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Is an Education Pd.D. the correct route for me?


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Hi all,

I am considering what type of Ph.D. program to apply to, and would appreciate any advice from the forum. I am currently working on a M.A. in Political Science in a mid-tier Poli Sci graduate program where the M.A. is a terminal degree. I have undergraduate majors in both Political Science and History. I am posting here because over the past year or so my research interests seem to have shifted from the study of conflict (which I intended to study during my Ph.D.) to pure comparative international education policy. I’m not sure at this point if I want to complete a Ph.D. in Political Science focusing on conflict with a specialization in the effect education has on conflict, or in Education with a focus on international education policies. So if anyone has any advice (or maybe could tell me if I’m way off track even thinking Education) it would be appreciated.

MY background: I would be applying for the Fall of 2014 (assuming Education programs don't admit students in the Spring?)

_Undergraduate GPA of 3.6 from an unknown small Liberal Arts college, Graduate GPA of 3.8 from a large Liberal Arts school (well known but not a top 10 school)

-Undergraduate honors thesis was a case study of the civil war in Cote d’Ivoire, where one specific variable looked at was education.

-M.A. thesis looking specifically at education variables (secondary schooling rates, literacy rates, education investment numbers, etc.) across all African nations broken down into 5 year periods looking to draw connections between this data and the occurrence of political violence.

-Co-authored publication as an undergrad (third tier PA journal) evaluating the dissatisfaction of college students in China in specific areas of their college experience in an attempt to make connections to the high unemployment of college graduates in China. (Fieldwork in china as part of the research)

-I have never taken a course in the education department, but do have an opportunity to do so in the next year should I need to.

-GRE Scores 740 quant. 610 Verbal 4.5 writing, but can retake if necessary

-My research tends to be more quantitative than qualitative

-My specific interests are in the education policy of African nations, and the outcomes of those policies on society.

If there is anything else big I am missing, just let me know and I’ll try to fill in the missing pieces.

Thanks again for any help!

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It appears that your research interests would make you a good fit for a phd in international education. If you decide to pursue a political science phd, it would probably be a good idea to make sure you can find an advisor with a research interest in education and also ask if the department has other students working on similar projects. Personally, I think you would find more support and resources for your topic in an education department. But, I also am not familiar at all with political science. I think it really depends on what type of department and what type of students you would prefer to work with.

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I think it's important to look at specific schools and professors. It's not uncommon for people to enter education programs without an undergrad degree (or coursework) in education. I think (and this is from limited personal experience) they're looking for some sort of experience that has shaped your awareness of issues in education, but I don't think it would have to be teaching experience; your research experience seems just as useful.

When I was feeling out programs, I got the best response when I found a prof whose interests seemed to align with mine, and sent an email asking, "I am interested in x, and I have some questions about your program. Should I ask you, or can you please direct me to the person I should talk to?" I also found that emailing current grad students helped.

I'm in a really small program and they seem really open to students "customizing" their education to fit specific interests. Don't know if that's a trend, but maybe something to look into?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Colleges of Education tend to be very large with diverse research interests and varied approaches to doing research (qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods, etc.). My college is divided into several departments and ed policy is its own department. It sounds like a PhD program in Educational Policy would be a good fit for you. You could then focus on a specialty. Good luck!

Edited by wildviolet
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