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Advice on Applying for a History PhD after an MBA.


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I am planning to apply for a PhD this upcoming cycle and want to research the political economy of US international development and aid policy. I want to examine the domestic political debates that shaped aid policy, as well as the way that development policy impacted the developing world.


I've taken a rather odd route to grad studies in history and I am somewhat worried that it could be held against me. After finishing my undergrad in 2013, I applied to a range of schools for a history PhD and was rejected across the board, which was a discouraging experience to say the least. I worked for about a year and then looked to go back to school to get an MBA in order to move my career forward. I've always been more interested in history than business, and now as I enter my final year I want to return. I studied business and public policy in business school and I am currently working with the US Agency for International Development in Ethiopia, and it has been this experience that has motivated me to go back and study this topic from a historical perspective. I am wondering what people think about my chances for a PhD, and would be happy to hear any suggestions people have about how to improve my odds.


A little more about me:

  • Graduated from the University of Rochester with a 4.00 in History and 3.95 overall and top student in my department. I did an honors thesis that won highest honors, as well as another seminar paper that used archival sources. I also got the chance to take a graduate level course in historical methods as part of an undergraduate fellowship I received my senior year.
  • I did a dual major in international relations and also produced an original research paper for that major that relied on more quantitative methods. As part of the IR degree I also did a summer in Paris and got up to a working proficiency in French.
  • GRE- V: 167 Q: 159 W: 4.5
  • My MBA gave me the opportunity to work in Ethiopia over the summer with USAID, and to study development in Japan this fall. Both of these experiences should have relevance for my project.


Where I am thinking of applying:

  • Stanford
  • UCLA
  • UCSB
  • Wisconsin 
  • UT Austin
  • UNC
  • Northwestern 
  • Norte Dame
  • Vanderbilt
  • Georgetown
  • Maryland 
  • Iowa


Edited by sdelehan
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