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SoP for comparative politics - advise?


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Hi everyone,

 

I'm applying for comparative politics with a regional focus on South Asia and a topical focus on human rights, communal politics, religion and non-state violence.

 

As I have a rather unusual profile, I'm struggling a bit with getting my SoP in order. So, here's my story, followed by a list of questions:

 

I'm a German national holding no US degrees. I have a BA in journalism and a BS in economics from Germany, and an MA in political science from India. I graduated from my MA program in 2012. My research and teaching experience are very limited (one thesis, one book chapter, guest lectures in Mumbai). I lived in India for 4 years (2 to study, 2 to work as a journalist); I know Hindi and have grassroots volunteer experience. I've been freelancing as an academic editor for an international agency for years. I'm currently working as an editor with an international newspaper in Europe.

 

So, here are my questions:

  1. How could I sell the journalism part well? I know it doesn't make up for research experience, but it's all I got, so...
  2. How helpful might the academic editing experience be? I know that I don't write and research myself, but I'm totally reviewing, editing, proofing, formatting etc others' papers and thus am an expert in how to structure and write a research paper by now.
  3. Do I have to explain that there's a gap of 4 years between finishing my MA and starting my PhD?
  4. I have degrees in three different fields - should I explain that? Or only focus on the relevant ones (economics and politics)?
  5. Living in India as such of course has prepared me well for field research there, but are universities interested in these non-academic life skills?
  6. How much of a disadvantage will me not holding any US degrees be, and is there anything I can do to mitigate that effect?

 

Thanks to everyone, and good luck to all those who are applying this year as well!

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Universities, I find, are always interested in non-academic skills. In my admissions interview I was asked about personal hobbies outside of academics, like sports or music. Your experience and versatility would make you a strong candidate, I think, for about any PhD program in comparative politics. You will need to emphasize clearly your motivation for pursuing this field, however. Is your thesis somewhat related to politics? Can you emphasize that? You may actually need to apply for Master's programs as well, specifically in the political realm. 

You'd do well to explain your activities during your four-year gap. Explain what you've been doing, and how it makes you a more well-rounded candidate for your program.

Definitely emphasize the BENEFITS of having degrees in three different fields. Talk about evaluating events through multiple perspectives and such.

Having no degree from the US should not be a problem. Just play up your positive side, and have a clear statement of purpose. 

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