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Looking for suggestions/criticisms in planning towards an International Relations phd in the US

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Hi gradcafe, I am an international student looking to eventually land on an R1 university for an IR Ph.D. in the US. (It is partly because in my place a US phd is strongly preferred for academic positions)

I am now in my senior year in a university in Hong Kong majoring Economics (top40 in QS ranking, but I doubt that matters).

My GPA will be around 3.05 upon graduation. It is low because I was directionless and wasted too much time on other things in my first 2.5 years in university, plus my university actively deflates student grades. I have just had a GRE test and the score (V/Q/AW): 151/165/4.0, just for reference.

I have accepted an offer and will be going to study an MA in International Relations at the University of Warwick this year. While I will work hard to have a better GPA to compensate for my undergrad one, i am not sure about what to do after, to boost my profile enough to enter an R1 phd.

There are three options i could think of:

  1. Go for a mphil in political science in the UK/Europe. I will surely benefit from a 2-year research training but I am afraid I would be further driven away from the US.

  2. Apply for jobs in think tanks/ intergovernmental organizations and work for 1/2 years. This is a favorable option since I could work on international issues in the real world setting (and possibly get paid for it), but i am not sure on whether i could actually land on these jobs.

  3. Apply for a master in the US. With my postgrad degree result, I should be able to get in a master programme like the Uchi one.(Not sure) The problem is that it is expensive (course fee and living costs) and costs me 2-year.

I am still planning on it and prefer 1/2 over 3. However these are still vague ideas and any suggestion/criticism would be really helpful. Thank you!

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