Jump to content

2nd round of application= PhD in Pol.Sci=Law and Politics subfield


Recommended Posts

Hello everyone! Hope this post finds you well.


I'd appreciate your comments on my plans to go to a second round of applications in the Fall of this year to Ph.D programs in Political Science. Last April I received the 6th--and last--rejection letter. I acknowledge I must improve my GRE scores, but I also understand I must make other arrangements in my application package.


I will give you some numbers and details, and then present some questions.


           I. Numbers and details.

Background. Latin American applicant--not from Brazil, Mexico, Argentina or Chile**, with an undergrad in Law, a Master in Pol. Sci and currently attending an LL.M. at a top-10 university in the USA. He speaks Spanish (modern tongue), and French. He has also worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in his country for two years as a litigator in major human rights cases before an international tribunal, and 7 years of experience as Constitutional Revision Analyst in the Chamber of Representatives of his country. He is also a lecturer (with tenure-track position) in his country since 2010.

TOEFL: 105/120. Should I improve that score?

GRE: Again, I know I have to improve these scores. 156: V; 145: Q; 4.5: W

GPA: 92.9/100= Bachelor in Law (Latin American Public University); 3.8/4= Master in Political and Electoral Studies (Joint program between a private university in my country, and University of Granada (Spain)); and LL.M. at a top-10 university in the USA as a Fulbright scholar. My GPA here, though, will not be higher than 3.5.

** I stress that detail since I have the (probably wrong) perception that, if somehow interested, Latin American applicants from these countries stand higher chances.

LORS. I intend to ask for LORS to Professors from the LL.M. (the Professor that is willing to keep working with a paper for publication during the summer), the Masters, and Bachelor program. 

Writing sample. I will probably send the paper I will be working on during the summer. Last year I had to send a reaction paper, since I did not have any sample in English.


           II. Research interests and programs

Research interest. I am interested in law & politics. It breaks down in two correlated, but different subareas: 1) Comparative constitutional studies, related to compliance with international human rights decisions, especially in Latin America, in relation to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights; and 2) International Courts and Tribunals, especially International Human Rights courts, such as the one mentioned, and its European and African counterparts. I am also interested in international criminal courts--ICC, Rwanda, Former Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone, Cambodia.

As you can see, the first subarea is more in the comparative politics subfield, whereas the second subarea touches on the IR subfield. But they meet each other at some point.


Possible programs. 

1. Yale University; 

2. University of Chicago;

3. NYU;

4. Georgetown University;

5. Northwestern University;

6. University of California at Berkeley;

7. Harvard University;

8. Princeton University;

9. Washington University in St. Louis


I am mentioning these programs not only for the obvious reasons (position of the university), but especially because I have identified at least two professors I may work with if offered admission.


                  III. Preliminary questions.

1. Beyond the fact that I MUST improve my GRE score--which I will be working on during the whole summer, what else would you recommend me to pay attention to?

2. What other good programs in the subfield of Law & Politics are in the US that I have not mentioned? Is my list accurate/wise in respect to my research interest?

3. I am planning--not settled yet-- to do some research fellowships during this year. I have two possibilities. Does it help in any way my application dossier?

4. I guess my final question is: being honest, so I stand any chance of being admitted and granted fellowship to any of these PolSci Ph.D programs, or any other you may suggest? If so, what should I stress and/or improve?


Thanks in advance for your thoughts.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of the great advantages of coming from Latin America is that it's much easier to get research and work experience there than in North America. The fact that you have experience as a lecturer for two years is a nice bonus, and this wouldn't really be possible in Canada or the USA. 


Definitely try to get some additional research experience. Because it appears that you do not have any academic research experience, this counts for a lot. You have to consider you are competing with applicants that have 1-2 years of RA experience when they submit their applications, and letters of recommendation from professors who supervised them. 


It doesn't really matter which country from LA you are from, it's only relevant insofar as where you went to school for your undergrad/masters. 


Focus on the things you can improve. Getting research experience, definitely your GRE, your writing sample, and your SOPs. 


Lastly, although I am not extremely knowledgeable in your particularly field (although I study comparative Latin American politics, it has nothing to do with this sub-field), one program to look at is University of Texas at Austin. Prof. Elkins does a lot of work on comparative constitutional research and Prof. Brinks is quite respected in relation to law and politics in Latin America. You might also want to check out University of Chicago as well because a prof there works on the same massive project as Elkins, Prof. Ginsberg. 


It should be noted that you have a fairly significant substantive training (both in Latin American politics and law) so you should be a bit looser with your POI and look for people who don't necessarily do Latin America but more specifically on your specific interests. 

Edited by victorydance
Link to comment
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

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use