Jump to content

Two very different interests

Recommended Posts

I want to research the arms trade, but I also have a very deep interest in immigration law and diplomacy. I would be happy researching either, but my  previous academic experiences lie more in the former, while the justification I have for the second is that I married a foreigner and going through the process with him has made me very interested in the subject.The former one is quite specific, but the second is more general. My interest in the former one is quite specific, but the second is more general.


I'm terrified that by writing on both, I seem unfocused and thus unreliable, but I'm also afraid having one interest alone makes me seem like a "one trick pony". What should I do? Anyone else that has gone through this?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You shouldn't be writing on those topics in your SOP. They could be specific examples of your various interests in political science. It's ok to find more than one topic interesting. However, you will need to state some specific reasons for why you pursuing a graduate degree. This can be done without proposing a specific project. If you do, keep in mind that you will not be held to it. It's not your research proposal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, just make sure you have a coherent theme IMO.


If you can't motivate one coherent theme with interests, try doing it with values.


E.g. you're interested in how the flow of arms as well as immigrants affect the world. Or you can tie it together under one topic, e.g. you want to research arms trade and immigration across the US-Mexico border, surely there must be an interplay between the arms trade and immigration. Might make for an interesting thesis.


I feel like the post you made explaining why you have a second interest would be perfect if you took the time to polish it a little. Why did you find interesting about your partner's immigration process? Is it the same values that motivated you to investigate the arms trade?


Just make sure you tie it together with an overarching theme. That way it seems like you have broad interests but you have a focused reason why you're interested in two different topics.

Edited by wsc215
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know if I agree completely.  I talked about specific questions and ideas I have (at least as specific as "the arms trade" and "immigration law and diplomacy") in my SOP, and I've gotten some good feedback on it from POIs -- I was advised to approach it this way by my mentor, who also did so in her (very successful) SOP.  Anecdata, to be sure, but I think being able to talk about semi-specific interests is important, and shows that you have developed your interests more thoroughly than "international law" or "political science."  I think the best overall advice I got about this was: you want to convey that you have your own ideas, but you also want to convey that you are ready to get excited and enthusiastic about whatever your POI needs/wants you to work on.  In other words, you need to be careful to avoid sounding like these are the only topics you could ever work on, but there's no need to pretend you don't have any research interests or research questions already floating around in your head.


For your interests, I'm not sure that they are really that different from one another -- as wsc215 suggests, they seem to fit together kind of nicely.  The "theme" is the flow of people and arms across borders, the regulation of that flow, and the underlying policies.  You should be able to tie them together.  You can also address each one separately -- for example, you could say, "In graduate school, I would like to explore the political and legal foundations of border policy.  For example, I am very interested in the arms trade. [specific question about the arms trade].  I am also interested in the flow of people across borders and the ways in which immigration law is shaped by international diplomacy."  Or, you know, something like that, but written in more than 30 seconds. :)


I also found that talking about specific ideas gave me a nice way to incorporate the research being done by some of my POIs.  While my skeleton SOP talked about the projects I am currently working on, and some ideas I have about how to build on them, I tailored some of the future questions to the POI's interests.  For example, if you find that one of your POIs does a lot of work on the EU, you could mention that one possible avenue for your immigration interest is how EU member states deal with immigration (or, again, you know, something that is well-thought-out and coherent).


As I said, though, there is definitely a risk.  You want to avoid sounding like you are too caught up in your own ideas.  Profs want to get someone who will have ideas, but they also need someone who will be an asset to the Prof's own current and future work.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use