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Thinking About Changing Disciplines


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Hello, I am currently a political science PhD student who may be out of the program as a result of getting 2 C grades in my first year. I have struggled in quantitative research and dislike it. My area of interest are looking at racial attitudes, political issues surround African-Americans, and public opinion. I am now thinking of going into a nonquantitative discipline where I can still study my interests. Assuming I am released from my program, can someone help me identify a qualitative field to pursue a PhD? I am thinking about history as a field that may be feasible. This year has been hell for me and I know I do not like quantitative research. Please help.

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It sounds like you are in a tough spot. I wish you all the best as you figure out your next step. I know nothing about your area of research, but ethnic studies, literature, history and anthropology all sound viable to me. Sociology is probably not as quantitative as political science but my sense is that stats is still a required course for many programs. Places that have a large African American studies center are also worth exploring.

You might simply want attempt to locate works that have impressed you. What books have really made an impact on your thinking? Where do the authors of those books teach? What kind of training did they receive? If you can answer these questions, you should have a better idea of who might potentially be a good adviser.

Also, while you probably don't want to broadcast the fact that you might be leaving your department too loudly, make sure that you use resources at your university. If there are sympathetic members of the faculty whom you have met (either in or outside of your department), you might want to see if they have any advice about new programs. If there are any faculty whom you trust, they might be able to help you find a program better suited to your interests.

I'm sure that you feel awful right now. However, remember that many people before you have had hiccups in their graduate careers. Since you now have a better sense of what you don't want to do, you will undoubtedly have a better sense of how you want to approach your topic.

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