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Want to switch to PolSci after Physics B.Sc. What to do?


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Hey everybody!

I am a 21 years old physics student from Germany and i'm looking for advice on my further career path after i finished my Bachelors degree.

My plan at the moment is to switch fields and pursue a career vaguely into the direction of PolSci or Economics. I am still a scientist at heart, so i want to pursue a research career in these fields, maybe dealing with the analysis of policies or the implementation of them. Also i am really interested in knowing more about the fundamentals of political systems, economics, international relations, philosophy and everything that merges together to form our day to day politics. I also want to be able to evaluate current political affairs mainly on my own, without the need to rely on the analyisis of others.

 

I will finish my Bachelors next year, so i am currently trying to decide how to proceed. My three options are:

a. 2nd Bachelors degree in a subject like Government & Economics, pure Economics, PPE (all preferably at a good university in England) followed by a Masters

b. jump straight into some kind of graduate programm related to PolSci (Public Policy Analysis, Public Administration, Political Economics/Science)

c. pursue a Masters in Theoretical Physics and switch fields later

 

Option a. would give me good foundations and prepare me thoroughly for a subsequent Masters degree, as well as satisfying my curiosity for topics relevant to politics. However, it would take another three years (not thaaat big of a deal to me)

Option b. is the fastest and certainly a possibility.

Option c. is lazy but safe. A Master in Physics opens a lot of doors and i might also rediscover my lost passion for physics and stay.

 

Overall i would like to put my mathematical skills to use, so something that is mathematically challenging is no problem and would be appriciated (Maths should not be the main focus though!). I would also prefer an overall challenging course with a heavy workload, rather than a course with to much free time, as i am used to that from my physics degree.

 

So, what kind of programme would you recoomend to me? I am happy about any advice or opinion!

 

 

tldr; Want to pursue research career dealing with the analysis of policies or implementation of policies. Have physics BSc. What to do? 

Edited by _manu
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"Also i am really interested in knowing more about the fundamentals of political systems, economics, international relations, philosophy and everything that merges together to form our day to day politics. I also want to be able to evaluate current political affairs mainly on my own, without the need to rely on the analyisis of others."

 

heh. Not sure if poli sci is for you then. ;).

 

It seems like you're leaning towards the policy side of things? I think the first course of action is to start reading some poli sci articles in prominent journals to get a good idea of what the research looks like and the questions asked.

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heh. Not sure if poli sci is for you then. ;).

 

Haha, i'm really unsure myself, thats why i'm looking for some input! PolSci just seemed like the subject closest to the matter (politics&policy).

 

I guess you are talking about scientific journals, like nature or science for natural sciences? Can you recommend some to me? I would be very interested in taking a look at a few articles.

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I can't advise about options A and B since I am not in those fields, but my BSc and MSc are in Physics. 

 

My advice would be to not choose Option C because it is "safe" or that you might magically discover some lost passion for Physics. In my experience (myself and other graduate students), you need passion to motivate you to finish a graduate degree in Physics and if anything, graduate students lose some of this passion through the trials of research / academia rather than gain it. 

 

I'm not saying to leave Physics, but I am saying if you choose Option C, you should choose it because after learning more about your possible choices, you choose C because you want to continue working in Physics. Don't choose it because you don't know what else to do and staying in school seems like the "safe" choice!

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I guess you are talking about scientific journals, like nature or science for natural sciences? Can you recommend some to me? I would be very interested in taking a look at a few articles.

 

American Journal of Political Science, American Political Science Review, International Organization, Journal of Politics, to name a few.

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I guess you are talking about scientific journals, like nature or science for natural sciences? Can you recommend some to me? I would be very interested in taking a look at a few articles.

 

American Journal of Political Science, American Political Science Review, International Organization, Journal of Politics, to name a few.

 

For someone with OP's interest and skills, Political Analysis is probably a better place to look. But to be honest, OP, you probably have the chops to do well in economics, and will probably find it more methodologically interesting. Political science "methods" are largely borrowed form economics and, thus, not at the cutting edge.

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For someone with OP's interest and skills, Political Analysis is probably a better place to look. But to be honest, OP, you probably have the chops to do well in economics, and will probably find it more methodologically interesting. Political science "methods" are largely borrowed form economics and, thus, not at the cutting edge.

 

There was a time when this is true, and that time might still be today.  But, the current trends within methodology seem to be steering methodologists away from econometrics and toward statistics.  Look at all of the methodologists (and smart applied folks) that are crushing it today (particularly those that have come out of Harvard), and you'll see a lot of the potential outcomes framework, a lot of experimental language (hell, a lot of experiments and field experiments), and so on.  Many of the top methods rockstars have master's degrees in statistics. 

 

Now, I don't know that this means that political science is any closer or further to the bleeding edge than it would be if we were still econometrician wannabes, but it's still an observation worth making.

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  • 4 weeks later...

First of all, it is absolutely feasible for you to get into a top institution (master's) in the United States. I graduated with a bachelor degree in a subfield of computer science in 2012 and forwarded to a reputed graduate school. I am very sure I knew less than you now about what is political science when I was 21, but I had interests and faith. So be confident.

Second, it would really make a big difference if you manage to get a master's in a reputed policy school or political science program. To name a few, GTown, JHU, UChicago, UCSD, Duke, NYU. It would also help you discover your real interests and academic focus before you move on, either to a PhD program or to industry.

Edited by steedyue
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