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Wondering about my PhD admission odds??


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Hello all!!

Long-time reviewer, but first time poster here. I'm through the first semester of a PhD program abroad in Europe, but I would like to get back to the US for my PhD. My main concern is my low GRE Quant score and whether I can offset it with the other parts of my application for entrance to top 11-20 Politica Science programs. I think quant is taken a lot more seriously in the US, and I feel I don't have enough time left to retake the exam (for the application season is about to close). I plan to do more of qualitative and mixed-methods research, and any advice on less quant-heavy programs would be appreciated too. My wish programs are Northwestern, Cornell, Chicago, and WUSTL. Would work experience, publications, and current research in a leading department compensate for the weaknesses? Do universities accept late GRE scores if I resit in a week? 



Type of Undergrad Institution: Addis Ababa University

Major: Political Science (history minor)

GPA: 3.4/4.00

Type of Grad Institution: A mid-tier university in Germany (studied with a DAAD scholarship)

Major: Political Science (very interdisciplinary, focused on comparative politics and democratization)

GPA: Distinction (3.9/4 as calculated by WES, but would be like 3.98)

GRE: v156 q148, aw unknown at the moment but i expect 3.5 (English not first language)

Letter of Recommendation: Four not so strong letters , one from my Undergrad's thesis supervisor now at SOAS, one from MA thesis supervisor in my field, one from chair for comparative politics in my grad school, and one from a senior research who advised me during internship in respected research institute.

Research experience/publication: Master's Thesis (A+), a co-authored book chapter, two peer-reviewed articles in low-profile journals, 5 book reviews, one paper under review, and papers presented in conferences. 

Teaching Experience: I worked as a TA for three years, taught undergrad political science courses for three years, all in small third world colleges

Research Interests: Comparative Politics and political economy with a focus on Africa and the Middle East and North Africa. I've linguistic skill and cultural familiarity of the regions. 


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It's a bit complicated. The experience that you have is good, but your GRE scores are well below cutoffs for top programs. Since many of these top programs have hundreds of applicants, one easy way to whittle down the number of suitable candidates is to put cutoffs on GPA and GRE score. Also, most programs are pretty quant-heavy. Cornell is a good qualitative program, however. You may be better served by applying to a UK university or a better European one, where qualitative research is supported more and GRE scores don't really matter.

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