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Does applying earlier benefit your application?


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I looked at a few responses to this type of question in the general admissions forum, but I wanted to ask the Political Science crowd: does turning in your application well before the deadline improve your chances of admission? I had not heard this previously, but a Ph.D. in another field told me that it can be quite important. What do you know?

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I've sat on the admissions committee about every other year for a while now at two departments that sit in different places on the academic food chain. I can guarantee you that It makes NO difference at all when you apply as long as your application is in before the deadline, and your letters of recommendation arrive within a week or two after the deadline. The committee does not even see the files for a couple of weeks after the deadline since an administrator has to organize them and upload them to the server we use to view them.

 

The only exception is one that arises at departments that do not fund all students. These are mostly lower-ranked departments but include many of the schools under discussion by various applicants here. At these schools, departments can nominate their best applicants (or more accurately the best applicants they think are likely to attend, since the funding rolls down to a university-wide waiting list rather than to the next nominee of that department) for university funding, and deadlines for department nominations often fall earlier than the department deadline for applicants to turn in their materials. These deadlines are usually listed on department websites with language like "for best consideration for funding, apply by X date."

 

But with that exception aside, you should not be concerned about getting your materials in early. Simply meet the deadlines and your file will get full consideration. Note that the same thing is NOT true when you apply for academic jobs, but that is a completely separate discussion.

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  • 2 months later...

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