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UMass Amherst or UC Irvine?


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I've been accepted to the Sociology departments at both Amherst and Irvine, full-funding and all. My Fall 2010 semester was rather hectic and so I applied to only a limited set of programs -- no program with a deadline in November or December, which excluded many of the best. Unfortunate, yes. Legitimate reasons, yes...

I'm currently finishing an MA program in Politics at NYU and I completed my undergrad at UW-Madison in HIstory and MIddle East studies. Now I wonder if I should accept one of the two I've been offered, or to wait another year, improve my application (specifically GRE) and apply to better programs schools. My 650 Quant (700 Verbal; 5 Analytical) could be easily improved with a little study, and my overall application can be made stronger. But, even with that, acceptance if I wait a year is not guaranteed.

Now, as for Amherst and Irvine and my prospects in their programs. I have a background in Political Science and modern Middle East, focusing generally on state and market building in modern Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. My reason for finally choosing Political Sociology over Political Science is primarily due to disillusionment with the prevailing narrow lens of formalistic political science research (not to say there aren't political scientists doing great work). I find my interest in comparative historical institution building, agrarian relations, as well as social and labor movements, a better fit with contemporary sociology. Both Amherst and Irvine are good places to pursue this line of research.

However, do I gamble on acceptance to a top 10 program in a year's time or happily accept and utilize what's in front of me to research and publish? A specific worry I have concerns placement when I am finished with Amherst or Irvine.

I appreciate the thought and time used to give me your opinions. Thanks

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