Jump to content

Preparing for Graduate Studies


Recommended Posts

Know what you are going for. That will allow you to define success precisely. And once you do, let us know so that we can offer our advice more meaningfully.

I spent the entirety of my undergrad studying political theory, but now I want to study more substantive areas like international relations and political economy. I know it is going to be a tough transition so I was wondering if there is any standard approach to preparing for the inevitable quantitative research. I have been reading from The American Political Science Review, completed a social statistics course, and I am slowly honing my quant skills with Khan Academy; what else can I do to break my undergrad cherry?

Edited by maozedong
Link to post
Share on other sites

I spent the entirety of my undergrad studying political theory, but now I want to study more substantive areas like international relations and political economy. I know it is going to be a tough transition so I was wondering if there is any standard approach to preparing for the inevitable quantitative research. I have been reading from The American Political Science Review, completed a social statistics course, and I am slowly honing my quant skills with Khan Academy; what else can I do to break my undergrad cherry?

If you haven't done calc before, the courses from Ohio State on Coursera are pretty good, and then the UPenn one on the same site is good for a bit more of a challenge. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

If you haven't done calc before, the courses from Ohio State on Coursera are pretty good, and then the UPenn one on the same site is good for a bit more of a challenge. 

Solid advice. I just started calculus one on Coursera, and it is very good!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I spent the entirety of my undergrad studying political theory, but now I want to study more substantive areas like international relations and political economy. I know it is going to be a tough transition so I was wondering if there is any standard approach to preparing for the inevitable quantitative research. I have been reading from The American Political Science Review, completed a social statistics course, and I am slowly honing my quant skills with Khan Academy; what else can I do to break my undergrad cherry?

 

Tips:

1) Study calculus. Get as comfortable with derivatives as you can. If you find you have an aptitude for math, push forward to even a basic intro to matrix algebra. All of this will make a standard first year methods sequence easier.

 

2) Identify some data that you'd want someday to analyze. Methods are much easier to learn when you have an application.

 

3) Don't every use the phrase "undergrad cherry" again.

 

Congrats on your admission and best of luck.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Tips:

1) Study calculus. Get as comfortable with derivatives as you can. If you find you have an aptitude for math, push forward to even a basic intro to matrix algebra. All of this will make a standard first year methods sequence easier.

 

2) Identify some data that you'd want someday to analyze. Methods are much easier to learn when you have an application.

 

3) Don't every use the phrase "undergrad cherry" again.

 

Congrats on your admission and best of luck.

 

Would you say, generally speaking, calculus is the best place to start? Is it worth doing most of an entry level calculus course online, such as the Ohio State one referenced above?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Would you say, generally speaking, calculus is the best place to start? Is it worth doing most of an entry level calculus course online, such as the Ohio State one referenced above?

 

In general, yes, if only because it's an appropriate level of abstraction and provides the fundamentals you need. The more comfortable you are with differentiation and integrals, the easier most of what you see in a standard first-year sequence will be. Of course, the list of math "wants" is long and in a perfect world you'd find time to take a good linear algebra course too.

 

I am old fogey on this point and can't imagine learning anything, let alone math, from an online course. But if it works for you, sure. But if you're serious about learning it, you need to make sure you're solving problems by hand yourself. So, for my money, a good workbook would be far more useful.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm starting with Moore and Siegel's book 'A Mathematics Course for Political and Social Research' + the accompanying youtube videos. So far I have found them quite accesibile. I suppose I better have a look at the online OSU calc course.. I left all of this behind age 16, so I'm in for a real shock! Trying to get through it before July..

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm starting with Moore and Siegel's book 'A Mathematics Course for Political and Social Research' + the accompanying youtube videos. So far I have found them quite accesibile. I suppose I better have a look at the online OSU calc course.. I left all of this behind age 16, so I'm in for a real shock! Trying to get through it before July..

 

Have you found this resource helpful? As far as videos are concerned, I have found them useful in the past. I had a significant amount of time inbetween taking Pre-Calc and Calc and online videos were nice refreshers. Having more practice proplems to accompany online lectures would be benefical though.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems preparing for math is essential before this fall. I also have a question about whether it would be a good idea to read and review some of the political theory? I don't intend to declare subfields in theory, but I was curious if this is still important? I think I am relatively more weak in empirical theory than formal theory, or anything that's with quant. I minored in a hard science that requires a lot of math, and did more course work than minor requirement in it because I originally intended to do double major (I am glad I didn't). So I am more worried that I might not have enough background in and familiarity with literature in political theory. I guess my questions is, how much familiarity an incoming grad student expected to have with political theory? Are courses taken in undergrad as a political science major sufficient? Or do we need more?

Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems preparing for math is essential before this fall. I also have a question about whether it would be a good idea to read and review some of the political theory? I don't intend to declare subfields in theory, but I was curious if this is still important? I think I am relatively more weak in empirical theory than formal theory, or anything that's with quant. I minored in a hard science that requires a lot of math, and did more course work than minor requirement in it because I originally intended to do double major (I am glad I didn't). So I am more worried that I might not have enough background in and familiarity with literature in political theory. I guess my questions is, how much familiarity an incoming grad student expected to have with political theory? Are courses taken in undergrad as a political science major sufficient? Or do we need more?

 

The impression that I get is that non-theorists at a political science department do not care much about (nor, often, take seriously) political theory.  I can't imagine that you'd have any use for prior study of it if you have no intent to declare it as a subfield.

 

Since I'm a theorist, I would be very happy to have someone correct me, if I am wrong.

Edited by law2phd
Link to post
Share on other sites

I spent the entirety of my undergrad studying political theory, but now I want to study more substantive areas like international relations and political economy. I know it is going to be a tough transition so I was wondering if there is any standard approach to preparing for the inevitable quantitative research. I have been reading from The American Political Science Review, completed a social statistics course, and I am slowly honing my quant skills with Khan Academy; what else can I do to break my undergrad cherry?

Good research design skills are worth developing. So many papers demonstrate great quant skills but fall down based on research design flaws.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems preparing for math is essential before this fall. I also have a question about whether it would be a good idea to read and review some of the political theory? I don't intend to declare subfields in theory, but I was curious if this is still important? I think I am relatively more weak in empirical theory than formal theory, or anything that's with quant. I minored in a hard science that requires a lot of math, and did more course work than minor requirement in it because I originally intended to do double major (I am glad I didn't). So I am more worried that I might not have enough background in and familiarity with literature in political theory. I guess my questions is, how much familiarity an incoming grad student expected to have with political theory? Are courses taken in undergrad as a political science major sufficient? Or do we need more?

Fwiw, if I could change one thing about my undergrad/grad training, I would have taken more political theory, or at any rate have read more of it outside of class. That others might deem it "irrelevant" is, well, "irrelevant." You're preparing yourself for a lifetime of scholarship in a particular discipline. Why one wouldn't want a solid background in the core texts of the field escapes me.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.