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Is this a good double major combination for graduate political science or public policy?


alaink

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I'm currently a stats/econ major interested in going into something public policy related or graduate political science programs. From what I can tell, an undergrad in political science doesn't necessarily teach you anything you can't learn yourself (correct me if I'm wrong). But at the same time, is an econ major necessary if I'm already doing stats? Because it seems as if econ is considered one of the more "respectable" social sciences because of its quantitative nature. But then again, this double major also provides a good cushion if I don't end up going to graduate school.

 

Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!

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In terms of your goals for the future - are you hoping to work in a more policy-oriented or academia-oriented career?

 

I would say that you probably can't go wrong with a stats/econ training, but if you could double major in political science, that would of course only strengthen your dossier (provided you maintain a strong GPA).

 

As for your comment stating that:

 

an undergrad in political science doesn't necessarily teach you anything you can't learn yourself (correct me if I'm wrong)

 

The answer is both 'yes' and 'no'.  Yes, in a sense, of course you could snag a syllabus from the PS department and read up on the literature yourself.  That's sort of true of most fields - particularly in the social sciences.  But you'd be missing out on the experience of class debate and discussion, as well as being challenged by professors who have stronger grasps of the material that you do.  You can learn a lot on your own; however, in my opinion, the experience of in-person class discussions, lectures, and debates can't be overemphasized.

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Short answer: Yes, that's a perfectly good double major. I know current professors and graduate students that come from many different educational backgrounds (econ, sociology, stats, etc.).

 

There's a lot that you can learn on your own, but also a lot of added value that you only can receive in a classroom. I assume, however, that what you want to know is if you will be at a huge disadvantage in graduate school because of your lack of experience in political science? If that's what you're asking, I can say that I'm not convinced that an undergraduate degree in political science is necessary for success in a graduate program.

 

I assume that there is a particular field, or topic, within political science that interests you and that you want to place at the center of your research (if not, you're going to have problems writing your SOP). In graduate school you will be mainly focusing on that subfield/topic, and it doesn't necessarily matter if you've studied ancient political philoshopers as an undergraduate or not.

 

Again, not saying that an undergraduate degree and undergraduate classes in political science can't be useful, but I don't view it as a necessity for success in graduate school.

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Thank you everyone for your comments and advice!

 

raptureonfire, I'm more interested in a public policy oriented career. I won't be able to tack on a political science degree because I don't have the time for a triple major (stats/econ isn't part of a single program). Are you suggesting Stats and Poli Sci over stats and econ? If I'm interested in public policy/political economy, which combination seems to be most useful?

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I studied Politics, Economics, and Math in undergrad (since I'm from a foreign country, I can't exactly say major or minor, since we don't have these concepts - I did about 70-80 credits in politics (excluding honor thesis etc.), 40 in Econ, and 70 or so in Math, with a normal B.A. being 180 credits, including a general part, and 20 or so credits for the thesis etc.

 

I personally felt that Politics and Economics were most useful for my graduate program, in preparing how to think about problems etc. I didn't benefit nearly as much from my math major, and am wondering why, if Politics is what you're interested in, you're not interested in studying it? For me, class discussions in politics were invaluable, whereas I could teach myself math and most of the econ stuff that I took with a good textbook. The other thing is: How do you know politics is what you want to do if you haven't studied (or worked in) it? There's a huge gap between being interested in politics, and actually studying it academically, IMO.

 

I would think that Stats and PoSci would be more interesting and possibly better for your career goals etc., provided you manage to take the intro econ courses that are required esp. for the policy schools (i.e. Intro Macro, Intro Micro). JMO, of course!

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Part of the reason I'm not studying political science in my undergrad is because if for whatever reason I don't go to graduate school, my employment options with a political science degree are severely limited. I'm already interested in economics and with a stats and economics background I would likely have better employment prospects.

 

I understand an interest in politics is different from an academic study in it; I can only assert that I really do understand this difference and that I do have an academic interest. 

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Part of the reason I'm not studying political science in my undergrad is because if for whatever reason I don't go to graduate school, my employment options with a political science degree are severely limited. I'm already interested in economics and with a stats and economics background I would likely have better employment prospects.

 

I understand an interest in politics is different from an academic study in it; I can only assert that I really do understand this difference and that I do have an academic interest. 

 

This is sound thinking. Just make sure you do your thesis on a political science topic (or poli econ) so that you can send it as a writing sample.

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This is sound thinking. Just make sure you do your thesis on a political science topic (or poli econ) so that you can send it as a writing sample.

I second this. Officially I did math+econ undergrad (but took a lot of poli sci classes) and wrote my thesis on a poli sci related topic, which I sent in as my writing sample with my applications.

Edited by runner12
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