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Chances for MA political science program? (Canadian applicant applying to Canadian schools)


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I'm currently in my fourth year and I realize that this is somewhat late of a decision to be making... but I'm just wondering how difficult it would be to get into somewhere like University of Toronto, McGill, Queen's, or University of British Columbia?


I'm not entirely sure how important grades are but from reading the application requirements on all three websites they seem to be of minimal importance... I'll most likely be graduating with a CGPA of 3.7 (out of a 4.0 scale). If grade trends matter at all, my grades improved significantly after switching out of science following my first year -- 3.0; 3.8, 3.85, 3.9 (expected).


In terms of my resume, I have decent ECs, but very minimal work-experience. I am not worried about my writing sample or my Statement of Scholarly Intent... but I am incredibly worried about having to get two or three reference letters.


To make a long story short... I haven't really formed any relationships with my professors... only my T.As. I know that all of my previous T.As can write me "enthusiastic" reference letters but I cannot really say the same about any of my past professors. I have one professor that I think can write me a decent reference letter... but I know that three (what U of T requires) is stretching it. 


Should I even bother applying with very (and I mean very) mediocre reference letters? 


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  • 2 weeks later...

To give you some confidence, your grades are a lot higher than mine. 


I'm sitting at about a GPA of 3.1 or 3.2, graduating this year. Will likely have a last two years of 3.5-3.7, pending how this year turns out. 


I, too, will  be applying towards masters programs in political science, particularly in political theory. 


With what I've heard, it sounds like that Canadian schools seem fairly holistic in their admissions process. Meaning that your SoP, reference letters, and grades will be evaluated, to some extent, evenly. 


I'm currently an undergraduate at McMaster, and this is what two of my profs had told me about the Canadian application process. They also look very positively at upward trends, moreso in the second half of your program.


Hope this helps. 

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On grades: yours are fine, certainly sufficient to get you into any of the MA programs you have listed (one of which I attended).


On Letters: I have been a TA/TF on and off for some time and I HATE when students ask me for letters of rec. I may be qualified to speak on your personality and performance on a few graded assessments but I am not yet an expert in the field and I am not able to compare your performance with more than 1-2 years of students. Professors will be able to remark on your ability to contribute academically to the field more broadly and in comparison with students over all the years they have been teaching the course. You are in your 4th year but applications for these MAs usually aren't due until the end of spring semester so you have time to think back to a couple of courses and go in to meet professors during their office hours. Explain to them that you are planning to apply to graduate programmes, that you want to spend some time talking to them, and that you hope they will agree to write you a letter of recommendation. I did this back in the day when I applied for MA degrees and most profs were happy to speak with me and happy to help as long as I was honest about why I was there. Sometimes it helped to contact a TA ahead of time and get them to write up a few sentences recommending my to my letter writer (I imagine a few of those sentences made it into the final letter!).

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