Jump to content



Recommended Posts

Hi all,


I'm a undergrad junior studying political science with a research interest in campaigns and elections, public opinion, and voting behavior. 


My goal is to pursue a PhD in political science. I have a few options, and I'm looking for suggestions on the best way to get there.


1. My school offers a BA/MA. I would apply/enroll for a PhD.

2. Get a BA in political science and apply/enroll from there for a PhD. Get the MA along the way.


My main question is funding. For the BA/MA, my department offers merit awards (combo of study grants and assistantships) for full-time students in the MA program. This could help my application with better LORs and a more narrowed research focus. If I went the other route, my question is whether or not not students enrolling without a MA can still get solid funding for the years it will take to get the MA as well.


Note that my undergrad GPA, if I stay on this track, will be a 3.81 or so.


Any advice you can offer is a plus. Thanks!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It depends a bit on where you think you would be able to get in without doing the MA. Personally the MA helped me tremendously in preparing for academia and figuring out exactly what it's all about. I also made connections with my professors, who then became letter writers, that I never was able to achieve as an undergraduate. 


If you can do the MA without having to take out any more loans (or a very minimal amount) and you think that it will strengthen your application significantly, I'd go for that option.


On the other hand, if you think that you already can get admission to a good PhD program without spending extra time doing the MA that's your bet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If by going for the BA you have the chance to do a major writing project, a thesis or something of that ilk, then that should be all that you need provided you've established some decent relationships and will have at least 3 people to write you letters.  The MA could look nice, but if you have a strong application otherwise then I really don't think that would push you over the top.  Just have a good writing sample, either from the BA or an MA, showing you can do serious, long-term research.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I believe Lemeard is correct.  I think most (I haven't seen or heard of any that will, but someone please correct me if I'm wrong) Ph.D. programs will not waive requirements for their own MAs that you will receive along the way even if you are coming into the program with an MA in hand.  You would just end up with a second MA. 


Check the requirements for the Ph.D. programs you're interested in, but if that's the case, you may end up just adding additional years (and possibly debt) to the ultimate goal.  On the other hand, you will have additional training going into your Ph.D. program that will have prepared you better.


Other considerations might be if one part of your application is relatively weak (like if your undergrad GPA is less than stellar) then doing an MA prior to applying for Ph.D. programs could be helpful in getting you into a stronger school.


I didn't do an MA prior to applying.  At the school where I'll be starting in August, probably only 10% of my cohort is coming in with an MA in hand.  At the other school that I visited, roughly 90% had MAs already.  It just varies.

Edited by Quigley
Link to comment
Share on other sites

PS - For future reference, I think you will find that you will get more people willing to offer helpful advice here than when you post these types of questions on poliscirumors.com :)


I haven't the slightest clue what you're talking about! :)


Thanks for all of the tips, everyone. 


My undergrad GPA should end up being around a 3.82. I'm in the Honors program and I am doing a senior thesis/capstone project.


Part of me thinks that an doing the BA/MA (continuous study at my school, with 9 credits that can double count) will prepare me for (or also tell me, if I lose interest, not to go further) long-term research as well as show ad comms that I can "handle" graduate school. 


On the other hand, if my application is strong enough (unfortunately there is no way of knowing beforehand), then I don't want to waste my time and I certainly do not want to get the BA/MA then have to earn another MA regardless. Debt wouldn't be fun -- I'd be okay with a fully funded PhD program, haha :)


Thanks again everyone!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As far as funding goes (on PSR you asked, "If you enroll in a PhD program w/o a Masters, do most programs still get good funding?"):  everyone in my incoming cohort is fully funded, and I think only 1 or 2 have a Masters. 


A 3.82 is high enough to make you competitive for top programs, and having a capstone project that you can use as a writing sample will help your application as well.  Assuming you will have strong letters and a compelling Statement of Purpose, you should definitely be a viable candidate and in my opinion, the debt burden of an additional MA is likely unnecessary.  But you especially make a good point about finding out whether you will lose interest before starting a PhD and if you think this might be the case, then the MA at your current institution is something you should probably seriously consider doing.


That being said, there are plenty of people with credentials better than yours that strike out their first time around.  The acceptance rates are low, so just know that it's certainly a possibility.  I think a lot of us on this site would advise you to cast a relatively wide net when you apply.  I had my list of 7 schools for over a year but added 2 more in the final weeks before applications were due.  The first 7 rejected me and the last 2 accepted me.

Edited by Quigley
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