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Ph.D. Admission chances


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Hello! I am strongly considering applying to some Ph.D. programs in public policy in a couple of years. I am unsure whether I have a decent shot at getting into a good Ph.D. program, and figured I would seek some outside opinion. Here's a little about my background:

  • B.S. in Economics with minors in Math and Music from Tulane University (3.2 GPA, 3.3 GPA in major)
  • M.A. in Political Science with a certificate in Political Campaigning from the University of Florida (3.8 GPA)
  • Teach for America alum (Mississippi Delta '04)
  • I don't remember my GRE scores (I took it in 2005, and will need to retake before applying to Ph.D. programs) but verbal and quantitative were both approx. 85-90th percentile, and 99% analytical
  • Lots of leadership experience when I was an undergrad
  • Work experience includes a 10 month internship at a polling firm, working on several campaigns, and now working as the only Legislative Aide for a member of the Florida House of Representatives (I do a lot of policy-related research and help my boss draft language for bills, etc). I have held this position for 2 years, and will probably hold it a total of 3-4 years before entering a Ph.D. program

The schools I am looking at include Duke, Michigan, Princeton, Chicago, and Carnegie Melon (the Economics & Public Policy program in Tepper, not the Heinz program). I'm also looking at the Education Policy programs in the education schools at Vanderbilt, Harvard, Penn, Wisconsin, and Michigan, but I'll ask about those on the education forum. I'm open to suggestions on other programs to consider, but I am mostly interested in programs with a very strong economics component.

My main concerns about my chances of admission stem from the fact that my grades in several of my economics and math classes as an undergrad were in the B range, and I may have even gotten a C in one of my math classes (I didn't decide to minor in math until the summer after my Junior year, so my senior year was pretty intense academically and between that and my leadership roles on campus I was stretched pretty thin). I have also lost contact with all of my undergrad professors (including my thesis advisor, who seems to have completely vanished from the face of the earth), so all my letters of recommendation would have to come from either my current boss or my political science professors.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read all of this and give me your thoughts!

Edited by JCP82
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hi, I plan on applying for PhD programs in public affairs field too. And I also take a look at programs in business school such as strategic planning. However, I notice that several business schools need GMAT score instead of GRE, not for sure but most likely. according to your math courses in undergrad level, I think GRE quantitative high score might help. BTW, I think Duke PhD program has econ track and your profile seems appropriate to apply this school. I also want to go schools that concentrate on quantitative tools. I got straight A in calculus, linear algebra, statistic but lack the course of micro/macro econ which I really need to make up for....

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