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Chances for Top East Asian History PhD Programs?


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Type of Undergrad: Top U.S. Private, Major: Political Science, Chinese
Undergrad GPA: 3.5/4.0 (ouch)
Type of Grad: HYS (I don't want to totally out myself) M.A. in East Asian Studies
Grad GPA: 3.9
GRE: Q 170, V 168, AWA 5.0

I'll have LORs from one senior person (history dept.) at my undergrad institution and two from my M.A. program. Would I be competitive? I fear my undergrad GPA (and my not majoring in history) will come back to haunt me. 



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By now as a graduate student, you should know better what makes a competitive applicant from conversations with your professors who know your strengths and weaknesses better than a bunch of strangers.  This includes your language abilities.

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I agree with TMP, and I thought I'd add that I wouldn't consider a 3.5 uGPA as necessary low, nor would I think that it would necessary matter as you have a solid graduate GPA. 

I admit that I'm not incredibly informed, but I wouldn't be dissatisfied with your stats, and as long you as you can historiographically comment on your aimed specialization, and that's evident from your writing samples and application, I wouldn't worry too much about being a non-history major. I know several people who are history graduate students who were not history undergraduates. 

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Beyond stats, I think your language skills, research interests, and writing samples matter a ton too. Your advisors will know best how competitive you are. I'm assuming you're going for Chinese History, but what period? Best to be more specific; for example I'm a Japanese Historian and what I consider top east asian history programs in my subfield aren't necessarily the same for your specific subfield of Chinese history. 

Edited by kyjin
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I'm in Chinese history - to the best of my knowledge admissions are based off sufficiently passing departmental cutoffs regarding your grades (which I think you definitely have done. Your grad GPA makes up for your sub-par undergraduate GPA; GRE's are excellent) and after that it is all about the research proposal. That is kind of hit and miss, since it is purely subjective when placed before the admissions committee. It would depend on how convincing you are, how interesting your project is, and whether or not there are other more interesting projects out there.

All you can do is perfect it grammatically, write eloquently, and hope someone is interested in it enough to argue for your case. This is why emailing professors in advance is important, as it is the best you can do to gauge whether someone is interested in your project.

Don't be too downhearted if you don't get into the top programmes. I applied for 9 schools and only got into 2. At places like Princeton and Stanford they admit 1 Chinese history student per year (told to me personally after I inquired why I was rejected), and with 300-400 applications for 15-20 spots I would wager there are probably 30-50 people applying for one spot in Chinese history. Broaden your schools (I advise top 20, discipline rankings first and overall rankings secondary, no lower) and go to the one with highest rank/funding.

Hope that helps. 

Edited by MrMomo
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Hi Op, can I ask what your credentials were when you got accepted to one of hys MA programs in east Asia? I just submitted my applications to all these MA on top of many other programs. Mine is 161v 163q awa4 + 3.6 gpa from a R1, public state university+ an undergraduate paper prize from a regional Asian studies conference, and I am a international from China speaking mandarin as mother tongue. Would you have think if I can get into any of these programs?


all the best luck in your applications to top5 east Asian history programs! Fingers crossed!


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