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Request for Profile Evaluation: Political Science PhD (IR)


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Hi everyone,

I am a senior at a top 40 undergraduate institution. I am actually graduating early (3 years as opposed to 4). I am in the BA/MA Political Science program here, so I will be getting both degrees when I graduate in May 2017. I am planning to apply to JD/PhD programs. Since they are separate applications, I would like an evaluation of myself as a candidate for a Political Science PhD program.

GPA: 3.95

GRE: V: 164, Q: 161, AWA: Pending (I am a little worried about my verbal score for the schools I am applying to)

Schools: I am planning on applying to top tier schools (Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Yale, Princeton, Georgetown, Stanford, Columbia). The reason I am not doing any safety schools is because I plan on accepting only an offer I am 100% happy with. If I do not like my offers (if I get any), I plan on taking some time off and working.

Research Interests: International Relations, security studies, war causation and duration, intervention, nuclear tactics, asymmetric warfare. I have a minor in Muslim Societies so I have a slight regional interest in the Middle East. My thesis is on how intervention factors into war duration for extra-systemic wars. I will be using a combination of regression analysis and case studies.

Research Experience: Here is where I am extremely worried. I am writing a thesis for my MA but it is no where near complete. I have not had any published articles. I have written long papers for classes and some of my more research-focused internships. 

Internships/Extracurricular: I have had many internships ranging from government offices to non-profits to think tanks. I also hold a couple leadership positions in some clubs on campus. 


My main fear is that schools might see me as too young and inexperienced (especially with research). I understand that those critiques might be accurate. However, I really do enjoy academic research (what I have done for my classes/internships) and I can definitely see myself in a university setting in the future. Please let me know what my chances are. Thank you!

Edited by tnj1234
grammar and specificity
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Take everything with a grain of salt, but from my experience on this forum, your profile is not too bad and as @DeterminedandNervous would probably say, there are people who go on the job market without any publication. Having them is an advantage but not a requirement for a successful application. Further, you may generally heavily discount any work experience that is not directly research related. Lastly, I would maybe reconsider Georgetown and John Hopkins as they - as far as I know - are foremost policy oriented. I could be wrong though.

You should also generally look into your fit with the faculty to see whether there is actually someone working at the department who shares your interests. Also, the latter seem to be quite broad as far as you described them and particularly for the SoP you may be advised to focus them a bit more.

Edited by Monody
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From my point of view, your profile looks good. Since you're applying to JD/PhD programs, have you taken the LSAT? And if so, are those scores competitive for Yale Law School, Stanford, Harvard, etc.? 


I do want to ask, why are you applying straight out of undergrad? Consider the alternative--applying after you graduate. If you choose this option, then you have a lot of advantages: honing in your research interests, potentially getting an RA position with a faculty member, finishing off your MA thesis, professional work experience you could get paid for, improving GRE/LSAT scores. Lots of things to consider, as did I when I was thinking about applying just after graduating.  I think all of this should be just food for thought. Your profile is pretty good now, but I'm thinking it could be even more competitive should you decide to hold off and apply next cycle. Just my two cents. 

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I think you've got a good shot - though I would admit the first thing I thought was that you're really young. This isn't to say that young people don't get into programs but I faced the same hurdle when I was applying to MA programs out of my BA. I didn't get in anywhere, and this was largely due to the fact that I wasn't able to credibly convey that academic research was something I really wanted to do. I would stress how you've come to know that this is the career path for you, and include a sentence or two about your future goals (e.g. being a professor or professional researcher). Focus on the experience you do have, and ask your letter writers to contextualize your program. It's pretty great that you're earning your BA and MA in one go.

When it came to my CV I included any jobs, clubs or volunteer positions that were relevant to my field so I would be sure to include these things - shows admissions committees that you're well rounded.

Re Monody's point about the policy oriented nature of Georgetown and JHU - this isn't true. Both have policy schools (and in Georgetown's case, also a public policy school on top of SFS) that operate separately from their departments of government and political science. While some faculty are cross listed, there's largely a high degree of separation. Given your interests, I would also suggest looking into GWU - they have a ton of security studies resources and faculty if you intend to keep working on similar topics as your thesis.


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