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Request for indication of program and likelihood of approval


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Hello! 

First, I’m sorry because of the long topic, but I really need help.

I'm a brazilian student and I wanna to apply this year for a PhD program in USA, probably in political science or sociology (I already have a bachelor degree in political science and I'm finishing my master degree right now). But, I don't have money to apply in many universities. I only will can do two applications. So, I need to choose the programs in which I will have more chances to be accepted (considering my profile).

Can you help me indicating programs? 

I’m looking not only a PhD program where I can be accepted, but also a place that see the diversity as a good thing. In Brazil, I had the chance to study feminist and black theories, pluralism epistemological on social sciences, post colonialism, thinkers of Europe, India, Latin America, Africa, etc. And this diversity is important to me.  

About me, I did my BS at the UnB, a very good university in my country, and I’m doing my master degree at the UFMG, one of the best in political science around here. Actually, my advisor is the most eminent researcher on political participation of Brazil. But, I don’t know if this help with something…

My TOEFL is 93, my GPA at the high school is 3.6 (I already checked). In my undergraduate, the GPA will be likely 3.7 after I do the conversion. In my masters, likely will be 3.8/3.9.

But, I have big problems with GRE. I'll do the test in two weeks, but I already know that likely my scores will be something like 150V, 160Q and 3.5W. It is hard to me get more than this because just this year I started to write in English. I can do good essays, but I take more time than when I’m writing in Portuguese. I saw that some programs have English courses to help international students, and I think that will be important on my choice by the program. Without a good GRE, can I be accepted in some PhD program?  

I think that I have a good CV. I'm a black brazilian woman who was born in a poor community. I’ve survived the genocide of black people in my country and, because this, have studied political resistance against racism, colonialism, patriarchate, capitalism, etc. In my undergraduate, I researched a women’s group in a favela called Estrutural. The place was an open dump. People who survive the of collection of recyclable materials there began to build homes for their families around the garbage, creating the favela that has more than 10,000 families. The group of women that I researched was composed of residents of the region and builds day cares, homes, schools, etc., everything on base of the economic solidary. 

I also worked two years in the government in Brazil. I was hired to improve the dialogue between state and social movements (before of our political crises). Brazil is known to innovate the way how the democracy works, creating different participatory institutions, like participatory budgeting. I worked with this and helped to create public policies of gender and ethnic in my country. That year, I was part of important national associations of gender equality and race.

After this, I moved to other city and started to work in one of the largest urban land conflict in Latin America. Some families occupied a private land that wasn't fulfilling its social fuction three years ago and now we have 8,000 families living there. The government wants to remove with violence these people, but some right humans organizations are working with these families for the guarantee of decent housing for everybody (and a change in the Brazil's habitation politicy). Today, this occupation is one of 10 more dangerous urban land conflict of the world.

At the same time, I'm researching in my master degree the political organization of the sex workers in one of the biggest prostitution complex in Latin America. I also helped to build the first national culture project about prostitution managed only for sex workers of my country.

Despite this experience, I don't have any paper publicized yet. However, my undergraduate research is available to the public by my university, in its website. Also, I have some articles that I wrote this year, but I'm waiting the publication of them. And, I had one paper approved in the IPSA Congress, but I didn’t get money to travel. I read in Spanish, and speak Portuguese and English.  To end, I have some extra courses in introduction to statistics, stata and linear regression. 

Do I have any chance in some political science or sociology PhD program? 

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Three things:

1) When you describe things such as "studied political resistance against racism, colonialism, patriarchate, capitalism" and "I had the chance to study feminist and black theories, pluralism epistemological on social sciences, post colonialism, thinkers of Europe, India, Latin America, Africa, etc." this concerns me. These are not big topics in political science. These are the types of topics that you would see in programs such as sociology and anthropology. You also seem to have a fairly large activist leaning, which once again, is not common in political science. 

2) 2 applications is nothing. I highly recommend you 1) either find some way to pull together money to apply to more programs this cycle, or 2) wait until next year and save money to apply to more programs. 

3) Applications to Ph.D. programs in political science (among other disciplines) really only care about a few things: GPA, GRE, LORs, research experience, quantitative background, ability to write a good SOP and potential project, and writing sample. Much of what you wrote in your post is largely irrelevant to getting accepted into competitive programs. 

Edited by PoliticalOrder
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1 hour ago, PoliticalOrder said:

Thank you for the answer!

The themes that I cited are vey commom in Latin American, but I'm very nervous because political science here is very different.  But maybe the best is apply just for sociology, in programs in which gender studies are subfields. 

I wish I could do more applications, but my financial conditions really doesn't allow. I'm already working double time to rise money for two applications... But, I was already approved in some doctare degrees here. So, If I is not passed outside, I can accept an offer here.

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I mean you can find political scientists who study gender in the context of all kinds of things. It definitely has a sociological component, but really you could do either. I think you should do your best to get your GRE scores up a little, and I'm not sure if your TOEFL score qualifies. Most want a score of 100 or more. I would apply more broadly than 2 programs if possible, as well. I think the previous poster is right, putting off the application process a year may make your file stronger, but it's really up to you.

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