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Profile Evaluation: Any advice is appreciated!

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Hello Gradcafe! I wanted to ask fellow grad school what they thought my chances would be at a top (1-20 ranked) political science program with my stats. I am not sure how well I will do on the GRE, but I am really passionate about the subject, and wanted to apply for a PhD this cycle. I am still figuring things out, and unsure where I stand, so any advice will help. 

My stats are as follows:


Undergraduate institution ranking: Large public school in South, overall ranking (#185), political science (#51)

Interest in: International Relations/Political Sciences/methodology

Majors: Political science, sociology (international relations/human rights specialization) (no undergraduate thesis)

Minor: international studies

Overall GPA: 3.89 (summa cum laude)

GRE: Still haven’t taken it, and going to take it in October

Writing sample: still working on it

LOR: Letters will be positive, since I have done research or extracurricular with these professors, but they are not extraordinarily famous. I do not think any of them are tenured.

Languages: Tagalog, Italian, French. Working on Spanish and Japanese soon.

Notes: multiple internships, including State Dept and interning overseas at refugee camp, received Fulbright research this year in Italy on related topic, only presented at one research conference, has been an undergrad research assistant 3 times at current university


Any advice or critique is appreciated.

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Hey. Some advice that was given to me by a well-known and respected professor regarding applications: it is much better to have a good letter from a non-tenured professor - by good I mean one that mentions specific things that you have done, than a generic letter from a hotshot. 

It seems to me that you check all the boxes - you'll have good recommendation letters, undergraduate research experience, presentation at conferences...

Make sure your writing sample is a single paper and not bits and pieces of different papers. They want to know if you can come up with a good research question, formulate hypotheses and figure out how to test them. It should be a complete piece of research in and of itself. That will give you an edge.

And nail the GRE. If you want to get into top 20 schools, that is a must. Aim for 330+.



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