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Hi,

I'm an international student looking at PhD programs in the US for 2013.

1. I'm currently pursuing my 5 year integrated MA in humanities and social sciences (I major in development studies and minor in economics). My university is the best in the country and well known world wide. However, it's mainly an engineering institution. The MA program is relatively new. I'm part of the 3rd batch. I have one of the highest GPAs in my class. (If you look at the pol sci courses, I have a near perfect GPA)

2. I have 2 good internships - one at the country's biggest think tank and the other at one of Asia's best schools for public policy.

3. Ideally, I'd submit my thesis as the writing sample but I won't be done with it till my final semester so I'm reworking a paper I wrote for an IR course.

4. I'd like to study IR (nuclear policy, foreign policy analysis, liberal institutionalism, strategic thought in Asia).

5. I don't want a program that is quant heavy cause I've only done a handful of math/stats courses.

The schools I'm looking at are:

Princeton, Stanford, Yale, Michigan - Ann Arbor, Wisconsin - Madison, Indiana - Bloomington, UPitt, Washington - Seattle, Johns Hopkins, Brown, Colorado - Boulder, UPenn, Cornell and Ohio State.

Are these schools a good mix? Are there any other schools I should look at? Also, what GRE scores would these schools like? (I'm taking the GRE in a month)

Any help would be appreciated.

Thank you.

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Most faculties list the average GRE scores of previous years admitted classes on their websites, but they also tend to say that there isn't an exact GRE score they're looking for. It's just one more element they can use to differentiate applicants. I've also heard repeatedly that some programs use it as a cutoff - above a certain point and they consider you for admittance based on your other factors, below it and they don't.

So, check those schools websites and they should be able to tell you.

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Stanford: one of the heaviest quant programs there is

Princeton: Also has a pretty heavy quant emphasis

Michigan: Really good at American and PE by many counts

Yale: You could get away with doing less quant (but I don't know many people there who actually don't do quant)

Just some thoughts.

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Don't fear quant heavy programs or you will wind up excluding a lot of the top places from your search. Even in the quant heaviest programs, it is rare to see someone coming in having taken anything past maybe multivariate calc, linear algebra and ordinary differential equations. They are all set up to teach you what you know from the beginning and work up. There may come a day when an A in real analysis is considered a necessity for applying to top programs, like it is in econ, but we are no where close to that day.

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What are some of the schools that is on the other side of the quant-qual spectrum? I'm guessing Cornell and Chicago? Anywhere else? And I thought Princeton was heavy in qual and Harvard was quant. o.o

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Okay, let me correct myself - I have barely done courses in Math/ Stats. I've done some simple calculus, basic stats and some decision modelling (but I only got a C in it). In this case, is taking Formal Theory the better option?

Also, isn't Princeton's only requirement the Research Seminars?

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I've also heard from some professors that Michigan is quant heavy too. Is this so?

For your interests, I'd say yes, taking "quant" to mean anything that involves math (i.e. formal and stats). If you want to do conflict-y stuff (as you seem to be suggesting) I'm guessing some people you'd want to work with are Stam, Morrow, and Axelrod... That said, I would echo the illustrious Mr. Power's comments in noting that you don't need a strong math background to apply to these programs; my impression is that most admitted students haven't taken a whole lot of math or stats yet.

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About Princeton, I have obviously never been there. And what's important to know is the difference between the requirements of the department and the culture. I know that Princeton doesn't REQUIRE its students to take the quant sequence, but there's a pretty heavy cultural expectation that you will. So, depends on the way you want to go about things, I suppose.

And for the record, I'm going to one of the most intense quant programs in the country and I haven't taken calculus since high school. I took some stats in college, but that's it. They don't require you to know a ton of stats/math, but getting a very good GRE Q score will really help you!

Good luck!

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Any top department trains people in quantitative methods. It is highly demanded by the profession, etc and thus it is hard to avoid a 'quant' department. FInd your niche. Take the two classes so that you are fluent in the discipline. Everyone does it.

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I know that I'm going to have to do some quant courses but I want to do what is necessary for my research instead of having to do courses just because the school prefers it. Does that make sense?

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Not really. This is grad school, if almost all schools "prefer" all grad students (even theorists) to take a particular class you can assume that there is a good reason for it. Those classes are designed to make you able to read political science articles with some quantitative analysis in them. If you have not done any calculus you will need that class no matter what your research is in just to be able to understand the other half of the poli sci research. I think you should still choose schools and advisors that do the kind of research you would like to pursue but do not eliminate schools because they force you to take a stats class.

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Most of the elite institutions are quant heavy. If you don't want to get into quant heavy programs, try Chicago. By no means I am saying that Chicago does not take quant seriously. It is just that comparatively, the program is a little less quant than places such as Stanford, Michigan, Princeton, and MIT.

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