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Choosing the right program


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Wow, I had no idea that a board like this existed. It would have been a great guide over the past year.

I'm looking for a PhD program that will be right for me, and I'm having some difficulty.

I'm a rising Senior at a medium-sized private college in the Midwest. It's a good, but not great school. I have a 3.9 GPA, 3.95 History. I'm taking the GRE next week, but I expect to do well in the Verbal section (high 600s-mid 700s) and very poorly in the Quant (probably below 500). I also have several extracurricular and service activities, though I'm coming to understand that this means little. I'm not worried about recommendation letters.

Overall, I think I have a relatively solid academic basis.

However, I'm concerned that (for a variety of reasons) my research interests are too diverse and do not match the field of study I'm most interested in. For instance, most of my research, including my thesis, centers on the religious and political history of the early American Republic. An internship I was involved in focused on early 1900s America. However, my real passion is 19th century social and labor history. I can see that this might be a problem. Ideally, I would like to match my writing sample with a piece of research which demonstrates an interest in the field I'm applying for. Is it enough to find a clever, if tenuous, way to connect the two in my SOP?

Also, given my qualifications, can anyone recommend any programs that might be worth looking closely at? I would prefer to stay either in the Midwest or on the east coast, but that isn't a necessity. I have a long list that I've been investigating online, but it's hard to narrow down at this point.

Thanks in advance for any advice, ideas, name-calling, etc.

Edited by Buckeye42
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As long as you offer a study plan that is focused, specific and well thought out, it doesn't matter where your internship was or what your thesis as on. You can even describe how these helped you narrow your focus.

your writing sample shows you can write well, analyze, get into detail and scholarship. Yes, ideally it would be close to your topic, but I'm told it's more important to show your mastery of research/writing/analysis than to be on the same subject. Chose based on quality, not specific relevance.

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