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University of Washington Jackson School/University of Minnesota PhD


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Hi everyone, its been awhile since I've been on here. I'm presently a graduate student at the London School of Economics working on obtaining my Masters in the History of International Relations.  It is my intention to apply to various international relations PhD programs for 2014 admission.  Two schools that have recently come under my radar are the University of Washington Jackson School and the University of Minnesota owing to certain factors (namely my long time girlfriend who is more keen on living in these cities).  As I stated, I'm going to apply to various other programs and as a  masters student I'm aware of the importance of looking for faculty with relevant interests,etc. I'm looking for feedback regarding these two programs as far as student satisfaction, funding, academic reputation, placement capabilities, networking, etc. I'm aware of ppl like Bud Duvall and others at Minnesota and alumni such as Alexander Wendt, but that is largely it. My interests are U.S. foreign policy and international relations theory.  As far as regions go, both Northeast Asia and the Middle East catch my attention, but regional areas are more of a secondary concern to IR theory and U.S. Foreign Policy in a broader sense.  Any feedback whatsoever on these two programs would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

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I did my undergrad at UW in the JSIS.  Amazing undergraduate program and MA program.  When looking at PhD options I talked to my old advisor who is a fairly important and in-the-know guy at JSIS.  This is the first year they are offering a PhD through the Jackson School so you won't find much in the way of student satisfaction, feedback, or placement as there are currently no students in that program (all current grad students are MA or in other departments taking JSIS classes or working with JSIS faculty who are adjuncts in other departments).  I do know from talking with my advisor that the intend to admit a VERY small number of students (less than 10).  Potentially you might not have much of a cohort of students that share your interests (something I'm dealing with in my current program, but that's another story).  For example, suppose you want to study Asia and security and you are in a cohort with a group of 5 students all focused on human rights in Latin America, it can make for a lonely experience and somewhere else on this forum a current TT Poli Sci Prof said "you need to surround yourself with the smartest possible group of students because you do most of your learning from them."  Not to discourage you, but I would definitely consider this as some place like UMinn is likely to have a larger group with upper division students and a greater likelihood someone else will share your interests.  
Also to warn you, if you do decide to apply to JSIS and frame yourself as Middle East regional specialist you will probably have a better chance applying to the interdisciplinary Middle East Studies PhD program (assuming you are or are willing to become fluent in three languages (2 ME, 1 western)) as they don't want these programs competing over applicants (ie they are less likely to admit ME specialists to the JSIS PhD because of this other program).  If your heart is set on the JSIS, I would frame yourself as an Asian-interest candidate since it will fall more in line with faculty/program interests.   
Hope that helps, good luck!

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