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I'm making this post in hopes that I can find some advice regarding what I should be pursuing once I graduate this summer to give me the best shot at attending some of the top IR schools. 

Originally, I wanted to pursue a Ph.D., but I've made a change of plans. Rather, it seems as though I will be getting an M.A. before attending law school. So time is an issue - I will not be able to spend multiple years gaining real work experience, which from what I've read thus far may hinder my ability to get into some schools. I hope to spend a year doing work at a think tank or nonprofit so I can gain some more direction. However, I am not sure if that is the best route to take. 

So any advice rendered would be greatly appreciated. I'm just not sure what I should be trying to do exactly once I graduate, and it is a bit nerve-racking. 

I've also posted my stats to give an idea of whether I'll be competitive or not. 




Undergraduate institution: I’ve been around: Boston University, Emory University, University of Florida

Undergraduate GPA: 3.8+ (BU), 3.7+ (Emory), 4.0 (UF) – Spent a year at each of the first two, will be graduating this summer from UF.

Undergraduate Majors: History and Political Science (Focus in IR). Will graduate Magna Cum Laude at minimum, writing a thesis.

Study Abroad: Spent a decent portion of my last summer in Berlin completing an intensive language course. Also spent a week and a half this year in Munich with my thesis advisor.

GRE Score: Have not taken it yet. Not worried about the verbal, a bit worried about getting the necessary quant. Suppose I will take a class.

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): None. I’m hoping to be able to get an internship at a large think tank for a year before applying.

Languages: German (Was conversational, not so much anymore, I can still read it okay.)

Quant: Stats (A), Intro Micro + Macro Econ, Gen Ed math.

Strength of SOP: Hoping to gain a more focused direction if I can get an internship somewhere.

Strength of LOR (be honest, describe the process, etc): Should be strong, especially from my thesis advisor.


Also, will my multiple transfers be an issue? I can see how it could raise a red flag. 


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Your GPA is great, and your quant background seems pretty good. You should definitely get work experience in your policy area of interest. It can only help, especially for the top schools (they seem to want stellar grades AND experience). Maybe find a way to brush up on your German. Rock the GRE and you should be good to go.

Not sure about the transfers, although they do leave me curious seeing as your GPAs are so high (often I think of people transferring due to unhappiness, and their GPAs show it, but that could be my dumb assumption). Do you have a compelling reason for transferring not once, but twice? That's something that could maybe be addressed in an addendum.

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I think you're correct to assume that is normally the case.

The issue for me was that I originally performed above expectations at BU (I wasn't a great high school student, but somehow got into BU), which allowed me to make what I perceived as a move to a university with a bit more of a prestigious reputation. While at Emory, I realized the general path I would most likely be taking, and understood that it would not be cheap. Going to UF is essentially free for me, which is a huge plus as I can now pay for graduate school with minimal loans if I do not receive funding. 


At this point I'm worried if putting one year of work in will be enough for these schools. I would just really like to complete my schooling sooner rather than later. 

Edited by gutrot
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Somewhat confused, you want to do these top professional programs (without significant work experience) before Law School? If you want to go to law school, go to law school. Your time would be *much* better served gaining work experience and perfecting your LSAT rather than gaining tons of debt for a top IR program.

If you consider your actual career outcomes, you're doing it in reverse. Law school first (even without work experience), then work for a year while before you transition to a top program.

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That is what I had originally thought would make more sense - go to law school first, as it doesn't require work experience, and afterwards go to an IR program. However, I had a long discussion with a friend who had done this same sort of track and has had tremendous success. Perhaps I have been misguided.


Since it is already spring semester it will be impossible for me to take an LSAT before this upcoming academic year. 

I suppose it would be best then to pursue an internship and study hard for the LSAT while working?

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You obviously don't have to have it all figured out yet, but do you have any remote ideas or considerations on the type of work you would be most interested in? Lot of people on this forum can provide good guidance if you have anything specific.

Also, somewhat off-topic, but here is an HKS blog writing on somewhat who did Law School after starting their MPP.


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Why not apply to dual degree programs?  Will save time/money.  One year's work experience is a bit on the thin side but certainly doable, especially if you ace the GRE and if you have solid experience/references from undergrad.

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