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2020-2021 Application Thread


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1 hour ago, HolyGinger said:

I have just contacted the DGS at Stony Brook, if anyone was wondering he said that there were 70+ applicants and they picked 6 out of that 70. I don't know if that 6 includes the people who have been waitlisted though.

Have all the acceptances and waitlist notifications gone out?  Is it basically if you haven't heard from them at this point, you are a rejection?

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JUST GOT A FULLY FUNDED OFFER FROM CONCORDIA!!!!!

I just got a call from the program director for Government & Social Policy at Harvard letting me know I've been accepted! Really can't believe it, I had completely given up hope for this cycl

I JUST GOT AN OFFER FROM USC WITH FELLOWSHIP AAAAH (still have to put it in the survey) 

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3 minutes ago, The Converse said:

Have all the acceptances and waitlist notifications gone out?  Is it basically if you haven't heard from them at this point, you are a rejection?

Well I have no idea tbh. But I'd assume it is a rejection. Though maybe if you don't get an official rejection by the end of tomorrow they're still considering you as a candidate? That's what I'm guessing at least, there is no way to know for sure. 

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56 minutes ago, timeseries said:

I'm thinking very seriously about whether a PhD is worth it. These numbers are terrible:

 

 

Well then you should certainly evaluate your desire to go to graduate school; you don't go to grad school because you want a job--no, you do it because you love the subject so much you cannot see yourself doing anything different for the next 5 - 7 years. You should only go if you really love it, and pursue it for its own sake, as an end in itself.

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56 minutes ago, timeseries said:

I'm thinking very seriously about whether a PhD is worth it. These numbers are terrible:

 

 

And we can most likely expect these numbers to go down as more tenure-track positions are either converted to adjunct positions or the faculty line is completely cut (I wonder how many political science departments across the US have been shut down -- there were major news out of the Midwest last year on several universities eliminating departments).

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1 minute ago, polisciii said:

Well then you should certainly evaluate your desire to go to graduate school; you don't go to grad school because you want a job--no, you do it because you love the subject so much you cannot see yourself doing anything different for the next 5 - 7 years. You should only go if you really love it, and pursue it for its own sake, as an end in itself.

I have a similar perspective. If you're going to do a PhD, you gotta do it for yourself since its a crap load of work. Probably shouldn't be in it for the job prospects alone. 

I also want to highlight that in this economy, a guaranteed income for the next 5 years might be really desirable to some people. So, if you are given a funding package and are able to do something you love for the next few years and not have to go into debt for it....seems like a win-win to me!

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5 minutes ago, polisciii said:

Well then you should certainly evaluate your desire to go to graduate school; you don't go to grad school because you want a job--no, you do it because you love the subject so much you cannot see yourself doing anything different for the next 5 - 7 years. You should only go if you really love it, and pursue it for its own sake, as an end in itself.

To  be frank, no. People deserve to make a living and shouldn't have to sacrifice for "love." A phd is really a job and a job training program. Programs in the US already offer too little in terms of stipends because they don't see grad students as workers proper, you don't need to buy their PR line on top of it. 

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tbf it's a very uniquely bad year: grad program admissions and department hiring are all worse this year because budgets were made back when the markets were at their worst last year. Everyone expects the job market to be back to about normal within a couple of years. Every department can get away with less hiring for a year or two, but it's not long-term sustainable for departments. As long as as law schools and MPA programs exists and as long as politics is batshit crazy, there will be some jobs for political scientists to teach the undergrads who end up in those programs. We're advantaged over the humanities in that we get NSF funding and also people see our work as a little more relevant. Things will never be as good as they used to be pre-2008, but (mainstream, quant) political science is gonna be ok. 

10 minutes ago, polisciii said:

Well then you should certainly evaluate your desire to go to graduate school; you don't go to grad school because you want a job--no, you do it because you love the subject so much you cannot see yourself doing anything different for the next 5 - 7 years. You should only go if you really love it, and pursue it for its own sake, as an end in itself.

IMO this is too extremist and is an attitude that promotes underrepresented groups not joining the discipline and also promotes this shitty starving artist trope. There are very valid economic considerations to going to grad school that can play in your favor, depending on your current situation. If you go somewhere like CHYMPS doing AP/methods, it's a clear cut case to go to grad school unless you're like already making six figures. Better case: a good TT job. Worst case: working at FB doing social science, or a polling firm, or management consulting, and definitely pulling in 90k starting (a LOT more for FB or MBB). 

Edited by BunniesInSpace
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3 minutes ago, BunniesInSpace said:

tbf it's a very uniquely bad year: grad program admissions and department hiring are all worse this year because budgets were made back when the markets were at their worst last year. Everyone expects the job market to be back to about normal within a couple of years. Every department can get away with less hiring for a year or two, but it's not long-term sustainable for departments. As long as as law schools and MPA programs exists and as long as politics is batshit crazy, there will be some jobs for political scientists to teach the undergrads who end up in those programs. We're advantaged over the humanities in that we get NSF funding and also people see our work as a little more relevant. Things will never be as good as they used to be pre-2008, but (mainstream, quant) political science is gonna be ok. 

IMO this is too extremist and is an attitude that promotes underrepresented groups not joining the discipline and also promotes this shitty starving artist trope. There are very valid economic considerations to going to grad school that can play in your favor, depending on your current situation. If you go somewhere like CHYMPS doing AP/methods, it's a clear cut case to go to grad school unless you're like already making six figures. Better case: a good TT job. Worst case: working at FB doing social science, or a polling firm, or management consulting, and definitely pulling in 90k starting. 

I don't think its extremist; its just the advice I have received from literally every professor and graduate student I've talked to. If you want to be rich, then the academic life is not for you, sadly.

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Just now, polisciii said:

I don't think its extremist; its just the advice I have received from literally every professor and graduate student I've talked to. If you want to be rich, then the academic life is not for you, sadly.

No one's saying they want to be like, ultra rich. Yeah, if that's what you ultimately care about, go to Harvard Law or an MBA program instead or marry some rich guy about to die. If you want to be rich and a professor, yeah, go get an Econ or business PhD.  My point is that you don't have to go to "pursue it for its own sake, as an end in itself" and for that to be your paramount motivation -- there are people for whom doing a PhD is a rational earnings-improving move. For most people, going to a top program is a win-win proposition where you can both 1. do something you love and 2. come out with a credential to get a job that both utilizes skills you've learned from the past 5-7 years AND pays pretty well and 3. not be financially miserable in the interim. It certainly is for me.

 

Like yeah I wouldn't go to like [insert school that places poorly and is ranked poorly and makes you pay your own way] unless out of a true love for political science in and of itself. But the OP who brought that up, as well as most people on this forum, is very much not in that situation. 

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3 minutes ago, BunniesInSpace said:

No one's saying they want to be like, ultra rich. Yeah, if that's what you ultimately care about, go to Harvard Law or an MBA program instead or marry some rich guy about to die. If you want to be rich and a professor, yeah, go get an Econ or business PhD.  My point is that you don't have to go to "pursue it for its own sake, as an end in itself" and for that to be your paramount motivation -- there are people for whom doing a PhD is a rational earnings-improving move. For most people, going to a top program is a win-win proposition where you can both 1. do something you love and 2. come out with a credential to get a job that both utilizes skills you've learned from the past 5-7 years AND pays pretty well and 3. not be financially miserable in the interim. It certainly is for me.

 

Like yeah I wouldn't go to like [insert school that places poorly and is ranked poorly and makes you pay your own way] unless out of a true love for political science in and of itself. But the OP who brought that up, as well as most people on this forum, is very much not in that situation. 

Well it certainly does indeed have to be pursued for its own sake -- why else would you do it? And why would anyone, then, go to a R2 school or not so highly ranked school? It's because you love it.

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29 minutes ago, polisciii said:

Well it certainly does indeed have to be pursued for its own sake -- why else would you do it? And why would anyone, then, go to a R2 school or not so highly ranked school? It's because you love it.

I agree.  It's not that hard to start a career after completing a BA in political science.  I went to school in D.C., and plenty of my friends went straight to think tanks, nonprofits, or government jobs after graduation.  Within 10 years I'm sure many of them will be making six figures.  If you want to money, you're better served doing a BA, or possibly an MA, and then moving straight to a job.  A PhD to me comes from a genuine love of the subject.  Yes, I need to pay the bills for the rest of my life...  but if I can get paid to do what I love for 6 years, at the highest level, why wouldn't I?  6 years of assured income is no joke. 

Edited by StarkDark1
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57 minutes ago, polisciii said:

Well then you should certainly evaluate your desire to go to graduate school; you don't go to grad school because you want a job--no, you do it because you love the subject so much you cannot see yourself doing anything different for the next 5 - 7 years. You should only go if you really love it, and pursue it for its own sake, as an end in itself.

 

24 minutes ago, polisciii said:

Well it certainly does indeed have to be pursued for its own sake -- why else would you do it? And why would anyone, then, go to a R2 school or not so highly ranked school? It's because you love it.

 

Maybe I haven't made my point clear. We're all here because we like polisci enough. We're all passionate about this field to sink a ton of time, effort, tears, etc. into applying for a chance to get a PhD. My point is that you can go to grad school because you want a job. For many (not all), grad school can improve your income prospects, as well as be something you enjoy doing. And it's okay if your primary motivation to go to grad school is the payoff after your 5-7 years, and not the payoff that is the act of attending grad school. Certainly I am motivated by the former rather than the latter. Grad school is fun but it's hard, and certainly if I were an heir, I would gtfo. 

 

I don't doubt that some people go to grad school purely out of love for the subject. But that's not everyone. And there are valid reasons to go to grad school besides purely out of love for political science. 

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1 hour ago, polisciii said:

I don't think its extremist; its just the advice I have received from literally every professor and graduate student I've talked to. If you want to be rich, then the academic life is not for you, sadly.

also I'm a grad student, so you're going to have to start saying "every professor and graduate student I've talked to, minus that one from the internet" next time 😛 

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31 minutes ago, BunniesInSpace said:

also I'm a grad student, so you're going to have to start saying "every professor and graduate student I've talked to, minus that one from the internet" next time 😛 

I do not see any reasons to go to graduate school in political science, where you must likely will NOT land an academic job, if you think "there are valid reasons to go to grad school." That might hold true for economics or computer science or biology, but it is certainly not the case for political science and most humanities.

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10 minutes ago, polisciii said:

I do not see any reasons to go to graduate school in political science, where you must likely will NOT land an academic job, if you think "there are valid reasons to go to grad school." That might hold true for economics or computer science or biology, but it is certainly not the case for political science and most humanities.

Okay so 1. biological sciences are a much much worse job market than political science, for any of you biologists reading the forums out there. People love to parrot STEM STEM STEM but it is really bad out there for people who aren't in the TE of STEM. 

But 2. I'm not saying that an academic job is anywhere near guaranteed. But there is a subset of jobs that either require a PhD (like a TT job), or a PhD kinda fast-tracks you in (especially in think tank/polling world), or that you can get with a PhD in political science but not necessarily a plain old BA or MA in political science (I'm thinking tech-adjacent roles like data scientist or UX researcher at a $$ company, where they probably want a PhD OR a BS/MS in CS or stats or something). These tend to pay pretty well. And having a PhD helps you get that subset of jobs. 

I want one of those jobs. I primarily want to be a professor at an R1 school, but I'll be happy with one of those other jobs. All of these jobs will either have higher or equal total lifetime earnings as my old job, or be a lot more chill than my old job but still afford me an upper middle class lifestyle, and no matter what, they're a lot more fun than my old job. Coming from my program, it's nearly guaranteed that I can get one of those jobs. Hence, even if my short term desire is "get me out of grad school, I miss having free weekends" (I mean I usually don't but there are certainly moments where I feel that way) my long-term happiness is contingent on roughing it out and getting one of the kinds of jobs I've described. 

I'm not saying this is the only way people are allowed to think about graduate school. But it's certainly a rational way and I don't understand why you don't think people are allowed to make these kinds of calculations. 

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4 hours ago, raabs said:

"This position (TA) comes with an academic year salary of approximately $XX,XXX. Compensation for your appointment includes a maximum of 9-18 hours of tuition coverage for each semester" 

 

Do we interpret this as meaning that my tuition will also be covered by the department in addition to the salary? I just want to make sure I am understanding it correctly. (I X'd out the amount for this post)

Yep. Tuition coverage is part of your overall funding package IN ADDITION to your TA salary which will most likely be for your living expenses. You don't pay tuition out of your TA salary.

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18 minutes ago, BunniesInSpace said:

Okay so 1. biological sciences are a much much worse job market than political science, for any of you biologists reading the forums out there. People love to parrot STEM STEM STEM but it is really bad out there for people who aren't in the TE of STEM. 

But 2. I'm not saying that an academic job is anywhere near guaranteed. But there is a subset of jobs that either require a PhD (like a TT job), or a PhD kinda fast-tracks you in (especially in think tank/polling world), or that you can get with a PhD in political science but not necessarily a plain old BA or MA in political science (I'm thinking tech-adjacent roles like data scientist or UX researcher at a $$ company, where they probably want a PhD OR a BS/MS in CS or stats or something). These tend to pay pretty well. And having a PhD helps you get that subset of jobs. 

I want one of those jobs. I primarily want to be a professor at an R1 school, but I'll be happy with one of those other jobs. All of these jobs will either have higher or equal total lifetime earnings as my old job, or be a lot more chill than my old job but still afford me an upper middle class lifestyle, and no matter what, they're a lot more fun than my old job. Coming from my program, it's nearly guaranteed that I can get one of those jobs. Hence, even if my short term desire is "get me out of grad school, I miss having free weekends" (I mean I usually don't but there are certainly moments where I feel that way) my long-term happiness is contingent on roughing it out and getting one of the kinds of jobs I've described. 

I'm not saying this is the only way people are allowed to think about graduate school. But it's certainly a rational way and I don't understand why you don't think people are allowed to make these kinds of calculations. 

I concur. We all like PoliSci - I mean we either majored in it in undergrad or work in some sort of politics adjacent job, and are applying/ or currently in a polisci PhD program. So that is a given. Yet, we also want after the 5/6 years of living on minimum wage salary and the craziness that is grad school, a job that pays well. Whether that is in academia or industry. This isn't and shouldn't be controversial.

Edited by PolNerd
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45 minutes ago, PolNerd said:

Yep. Tuition coverage is part of your overall funding package IN ADDITION to your TA salary which will most likely be for your living expenses. You don't pay tuition out of your TA salary.

Now that we’re discussing funding specifics, does someone know how to calculate net income?

I understand there are different tax levels in the US and apparently there’s also different tax codes depending on consumed good (e.g textbooks vs rent). 

Any good rule of thumb people use or sources to look into for more information would be very good help!

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45 minutes ago, gradinho said:

Now that we’re discussing funding specifics, does someone know how to calculate net income?

I understand there are different tax levels in the US and apparently there’s also different tax codes depending on consumed good (e.g textbooks vs rent). 

Any good rule of thumb people use or sources to look into for more information would be very good help!

If you're an international scholar, your best bet to calculate your federal taxes owed is through the IRS website. They have several publications for international scholars and students in the US.

As for your state, I would check the publications of that particular state's tax rate for non-residents (which will most likely be your status in the state for the duration of your program unless you get permanent residency or citizenship).

After subtracting those, you should have a pretty good idea of your net income. Non-residents do not pay FICA/Social Security taxes, so no need to include those (and make sure your university is not taking them out of your pay.)

For tax filing purposes, I recommend TaxAct (service recommended by the IRS) or Sprintax. Do not use Turbotax if you're an international student as they only support resident tax forms -- you will be filing incorrectly if you use them.

As for textbooks and other goods, you don't have to calculate the taxes yourself as you'll get them at checkout. If you want to know ahead of time, I would recommend just estimating the sales tax to be 10% as location can vary between 8.875% sales tax in NYC to no statewide sales tax in places like New Hampshire and Oregon. Some states also do not have personal income taxes if you earn under a certain amount of income (Texas, etc.)

I'm not familiar with rent being taxed, I know rental income is taxed but not rent payments. However, some states (like Indiana) allow you to deduct a certain amount of taxes off of the rent payments you made in a year.

Lastly, once you get your tax ID (SSN/ITIN), I would recommend you register for the IRS website to make sure your federal tax payments are processed correctly.

Disclaimer: I'm not a certified tax advisor/preparer nor is this tax advice. Always consult a professional. (just based off of my knowledge working as a VITA tax volunteer in college).

Edited by icemanyeo
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I believe when I was reading this forum sometime ago, I saw some people claiming a Penn State rejection? 
 

I checked my portal right now, it’s still under review. Did you receive a rejection for Penn State, and was it a personal email or what? 

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2 hours ago, icemanyeo said:

If you're an international scholar, your best bet to calculate your federal taxes owed is through the IRS website. They have several publications for international scholars and students in the US.

As for your state, I would check the publications of that particular state's tax rate for non-residents (which will most likely be your status in the state for the duration of your program unless you get permanent residency or citizenship).

After subtracting those, you should have a pretty good idea of your net income. Non-residents do not pay FICA/Social Security taxes, so no need to include those (and make sure your university is not taking them out of your pay.)

For tax filing purposes, I recommend TaxAct (service recommended by the IRS) or Sprintax. Do not use Turbotax if you're an international student as they only support resident tax forms -- you will be filing incorrectly if you use them.

As for textbooks and other goods, you don't have to calculate the taxes yourself as you'll get them at checkout. If you want to know ahead of time, I would recommend just estimating the sales tax to be 10% as location can vary between 8.875% sales tax in NYC to no statewide sales tax in places like New Hampshire and Oregon. Some states also do not have personal income taxes if you earn under a certain amount of income (Texas, etc.)

I'm not familiar with rent being taxed, I know rental income is taxed but not rent payments. However, some states (like Indiana) allow you to deduct a certain amount of taxes off of the rent payments you made in a year.

Lastly, once you get your tax ID (SSN/ITIN), I would recommend you register for the IRS website to make sure your federal tax payments are processed correctly.

Disclaimer: I'm not a certified tax advisor/preparer nor is this tax advice. Always consult a professional. (just based off of my knowledge working as a VITA tax volunteer in college).

This is super useful! Thanks for sharing. 

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5 hours ago, gradinho said:

Now that we’re discussing funding specifics, does someone know how to calculate net income?

I understand there are different tax levels in the US and apparently there’s also different tax codes depending on consumed good (e.g textbooks vs rent). 

Any good rule of thumb people use or sources to look into for more information would be very good help!

In addition to what was previously stated, you may want to check out this Tax Website as it has a nifty tax calculator.

In my experience it’s generally been pretty accurate, give or take a few hundred dollars. 

Edited by Dwar
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