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Hi all,

After many months of lurking I am coming out of the shadows because I have a few questions about my application to poli sci PhD programs. (I hope I'm not the only one still putting on the finishing touches!)

(1) When listing POIs in a SOP is it okay to list an assistant professor whose research interests are really close to your own? I know that some assistant professors may not be taking students or may end up moving, but there is one in particular who is doing exactly what I hope to be doing in 10 years and who I'd love to work with!

(2) Also when listing POIs, is it acceptable to cross the IR/CP divide? I am applying for IR and methodology but some professors are doing similar work in CP, and I still think they would make great advisors.

(3) How do you respond to the application question of which other schools you're applying to? I'm applying to many programs - should I list them all? Only certain other schools of a similar rank? Should I skip the question?

Thank you in advance for reading this and for any advice you may be able to give! And to all those who are also applying this cycle, good luck! 

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1. Yes, but make sure s/he isn't your main person.

2. I hope so. I certainly am. 

3. I'm skipping the question out of laziness,  not knowing how to answer it, and being fully confident it will not impact my application.

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In regard to your third query, my understanding is that schools ask this question in order to keep tabs on who their main competitors are. I don't see a problem with answering honestly, though I do think that it would be more appropriate for schools to ask this question in a post-application survey than on the application which they know students will be stressing over.


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1) Yes, it's okay for the application stage, but when it comes time to make your decision on where to go, think about this seriously - even ask the professors what their intentions are of staying or leaving (with the potentiality in mind that regardless, they may not get tenure). And have backups. Professors at any stage can leave, remember.

2) Totally fine. Topics like civil war and political economy very much blur the lines between IR and CP. One of my current professors is in IR but her primary advisor in grad school was a comparativist. It's normal.

3) You don't have to answer it if you don't want; it does not hurt or help you in any way. They are just interested in who they're competing with for you. 

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1.) Not sure on this one, but I hope so...

2.) I would think so, especially if you make it clear that you intend to have one as your primary field and another as your secondary. You'll have to declare two anyway in most programs, and like people have said, there is a lot of natural crossover. 

3.) Most programs I'm applying to are asking for them listed in the application. In that case, I just do that. Otherwise it's just an awkward little sentence hidden away in the SOP.

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