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Internationally focused sociology programs


manofthehoff
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Hi everyone,

I've found the info on this forum to be incredibly useful in the sociology PhD application process, so thank you all for that! I have a couple of questions that I don't think other posts have addressed. 

Although I'm an American, I've been living in French- and English-speaking Europe for the past 4 years. Through teaching and working for a competitive exchange program, I have become very interested in European migration and the educational and other initiatives of integration/acculturation/assimilation that vary between countries. My master's dissertation, which I just completed in the UK, looked at the assessment score progression of children of immigrants in two large British cohort studies, one from today and one from 30 years ago, in the context of education policies targeting minority ethnic and immigrant children. 

I would love to continue looking at European education inequality and migration in my PhD, with a quantitative focus. I've considered staying in Europe to do this, but a number of my current British professors as well as American undergrad professors recommend getting a PhD in the U.S., especially from a top university, as this increases job prospects and arguably gives a better education (I would love the coursework, which is lacking in most European doctoral programs). However it seems very difficult to find a sociology program in the US where any faculty member has a European focus. I have found many who look at Latin American immigration, some at Asian immigration, some at African, usually to the U.S. (though not necessarily). Harvard, Princeton, and CUNY have the rare sociology faculty member looking at Europe, though in a much less quantitative way than I was hoping to implement. 

So finally, my questions: Am I at a disadvantage if a program doesn't have a single faculty member whose interests align closely with my own? What if my SOP mentions, say, a couple of faculty members who look at international migration, and a couple who do quantitative educational analysis? Is it a problem if the ones focused on migration aren't interested in Europe? All of the programs I'm considering are at universities with some kind of center for European studies, so I was planning to mention that. I'm also considering stating a comparative focus, comparing migration and related education policy in Europe and the U.S., to appeal to all the U.S.-focused faculty.

If anyone's interested, here's my list of where I'm applying (though I might cut out one or two): Princeton, CUNY, Harvard, UC Irvine, Wisconsin, UCLA, UT Austin, NYU Steinhardt (Sociology of Education), Johns Hopkins.

Thank you for your help!

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Just dropping a comment in the final question. In the USA, you have a faculty dissertation committee instead of 1 person. Therefore, if you have your primary supervisor who looks at European migration in a different methodological framework you can have someone on your committee who is very focused on the statistics element etc. 

 

however, I don't see there being the necessity for your primary supervisor to do the EXACT work that you're wanting to do - that would be boring and also mean that what you're wanting to look at may already have been done. 

Perhaps think about this more in terms of what comprehensive exams and focus areas the school has. If you're wanting to study let's guess race and immigration but the strengths of the department are in crim and health, then that may not be the right place for you.

On a final note, do know that MANY doctoral studies end up studying something that departments don't have faculty or even classes on. The PhD programs gives you the tools to be able to be independent and find the resources you need. A lot of schools let a non-department faculty or even faculty from another university onto your committee. Collaborative work is strongly advised throughout all US programs so working with faculty outside of your particular university is definitely not uncommon.

I did one year of a PhD in a European university and decided to leave for the American system, so i can share more about my specific experience if you'd like. Do know that for Fall 2018 application are due within the next month for US schools, very different than the may June deadline from Europe. Good luck! The schools you have chosen tend to accept like 3 students a year so be prepared to 90+ percentile scores on the GRE and have an impeccable application.

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And final note, if you pay attention to the application results forum do note that most people apply to between 4-10 programs for a given academic year. Use your network and connect with some faculty you're wanting to study with before applying!

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3 hours ago, limonchello said:

And final note, if you pay attention to the application results forum do note that most people apply to between 4-10 programs for a given academic year. Use your network and connect with some faculty you're wanting to study with before applying!

Thank you for the advice in both of your posts! Very helpful. To be clear, I am American and know the deadlines are in a month. I've been in contact with some faculty members from the 9 programs I listed and am planning to reach out to many more in the next week. My GRE scores are 170 verbal and 163 quant, and my GPA nearly 4.0, so those at least are high enough. I know these are all competitive programs but I hope my record and application will be strong enough. 

I'm just trying to get a sense of if having a European focus will help or hinder me (or neither) in my applications. 

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On 10/27/2017 at 2:45 PM, manofthehoff said:

Thank you for the advice in both of your posts! Very helpful. To be clear, I am American and know the deadlines are in a month. I've been in contact with some faculty members from the 9 programs I listed and am planning to reach out to many more in the next week. My GRE scores are 170 verbal and 163 quant, and my GPA nearly 4.0, so those at least are high enough. I know these are all competitive programs but I hope my record and application will be strong enough. 

I'm just trying to get a sense of if having a European focus will help or hinder me (or neither) in my applications. 

I would say with that AWESOME profile you won't have any issues.  A focus on international sociology should not in any way be a deterrent to entrance!

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