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Hi all another 2014/15er joining the ranks.

 

I'm currently completing my MA, looking to study political communications / comparative politics for PhD. Currently working on my list of schools, I was going to apply last cycle but changed my mind at the last moment, glad I did though as my research interests have evolved and so had my list of schools!

 

Thinking of applying to about 7 schools (money is tight), but I know the more the better, should I stretch this out to 10? Anyone know any good polcomms places, looking to spread my applications across the tiers.

10 would be a good idea. Also, you do have about 6 months until the earlier applications are due. That will give you plenty of time to save up for the extra three applications.

 

I honestly wished undergraduate institutions assisted their students more with application fees. It would serve their own interests as well. Sending transcripts really upped my budget - $20 per transcript.  (I had to send two transcripts to a few a programs as well upon receiving my Fall semester grades.) Those alone cost $220! 

 

Though, you might want to look into a Graduate Application Fee Waiver. Usually you have to provide documentation that your GRE was waived OR provide documentation that you have received a large amount of financial aid or something to corroborate that you are experiencing financial hardship. Some schools don't offer a waiver, but many do since they want more applications for a variety of reasons. Contact a few of the schools at explain your concerns and inquire about fee waivers.

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***we interrupt this Ivy League program to inform you that Bubandis has received an admission offer from the University of Nebraska. We now return to your scheduled Ivy League programing***

I got my first admission after two months of painful waiting and anxiety. It's incredible how relieving it is.

The weight has been lifted off my shoulders...finally an acceptance at the University of Oklahoma. 

Hi everyone!

 

Finally biting the bullet and going to pursue my dream of a career in Political Science. My undergraduate was in Nuclear Engineering and then a post-grad from Cambridge in Nuclear Energy. Will be applying to schools who have a strong focus on nuclear security issues and nuclear security policy. Currently looking at MIT, Stanford and Berkeley among others. 

 

U Grad GPA: First Class Honours (UK) 

MPhil GPA: Pass with merit (not a distinction)

GRE: 168 Q, 167 V

Research Experience/Publications: Currently working at the leading think-tank in my country, Masters' thesis at Cambridge and a few online publications (nothing peer-reviewed)

Recommendation Letters: This is the real problem area in my application. I did not take any political science courses and I do not have professors who can attest to my interest or experience and ability in political science research. A recommendation from my undergrad will only be able to talk about my general academic and research ability and the recommendation from Cambridge will at the max be able to point to my Masters' thesis as evidence of quality research. Will be getting a third recommendation from a Senior Fellow at the think tank I now work at but it is unlikely to be earth shattering. 

What can I possibly do about this and will other aspects of my application be able to make up for it?

 

Other Questions:

 

1- How should I present my Academic scores? Try to convert them to a standardized GPA score using conversions like the Fulbright one or simply present them as they are in the UK format?

2- There are few schools with a focus on nuclear security issues in the pol. science department and fit is clearly important. Yet, all the advice I read on here is to apply to as many places as possible. Initially I was only considering 5-6 schools but should I be increasing that number even at the cost of compromising on fit? 

3- What do people on here think about this? http://chronicle.com/article/PhDs-From-Top/136113/ 

Is it worth considering a PhD program from a slightly lower ranked school? Which again links back to my question about applying to many schools. 

 

Thank you all :)

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Hi everyone!

 

Finally biting the bullet and going to pursue my dream of a career in Political Science. My undergraduate was in Nuclear Engineering and then a post-grad from Cambridge in Nuclear Energy. Will be applying to schools who have a strong focus on nuclear security issues and nuclear security policy. Currently looking at MIT, Stanford and Berkeley among others. 

 

U Grad GPA: First Class Honours (UK) 

MPhil GPA: Pass with merit (not a distinction)

GRE: 168 Q, 167 V

Research Experience/Publications: Currently working at the leading think-tank in my country, Masters' thesis at Cambridge and a few online publications (nothing peer-reviewed)

Recommendation Letters: This is the real problem area in my application. I did not take any political science courses and I do not have professors who can attest to my interest or experience and ability in political science research. A recommendation from my undergrad will only be able to talk about my general academic and research ability and the recommendation from Cambridge will at the max be able to point to my Masters' thesis as evidence of quality research. Will be getting a third recommendation from a Senior Fellow at the think tank I now work at but it is unlikely to be earth shattering. 

What can I possibly do about this and will other aspects of my application be able to make up for it?

 

Other Questions:

 

1- How should I present my Academic scores? Try to convert them to a standardized GPA score using conversions like the Fulbright one or simply present them as they are in the UK format?

2- There are few schools with a focus on nuclear security issues in the pol. science department and fit is clearly important. Yet, all the advice I read on here is to apply to as many places as possible. Initially I was only considering 5-6 schools but should I be increasing that number even at the cost of compromising on fit? 

3- What do people on here think about this? http://chronicle.com/article/PhDs-From-Top/136113/ 

Is it worth considering a PhD program from a slightly lower ranked school? Which again links back to my question about applying to many schools. 

 

Thank you all :)

 

 

You will have a hard time convincing political science faculty of your interest with no exposure to academic political science. Why did you take *no* coursework at all? Keep in mind even the most talented political science/public policy faculty have absolutely no basis to judge the value of your work in nuclear engineering. It basically says nothing about you, except that you can do math. This is a necessary but far from sufficient condition for most top political science programs.

 

It sounds like you are more interested in public policy, for which your think tank work will be a good credential. You ought to be looking seriously at public policy PhD programs, since from what you describe you may be a poor fit for most political science programs. The faculty involved with Stanford CISAC come to mind: http://cisac.stanford.edu/research/2240/

 

Applying to a large number of programs may be a waste of everyone's time. Keep focused on what you can actually sell yourself on, which is a demonstrated interest in nuclear policy and a unique skill set that you have already put to good use.

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To build on javorization, your biggest hurdle may be formulating an SOP with clear and relevant and interesting research goals if you have no exposure to political science. More importantly, why political science? What interests you? What do you want to study? What methods? Questions? Whose research do you like enjoy want to emulate?

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A good, polished SoP that shows a clear understanding of what you are getting into will go a long, long way to make up for the lack of polisci background. Obviously first you have to understand what you are getting into, before showing them that you do. Perusing the recent literature on your topic will help. By literature I mean actual polisci articles published in major peer-reviewed academic journals.

 

An engineering degree (or two) can actually be an important asset. I would say, get the SOP done and don't worry about the rest. You will be a competitive applicant everywhere you apply.

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Thanks guys. The consensus seems to be that the SOP is vital and especially so since I will have to carefully explain switching streams and why I want to build a career in political science. I am definitely reading up as much as I can on current research in my field and the latest in academic journals. 

 

As for not taking any courses, I simply could not do so. The system in the UK is quite different to America and if you are studying engineering you do not get to pick political science modules. The closest I came to anything related to this was a science and technology policy module during my MPhil. The problem with applying to a PhD in public policy, even though I agree they do have faculty at many schools with very close interests to mine is that it is more of a Professional oriented course whereas I would like to go into academia. I will re-open exploring this option though as I might have made some hasty assumptions. CISAC is certainly on my radar, I've studied a lot of research that's come out of their faculty.

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The problem with applying to a PhD in public policy, even though I agree they do have faculty at many schools with very close interests to mine is that it is more of a Professional oriented course whereas I would like to go into academia. I will re-open exploring this option though as I might have made some hasty assumptions. CISAC is certainly on my radar, I've studied a lot of research that's come out of their faculty.

 

Public policy PhDs do go into think tanks but they also go into academia i.e. at policy schools and in the policy lines at political science departments. Check the placement records of places like HKS. Some public policy PhD programs, like Michigan, are joint programs with political science giving you access to both job markets and training in a traditional discipline. If you really want to make the transition from engineering to public policy (where you are now) to political science, this might actually be your best option, as your application to the public policy program would be viewed more favorably, and if accepted by them, you would be accepted to both programs simultaneously.

 

You will still be hurt by a lack of letters from social scientists. Again, political science faculty simply cannot relate when faculty from other disciplines talk about how strong your work is. Other applicants (your competitors) will have letters from faculty *who the search committee knows personally or by reputation* which carry a great deal of weight. In public policy, the senior fellow letter might help.

 

Have you considered getting a US master's degree in public policy or political science, to build up your credibility and relationships with professors in this field?

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Have you considered getting a US master's degree in public policy or political science, to build up your credibility and relationships with professors in this field?

 

I have but as I understand it funding for Masters programs are virtually non-existent and I will not be able to fund myself. Secondly I already have a masters degree (albeit in a different field) and doing another Masters degree before an eventual PhD means I lose even more time. 

Edited by ani11
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Here we go again. 

 

I have to start finding PhD programs to apply to this coming application cycle. Got into a MA Japan Studies program at UWashington as a late admit, and been allowed exemption from all language courses (I'm multilingual), and so the MA will finish by the end of Summer 2015. Hence I need to apply this year again to PhD programs.

 

My field is Comparative, with a specialization in Japanese Social Movements. I am wondering if I should just stick to UW and only apply there, or if I should apply to multiple programs. I don't know how much of an edge internal applicants have in graduate programs. Preferably, I would like to stay in the US, with funding. 

 

Any ideas where I should start looking? 

 

Also, could I have some advice on the viability of getting a PhD in International Studies? UW offers a wonderful PhD IS program, but I don't know of anyone with that degree getting hired...

 

Cheers, and good luck to all.

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Glad to see this thread pop up! Months-long lurker here getting ready to take the plunge this cycle.

Question for those more experienced than I am: is there any consensus on strong political psychology programs? Obviously it's not a separate sub field at most schools (I know Ohio State has it, and it is quite well-regarded), so I'm also looking at general American politics programs. Aside from hunting for specific POIs on faculty websites (I've been hard at work here), is there any information out there on this subject? If not, any thoughts on American politics programs that have a focus on political behavior? Thanks!

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Hey all. Just joined and looking forward to a (hopefully) successful cycle.

Background: Undergrad GPA was 3.97, but I did an English/Philosophy combo (i.e. not a poli sci background in undergrad). I do, however, have a JD from a Top 20 law school and have spent the last couple of years in practice, focusing on public law (admin law, antitrust, etc).

I RA’ed for an undergrad prof and a law prof (both of whom are already lined up for LORs). I've spent the last year working on a large project with a poli sci prof at a CHYMPS university (that's as specific as I'm getting) and have that LOR lined up as well.

Additionally, I have a published law review article to my name. I have also spent a year as an adjunct (community college) teaching an American Democracy and Constitution course. Not sure if that last one counts for anything, but I plan to throw it on the CV for good measure.

GRE is 170 V/160 Q. Waiting on the AW, but not worried.

The major goal is a CHYMPS acceptance, with a focus on Judicial Politics and/or Public Law. So, couple of questions:

1. Should I boost that quant score? I've raised this in another post elsewhere, but I really wasn't getting much feedback. Is it worth the time?

2. How can I minimize the English/Philosophy background (or leverage it, as the case may be)? I see law school as the way to push passed that, since ALL of my law school training was in public/constitutional law. But I'd appreciate some insight.

3. At the same time, how do I prevent the JD from being a barrier? My long term goal was always a PhD in poli sci, but I opted to do the JD first for personal/professional reasons (depth of study, wanted a strong legal foundation, wanted some real world experience, etc.). I don't want to be seen as that guy who couldn't hack it as a lawyer and now wants to change careers.

4. Other advice from past applicants? Am I missing an issue?

Thanks for the candid thoughts!

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1) Yes. Yes.

 

Thanks. What should I be gunning for here (besides the obvious "Be perfect!")? There's such competing information out there on the quant score - you need to break 160, you need to be mid-160s, you can't win without a 170, you only need a 158 or higher. What's the consensus? Is there a consensus?

 

And yes, I've checked the (sporadic) results for the last couple of cycles. I can't really get a clear understanding from them.

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Hey all. Just joined and looking forward to a (hopefully) successful cycle.

Background: Undergrad GPA was 3.97, but I did an English/Philosophy combo (i.e. not a poli sci background in undergrad). I do, however, have a JD from a Top 20 law school and have spent the last couple of years in practice, focusing on public law (admin law, antitrust, etc).

I RA’ed for an undergrad prof and a law prof (both of whom are already lined up for LORs). I've spent the last year working on a large project with a poli sci prof at a CHYMPS university (that's as specific as I'm getting) and have that LOR lined up as well.

Additionally, I have a published law review article to my name. I have also spent a year as an adjunct (community college) teaching an American Democracy and Constitution course. Not sure if that last one counts for anything, but I plan to throw it on the CV for good measure.

GRE is 170 V/160 Q. Waiting on the AW, but not worried.

The major goal is a CHYMPS acceptance, with a focus on Judicial Politics and/or Public Law. So, couple of questions:

1. Should I boost that quant score? I've raised this in another post elsewhere, but I really wasn't getting much feedback. Is it worth the time?

2. How can I minimize the English/Philosophy background (or leverage it, as the case may be)? I see law school as the way to push passed that, since ALL of my law school training was in public/constitutional law. But I'd appreciate some insight.

3. At the same time, how do I prevent the JD from being a barrier? My long term goal was always a PhD in poli sci, but I opted to do the JD first for personal/professional reasons (depth of study, wanted a strong legal foundation, wanted some real world experience, etc.). I don't want to be seen as that guy who couldn't hack it as a lawyer and now wants to change careers.

4. Other advice from past applicants? Am I missing an issue?

Thanks for the candid thoughts!

 

I don't know the public law subfield very well, but my understanding is that there are different flavours of it, i.e. some which are more empirically-oriented, standard positive social science-y, and some which are more akin to political theory. If your interests are the latter, then I can't speak to what an optimal strategy would be; on my admissions committee, I mostly deferred to those within that area when evaluating such applicants. If your interests are more positive social science-y then an important thing to do will be to clearly establish why you want to examine these questions from a social science perspective (e.g. don't lean too heavily on the law review article), what training/experience you have that would indicate to us you would be a good social scientist, what research ideas you have that fit within political science, etc. We've turned down plenty of smart people with legal experience (e.g. people practicing with Harvard law degrees) because while they convinced us that they were smart, they weren't able to persuade us that they would be better social scientists than other applicants, or that they had as clear a sense of what a research agenda/career in political science would entail.

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Someone from CP should chime in too see how regional specialities work in admissions. My hunch is that you're going to have to find a CP scholar who focuses on Turkey. I think that would be pretty hard to come by .

I doubt it. You might need to find someone who works on the Middle East, but getting too specific is a bit unnecessary. CP is about generating and testing general theories.

 

Here is even extreme example: UCSD two years ago admitted a student who works on the Middle East, despite the fact that they have got no one who devotes to the study of this particular geographic area.  

Edited by jazzrap
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^

 

For a country like Turkey, you will be hard pressed to find Turkish politics specialists. You should just look for Middle Eastern specialists, but shouldn't confine your search to just them. For example, if you are researching ethnic politics, a comparativist that does work on ethnic politics may actually be a better fit than a Middle Eastern/North African specialist that does research in something unrelated.

 

There is a bit of a hierarchy when it comes to comparative politics for fit. A regional specialist in your region that does research in your sub-field > someone who does research in your sub-field > someone who is a regional specialist in your region. 

 

You should be looking for those golden departments that have one perfect match, a couple that do research in your sub-field and a regional specialist or some combination thereof. 

 

The only time people look for people who do research in their country of interest above all else is when you are interested in diverse and culturally complex countries like China, Brazil or India for example. Or you study a very specific sub-field that is inherently related to a specific country. Some people spend their whole careers studying one country; but for the majority of comparativists, they are doing comparative studies with a few cases or high N studies. 

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^

 

For a country like Turkey, you will be hard pressed to find Turkish politics specialists. You should just look for Middle Eastern specialists, but shouldn't confine your search to just them. For example, if you are researching ethnic politics, a comparativist that does work on ethnic politics may actually be a better fit than a Middle Eastern/North African specialist that does research in something unrelated.

 

There is a bit of a hierarchy when it comes to comparative politics for fit. A regional specialist in your region that does research in your sub-field > someone who does research in your sub-field > someone who is a regional specialist in your region. 

 

You should be looking for those golden departments that have one perfect match, a couple that do research in your sub-field and a regional specialist or some combination thereof. 

 

The only time people look for people who do research in their country of interest above all else is when you are interested in diverse and culturally complex countries like China, Brazil or India for example. Or you study a very specific sub-field that is inherently related to a specific country. Some people spend their whole careers studying one country; but for the majority of comparativists, they are doing comparative studies with a few cases or high N studies. 

 

This.

 

The ideal department will have people who work on the regions you're interested in and people who work in your substantive area. This gets trickier for people working on the Middle East and South Asia., since (based on my unscientific impression) most polisci departments seem to have far more Latin Americanists, Africanists, people who work on East Asia, etc.

 

If your goal is to be a regionalist who works on politics, this could be problematic, and you'll want to find a department with strong regional cred. If you're more interested in being a political scientist who works on a specific region, it may be fine to be in a department with people who focus on the issues you're interested in, but who work in different countries. However, this means you won't get much regional training (so hopefully you have it going in) and you may have to look outside the department for contacts, research support, etc. Whether or not this works depends on you/the particular department.

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Exodus of senior faculties. Esp. Thad Dunning to Berkeley.

 

At some point soon, you might find yourself with offers at Yale and some other set of schools, and then a bunch of non-Yale people will say, "Don't go to Yale" (especially if you are in American politics), and you will need to balance their words against the enticing siren song of Yale.  If your next-best offer is Wisconsin or Cornell or something, then perhaps you should go to Yale.  But if you are looking at a Michigan or Berkeley or MIT, then you probably shouldn't, and here's a reason why that no one else will mention.

 

Forget for the moment all the concerns about faculty exodus (though for what it's worth, a fellow prospective student said he met with Alan Gerber and Gerber said, "don't count on me being around in a couple years").  The administrative side of things is a disaster.  The head administrative assistant doesn't answer her emails or phone (or sometimes responds six weeks after an email).  The flyout visit itself was a mess, where she was nowhere to be seen and poor Greg Huber seemed to be trying to hold the whole PhD program together himself.  It took ten weeks to get my expense reimbursement check--with the city misspelled and the ZIP code wrong--which was a lot of money at over $500 because I shared a rental car with a couple other prospective students.  (Other programs--check in hand two and a half weeks after forms sent in, all of them).  Then, after I deposited the check, I got another check a week later that was lower by $7.50.  Mystified, I set it aside, but then this morning my bank called to say that Yale actually stopped payment on the first check and that the bank had to charge a $10 returned check fee!  No warning from Yale that they had made a mistake with the first check and were stopping payment.

 

If this sounds petty and irrelevant, keep this in mind.  Yale Political Science doesn't have its own placement officer.  The position was eliminated due to budget cutbacks.  The same administrators who put together the visit and process reimbursements are the ones who will handle your job applications when you are on the market.  So if you don't mind them going out seven weeks late and with errors, go to Yale.

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  • 2 weeks later...

In.  Anyone have any advice for the below 4 questions (cross-posted elsewhere) on my candidacy?

__________________________________

 

Undergraduate in Political Science from middle-tier university with MPP from elite British university applying for PhD in Comparative Politics/Political Economy for 2015. Nearly all post-grad work was in Economics, Statistics, or Government departments, effectively giving me an MSc in quantitative social research methods plus an MSc Public Policy.

 

(1) How should I treat poor performance in my 1st year of undergrad in my SOP/CV? My overall GPA was 3.5 but was 3.70 over my last 2 years.  Additionally, my overall Political Science GPA was 3.59, but exhibited a massively upward trend: excluding my 1st year it was 3.74, with a 3.71 over the last 2 years.

 

(2) Do I opt for 4 letters or drop a strong letter from a academic in sociology and pick up an okay one from someone in comparative? I have 3 amazing letters but only 2 of them are from political scientists and none are in my subfield.  The 3rd is a tenured sociologist.  I can get a good-but-not-amazing letter from an assistant professor who is a rising star in my field of interest but not tenured because VERY young.  

 

(3) Would I be competitive in any of the following tiers (see qualifications below)?

Tier 1: Stanford, Princeton, Harvard, Yale

Tier 2: Columbia, MIT, Berkeley, Michigan

Tier 3: UCLA, WUSTL, NYU, Duke

Tier 4: Wisconsin, UNC, Cornell

Tier 5: Rochester, Northwestern, Texas, Minnesota

 

(4) Is it appropriate to list non-academic publications in my CV (i.e. published NYTimes Op-Ed or many short WSJ letters to the editor)?

_________________________________________

 

UGrad GPA: Overall: 3.50 / Last 2 Years: 3.70

UGrad Political Science GPA: Overall: 3.59 / Last Year: 3.92 / Last 2 Years: 3.71 / All Years But 1st: 3.74

MPA (Public Policy) GPA: ~3.65-3.67 (Graduating from British system with a 70 average [4.0] but largely because I have marks in the 80s and 1 mark of 59). 

GRE: 168 Quantitative, 168 Qualitative

Graduate-level statistics coursework: econometrics, statistical computing, simulation methods

Mathematics: Completed through Calculus II

 

Research Experience: 1 RAship in economic research center at elite university, 1 RAship on interdisciplinary project across politics and social policy department at elite university, 1 year as government health policy researcher, 3 policy research internships in think tanks. 

 

Accomplishments: Won Best Paper Award at international public policy conference, 4 small merit-based scholarships and awards ($250  to $5,000) from non-profits and academic centers to attend invite-only seminars/conferences.

 

Publications: Nothing peer-reviewed. Wrote a large technical report for a government department (can't share report, but can acknowledge I wrote it and my name is on it) and MA thesis in comparative politics (serving as writing sample). Submitting a research note to AJPS next month... Many letters (and an op-ed) in newspapers like New York Times.

 

Presentations: Have made formal presentations of my research at graduate student conferences, undergraduate conference, and before UK government, and international organizations (OECD).

 

Letters: 4 letters by young elite university faculty under 40, 3 good and 1 likely generic but from comparative politics:

-1 from well-known, tenured methodologist jointly in politics and statistics departments

-1 from tenured formal political theorist, not particularly well-known outside of the field I am applying to

-1 from non-tenured comparative politics faculty who is seen as a rising star in the field (very young)

-1 from tenured professor jointly in sociology department

 

Affiliations: Member of PhD comparative politics research seminar, APSA, university-wide faculty interdisciplinary research group

 

Research Interests: Broadly, political participation and comparative political economy.  Specifically: Class-based inequality of political participation, electoral turnout in hybrid regimes, redistribution in new democracies, political determinants of state fiscal capacity.

 

Hi guys!

 

1) I wouldn't worry too much about it. I don't think you even have to mention it.

 

2) I would suggest you take that specific question to somebody who is familiar with the professors in question (eg a professor or graduate student at your university), rather than gradcafe.

 

3) I'll second everyone who's posted here previously and say that your tiers aren't necessarily accurate (I don't think I'm qualified to comment on which ones are which - but Rochester is defs above tier 5, at least if you're interested in formal theory), and also, fit matters. Different schools have strengths in different areas, and I think you should take that into account when selecting a school.

 

4) I don't know about that. I'm guessing that you should play it by length of your CV - if it feels too short, you could add those to bulk it up, and if not, leave them off.

 

My main piece of advice for you (and all 14/15 applicants) is to find somebody IRL (a prof, a grad student etc) who you trust, and who can offer you advice on your SOP, places you're applying etc. The wisdom of the gradcafe crowd may be useful in certain instances, but its no substitute for personalized help.

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hi :)  i'm new to the forum, preparing for applications this fall. 

I'm excited to see this thread so that I know that I'm not alone in this.

 

I'm done with my gre & toefl and starting on my sop. 

I want to continue to to study comparative politics with a focus on democracy which is what I did for my masters.

 

Regional focus is east asia and

i'm interested in comparing responses to non-traditional challenges (aging, environmental issues, inequality) according to regime type,

 

I'm doing a lot of school research to find the right fit, 

but with the bulk of information on school websites, i could definitely use some help!

 

What schools have a strong CP program with strength in democracy, inequality(political economy), east asia?

Edited by titioh
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Yeesh.. I wish I could travel forward in time just a wee bit to skip the whole process and wait. I've been lurking on this forum for years, so I suppose it's only fair that it's my turn! Motto and thinking is definitely 'it only takes one' - would be delighted to get into any of the 

~10-15 universities I'm looking at applying to. 

 

Anyway.. time to start nudging my old lecturers, from two plus years ago, to remind them who I am in preparation for references. I'm not sure how those who have been out for a greater length of time manage it. Being outside of academia looking back in certainly makes you support open access journals and the like  ;)

Edited by RLemkin
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