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Do I stand any chance for Sociology PhDs?


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Hi all,

Nowadays, I am somewhat puzzled since I could not decide on whether I must apply to American Universities or not. I thought getting help from you would be helpful. I can not make a clear decision because I have some deficiencies that weaken my application. Of course, I have some strong sides too. Ok! I explain my background and wait for any comments about my chance to get in.

First, I graduated from an Economics department of a well-known Turkish University. I put a disappointing performance since I do not like Economics' quantative side. My GPA was 2.92. However, I got very good grades from the elective and some required courses in Sociology, History and International Relations. To calculate the cumulative of these courses, we can find 3,5. If I decide to apply, most probably I will emphasize this to prove that I am not good in only Economics.

Second, I am a second year MA student in Cultural Studies department of a very good university in Turkey and I am writing a thesis regarding rising rate of racist movements in Turkey. That means I am studying on Racism and Ethnicity as well as Migration Studies in some social projects. My GPA is 3,87 until now. The thing I forgot to say is that I will be applying to schools next year. But I can say that I am really experienced in social projects. I attended a summer university of Minority Studies in Hungary and because I was president of Young Authors Club at my former University I arranged some seminars and panels which may help.

And what about my scores on TOEFL and GRE? Well, TOEFL: 107 and GRE: Quantitative, 800; Verbal, 650.

My plan: I have already applied to some Turkish Universities for PhD in Sociology. But, as I said, I am thinking of being not permanent here. I mean, I will just skip next year in Turkey for preparing applications to the US. Maybe, I can go to Hungary for one-year Nationalism Studies master in Cenral European University.

Plus: I am good at German too if it helps.

Ok, I did not decide yet. I know, this undergrad GPA is not changeable and a huge deficiency. Do you think I should apply to some schools in the US?

Well, what is your recommendations? Should I apply? What do you recommend to strengthen my application? Strong SOP, writing sample (my thesis is strong)?

In this deadlock, I appreciate any kind of helps, good or bad.

Thanks in advance

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If you intend to study race/ethnicity/migration as a PhD student, and the work you've already done is strong, you should be a good candidate for many programs. Make sure to apply to a wide range of schools (down to the programs ranked in the 40's....it can be such a crapshoot at times.). An additional related Master's degree would strengthen your application all the more.

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It would be a good idea to check whether the gradschools you're interested in have a cutoff undergrad GPA. I know that some of them have strict policies about that (so strict that they don't even forward applications which don't meet the requirements to the departments), and some of them are not as strict. A good place to check would be FAQs of the graduate admissions offices' webpages, and if you don't find the information there you can try emailing them (although some of them don't always reply...).

If there's no cutoff GPA then your good graduate GPA and your GRE scores would certainly be an advantage.

Good luck!

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I know it might not be in your best interests to attend such a low-ranked school, but I've heard that the University of North Texas has some kind of deal with the government in Turkey (or something) and they have many Turkish students there. Your undergraduate GPA might be less of a problem for them, I really don't know. Just might be something worth looking into for you.

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It would be a good idea to check whether the gradschools you're interested in have a cutoff undergrad GPA. I know that some of them have strict policies about that (so strict that they don't even forward applications which don't meet the requirements to the departments), and some of them are not as strict. A good place to check would be FAQs of the graduate admissions offices' webpages, and if you don't find the information there you can try emailing them (although some of them don't always reply...).

If there's no cutoff GPA then your good graduate GPA and your GRE scores would certainly be an advantage.

Good luck!

The OP could be one of those few applicants who gets admitted by the department, but then denied by the graduate school because of something. At many schools, the graduate school won't challenge a department on an offer of admission. But supposedly there are a few schools where the main graduate school is "strong," and the department's have less power. I think I recall Duke being an example of the strong graduate school model. Which kind of sucks, too, for this applicant since I think I receall Duke being strong on race/ethnicity stuff.

Anyway. I imagine some department will look past the undergrad GPA.

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I think you should be a fairly strong candidate. Your GRE's are strong, your English seems to be fairly good and US universities like students who already have proven themselves in Master's level coursework. Turkish schools are relatively unknown to most American academics (honestly, the only Turkish universities I've even heard of are Bogazici and METU). Therefore it will, of course, be difficult for you to collect LOR's from faculty known in the US; my advice (although this is of course conjecture) would be to try to identify faculty who did graduate work in the US or who might have a good idea of what US adcoms look for in letters.

I wouldn't worry about your undergrad major GPA at all. There is a lot of ambiguity in the process of translating GPAs between the European and US systems and, as far as any Graduate School cutoffs are concerned, they will be looking at your cumulative (3.5, far above any US cutoff point) as opposed to your GPA in econ courses. In fact, I would just fill in your cumulative GPA on applications and leave the major GPA blank for them to calculate if they so choose (which they quite probably won't - this is what I did with my study abroad grades in the ECTS system that were very difficult to translate).

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The OP could be one of those few applicants who gets admitted by the department, but then denied by the graduate school because of something. At many schools, the graduate school won't challenge a department on an offer of admission. But supposedly there are a few schools where the main graduate school is "strong," and the department's have less power. I think I recall Duke being an example of the strong graduate school model. Which kind of sucks, too, for this applicant since I think I receall Duke being strong on race/ethnicity stuff.

Anyway. I imagine some department will look past the undergrad GPA.

That is true, but I know that in some schools, USC for example, the department simply won't get the application. The central graduate admissions office checks the application first and dumps it if it doesn't meet the requirements (GPA>3.0, TOEFL>100 for internationals, etc). It's worth checking so as not to spend the 90$ for nothing.

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I am pretty sure this only happens if the applicant does not have a more advanced degree. The OP has a 3.87 in a related graduate program, and I'm sure this score will meet the graduate school's requirements. Don't worry much about your undergrad gpa, OP. You've got a great shot.

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nejjad,

i have yet to see someone who is happy with CEU master programs. as you might know, their master degrees are not really recognized by some unis (such as boun) in Turkey, either. so going on with a PhD program might be a better choice.

people at your uni (which is b.u. i assume) might have contacts in US schools, so you might ask them which schools to apply..

iyi sanslar

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Hey,

Thank your for your all comments and advices about my application. I will try to say something about them.

Firstly, Samoth thank you, I have skimmed over FAQ pages of the departments and seen that relatively low ranked schools want a cutoff GPA. For example, Michigan and Indiana do not although they state that generally they accept students with GPA which is higher than 3,3 and 3,5. In their responses to me, directors said that they are strict but there were some students accepted like me. And they told me to apply and see what happens.

Tritonetelephone, do you mention about the Sociology Department of North Texas? I do not know its rank, but if it is too low, I will prefer to stay here instead of going.

Misterpat, I will be looking at Duke's Sociology. Thank you for this advice. Duke is one of the best ones in the US but I am not sure about their elasticity against a student with low undergrad scores. And as you guessed and Slothy misunderstood, my cumulative GPA is 2,92. 3,50 is the cumulative of the non-econ courses (History, Sociology, IR) which may be helpful. Slothy, I wish my GPA to be 3.50 (in this case, no reason to be worried =) but it is not, and therefore I am not s strong applicant. And I think you are wrong. Teachers of mine at these two schools are very strong, have backgrounds of top US universities and there is no problem with my letters actually.

And Cordelia, as you guessed, undergrad school is Bogazici and now I am at Sabanc? for Cult masters. I also support the idea saying that CEU will be a good choice because of its reputation. I do not think my Econ teachers at BU will not be willing to give a letter for me =) However, two teachers from Sabanci who hold PhD degrees from Yale and SUNY Binghampton Sociology will write for me. Are you graduate of BU or student of CEU?

Thanks

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Firstly, Samoth thank you, I have skimmed over FAQ pages of the departments and seen that relatively low ranked schools want a cutoff GPA. For example, Michigan and Indiana do not although they state that generally they accept students with GPA which is higher than 3,3 and 3,5. In their responses to me, directors said that they are strict but there were some students accepted like me. And they told me to apply and see what happens.

Hi,

nick124 has raised a good point - that it's your undergraduate GPA we're talking about, and that you have completed some of your grad studies with good grades... I'm sure it would give you a big advantage.

again - good luck!

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