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Question about fit with school

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I am applying to PhD programs in political science. Regionally, I am primarily interested in Russia and the former Soviet Union. As such, I am applying to places that have professors working on this region. My theoretical interests are in authoritarianism, elite behavior, etc. Should I be applying to places that have strengths in these areas, even if there aren't professors working on these topics in the context of Russia and the former Soviet Union?

PS: I know I post on this forum a lot, so thanks everyone for all of your help!

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I'm applying this cycle as well, and I've struggled with the same general question. I'm interested in civil war with a specific in Latin America. My strategy has been looking at faculty interests in my prospective schools and only applying if it has 2+ folks whose interests are tied to my own. That takes a variety of forms; sometimes the person I want to work with is a really strong methodological fit, other times they have an expertise in conflict or a regional specialty in Latin America. I think it's kind of a judgment call.. it's unlikely that a school is going to have an assortment of academics who explore the specific questions you hope to answer during a PhD program. I think it's best to stick to one question: could I form a strong dissertation committee from the faculty at this school? If it's yes, I say go for it. 

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Here is how I did it:

Go to faculty pages of programs that seem interesting to you. Write down the names of the professors in your subfield (no adjuncts though). Look at their CVs or search them on google scholar, and if they seem like someone you can work with, put a star by their name. If they seem really, really interesting to you put two stars. If they seem like they're in your general area, but you're not super excited about them, you can give them a half point. Then analyze this data as you see fit. Count up how many people you can work with, factor in how many people you are super excited to work with somehow (I factored it in qualitatively rather then quantitatively) and determine fit based on that.

Its a lot of work, but it narrowed my list of 40 schools down to like 9 after factoring in that, stipends, placement record and other important factors to me (EG, is this somewhere I can see myself living for five years).

Wish I could be of more help.

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