 (I know not spectacular but I'm hoping to pull it up some next year) and my poli major GPA is around the same as my overall. 

I'm in the honors program so I'm in the midst of writing an honors thesis and will (hopefully) be graduating with honors. I'm also hoping this will result in a good writing sample to submit to schools.

I have several professors in mind that I believe will be able to write me strong LOR (two of whom are UMichigan grads).

I will be a ULA for a quantitative political science course next semester.

In addition to this i have several extra curriculars in clubs that relate to political science.

I haven't taken the GRE yet and I know that plays a big role in your application but I've started studying for it so hopefully I can score decently on it. I'm particularly interested in american government (my thesis is on the Supreme Court). What schools would you recommend I look into based on this info? I'm also struggling to determine what schools are reaches and what are good safety schools, so if you could offer advice on where how competitive I may be that would be very helpful as well, thank you!

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I don't know much about American Politics specifically, so I can't give you any specific recommendations on programs that might be strong in your specific interests, but here's some general notes:

1. Your GPA is going to be competitive anywhere. If you do competitively on the GRE (verbal and quant each above 165), you shouldn't worry about it. A lot will obviously also depend on your research experience (having an honors thesis will help), letters of recommendation (the fact that your referees are from UMich doesn't matter much, but whether they know you well and how highly regarded they are will matter), your statement of purpose (definitely run this by your referees for help) and your writing sample.

2. UNC Chapel Hill is a prestigious-enough school that ad coms will notice

3. The quant course will help. From what I've heard, it seems like American Politics is very quant-heavy compared to other subfields, so math skills will be important. Since you're also an econ major, I'm guessing it's safe to assume that you already have significant quant training? That should help. A 165+ on GRE quant would be a good bonus.

4. Extra-curriculars don't seem to matter much, unless they specifically involve academic research or are unusually impressive

Words of advice:

Don't stress. You seem to be on the right track. Finish your thesis, write your GRE, get acquainted with your referees, and you should be fine. I'd suggest that you also post some more specifics about what you plan on researching during your PhD, if you know what you want to do (you should have some kind of idea of what you want to do, though this may change over the years).

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