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Which programs should I focus on? (If any)

Mick Loving

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I am planning to apply to IR programs next year. Am I wrong in assuming I'd have a shot at top programs?

Here is my linkedin:


(I am a URM student,from upper/middle class background. I have one semester left.)

I was a marginal student @ my first school (top LAC) mostly b/c's (with a number of incompletes due to documented medical withdrawal [severe injury playing sports]). Ended up transferring and swutching majors. I had a 3.85 at TU until this semester, loaded up on honors classes and got a number of B/B+'s (will this reflect poorly even though I challenged myself and picked up Arabic?). I am right around cutoff for cum laude so that will be my goal. My last 65-70 semester hours will most likely be around 3.6-3.7 range (with honors) after my last semester. I believe some schools will consider my last 60 credit hours, correct me if this is mistaken?

Have solid research experience at both institutions (international institutions & nonviolent strategy) & worked for well respected NGO, as well as fellowship/semester abroad in middle east focusing on conflict studies through USF. I also am pretty sure I could get great LORs. I think my extracurriculars/work are also really solid (even without athletics as I hear most grad schools dont care)

My main interests (career-wise) would be NGO work, a think tank, foreign service, or an international institution. My interests for post-grad studies are Middle East history, International Affairs, foreign service, or maybe conflict resolution.

I am also considering retaking a couple Econ classes post-bacc.

(my lowest polisci grade was a B @ swarthmore)

Any recommendations/suggestions/input would be greatly appreciated.

Edited by Mick Loving
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Conventional wisdom I've seen from those with experience in IR here is that you need job experience to be competitive for getting into IR programs, and to be competitive once you graduate.


If you're American Peace Corps is an excellent option. You'll learn another language and gain 27 months of international experience. Lots of big name policy and IR schools also have scholarships for PC volunteers. If that's too much of a commitment you should look at Americorps, which is domestic development work. VISTA programs pay very low wages, but if you're on the upper end of the upper middle class and can get help with a car and moving expenses it shouldn't be too painful.


Finally there is post-graduation internships in IR; this blog has a bunch posted regularly which are relevant to aspiring policy and IR folks: if you can borrow money from family these can be great stepping stones.


Obviously employment in the industry you want to study > anything else as it shows that employers think you are worth paying, but it's also the most competitive option.

Edited by TimB
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